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Alleged Massacre By U.S. Marines Investigated; Capitol Hill Building Locked Down

Aired May 26, 2006 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again, everyone.
A day of drama in Congress, real and imagined, a showdown over immigration, Republican vs. Republican, and a security shutdown because of what sounded like gunshots.


ANNOUNCER: Capitol lockdown, Washington on edge, high drama, and lawmakers haven't even started debating immigration yet.

Alleged Iraq massacre, women and children killed, U.S. Marines bracing for the worst.

My bad -- was saying he set the wrong tone in Iraq a winning strategy there or here at home?

And holy leg press.


ANNOUNCER: Pat Robertson says he can press a ton.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two thousand pounds, that's a lot of weight.

ANNOUNCER: Tonight, see his proof, and see if his strength drink turns Anderson into anchor of steel.


ANNOUNCER: Across the country and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.

Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: Hey, thanks for joining us on this Friday evening.

In the nation's capital, it was supposed to be a mellow Friday, heading into a long holiday weekend. Instead, it was a day of drama.

Tonight, we are covering all the angles, starting with the kind of scare that's taken on new meaning since 9/11, a reported shooting in a congressional building, a lockdown, and a morning full of fear, how it all played out. Also, the battle we all knew was coming, the House and the Senate fighting it over -- out over immigration. They are far apart on some key issues. But they need to come together for anything to actually get done. We will look at where the battle lines are drawn and the potential collateral damage in the upcoming elections.

We begin, though with the scare this morning in the capital.

Here's CNN's Brian Todd.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Straight down. Straight down.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Capitol chaos, a city and a nation on edge, this scare prompted by a single report of shots fired in the garage of the Rayburn Office Building. Later, two women said they thought they saw a man with a gun inside Rayburn. Work came to a halt, as word of the scare spread, stopping one hearing in mid-testimony.


I would ask all members please to stay in the room. There are -- there are reports of gunfire in the building.

TODD: Law enforcement ordered the building locked down, with hundreds of people inside. After more than five hours and an armed door-to-door search, the all-clear was sounded.

SERGEANT KIMBERLY SCHNEIDER, CAPITOL POLICE: The explanation is that there were some workers who were working in the area of the Rayburn garage in the elevator area. And in doing their routine duties, they -- they made some sort of a noise that sounded like shots fired. So, it was a valid call.

TODD (on camera): This is life in the Capitol post-9/11, today's scare the latest in series that have rattled nerves on Capitol Hill.

(voice-over): Last May, both the Capitol and the Supreme Court were evacuated, and the White House put on red alert, when a small plane entered restricted airspace over Washington, and controllers were unable to reach the pilot.

With alarms and sirens blaring, thousands of people were rushed out of the Capitol complex, while fighter jets scrambled to intercept the plane, ready to shoot it down, if necessary. Instead, they forced it to land nearby. It turned out a student pilot was manning the controls and the men were using outdated maps that didn't show the restrictions over Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep moving. Come on!

TODD: About a year before that, in June 2004, a similar incident, the Capitol and Supreme Court dramatically evacuated as an unidentified small plane approached. It turns out its transponder was just broken -- on board, Kentucky's governor, heading to the funeral of Ronald Reagan.


COOPER: Well, now to another drama rocking Washington.

With the Memorial Day recess looming and senators under intense pressure to pass an immigration bill, yesterday, they finally did. Now comes the next fight with the other half of Congress, a battle that everyone expects will get very ugly very soon.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes are 62. The nays are 36. The bill, as amended, is agreed to.

COOPER (voice-over): In the end, the Senate immigration bill passed by a healthy margin. Like the House bill passed in November, the Senate bill would beef up border patrols, fences along the Mexican border, and penalties on employers who hire illegal workers.

But it also would give most illegal immigrants a chance to become American citizens and create a temporary or guest worker program. House Republicans oppose those ideas as intensely as President Bush supports them.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I strongly believe that to have -- secure at the border, we need to have a temporary worker program.

COOPER: Most Republicans call that giving amnesty to lawbreakers.

REP. JAMES SENSENBRENNER (R), WISCONSIN: What's going on now, in calling it a pathway to citizenship or earned legalization, is not honest, because it is amnesty.

COOPER: While the Senate was voting, across the country, Mexican President Vicente Fox was touring the West, weighing in on immigration.

VICENTE FOX, MEXICAN PRESIDENT: The United States Senate has taken a historic step by voting in favor of a comprehensive immigration reform.

COOPER: Not so fast. The difference between the House and Senate bills still have to be reconciled, and that will not be easy.

SENSENBRENNER: I don't plan on signing a conference report that might look good on a bumper sticker.

COOPER: That from the man that will lead House negotiators.

But, in the end, the power of bumper-sticker politics may help reach a deal. Republican Senator Arlen Specter put it bluntly. SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: There is an election in November, and our leadership position as Republicans is on the line. And I think that will weigh heavily in the conference.


COOPER: Earlier, I discussed the immigration fight with CNN's Candy Crowley, John Roberts, and Dana Bash, part of the best political team on television.


COOPER: Candy, Representative James Sensenbrenner says that the Senate bill is unacceptable. And he says it doesn't secure the borders and it doesn't have sanctions against employers.

How prominent a role do you think the president is going to play in trying to reconcile these two bills?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's going to have to pay a prominent role if there's going to be any reconciliation of the two bills.

The White House has already started lobbying. They have already started to push this. But this is not a role that they have really taken over six years. This White House has, in fact, sort of stayed out of the details of governance, as people on Capitol Hill will tell you.

They say, look, Ronald Reagan, you know, was great at, you know, sending his White House in here and really getting a bill he wanted. This is a new role for this Bush White House. But, at this point, it's one he has got to play if he's going to get anything.

COOPER: John, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said -- and I quote -- "It's pretty clear that members of both houses understand they pay a heavier political price for failing to act than for acting. So, that's one thing that I've heard from Republicans in both houses." He says, "They want to get something done."

What is riskier, I mean, pushing through an immigration bill before midterms that may anger conservatives, or doing nothing...



This -- this is a real difficult calculation. And this is what is being talked about on Capitol Hill right now, Anderson, in a lot of back rooms, is, do they go ahead and they satisfy the constituents at home, at least members of the House, by killing this bill, and saying, there you go; we are standing up for you; we're not going to accept anything here that is going to compromise our ideals?

Or, if they were to do that, are they going to look like they can't get anything done? You know, the Republicans out there in the voting districts, particularly conservatives, are looking at this Congress, saying, we're getting nothing from you.

So, if they don't get some kind of an immigration bill, that runs a huge risk as well.

COOPER: Yes, Candy, it's a hard message to go back to your constituents with: Well, we didn't do anything, because we -- we couldn't figure out what to do.

CROWLEY: And it plays into one of the major themes that Democrats are going to use in the fall campaign, which is: Listen, they have done nothing. We need new leadership up there. So, it -- really, politically, there are -- are pitfalls on both sides of this.

COOPER: Dana, how optimistic are members of Congress that they -- you know, they can get something done before midterm elections?

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I have not talked to one person who has put the odds at better than 50-50...

COOPER: Really?

BASH: ... at this point, Anderson. I haven't.

Even some moderate conservatives, who -- one of whom I talked to who has brokered a lot of compromises in his years here on Capitol Hill, simply said, at this point, he just doesn't see the middle ground. There certainly are compromise ideas floating around from various members, most in -- mostly in the House. But, at this point, it's really unclear how they are going to bridge that divide.

And one of the major issues, in terms of the election, as John and Candy were just touching on, for -- for these conservatives, is that they are very concerned about the fact that -- that they're just -- that they're just going to make them so angry if they do anything that even looks, smells or feels like amnesty, that they're just going to stay home in November, and that they could, actually, in the end, lose their control and power here.

COOPER: All right, stick around. We're going to talk more about President Bush in just a moment.


COOPER: So, what do voters want when it comes to immigration reform? Here's the "Raw Data" from the latest CNN poll taken just last week.

Americans remain closely divided on a temporary worker program, 48 percent of those polled in favor, 46 percent opposed. The vast majority, however, 79 percent, said they favor a program that would allow illegal immigrants already living in the U.S. for a number of years to stay and apply for citizenship if they had a job and paid back taxes.

From immigration to Iraq and a rare mea culpa from the president -- after admitting he made some mistakes, the president left many with the impression that he was showing a softer side of himself. We will see if that's really part of some new White House strategy or simply the president being himself.

Also tonight, the Democrat facing corruption charges for the cold cash found in his refrigerator, and the power struggle that is pitting the president against his own party.

And, on a lighter note, holy muscles, Batman.


ROBERTSON: Eight, nine.


COOPER: Pat Robertson promotes what he calls an age-defying shake by claiming he can leg-press 2,000 pounds. Those are 1,000 pounds there. We were skeptical. Tonight, he says he has the pictures to prove it. We will show them to you -- ahead on 360.


COOPER: Tonight, President Bush and the first lady are at Camp David, where they are going to spend part of the Memorial Day weekend. Tomorrow, the president heads to West Point, where he will deliver the commencement address to the 2006 graduating class.

Now, many of those young men and women that he will be speaking to, of course, will soon be joining American troops, like this patrol in Iraq. While the president hasn't changed his stand on Iraq, certainly, he's reconsidered some of the language he's used to discuss it.

CNN's John Roberts takes a look.


ROBERTS (voice-over): It was just what Republican advisers have been calling for, the image of a president in touch with reality on the Iraq war, strong enough to admit that mistakes have been made.

BUSH: We've learned from our mistakes, adjusted our methods and have built on our successes.

ROBERTS: That mea culpa was the opening act of an extraordinary admission by President Bush when asked what his greatest regrets about Iraq were.

BUSH: Saying, "Bring it on"; kind of tough talk, you know, that sent the wrong signal to people. I learned some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a little more sophisticated manner, you know, "Wanted, dead or alive"; that kind of talk.

ROBERTS: It's a long way from the Texas swagger that earned President Bush a reputation as a shoot-from-the-hip gunslinger, from the days when he could admit no wrong. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, APRIL 13, 2004)

QUESTION: What would your biggest mistake be, would you say, and what lessons have you learned from it?

BUSH: I'm sure something will pop into my head here, in the midst of a press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer, but it hadn't yet.


ROBERTS: Republicans applaud this softer side of President Bush, reminding voters of why they liked him in the first place.

J.C. WATTS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: When the president's out there, I think, giving an honest assessment, saying, you know what, if we had to do it again, we wouldn't do it like that, I think that's a very good thing.

ROBERTS: But political scholars see an obvious calculation and one that may be too late.

LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS: My guess is, the American public, by and large, has tuned out on President Bush. They're not listening to him. And, so, when he does admit error, he doesn't have an impact, because he doesn't have that large of an audience.

ROBERTS: There's a tradition among American politicians of bearing their souls to win public favor. But they're careful not to go too far. Remember Richard Nixon denying he took campaign gifts, except for one, a little cocker spaniel.


RICHARD NIXON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And our little girl Tricia, the 6-year-old, named it Checkers.


ROBERTS: Or Ronald Reagan admitting:


RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We did not achieve what we wished, and serious mistakes were made in trying to do so.


ROBERTS: But never saying who made them.

Or this famous attempt to avoid impeachment.


WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Not piety, nor tears, nor wit, nor torment, can alter what I have done.


ROBERTS: As striking as President Bush's change in tone might have been, observers say, what regrets he had were too few to be worth much mention.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a modest moment of contrition. And I wouldn't go much beyond that.



COOPER: Joining me again are John Roberts, Dana Bash, and Candy Crowley, part of the best political team in the business.

John, last night, David Gergen, on this program, said it was interesting to see the president admit the mistakes in Iraq, but -- but probably too little too late.

Is showing this side of himself part of some sort of a plan?

ROBERTS: It -- it is. He's hearing a lot from Republicans who go back to their home districts, and all they are getting is a barrage from their constituents to say, what's going on with Iraq? Why don't we know more about what's going on with Iraq?

And the president is under a lot of pressure from people -- members of his own party on Capitol Hill and people behind the scenes to get out there, put his face on television, and talk more about it.

Perhaps it's not going to move his numbers, but the Republican lawmakers who are facing a difficult reelection in -- in November are looking at this and -- and saying, we need at least whatever help you can give us.

The problem here though, is, Anderson, people don't know if words are going to be enough. It's one thing to talk about it. But they're -- they're looking for action. People are looking for an end to the violence. They're looking for substantive troop withdrawals.

And unless and until that happens, words may not change his political fortunes or the fortunes of Republicans in Congress a whole lot.

COOPER: Candy, I mean, it was interesting to me how many people today I talked to who were sort of surprised to -- who -- who don't follow politics particularly closely, I mean, but were surprised to hear the way President Bush spoke yesterday. It was sort of a -- a side of him they said they hadn't seen before.

Is the President Bush that we, the public, see every day the same that you reporters in Washington see up close?

CROWLEY: Not always, although the -- the President Bush that we saw up close is pretty much swallowed up in the bubble of the White House right now. You don't really get to see the side of him that you would six years ago, when he was campaigning.

There is a -- a side to him that is very sort of soft, if we're talking about the softer side of him. And I -- I have been in interviews with him pre his becoming the president, where he has cried. There was a -- a horrible accident at one of the Texas colleges during the -- the run-up to the election in 2000. And, as governor, of course, he -- he talked about it. It was one of the first things we talked about in an interview.

And I was surprised that, when he opened his mouth, he just started to cry about the parents who were receiving news that their children had died in -- in one of the college rituals. It was the burning of a -- of a fire of some sort.

So, there -- there's always been that side of him. I think it -- it tends to come in conflict with the Bush that wants to be presidential. He has yet to find a way to -- to show that person. And, you know, we are six years into it. And I think that they got caught up in -- in his being, you know, that -- the president that was the determined leader, and they forgot about the other side of him.

COOPER: Well, It's interesting, Dana, what Candy says, because, I mean, if part of the problem for the president in the poll numbers is sort of a -- a drop in -- in the trust that people had in him, people thinking him honest...


COOPER: Excuse me -- if he got out there and kind of showed himself more as a -- a full person, I mean, does -- would -- I mean, is that something the White House would consider? Would that in -- somehow change the numbers?

BASH: Well, you know, if you look back over the last six months, Anderson, they have been trying at the White House, big time, to do this.

In fact, the president, in the lead-up in and around his inauguration, he actually -- and, yes, that was even over a year ago, of course -- he was trying to do this. He had said sort of the gist of what he said, which is that he regretted saying "Dead or alive." He was even talking about how his -- how the first lady was really giving him a lot of slack for that.

And even over the past several months, in giving a series of speeches about Iraq, he has tried to be more contrite, said: Well, we have made mistakes, not just personally, but tactically.

And, if you look at the polls, it really gives you your answer, Anderson. It simply hasn't worked. Everything, from Iraq to his personal numbers, have gotten much worse.

COOPER: And -- and I guess, John Roberts, that -- that's part of why we have seen the president speaking to groups in a little bit less formal way, actually sort of taking unsolicited -- you know, un -- unprepared questions.


Republicans want to see him unscripted. They want to see him off the talking points. They say that they want to see him remind voters what they liked about him in the first place. When he started talking a little more frankly about Iraq, when he took off the rose-colored glasses, back in late fall of 2005, his numbers did pop up a little bit. People saw a new side to President Bush, and they said, hey, well, maybe this guy is worth listening to.

But, as Larry Sabato said, I think he's run out of that political capital, that a lot -- a lot of people have just stopped listening to him.


John Roberts, Candy Crowley, Dana Bash, thanks very much.


COOPER: It started off as a corrupt -- corruption investigation by the FBI. It has blown up really into a full-on Republican Party infight -- why the GOP is at its own throat over a Democratic congressman -- that guy -- coming up.

Also, two dozen Iraqi civilians dead in the village of Haditha, and Marines could face courts-martial because of it -- a look at the disturbing accusations -- when 360 continues.


COOPER: More details today on President Bush's unusual step to intervene in an FBI criminal case. A White House official says it was the president's own decision to seal the documents that the FBI had seized from the office of Democratic Congressman William Jefferson. The official says Mr. Bush wanted to give both political parties time to work through the political fight sparked by the investigation.

Once again, here's CNN congressional correspondent Dana Bash.


BASH (voice-over): It started with an unprecedented FBI raid on a congressman's office, hunting all night for evidence in a corruption probe, a government affidavit accusing William Jefferson of taking bribes, stuffing $90,000 in cash into his freezer. He says he's innocent.

REP. WILLIAM JEFFERSON (D), LOUISIANA: My lawyers have advised me not to discuss -- and I will not discuss -- any of the alleged facts in the case.

BASH: But the made-for-the-movies corruption scandal turned decidedly less Hollywood. REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R-IL), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We want to make sure that we take care of the constitutional prerogatives of the House.

BASH: It was the first time an executive branch agency raided a congressional office, and Republicans complained, it violated the separation of powers guaranteed by the Constitution.

The House speaker went straight to the president, demanding all seized materials be returned.

HASTERT: My opinion is that they took the wrong path.

BASH: The search of a Democratic lawmaker's office turned into a confrontation between Republican leaders and the Bush Justice Department.

ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that the Department of Justice is doing its job and investigating criminal wrongdoing.

BASH: Then, another twist -- Hastert suggested, the Justice Department was retaliating against him by leaking what he called false information to ABC News that he was under criminal investigation.

HASTERT: This is one of the leaks that come out to try to, you know, intimidate people. And we're just not going to be intimidated on it.

BASH: The Justice Department denied it's investigating Mr. Hastert, but the GOP squabble had reached such a fever pitch, the president called a time-out, ordering all material the FBI seized in the congressman's office sealed for 45 days.

HASTERT: Well, it hasn't been settled, but I think it gives us some time to take -- step back, take a breath, and then work out the problems.



COOPER: Dana Bash joining me again, along with John Roberts and Candy Crowley.

Dana, you know, just when the Republicans really needed a diversion from their own troubles and perhaps saw, you know, the -- the -- the scandal, the charges around Democratic William Jefferson, intense bickering breaks out in the Republican ranks. They do not seem to be able to get a break.

BASH: Right.

And, you know, if you -- if you look at some of the blogs from conservatives, and even talk to some conservatives, they say, this one, like some others, was of their own making, you know, that they, at the beginning of the week, had what -- what amounted to manna from heaven, politically.

They had a Democratic congressman who was -- allegedly had $90,000 stuffed in his freezer. And, in 24 hours, the story completely shifted to -- to internal Republican squabbling.

Not only that, Anderson; what was really fascinating, by the end of the week is that -- that you started to hear, finally, some Republicans come out and say: Wait a minute. This is probably not the message we want to be getting out there, that we don't want to -- to be investigated, that we -- we are -- should be treated differently than Joe Q. Public, if you will.

And a lot -- we heard a lot more Republicans coming out and saying, this isn't the right message that we want to be sending.

COOPER: And -- and, Candy, that does seem to be the message that a lot of people were receiving, I mean, rightly or wrongly, constitutional issues aside. You know, everyone's offices can be searched and everyone's e-mails can be read by their own employer. So, I -- you know, a lot of people would -- would say, why -- why shouldn't these guys be able to have their offices searched by -- by authorities?

CROWLEY: Yes. It's -- it's another one of the things that makes you want to vote for more recess, so they can go home and talk to actual people, because...


CROWLEY: ... this was, like, one of those times when it was so obvious.

I mean, it should have -- they should have heard their own words and thought, well, hold on a second. What have we been dealing with, what -- you know, the intrusion of privacy into, you know, phone records and all of that. And then to suddenly get all up in arms because, you know, a congressman's office, with, by the way, judicial consent, is searched by the FBI, just sends absolutely this message to the people out there, and voters saying, you're right. They have been there too long.

I mean, this was a losing issue from the beginning. And Dana is absolutely right. By the end of the week, somehow, their phones and their e-mails began to tell them that they needed to come out and say, and -- and, by the way, we believe that everyone should be subject to the law of the land.

COOPER: Oh, yes, let's just tack that on right there at the end.

John, has the president indicated whose side his sympathies lie with in the fight? I mean, the White House relations with GOP leadership, the Congress, certainly already rocky. I mean, I guess he doesn't want to annoy the House speaker.

ROBERTS: Well, no, he doesn't want to annoy him too much, because they already have some problems over the -- the firing of Porter Goss.

The president is trying to play the middle ground on this one, to say, OK, let's put these things under seal. Everybody, calm down, and we will give it 45 days to work it out.

But, Anderson, this has -- this has been a week where day is night and black is white, and I'm sure I'm going to see a flying pig around here some time soon, because the Republicans had this issue of ethics with the Democrats cold. They -- if they had just sat on their hands, they -- they would have just about taken away all of the ammunition that the Democrats had in charging them with ethics violations this -- this fall during the campaign.

And now, with Dennis Hastert standing up and standing on constitutional principle over this, as Dana said, he's -- he's giving people the -- the idea that Congress should be above the laws that everybody else is subject to. They want us to believe that the NSA eavesdropping program was the right thing to do, yet, whoa, don't in -- invade our privacy here.

It really is sending a lot of signals that a lot members are very uncomfortable with. And they just can't figure out why they have given Jefferson a break either.

COOPER: It -- it's fascinating.

John, when you see a flying pig in Washington, give us a call.


COOPER: We will -- we will break in with breaking news.

ROBERTS: It won't be long from now, Anderson...


ROBERTS: ... based on how this week has gone.

COOPER: All right. John, Candy, Dana, thanks very much.


COOPER: So, deadly serious allegations when we come back -- U.S. Marines from Camp Pendleton potentially facing court-martial, even death sentences, if the allegations of a massacre in Iraq are true -- new details tonight on which way the investigation is going. We will have the latest.

Also, dispatches from the edge, from Baquba on Election Day -- what it looked like then, and how they're doing now.


ROBERTSON: Man, that's tough.


COOPER: And Pat Robertson on the juice in he says a drink gives him the strength of 10 men, a minion, even. He says he can prove it. We will put him and his drink to the test, sort of.


COOPER: There are some new and very troubling developments tonight concerning an incident in Iraq, in which as many as two dozen unarmed Iraqi civilians, men, women and children, were killed.

Sadly in Iraq, civilians die, sometimes unintentionally, during American or British operations, and more often, though, they're explicitly targeted by the insurgency. That happens daily, sometimes many times daily.

This, however, does not. What U.S. Marines allegedly did -- and we say allegedly -- in the Iraqi village of Haditha, could -- and we repeat could -- result in courts martial, even death sentences. And as CNN's Jamie McIntyre reports, the likelihood of criminal proceedings is growing.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's evidence like this, provided to CNN by an Iraqi human rights group, that Pentagon sources say is building a case against U.S. Marines suspected of killing 24 civilians in a rampage in Haditha last November.

This 12-year-old girl told the Hamarabi (ph) human rights organization she survived an attack that killed all eight members of her family by pretending to be dead.

SAFA YOUNIS, ALLEGED WITNESS (through translator): First they knocked on the door. My father went to answer the door. When he reached the door, they sprayed the door with bullets. But when he opened the door, they shot him again. Then they entered the bathroom and they set off a grenade. We went into the kitchen and found my father already dead. Then we sat down. Then the Americans started shooting at us.

MCINTYRE: Pentagon sources say the investigation is now wrapping up and that the evidence is very incriminating. The Marines will not confirm any findings of the investigation so far. But congressional sources say the 24 victims included seven women and three children, some shot in their beds.

Five unarmed men were also allegedly shot when their taxi cab was stopped by Marines. One official told CNN the mass killing is far worse than the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, which President Bush just identified as America's biggest mistake in Iraq so far.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATS: We've been paying for that for a long period of time. MCINTYRE: None of the abused prisoners at Abu Ghraib died, but if the allegations at Haditha are substantiated, the civilian deaths would qualify as a massacre, which could undermine support for the United States, both in Iraq and around the world.

Members of Congress have been warned to brace for the worst.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Apparently it's true. We don't know the details. It saddens you enormously. It reemphasizes the absolute requirement for discipline in the military.

MCINTYRE: The Marine Corps' top general, Commandant Michael Hagee, is in Iraq meeting privately with Marines to stress the importance of protecting noncombatants on the battlefield, another sign of the gravity of the allegations.

(on camera) AT Camp Pendleton in California, several Marines are waiting to hear if they'll be court-martialed, and sources say some could face murder charges. Meanwhile, a second group of Marines has been placed in pre-trial confinement on the basis of evidence indicating they may have killed a single Iraqi civilian last month.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.


COOPER: Well, whatever happened in Haditha, it happened during an especially bad stretch of turmoil, even by Iraqi standards. Iraqis were gearing up for elections, and the insurgents were doing their best to turn them into a blood bath.

All this week on 360, we've been looking back at dispatches I filed from places, and giving you updates about what's happening there now. Many of the places I've written about in this new book, "Dispatches from the Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters and Survival".

Tonight's dispatch, we take you back to Baquba, just north of Baghdad. Producer Tommy Evans and I, on the 15th of December, 2005, on a day that was filled with hope, election day.


COOPER (voice-over): In Baquba, it didn't take long after polling stations opened Thursday morning for the first voters to arrive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are so excited, because we will start a new stage in our life. We will start the democratic life here in Iraq.

COOPER: Rethina Mede (ph) is a teacher, an election worker, and very optimistic.

(on camera) There has been so much violence. There has been so much bloodshed. Do you think the violence will continue for a long time? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I am sure that it will end.

COOPER (voice-over): Outside, Iraqi police kept a close watch: lightly armed, lightly protected. A thin row of razor wire their only blockade.

(on camera) Voters getting body searched. Here in Baquba and the surrounding province, insurgent attacks are down 30 to 40 percent compared to this time last year. But still, security is the No. 1 concern. All people here are searched several times before they get inside the polling station to cast a vote.

(voice-over) Tala Rabiya (ph) voted with her mother-in-law, Layla (ph). Each has dipped their finger in ink three times in the past year, but say they've yet to see any real change.

(on camera) When you see the ink on your finger, what do you think?

(voice-over) "We want security and stability," Layla (ph) says, "and peace of mind."

Fatima's (ph) daughter, Sara (ph), didn't understand why her mother's finger was stained.

(on camera) What will you tell her about what does it mean?

(voice-over) "It's the happiest day we have," she says. "It's a day where everything is good. It's progress for the Iraqi people."

Layla Kaninajif (ph) believes life for her daughter will be better than it's been for her.

"Her future will be better than mine was, and better than her father's was," she says.

At this one polling station, there was no violence, no incidents. After watching so many of her countrymen vote, Luthana (ph) made sure to do something not many people in Iraq publicly do. She thanked America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. We are so grateful to the American people, especially, because, to the American army, because -- they help us, as I said before, to start this new life.


COOPER: Well, there was so much optimism on that day, that election day, six months ago in Baquba. For many there, things have gotten much worse since then. People there say the city has descended into the worst chaos since the war began.

As for the election nearly six months later, politicians still haven't been able to agree on several top members of the new cabinet. Not the most hopeful update, unfortunately. But there are others, more inspiring dispatches from the edge from other places I visited. We'll bring them to you in the days and weeks ahead.

And before we go to commercial, a quick bulletin. Breaking news out of Indonesia. What's being called a strong earthquake with fatalities on the south coast of Java, the country's central island. Magnitude 6.2.

According to early reports, several dozen people killed and at least 100 injuries. Again, those are very early reports. This is the first video that we are seeing. Search and rescue teams say they are seeing extensive damage to homes and buildings in the quake zone. We'll continue to bring you updates when we can.

When we come back, a second installment of weight lifting with Pat Robertson. After our report last night, we heard from Robertson's P.R. folks. They insist, yes, he can, indeed, leg press 2,000 pounds. They sent us photos to prove it. We'll way the evidence. But please, do not try this at home.

Plus, under the seas, something spectacular oozing up from the deep. It is "The Shot, and it's coming when 360 continues.


COOPER: So, tonight an update on televangelist Pat Robertson, who is promoting what the folks at Christian Broadcasting call an age- defying drink, one that has helped the 76-year-old Robertson leg press 2,000 pounds.

Today, we heard from Robertson's people. But first, let's just bring you up to speed. Here's what happened last night on our show.


COOPER: Tonight's "Shot" comes by way of, which posted a link to this ad. It's for an allegedly age-defying natural shake created and endorsed by none other than televangelist Pat Robertson. You see, it's got his picture there.

Do you see what it says in the ad? It says that the 76-year-old Pat Robertson can leg press 2,000 pounds: through rigorous training, he leg-pressed 2,000 pounds. "How did he do it?" the ad asks. Then talks about his health elixir.

Two thousand pounds. And I'm a wimp, I admit it. But 2,000 pounds is a lot. Two thousand pounds, that's the weight of a VW bug. Two thousand pounds, a full grown polar bear weighs 1600 pounds. Two thousand pounds is, like, 20 Nicole Richies. Pat Robertson can leg press 20 Nicole Richies.

He's even made a promotional video for his drink, in which -- it's true -- in which he says he's leg pressing 1,000 pounds. Take a look.


PAT ROBERTSON, TELEVANGELIST: I'll just do a few of these, OK? Then you can try. You ready? Remember, Christine.


ROBERTSON: I hope I can get it up there. Man, that's tough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's it. That's it. OK, stop.

ROBERTSON: Eight, nine, ten.



COOPER: OK, there was a cut in there.

But anyway, just by way of comparison, this is Dan Kendra, a quarterback at FSU. He leg pressed 1,335 pounds. And according to sports columnist Clay Travis, when Kendra leg pressed that amount, the capillaries in his eyes burst. Yes.

So, we were so surprised by Robertson's claim and his age-defying elixir that we decided to check in with an expert, so we called upon Jerry Anderson, a former Mr. Natural Universe and current trainer at Bally's Fitness in Los Angeles. We spoke earlier.


COOPER: So, Jerry, what do you think of the claim that he can leg press 2,000 pounds?

JERRY ANDERSON, TRAINER, BALLY FITNESS: Wow, man that's almost crazy. Two thousand pounds, that's a lot of weight. Right now, Anderson, on the bar, I have 1,000 pounds on this here right now. You would have to extend that all the way out to here to put 2,000. Wow. 1,000 is a lot.

I'm going to try to do it. I'm Mr. Natural Universe. I'll try to move it for you guys a couple times. Make sure that you replay this.

COOPER: All right. Let me just ask you, though, is a machine even built that you could put 2,000 pounds on there? Or do you have to build the machine special just to do it?

ANDERSON: You would have to, like, have a special made machine to just get the ends of it out there so you could get 2,000 pounds. Two thousand pounds is a lot of weight.

I mean, if you're going to move it from full range of motion, it's not easy. But if you're going to do it like these like these little rabbit reps, inch by inch, you could probably pull that off. But full range of motion is where the power is.

COOPER: All right. So you've got 1,000 pounds on the leg press right now. Let's see how you do it properly. ANDERSON: Yes. Woo, let me -- this is a no glasses job right here, Anderson. I've got to take the glasses off. One thousand pounds. Woo! Woo. I've got my Bally's Total Fitness spotter right here with me to make sure everything's OK. Because when you're using power, you should always have a spotter.

OK. I should be able to do at least three. Showtime, baby. Woo!





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a third one.



ANDERSON: Four. Five, six, seven.




ANDERSON: Oh! Woo! My goodness gracious. Woo!

COOPER: Well -- so, that was tough. It looked hard.

ANDERSON: Whoa, that was hard, man. You know what? It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it, you know?

COOPER: So the bottom line is, I mean, watching you do that, there is no way that Pat Robertson, 76 years old, bench -- leg pressed 2,000 pounds.

ANDERSON: I mean, if he could leg press 2,000 pounds, that's totally amazing. Full range of motion, with all the power. He may be able to do a short range, but full range, very, very difficult. But -- if he's able to do it, he's a great guy.

COOPER: Well, because I'm looking at the video now we're showing of him doing it. And he's actually pushing his thighs. Is that allowed?

ANDERSON: Wow. What I call that is, that's not a leg press. That's a chest press. You're using your hands and chest. So you're supposed to just use your quadriceps. Full range of motion. That's the way to do it. COOPER: His spokesman stands by the claim and says, quote, "When 2,000 pounds was put on the machine two men got on either side and helped push the load up, and then let it down on Mr. Robertson, who pushed it up one rep and let it go back down again. We have multiple witnesses to the 2,000-pound leg press, plus video of the 10 reps of 1,000 pounds."


COOPER: I guess, maybe they built a special machine. They didn't indicate a special machine, but maybe we'll try to get some video of him actually doing the 2,000 pounds.

Jerry, I'm impressed you can do 1,000, and...

ANDERSON: Yes. No problem.

COOPER: Maybe you can get some pointers from Pat Robertson.

ANDERSON: Yes, then if I get some pointers from him, then I could do one leg with 1,000 pounds, and I go up to 2,000, I'm a done deal. It's in there. You've got it going on. Yes! Woo!

COOPER: Jerry Anderson, former Mr. Natural Universe, thanks very much.

ANDERSON: Thank you. Have a great day.


COOPER: All right. So, we were skeptical, amused but skeptical. Maybe it's because I'm a wimp. Maybe it's because I don't believe in false advertising.

This morning, though, one of Pat Robertson's spokesmen called and chided us. They insisted that the man who channels God can, in fact, leg press 2,000 pounds. For proof, they sent these pictures.

First, that's the weight machine all loaded up with what we're told is 2,000 pounds. OK, it looks like it. I guess it looks like it.

And here's televangelist leg pressing. Now I hate to be a stickler. It looks like he's using hands again. And as we saw in the video when he was pressing 1,000 pounds, he wasn't really using full range of motion. So, technically, he's not really leg pressing. If this were a competition, those reps would not be allowed.

But look, clearly, Pat Robertson is in good shape. Probably better shape than me, certainly. We mean him no disrespect.

And in fact, we were so curious about this age-defying elixir that we downloaded the recipe and we took it over to our friends at Gold's Gym in New York, where they whipped up a batch of what the Christian Broadcasting Network web site called Pat's Age-Defying Shake. Yum. It's got soy protein, whey protein, natural apple cider vinegar, flaxseed oil, glutamine powder, even. I think that's the key ingredient.

Then, we offered/forced some of our fearless 360 crew to drink the shake. They weren't exactly in love with it, I've got to say. It's very sweet.

But the results were astonishing. First of all, that's bob, which is pretty impressive, considering he's never lifted before.

Frank was surprised by how strong his teeth suddenly felt.

And then, after drinking the formula, Tony was able to rip up a phone book in half.

And Ed, well, he attacked a tire. And that's after he ate the entire truck.

I have actually drunk the brew myself. It's right here. And it tastes just fine. And I've got to say, it's made me so strong, I can crush the cup with that power.

We've invited Pat Robertson on 360 to appear any time he likes or, frankly, to work out with me. I can certainly use the help. That's maybe what I would look like some day. Frankly, I'd even settle to work out with Madeline Albright, because she says she can leg press 400 pounds, and I think that's probably more than I could.

We don't know if Pat Robertson's leg presses are responsible for this. But call it coincidence, call it kismet. An underwater volcano burst with some startling images. That's "The Shot" today. We'll show it to you in a moment.

Also coming up ahead, breaking the code. Uncovering the true secrets behind "The Da Vinci Code". A special 360.


COOPER: "The Shot" is coming up. But first, Erica Hill from Headline News has some of the business stories we're following -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, Wall Street finished the week on a positive note. Stocks rose after am update report on the economy from the Commerce Department which says income and spending rose in April. The Dow finished the day up 67 points. The NASDAQ gained 12, and the S&P 500 rose by 7. All of them finishing the week with solid gains.

Oil prices are also up. Up a nickel to $71.37 a barrel. The prospect of higher demand helped to edge up the cost. This Memorial Day weekend is, of course, the unofficial start of the U.S. summer driving season.

And Martha Stewart facing another legal fight. Late yesterday, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil insider trading charges against Stewart related to her sale of ImClone stock. Stewart today denied allegations that she sold the stock based on inside information and is choosing not to settle the case.

Last year, of course, she completed a five-month prison term for lying about her sale of ImClone stock.

She's probably sick of hearing about it, huh, Anderson?

COOPER: As am I, actually.

HILL: Yes.

COOPER: Time now for "The Shot", our favorite picture of the day. This one is amazing. Tonight's shot comes from under the sea. It is, as I said, amazing. Take a look.

It's a volcano erupting nearly 2,000 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean about 60 miles from Guam. You can see huge amounts of ash and rock pouring out of the mouth of the volcano. That's under the sea.

HILL: That's just wild.

COOPER: This was from a probe send by a joint American and Japanese research team. The probe was just a few feet away from the eruption. It was not manned, of course, which would clearly make sense.

But looking at that, you can't -- I mean, it looks like it's almost in the air.

HILL: It does.

COOPER: But it's underwater. Crazy.

HILL: It's good stuff. That's why it's "The Shot".

COOPER: That's why it's "The Shot".

HILL: There you go.

COOPER: And that's why you are Erica Hill.

HILL: Have a great weekend.

COOPER: You, too.

By now, you've probably seen "The Da Vinci Code" or read the book. Tonight, a side you haven't seen, the facts behind the fiction. Real stories, real people, real secret societies, some of them dating back centuries. It's a special hour of 360 coming up. We're "Breaking the Code".


COOPER: "Breaking the Code: The Real Stories Behind 'The Da Vinci Code'", a special hour. Next on 360.


COOPER: Tonight, secret societies, hidden mysteries, the Holy Grail. "The Da Vinci Code" is a global sensation and a religious lightning rod.


ANNOUNCER: First, a controversial best-selling book and now a movie.

IAN MCKELLEN, ACTOR: Witness the biggest cover-up in human history.

ANNOUNCER: Tonight, "The Da Vinci Code", is it simply entertainment or immaculate deception?

We'll take you inside the secret societies, the Knights Templar, the Masons, and Opus Dei.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Opus Dei teaches goodness, peace and love. But really, what they do is not ethical.

ANNOUNCER: Others have a different view. You decide if it's devout faith or brainwashing.

And what are the secrets of Da Vinci's great genius? We unravel the puzzle that goes back centuries.

This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOP 360, "Breaking the Code". Here's Anderson Cooper.


COOPER: So it turns out, you can get a lot of attention out of the words "what if?" That's exactly what "The Da Vinci Code" has done, asking what if Jesus married and had a child? What if Mary Magdalene was chosen to lead the church?

Millions have seen the movie. Tens of millions have read the book, a work of fiction using real people, and places and history. Tonight, we're looking at the plot. We're "Breaking the Code". We begin at the beginning.


COOPER (voice-over): First, there was the book. Dan Brown's novel has sold more than 60 million copies. And now, the movie.

TOM HANKS, ACTOR: Demons, omens, codes, monks. Da Vinci.

COOPER: A film that cost more than $120 million to make, and it's now breaking box office records.

HANKS: Dear God.

COOPER: "The Da Vinci Code" centers on an elaborate and bloody conspiracy to hide the true origins of Christianity.


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