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Who Is Kim Jong Il?; Interview With Dan Rather; Country Music Stars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill Give Back to Gulf Coast

Aired July 5, 2006 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again, everyone.
One of the scariest places on the planet just got scarier, North Korea -- Larry has been talking about it -- testing a missile that the experts believe could reach the United States.


ANNOUNCER: He says he's got nukes and he's perfecting the missiles. Can North Korea's dictator be contained? Will diplomacy be enough?

Just who is this guy? Kim Jong Il and his shadowy country -- few get inside, but Dan Rather did. He joins us tonight.


ANNOUNCER: And it's not your ordinary gig.

TIM MCGRAW, MUSICIAN: Sometimes, you just don't know what to say when you see this kind of stuff.

ANNOUNCER: Faith Hill and Tim McGraw in New Orleans, giving a concert and giving back to the Gulf.


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

Tonight, live from the CNN New Orleans bureau, here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: And thanks for joining us.

We begin tonight with shockwaves from the story that has already managed to upstage the Fourth of July and shuttle Discovery's return to orbit. Yesterday, just minutes before Discovery lifted off, the North Koreans began test-firing missiles. They launched seven in all, including one believed capable of hitting the American Northwest -- all the angles tonight on how the testing went, how close North Korea is or isn't to being able to loft a satellite into orbit or drop a nuclear warhead on Seattle.

Also, Kim Jong Il's North Korea -- what does he really want? How far might he go? We're going to hear from the experts and get a rare inside account from Dan Rather.

Plus, how the administration is handling this in-your-face development. The answer, perhaps because there are no other good options, in a word, is diplomatically.

With that, here's CNN Ed Henry.


ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush is playing down the threat from North Korea and playing up the support he's getting from allies, just the opposite of how he handled Iraq.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I view this as an opportunity to remind the international community that -- that we must work together. It is much more effective to have more than one nation dealing with North Korea. It's -- it's more effective for them to hear from a group of nations, rather than one nation.

HENRY (voice-over): A White House accused of rushing to war in Iraq moved quickly to reassure Americans the U.S. is not on the brink of another military conflict.

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There are attempts to try to describe this almost in breathless World War III terms. This is not such a situation.

HENRY: An administration previously accused of not going the extra mile diplomatically is now all about doing just that.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: We have had expressions from countries all over the world of concern about this provocation that the North Koreans have engaged in.

HENRY: Once accused of thumbing its nose at the United Nations, the White House embraced the Security Council, which met in emergency session to consider a resolution rebuking North Korea.

JOHN BOLTON, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: No member defended what the North Koreans have done.

HENRY: The president is sending State Department official Christopher Hill to the region to urge North Korea to return to the six-party talks with the U.S., China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea.

CHRISTOPHER HILL, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: We're prepared to go ahead with it. And, meanwhile, North Korea seems to want to go in a different direction.

HENRY: But former Clinton official Wendy Sherman charges, the White House has failed by not taking a more assertive role in the talks earlier.

WENDY SHERMAN, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT ADVISER: We have to come to that negotiating table ready with direct talks and ready with enough incentives, as well as disincentives, much in the way that we have begun to do with Iran.

HENRY (on camera): Tony Snow asserted, the White House has succeeded, for now, in creating a diplomatic consensus that North Korea has to come back to the table for those six-party talks. But, so far, those talks have yielded very little.

Ed Henry, CNN, the White House.


COOPER: Well, of course, it all could get worse.

Sources tell CNN that North Korea has more Taepodong-2 missiles, and that NBC is now reporting that it's preparing to test yet another. The reliability of those missiles is now, of course, in question.

As CNN's Jamie McIntyre reports, yesterday's was something of a Taepo-dud.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When North Korea conducted its first and only other test of the long- range Taepodong back in 1998, it proudly released this video.

But this time, after an eight-year moratorium on testing, the first stage of the rocket failed to separate, and the missile fell into the sea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This backfired. This blew up in Kim Jong Il's face.

MCINTYRE: It's not clear what North Korea might have learned in the 40 seconds or so before the missile crashed, but the Pentagon is already analyzing what went wrong.


QUESTION: Can you share it with us?

RUMSFELD: I know everything that there is to know, and the details move around as more information is gained.

MCINTYRE: The U.S. doesn't believe North Korea can make a small enough nuclear warhead to fit on the missile.

But because the Taepodong-2 might have been able to reach the U.S., nine ground-based interceptor missiles were activated at Fort Greely, Alaska, and two at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

The U.S. Northern Command said in a statement, "Top officials from the command were able to determine quickly that the launch posed no threat to the United States or its territories."

North Korea did successfully fire off a half-dozen old-technology missiles, three short Scuds with a short range of 370 miles that could reach South Korea, and three Nodongs, Scud variants, with a medium range of 700 miles, that could reach Japan. That's far short of the potential range of the Taepodong, which could travel more than 6,000 miles, far enough to reach Alaska and parts of the United States, if it can work.

The shorter-range ballistic missiles were aimed northward, away from Japan. All six fell harmlessly into the Sea of Japan.

The U.S. says it had no trouble tracking the launches using both satellites in space and ships off the Korean coast, including the USNS Observation Island, a high-tech monitoring ship with sophisticated radars.

Also nearby were two U.S. Navy Aegis destroyers, equipped with standard missiles that could have, in theory, at least, shot down the short-range missiles, much the same way this warhead was shot down by an Aegis ship in a test over the Pacific last month.

(on camera): Launching a missile is no easy feat. In fact, of the nine interceptor tests the U.S. has conducted so far, three have failed because of problems with the booster rocket, not the complex technology designed to hit a warhead in space. So, with North Korea not having tested since 1998, it's really no surprise it hasn't yet mastered rocket science.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.


COOPER: Well, President Bush said that North Korea was part of the axis of evil, but unlike Iran and Iraq, there appears to -- there appears to be little about its nuclear -- nuclear capabilities.

Jim Walsh is an international security expert. He joins me from Boston, Massachusetts. Also, from Los Angeles tonight, former CNN senior -- senior Asia correspondent Mike Chinoy, and, from Washington, retired Brigadier General and CNN military analyst James "Spider" Marks.

Good to have our roundtable together.

Mike, why did North Korea test these missiles now?

MIKE CHINOY, FORMER CNN SENIOR ASIA CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, I think the North Koreans have gotten very frustrated at developments over the last few months.

First of all, they have seen the Bush administration pursuing a policy of trying to curb North Korea's illicit financial activities, going after banks that the North Koreans have used for counterfeiting and money-laundering, opening legal cases to try and cut down on the flow of money that helps keep Kim Jong Il and his elite comfortable.

And the North Koreans have made a lot of fuss about that. In fact, they have been saying all along they wouldn't come back to these six-party talks until that campaign ended. They said that the pursuit of that campaign showed hostile intent on the part of the U.S.

At the same time, though, they have been calling for direct talks between the U.S. and North Korea, and, in May, invited U.S. nuclear negotiator Christopher Hill to come to Pyongyang. That was an invitation that the Bush administration turned down.

So, the North Koreans, I think, are very frustrated, and they wanted to signal that they don't want to be ignored, that they need -- their needs need to be addressed, and that they're capable of causing all sorts of problems if they aren't taken seriously as a force to be reckoned with.

And I think, also, they have watched what has happened in Iran, where the Bush administration seems willing to have a somewhat more engagement-oriented policy. And they -- they are frustrated that they aren't getting a similar kind of treatment.

COOPER: Jim, well, if Mike is right and this is a quest for attention internationally, and -- and this missile was somewhat of a did, how concerned should the U.S. be?

JIM WALSH, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: Well, Anderson, I think Mike is exactly right. He's been in North Korea. I have been in North Korea. And I think he -- his analysis is right on target.

In the last 24 hours, I have heard two assessments of how concerned we ought to be. And they seem -- both of them are wrong. One is that the sky is falling, that is U.S. is in direct threat, that North Korea may hit us with a missile. That seems to me be clearly to be hype, clearly to be wrong.

On the other hand, we have also heard from the administration most recently, everything's fine. This is not a big deal, steady as you go. We're going to handle this the same way we have handled everything else.

And that also seems to be wrong. North Korea is not going to be able to attack the United States with a long-range missile any time soon. But business as usual is not working. North Korea has more nuclear weapons today than it did six years ago. It is testing long- range missiles today. It didn't six years ago. We need to be trying something different, because what we're doing right now ain't working.

COOPER: General Marks, how prepared is the U.S. and the American allies to deal not only with North Korea, but -- but -- but to -- to prevent an attack, if North Korea launches one, both on the ground or in the air?

BRIGADIER GENERAL JAMES MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Anderson, the U.S. and the Republic of Korea alliance that exist in South Korea is as strong as any alliance that we have ever been a part of.

We have had 50 years to normalize it and to make it right. And the forces are prepared to fight tonight. The intelligence collection is up routinely. The indicators are watched as a matter of routine. And condition in North Korea are a priority for the nation to track, again, as a matter of routine.

But the issue really is, what does Kim Jong Il want to try to achieve? And he certainly has gotten the attention internationally. He has always had our attention. Nobody's asleep at the switch here. But the concern is, he's a very rational beast. He's going to walk his way through this. He's being very provocative.

And I think the question remains, what does he stand to win or what does he stand to lose? And I don't know that that calculus makes a lot sense to him. Clearly, I would argue he doesn't have anything to lose. He's tyrannical. He's in power. He routinely kills his own people. And he's got a country under arms. I mean, he's in charge, and nothing's going to move him off that.

COOPER: Mike, you have been to -- to North Korea 14 times, which is just a remarkable record. You have met with top officials there. Is there a real sense among North Korean officials that the U.S. is a threat? I mean, technically, we're still at war. There -- there was never a peace treaty signed. There's a lot of propaganda. They talk about the U.S. wanting to invade North Korea. Do they really believe that?

CHINOY: It's a -- it's just -- you go through -- it's like going through the looking glass when you go to North Korea. Everything gets turned upside-down.

And you do come away with the palpable sense from North Koreans that you meet -- and it has to be said, these are all in very structured visits with guides, and you're not able to freely talk to people. But you hear this over and over. They feel under siege. They felt it years ago when I first started going. And, certainly, in the last four or five years, they have felt it, as they have seen the Bush administration come into office, discard the Clinton policy of engagement with North Korea, put Pyongyang in the axis of evil, talk about the doctrine of regime change.

They saw what happened to Saddam Hussein. And I have heard North Koreans say quite bluntly: Saddam Hussein was toppled by the U.S. because he didn't have nuclear weapons. We're not going to let the U.S. do the same thing to what they call their great leader, their "Dear Leader," Kim Jong Il.

COOPER: Mike Chinoy, Jim Walsh, James "Spider Marks," appreciate you joining us.

Of course, North Korea is not the only country with ballistic missiles. Here's the "Raw Data."

According to the Carnegie Endowment For International Peace, at least 30 countries have some type of arsenal. Of those, at least seven, the U.S., United Kingdom, Russia, China, France, India, and Pakistan, acknowledge having nuclear weapons that can be fitted on to a missile. Those nations, along with Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia and North Korea, also have long-range missiles that can travel more than 620 miles. And, so far, Russia and China are the only countries that have missiles known to work that could reach U.S. cities.

We're going to have a lot more of North Korea coming up in the next -- coming up tonight.

North Korea may soon be added to that list that has missiles that could reach the U.S. We're going to profile the mysterious Kim Jong Il -- some perspective on him and his strange, strange country from Dan Rather, who has spent time there. We will talk to him right after the break.

And later: Country music superstars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill singing in New Orleans as we speak, right now, for a very good cause. We're going to have the exclusive interview, my tour of the Lower Ninth Ward with the two country superstars. And we will take you inside their concert."

"American Heroes: Rebuilding the Gulf," part of a 360 special -- coming up.



COOPER: North Korea's so-called "Dear Leader," he hates flying, loves Michael Jordan, and is believed to have a personal library of 20,000 Hollywood movies. There are a lot of things that are mysterious and eccentric about Kim Jong Il. The fear he inspires, however, is not one of them.

CNN's Gary Tuchman tonight profiles the man known, strangely perhaps, as North Korea's "Dear Leader."


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If he weren't so dangerous, he might be hilarious. Kim Jong Il, the autocratic leader of the most isolated country in the world, wears throwback suits, platform shoes, and a 1960s style pompadour hairdo.

Jerrold Post is a former CIA psychological profiler.

JERROLD POST, AUTHOR, "LEADERS AND THEIR FOLLOWERS IN A DANGEROUS WORLD": He has great insecurity about himself personally. He's only 5'2'', weighs, roly-poly, 175 pounds, wears four-inch lifts in his shoes.

TUCHMAN: It is said the leader of North Korea likes watching James Bond movies, "Friday the 13th" films, and Daffy Duck cartoons. He's seen in the West as a playboy and a buffoon.

But he's also seen as a brutal tyrant, with the ultimate weapons at his disposal. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And if anybody takes him on, you have heard about their gulags. They're are gigantic. It's Holocaust stuff. You don't cross this guy, or you're dead.

TUCHMAN: North Koreans are told Kim Jong Il was born under a bright star in a double rainbow on a North Korean mountaintop. But, in actuality, he was born in the Soviet Union, where his father was in exile during World War II. His father, Kim Jong Il, was portrayed to his people as a god. He ruled with an iron fist, until his death in 1994, when his son took over.

POST: He was told from very early on that he was the son of God, in effect, a daunting challenge.

TUCHMAN: North Korea has long been an economic basket case. The country has an excess of weapons, but catastrophic shortages of food, leading to widespread, shameful famine. Yet, there is no shortage of food and frivolity for Kim Jong Il.

POST: He lives in a seven-story pleasure palace. He has recruited, at the junior high school level, attractive young women to become members of what are called the Joy Brigades, to be providing pleasure and relaxation to the hardworking officials of -- of his inner circle.

TUCHMAN: His cult of personality relies on exaggerating his achievements. North Korea's official newspaper has said, in college, he published 1,500 books. That's more than one a day.

The paper also declared, the first time Kim Jong Il ever played golf , he finished 38 under par, the greatest round of golf ever. It's quite fair to question his publishing and golf abilities, but one cannot deny his power and ability to inspire fear.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Well, few outsiders get a look, a good look, inside North Korea. Luckily, for all of us, Dan Rather has made a career out of getting a good look at places where few others get to go.

In more than four decades with CBS News, he's been to Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation, Iraq under Saddam Hussein, and, more recently, North Korea.

It's a privilege to welcome Dan Rather to the program tonight.

Dan, thanks for being with us.

What -- what's it like when you -- when you first arrive in North Korea?

DAN RATHER, FORMER CBS NEWS ANCHOR: First of all, it's a pleasure to be with you, Anderson. It's like nothing anybody who hasn't been there has ever experienced. It's very difficult to describe. It's a robotized twilight zone, otherworldly, in more ways than I can recount.

The package that preceded us teed up the fact -- and it is a fact -- this is a totalitarian regime. It's not just authoritarian, not just dictatorial. It's a totalitarian regime.

And in the capital, Pyongyang, there's this eerie quality of everybody being programmed. An example would be, you come out in the morning. Mind you, you don't go anywhere without your controllers. That's what they call themselves, government people who go everywhere with you.

If you say "Good morning" to someone, they are very polite, and they will smile and say: "Yes. Our maximum leader told us this morning on the radio that it was going to be a beautiful day. And you know what, sir? It is a beautiful day."

The first few times you hear that, you're at least bemused, if not amused, by it. But, hour after hour, day after day, there's an unsettling quality to that.

COOPER: That's incredibly creepy. I have never -- I have never heard that.

And the controller, I mean, how controlling was he? Were you able to talk to people on the street, go to people's homes?

RATHER: No, and no.

As a matter of fact, the penalty is severe in North Korea if you allow a stranger into your home. We were allowed to talk to people, but a -- only a limited number of people, and under very controlled circumstances.

You said how controlled? The control was complete, absolute. We went nowhere without the controllers. We spoke to no one without the permission of the controllers. The people we spoke to tended to be official guides at museums, other public monuments, that sort of thing.

But, again, Anderson, I come back to, it's -- it's hard for anyone in the West -- I would say hard for anyone who has never been to North Korea -- to imagine what it's like, because it -- it -- it is -- the discipline is so great, that everybody you are allowed to talk to gives you what are clearly programmed answers. And, sometimes, they're non sequiturs.

If you say, well, what was here before this building, and they didn't want to answer that, they will say, the sunset from this view is just gorgeous.

When -- we were there, I think, about 10 days. And, after a while, that begins to -- to really eat on -- on your mind. Keep in mind that -- I'm seeing pictures here on the screen of young people. We went to a special school. It's an after-school school, if you take my point, for particularly gifted and interested students.

And while what you're seeing here is sort the proverbial dance, they had very young children with mock guns in military uniforms repelling the invaders. That's shorthand for the United States.

Now, here, this is an inside stadium which seats more than 100,000 people. And across the way -- you can see it there -- they have the most -- and I hesitate to use the word incredible -- the most incredible sign.

See, when we first came into the stadium, the scenes across the way were changing. And I thought it was a television set. I would like to think I didn't just tumble off the turnip truck, and I know a -- a huge television screen when I see it.

It turned out it wasn't a television screen. It was school-age children using change cards, placard cards, like you see in this country at football games, but doing it so effectively, and changing scenes on cue and without error. You found yourself thinking, how many hours, how many days, weeks and months must they practice to pull this off?


And -- and, I mean, you have been in a lot of countries where the official line was, you know, hatred of America, down with the USA. Clearly, that is the North Korean line. Do you -- were you able to get any sense of whether people actually believe it there? I mean, was there any overt hostility toward you as an American?

RATHER: No, no overt hostility toward me.

But I do believe it, which is to say, we're now working on a -- if use the biblical 33 years as a generation, at least three generations of North Koreans have come to believe, they have been taught -- it's been preached to them -- that: The only thing keeping the United States out is our military.

And we viewed this military parade, which you're seeing here now. And while it was very impressive, by the goose-stepping discipline, and the close-drill of infantry, I thought it was fairly significant that we didn't see much heavy artillery. We didn't see much mechanized tanks, troop carriers, anything of that sort, and no air flyovers.

Now, that said to me -- I'm not a military expert, but that said to me that their equipment, in terms of their conventional army, is very dated. And, therefore, they didn't want to show off those parts of it, to show how dated it is.

COOPER: And...

RATHER: But, Anderson, make no mistake. When you're there and you see this -- these huge demonstrations, military and otherwise, this is a country that is very proud of itself. And they will tell you in a second, the officials that one speaks to, including General Bok, who is responsible for defending the demilitarized zone, that they expect the United States to invade. They expect the United States to try a regime change.

And they look you clear in the eye and say, we, unlike the Iraqis, will fight to the last man, woman and child.

COOPER: Hmm, and with, allegedly, the third largest army in the world, those are certainly strong words.

Dan Rather, appreciate you joining us. Thanks very much. It's great to have you on the program.

RATHER: Thanks a lot, Anderson.

COOPER: Coming up tonight, thankfully, a change of subject next -- the biggest names in country music here in New Orleans, giving back to this city and the entire Gulf -- my exclusive interview with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill coming up. They're performing right behind me tonight. All the proceeds of the concert are helping rebuild this city.

We will also tell you the stories of some of the other heroes who are here helping rebuild the Gulf.



COOPER: That is Faith Hill, of course, singing "Mississippi Girl," one of her biggest hits.

Two of country music's biggest stars are in the Big Easy tonight, of course, Faith Hill and her husband, Tim McGraw. They are heroes, of course, to millions, performing at the New Orleans Arena behind me. The show is still happening right now. It is part of their enormously successful Soul 2 Soul II tour.

The concert -- tonight's concert is for their charity, Neighbor's Keeper Foundation, to help the city of New Orleans and the entire Gulf rebuild after Katrina. They're making a difference. They are not alone.

A lot of people from all walks of life are committed to bringing this city and the entire Gulf back. It is thanks to their generosity and their spirit that they're making a difference every day.

Tonight, we want to introduce you to some of these men and women. We think their stories will inspire you. We will also tell you how the money donated to the Gulf is being spent, in some cases, perhaps misspent.

We're calling tonight's special "American Heroes: Rebuilding the Gulf."

But, before I get to my exclusive interview with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, here's how they got involved in giving back. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)


COOPER (voice-over): When Faith Hill released her single "Mississippi Girl" last August, the Mississippi native and her rock star husband , Tim McGraw, couldn't have known how meaningful the song would become to so many from her home state.

Just weeks later, Hill and Louisiana native McGraw, watched Katrina's fury unravel on the states they love.


MCGRAW: Faith and I saw it coming on TV. We knew it was going to be bad, like everybody else did. And -- and this, it really hits you.

COOPER: They watched in shock, as images emerged from New Orleans and the coast, people begging for help from their rooftops, swimming through murky waters, search for safety, homes washed away, neighborhoods underwater.

September 1, three days after the storm, the two were raising money and attention.


MCGRAW: If anybody feels like there's nothing they can do, money is -- is the thing that helps more than anything. There's a lot of people down there who are in a lot of trouble.


COOPER: The next night as the first relief convoys arrived in New Orleans, both participated in a concert for hurricane relief, the first of many fund raising events they participated in.

MCGRAW: I know that they're going to stand up and the citizens that weren't effected by this directly are going to stand up and really do good things for people.

COOPER: Hill appeared days later in Gulfport, Mississippi. Her tour bus filled with relief supplies. McGraw visited St. Bernard's Parish in November, announcing a fund raising partnership with

MCGRAW: People still need help here. And I think that a lot of people want to brush it under the rug and let everybody think that everything's all right but it everything ain't all right.

COOPER: As much of the nation moved on, McGraw and Hill did not. By March, the pair was angry at the lack of progress.

MCGRAW: When you have people dying because they're poor and because they're black or because they're poor and white or because of whatever they are, if that's a number on a political scale, then that is the most wrong thing. That erases everything that's great about our country, is to let something like that happen.

COOPER: Today Hill and McGraw want to show what makes this country great, a commitment to neighbors. Tonight's concert is their first major fund raiser for the Neighbor's Keeper Goundation. Their plan, to give everyone who comes a few hours to just enjoy. Their promise, this Mississippi girl and her Louisiana man are here to stay and here to help.


COOPER (on camera): Well, as we said, the concert's under way. Before they took the stage at the New Orleans arena, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill took a walk through two of the both devastated parts of the Gulf Coast, St. Bernard Parish and the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans.


MCGRAW: When I first came down, we couldn't come here because it was completely ...

FAITH HILL, SINGER: Completely flooded.

MCGRAW: Completely flooded.

COOPER (voice-over): It's been 10 months since Tim McGraw first visited storm-ravaged New Orleans and today in the Lower Ninth Ward what surprised him and his wife Faith Hill the most is how little things have changed.

HILL: Wow. Look at that. A car seat.

MCGRAW: Sometimes you just don't know what to say when you see this kind of stuff.

COOPER: It was a home coming of sorts. Tim was born in Start, Louisiana, Faith in Star, Mississippi. They visited the region several times since Katrina struck and remain haunted by what they've seen.

MCGRAW: It was like the people -- you look in people's eyes. The thing I that I remember the most is when they would get off a boat or something and they would come in and you see this expression on these people's faces that they're just completely lost. Helpless. And that was the scariest thing, was to see grown people who had been sitting for 10 days on a rooftop, come in somewhere and have this look on their face. It's like, you know, like you would see in pictures of war.

COOPER: The signs of destruction are still everywhere in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward.

HILL: You feel the life. You feel like this was -- this was an active street. You see the cars, the places that had children. You know there were children riding bikes and running around. And you feel that there was life here. And to see the -- the devastation is just ...

MCGRAW: It makes you -- you know, you always -- it is hard. You always when you ride through neighborhoods or something you think about what that family's life's like. Or when you drive by a neighborhood or you see somebody sitting on their front porch. Wonder what their life is like, what do they do. And -- you can imagine the night before this hit or two nights before this hit what they were thinking. Who had good lives and who were doing great and who had bad lives and things weren't going right. And how this altered either one of those.

COOPER: Faith and Tim made headlines months ago when they publicly criticized the pace of recovery efforts. Their frustration is still evident.

MCGRAW: Being critical on an emotional level.

HILL: That's it.

MCGRAW: It's not being critical on you know what to do level. We don't know what to do. We don't know how to make a plan to do this stuff. Our criticism -- it is not really criticism. It's -- it comes from an emotional level. It comes from a level of being frustrated about what you see. And it's not like saying, you know, you could do this or you can do this. I don't know what to tell anybody to do. All I know is that I wish that things could move faster. I wish these people could get their lives together quicker.

COOPER (on camera): Does it still frustrate you, coming down here and seeing this?

MCGRAW: Yeah. Absolutely it frustrates you. I mean, like she said, you just start thinking about people's lives.

HILL: You talk about the children, too. I mean, it's -- children are resilient. They're the most resilient. Much more than adults are, but truthfully, I mean, this is a whole lifetime for them. You know, a summer, two summers, two school years, you know, we have daughters nine, seven and four. It's a very crucial time of their lives. They're developing.

MCGRAW: Routine and stability.

HILL: ... what they experience. And the frustration is not -- yes, it's frustrating, it's heart wrenching to walk this street and see that these -- it looks exactly the same as it did four months ago. Nothing's changed. There's a few things happening. But you can understand the -- why some things were not moving faster in certain areas. But I think the most frustrating part is when there's so much red tape that has to be crossed before things get done but yet there's millions of dollars that we know for a fact exist because we all know we sent it.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Well, more of our conversation with Faith Hill and Tim McGraw is coming up. They've been involved since the beginning. When they talk about what they've seen, it comes home for a lot of people.

Also tonight, Mayor Nagin finally announcing a step forward on the city's rebuilding plan. The question, of course, is why does it take so long? Tonight we're keeping them honest.

And remind if you want to join the effort to help out, we'll show you how. Log on to our blog at We'll be right back.


COOPER: Well, earlier here today Mayor Ray Nagin announced that the city and private sector agreed at last long on guidelines for creating a master rebuilding plan for New Orleans. They said you should think of it as a blueprint for a blueprint. To many here that's long overdue. Though still kind of confusing. CNN's Randi Kaye tonight, keeping them honest.


KAYE (voice-over): Michael Reed (ph) is braving New Orleans summer heat and rebuilding his mother's home in the Lower Ninth Ward.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't wait on these people to do anything for us.

KAYE: Like many here, Michael is fed up with waiting for government help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't see anything that's actually happening right now.

KAYE: Nearly 10 months after Katrina and New Orleans in many ways still seems caught in a quagmire of red tape and rubble. For starters, there are only about 220,000 residents living in a city that used to be twice that size. And more thank a third of local businesses remain closed.

Mounds of debris and rotting houses still litter the city, making for a serious fire hazard not to mention eyesore. And the city only just announced its rebuilding plan today. Critics have blamed foot dragging on Mayor Nagin's part on the recovery process. Last week he lashed back.

MAYOR RAY NAGIN, NEW ORLEANS: I don't know where this came from, but there seems to be this incredible perception that we have done no planning.

KAYE: Rob Cooig (ph) who heads one of the mayor's rebuilding initiative is quick to point out the slow recovery is more about Mother Nature than politics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're dealing with a collapse of a city, of a magnitude never before seen in the United States and we're trying to get it done.

KAYE: Still, amid the mess are small sign of progress. The National Guard is fighting crime, volunteers are standing by to rebuild abandoned homes, and according to Mayor Nagin, the city has issued 70,000 building permits, suggesting many homes will be rebuilt.

But city councilman Oliver Thomas says more should have been done by now, especially in terms of housing.

OLIVER THOMAS, NEW ORLEANS COUNCILMAN: If there are leaders who believe that certain communities are not viable, say that. Don't let these communities or these people waste their time talking about rebuilding or coming back home. That would be extremely unfair.

KAYE: Unfair to people like Michael Reed, who says he's learned he can't count on anyone but himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Felt like we were kind of abandoned really, you know, and so we have to move on.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, New Orleans.


COOPER: Of course, that's what we're seeing more and more of. What it boils down to is individuals here taking matters into their own hands.

Coming up, we'll have more of my conversation with Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, performing right here live, right here in New Orleans, trying to raise money for the rebuilding of the Gulf.

Also tonight, some of the heroes of the storm, the heroes of the rebuilding and hero of the pets lost and stranded in the storm. One man and what he is still trying to do to save the lives of the animals.

360 from New Orleans ahead.



COOPER: Faith Hill and Tim McGraw singing "There Will Come a Day" from a little bit earlier tonight, from a concert still going on behind me here in New Orleans. A special concert to benefit the victims of Katrina, to help the rebuilding of the Gulf. Katrina touched them personally, of course. Faith Hill is from Mississippi, Tim McGraw is from Louisiana. If you talk to them you understand why they believe in this region and the people who live here.


COOPER: This is what it boils down to. It seems to me individuals, you know, making a difference, making a stand, helping out their neighbors. MCGRAW: Well, that's exactly what it comes down to. Private people can get more done and private organizations can get more done than the government can because of the red tape. I mean, it takes this neighbor help that neighbor and this neighbor helping that neighbor and that's what's going to get things done and that's what's going to get the ball rolling. And basically that's what's got the things that have been cleaned up cleaned up.

COOPER: You went down to, was it Gulfport right after the storm?

HILL: Yes.

COOPER: You basically packed up your tour bus filled with stuff and just drove down to Gulfport.

HILL: We packed up as many things as we could find to pack up, trucks and buses. And I tell you, that was -- it was just ...

MCGRAW: It was a way to not feel helpless.

COOPER: And seeing it up close, what, for you, was it like?

HILL: It was really, really hard. I have to say. It was difficult. And there was an image that I will never forget will go with me to my grave. This little dirt road. And there's a lot of them in Mississippi. But this small dirt road off of the interstate. I think it probably had about four houses on this dirt road. All of them were completely demolished. Maybe a wall or two walls could have been standing, the roof gone. But people were living in them still.

COOPER (voice-over): It's images like that which have spurred Faith and Tim to continue raising money for the Gulf. Tonight's concert is a benefit for their foundation, Neighbor's Keeper.

(on camera): The concert tonight, what is it for? Obviously it's part of your tour but this is a benefit.

HILL: Well, it's actually was -- it was not on the schedule. And we had a day off. And we just trying to -- just like everybody else, trying to figure out a way we can directly help. And directly help someone, if it starts with one family and then another family. Just to rebuild the Gulf Coast, rebuild New Orleans, rebuild the cities that are up beyond the coastline. So we -- we saw this date absent on our schedule and said, we got to go down there.

MCGRAW: The main reason to come down here, yeah, to make the money we make at that time concert is going to go to help. But just keeping things going.

HILL: Keeping it going.

MCGRAW: Keeping the businesses up.

COOPER: And do you think that's important, also, just to keep people here knowing that the people elsewhere are paying attention and do care about what's happening here? MCGRAW: Absolutely. You hear it, we heard it today. You know, just want people to know that they still think about them. Want them to know that it's still, we still need your help.


COOPER: Well, what we've seen here on our visits can also be told in numbers. Some sadly paint a bleak picture of the pace of recovery here in New Orleans. Here's the raw data from the Brookings Institution, 82 percent of the public schools are still not operating in the city. Seventy-nine percent of the city's child care centers with are still closed. And only 17 percent of New Orleans bus service is operating normally.

It's tough to get the economy going with major infrastructure ailing. Just a few numbers that underlie the concern we're hearing from Tim McGraw and Faith Hill tonight.

Our American heroes special continues with a student volunteer who planned to help New Orleans for a month has ended up staying a lot longer than that. A look at what keeps him going in just a moment.

But first, CNN's Gary Tuchman joins us with some of the news and business headlines we're following tonight. Gary?

TUCHMAN: Thank you very much, Anderson. Iraq's prime minister is questioning whether coalition forces should be immune from Iraqi prosecution. This comes as U.S. troops are accused of raping and murdering an Iraqi girl. The prime minister wants Iraqi officials involved in the investigation.

Meanwhile, there was more violence today. A car bomb near a Baghdad mosque killed six people. U.S. officials expect car bombings to rise since that's a key specialty of the new leader of al Qaeda in Iraq.

The Israel Defense Forces say two missile strike in northern Gaza today targeted Palestinian militants planting explosives. The IDF says it's checking into a Palestinian report of another missile strike on a coastal police outpost. Hamas militants have also been firing. Today one hit an orchard and another landed in an industrial area in an Israeli town. Just yesterday a rocket hit a high school parking lot.

Here in the states, in New Jersey, Atlanta City's 12 casinos shut down because of the state's budget crisis. And industry executive says the casinos will lose more than $20 million a day. New Jersey's government entered a shutdown after the state's lawmakers failed to adapt a new budget by the constitutional deadline last Friday.

And the doctor who performed an autopsy on Kenneth Lay says there was no foul play in the Enron founder's death. He says the 64-year- old died of severe coronary artery disease early this morning in a hospital in Aspen, Colorado. Lay was scheduled to be sentenced in October for his role in Enron's collapse. Now back to Anderson in New Orleans. COOPER: Gary, thanks very much.

Here in New Orleans, people are down but definitely not out. Next we have some amazing stories from this truly amazing city. Including one of a student who has postponed his studies for months on end to help with the massive task of demolishing storm-damaged houses and there is so much need still left here.

Also, more of my exclusive interview with Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. And a reminder that if you want to give a helping hand to New Orleans or the Gulf Coast, you can go to the 360 blog for a link to just some of the charities working here in the Gulf.


COOPER: We've been showing you what Faith Hill and Tim McGraw are doing tonight in New Orleans and have been doing in the Gulf for the last couple of months. But the truth is there are just thousands of people, tens of thousands of people who have come down here who have donated money and donated their time and their labor and their sweat to help people.

They don't even know, just strangers helping one another. You're about to meet one of them. And extraordinary young person who has made New Orleans his home for the past several months at a time when in his life really when most people are focusing on their careers. Andre Doyle has put his studies on hold to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, people he didn't even know. Once again, here's CNN's Randi Kaye.


KAYE (voice-over): It's 8:00 a.m. on a steamy New Orleans morning and volunteers from Habitat for Humanity's St. Bernard Recovery Project are already hard at work. Andre Doyle is 26, from California. He should be finishing up his master's degree in forensic science. Instead, he's becoming an expert in the science of demolition.

ANDRE DOYLE, HABITAT FOR HUMANITY VOLUNTEER: Sometimes you've got to watch out they come down a little too fast sometimes.

KAYE: Andre's been here since February, gutting homes that belong to people he's never met.

DOYLE: Basically, just going through the houses getting all of their things, getting all the furniture and all the cabinets and dishes out that we can and then we start tearing down the cupboards and getting the appliances out of the kitchen.

KAYE: People he felt a calling to help. What is it at getting people back in hair homes that is so important to you?

DOYLE: A lot of people, this is all they have. This is their roots.

KAYE: Five days a week, eight hours a day he guts as many houses as he can.

(on camera): It's hard work but it's so rewarding. Andre's found it hard to leave. When he first goat here in February he was only supposed to stay in the March. Then April, May, June, now he's supposed to leave July 10th to get back home for a family reunion.

(voice-over): This forensic science student digs through debris, not in search of evidence but in search of hope for homeowners.

DOYLE: Just the look on their faces when they come back to like nothing and see all of the valuables, photos and stuff, it just makes you feel good.

KAYE: Andre's recovered jewelry, diplomas, even rats. These little babies were snuggled inside a guitar.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Strum, strum and all of a sudden, wow, there's mice in there. It's kind of cool to find a sign of life like that in a situation like this.

DOYLE: You don't take nothing for granted after you've been doing something like this for a while. See what you have back home and see what these people don't have here. And you respect people more. You respect yourself more and what you have and what life gives you.

KAYE (on camera): What will it be like for you to adjust back out in the real world or doing this so long?

DOYLE: It won't be too hard. The only thing adjusting from is not walking into my mom's house and wanting to gut it.

KAYE: She wouldn't like that.

DOYLE: No, she wouldn't.

KAYE (voice-over): Sense of humor intact, Andre Doyle has helped make New Orleans a better place. Randi Kaye, CNN, New Orleans.


COOPER: And there are so many people, we'll tell you some of their stories in the hour ahead.

Also, straight ahead, North Korea's missile test. We've spent billions of missile defense. Can the system that we bought, the system that you and your tax dollars bought, handle a North Korean attack? We'll examine that.

We'll also have more with Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, our exclusive interview and their concert when 360 continues.



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