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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
JonBenet: True Confession?; Karr: Birth to Bangkok; Fatal Timeline; Karr on Tape?; Case against Karr; Iran Rolls out Weapons; Iran's Nuclear Ambitions; Iran pulling the Strings?; Politics of Terror; Cold Case: Chandra Levy
Aired August 22, 2006 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It seems John Karr just can't stop talking. New revelations tonight about what he's saying now and what he may have been saying about the Ramsey case years ago.
ANNOUNCER: An old recording surfaces, with the man believed to be John Karr, describing in detail the death of JonBenet Ramsey. But is it really him? Tonight, you be the judge.
Showdown, the battle over Iran's nuclear program heats up, and not just with tough talk.
Iran plays war games and tells the West it's ready for anything.
And murder in Washington. Remember Chandra Levy? It's been five years since the intern was found dead in the nation's capital. Are there any new leads? We'll have an update on the investigation.
Across the country and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360. Reporting from the CNN studios in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.
COOPER: Thanks for joining us in this hour of 360. New developments today in the case of John Karr. He waived extradition to Colorado today, barely said a word in court.
However, CNN's Dan Simon has learned exclusively that Mr. Karr has been talking elsewhere. Dan's source, telling him that Karr blurted out quote, "Everybody says I couldn't know my way around the house, but," he says, "I got in the house around 5 o'clock and I stayed there all night. They," meaning the Ramseys, "didn't come back until ten o'clock."
It's just one of an avalanche of headlines in this case, some of them outlandish and unfounded, and others outlandish but true. Tonight we're trying to sort the truth from fiction even when the truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.
We'll start literally at the beginning with CNN's David Mattingly.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): According to a long-time family friend the troubles for John Mark Karr began at a very early age.
GEORGE MCCRARY, KNEW JOHN KARR'S FATHER: His mother, who was an evangelistic preacher, had become delusionary and felt that there were demons inside of her children, especially John.
MATTINGLY: George McCrary claims to have known Karr's father for decades. He says Karr's mother needed psychiatric treatment after she tried to kill him with fire.
MCCRARY: She prepared a fire around him on the bed and was going to light it and burn the demons.
MATTINGLY: Neither the family, nor their attorney have been available to confirm or deny the story.
But Karr's parents divorced when he was just 8 years old. Court documents say the marriage was irretrievably broken. The father got custody of Karr and his older brother, as well as all the family belongings, a 1962 Chevy, and some furniture.
The mother was allowed visitation, alimony and money to buy a mobile home.
Karr went to live with his grandparents in Hamilton, Alabama, when he was 11 or 12. Former classmates who knew him for years say he kept details of his family life quiet.
CINDY SHAW, FORMER KARR CLASSMATE: It's scary to see him on TV today, you know, it's really scary, because I'm thinking, how did the John Karr that seemed so normal, you know, 20 years ago turn into this person on TV?
MATTINGLY: Former classmates and teachers say Karr was a teenager who loved attention. In high school, Karr drove a bright red DeLorean sports car. Former Girlfriend Glenda Edwards says Karr dreamed of becoming an '80s pop star.
GLENDA EDWARDS, KARR'S FORMER GIRLFRIEND: He was into music when I first met him, and that's when...
MATTINGLY: Edwards says Karr gave her a tape and picked out his stage name, Damon Karr.
Teachers remember Karr as intelligent, focused and persuasive, always very eager to get what he wanted.
Susan Cobb remembers how Karr lost his temper when she became drum major in the high school band and he didn't.
SUSAN COBB, FORMER KARR CLASSMATE: John got angry. He started shouting at me. And that was really about, I mean, he never had anything to do with me after that.
MATTINGLY: Karr seemed to spend his high school years on the go, twice, leaving his grandparents in Alabama to live with his father in Georgia. Close, long-term relationships seemed difficult for Karr, a problem punctuated by his marriage record.
In 1984 Karr was 19 when he married a 14-year-old Quintana Shotts, seen here in her Alabama class photo. She says she feared for her life and safety, accusing Karr of using intimidation and fear to make her marry him. Karr denied the allegations and the marriage was annulled in less than a year.
Five years later, Karr married again. He was 24, she was 16. The couple had three boys, after a miscarriage of twins, and divorced in 2001, after he was accused in California of child pornography charges. His wife, Lara, asked for and got a restraining order.
Karr had trouble keeping jobs as well. He lost substitute teaching jobs in Alabama, according to administrators, because of complaints from parents.
The child porn charges cost him his teaching job in California.
And by the time Karr got to Bangkok, on the run from prosecution, he had attempted to teach abroad, getting fired from one job in Honduras.
At the time of his arrest, he had just started teaching in Thailand, where a doctor tells CNN he was preparing for a sex change operation.
(On camera): Those who knew John Mark Karr say they now marvel at the man whose every movement is watched by millions, and they wonder if they ever knew him at all.
David Mattingly, CNN, Atlanta.
COOPER: That's one timeline. The other might or might not intersect, that's for the legal system to decide.
And Mr. Karr, despite everything he's said so far, still is entitled to the presumption of innocence.
That other timeline involves a family, a little girl and a brutal murder.
COOPER (voice-over): Christmas day, 1996, the Ramsey family had spent the evening at a holiday party.
LAWRENCE SCHILLER, "PERFECT MURDER, PERFECT TOWN": They came home around 10:00 p.m. JonBenet supposedly fell sleep in the back seat of the car. She was lifted out of the car by her father, and up the back stairs, which was a spiral staircase, to the second floor, and she was placed in her bed.
COOPER: Patsy helped tuck 6-year-old JonBenet into bed. They say it was the last time they saw their daughter alive.
5:30 a.m. the next morning, Patsy woke up early because the family was planning to leave town on vacation. She walked down the back stairs from her third floor bedroom, in their 15-room Tudor style home in Boulder, Colorado.
SCHILLER: Just before she reached the bottom of the staircase, on the third step, she noticed three pieces of paper that were spread out.
COOPER: The ransom note. Patsy skimmed the words, we've kidnapped your daughter. Don't call the police or we'll kill her. Get $118,000.
SCHILLER: She ran upstairs, opened JonBenet's bedroom door, and discovered that the bed was empty.
COOPER: John Ramsey told his wife to call police immediately. Just before 6:00 a.m., Patsy made a panicked call to 911.
911 OPERATOR: What's going on there, ma'am?
PATSY RAMSEY, JONBENET'S MOTHER: We have a kidnapping. Hurry, please.
COOPER: About 20 minutes later, police arrived, followed by the FBI. The case was designated a kidnapping and phones were tapped. For the next six hours the Ramseys waited for the kidnaper's promised call.
Two different searches of the house turned up nothing.
At 1:00 p.m., a third search, and John Ramsey made the horrifying discovery.
RON WALKER, FORMER FBI AGENT ON CASE: Mr. Ramsey went to the basement, walked, I am told, to the door which was the door into the room that's been described as the wine cellar, opened the door, and then made the announcement that he found JonBenet.
COOPER: Strangled with a garrote and bludgeoned.
WALKER: John Ramsey had brought the little girl's body upstairs and the detective on the scene, Linda Arndt, had then subsequently picked JonBenet's body up and moved the body into the front room, fairly close to the location of the Christmas tree.
COOPER: The Christmas tree was here in the living room. That's where JonBenet's body rested for more than nine hours, until the coroner's office removed her from the home at 10:45 that evening.
The search warrant for the Ramsey home was issued at 8:00 p.m. that night. It took three and a half days to search the house again.
WALKER: The crime scene wasn't limited just to obviously the basement room. The crime scene also included the entire residence. COOPER: The more thorough search turned up clues that answered some questions, but raised new ones.
In the basement, a broken window in this storage room, may have let in an intruder. In the wine cellar, two footprints next to JonBenet's body, one still hasn't been identified. Nearby, a partial palm print and DNA evidence on JonBenet's underwear, and under her fingernails.
On the ground floor in the hallway, the pad used to write the ransom note. In the kitchen, the pen. And on the opposite counter, a flashlight, possibly used to strike JonBenet's head. Evidence collected 10 years ago that may be crucial in cracking the case today.
COOPER (on camera): And new developments in the case today. The tape that surfaced today, it is billed to be a conversation or conversations between Karr and a childhood friend of Polly Klaas's killer.
The details now from CNN's Brian Todd.
WENDY HUTCHENS, CLAIMS CONTACT WITH JOHN MARK KARR: And he opened up and he started telling me...
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This northern California woman, Wendy Hutchens says John Mark Karr came to her in 2001, just before he was arrested in Sonoma County on charges of possessing child pornography. Karr pleaded not guilty to those charges, but skipped bail and never stood style.
Hutchens' representative tells CNN she was a childhood acquaintance of Richard Allen Davis, the man convicted of the 1993 kidnapping and murder of Polly Klaas. Hutchens told the "Santa Rosa Press Democrat" newspaper and CNN affiliate KRON that she corresponded and talked on the phone with Karr at that time, initially about Klaas, then about the Ramsey case. Conversations she says she recorded.
HUTCHENS: He knows JonBenet's family because his brother worked for the Ramseys, worked for Mr. Ramsey.
TODD: CNN has tried unsuccessfully in recent days to reach Karr's brother. Hutchens told KRON Karr told her that he and his brother went to a Christmas party at the Ramsey's house in 1996. The Ramseys did have a party on December 23rd.
HUTCHENS: He met JonBenet, sat on the stairs with her by her kitchen, ate pineapple with her and talked to her and you know, did just funny voices and some magic tricks, you know, quarter behind the ear kind of thing and, you know, got her confidence at that time.
TODD: Then, Hutchens says Karr claimed he found a storm window in the house, unlocked it, returned later and snuck in, then hid in a guest bedroom until JonBenet's parents were asleep.
HUTCHENS: He came, got out from under the guest bed and went into her room, and she was just only barely asleep, and woke her up and said her parents wanted her to come downstairs. And she remembered him from the party, and so she willingly went with him.
TODD: Karr has since claimed that JonBenet's death was an accident. Hutchens does not mention any specific confession from Karr.
This is an excerpt from an audiotape she gave to KRON. A voice she claims is Karr's.
CALLER: JonBenet. God, what a powerful thing, to just be alone with that little girl. That doll face. You know she was just so incredible in mind, and so unreal in death. She's just so alive. She's so alive. She's so alive. She's so alive. I mean, she's wonderful.
TODD: Karr also said on the tape, according to Hutchens, how would that person apologize for such an atrocity? Would that person say I strangled your daughter and it was so accidental and I was so afraid?
CNN has not been able to independently verify the authenticity of the tape and no law enforcement agency involved has been willing to say they are genuine, despite extensive efforts.
When we spoke to Hutchens' representative, asking to interview her and for copies of the audiotapes and e-mails, the representative didn't provide them.
The "Santa Rosa Press Democrat" also says it cannot independently verify the voice on the tapes or the copies of the e-mails.
Hutchens told the newspaper and KRON she recorded Karr at the request of local investigators and the FBI. An FBI official in San Francisco would only say the bureau had assisted the Sonoma County sheriff's office in its 2001 investigation of Karr. The sheriff's office did not respond to our repeated calls, but Hutchens' name does show up in one document related to Karr obtained by CNN, a Sonoma County judge's order in October 2001 granting car's supervised release from jail in the pornography case. The line reads do not contact victim directly or indirectly, then has Hutchens' name next to it with a slightly different spelling. That same line appears again in divorce papers filed by Karr's now ex-wife.
(On camera): So should investigators have gone after John Mark Karr five years ago? The Sonoma County sheriff told the "Santa Rosa Press Democrat," his department did not have clear evidence tying Karr to JonBenet Ramsey's killing.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Well, If John Karr cannot hire his own attorney, one will be appointed to defend him, of course, and there are plenty. Here's the raw data.
The Colorado Public Defender's Office has 21 regional offices. They employ 211 trial attorneys, 25 appellate attorneys. Public Defender's Office also employs 71 investigators and paralegals.
Up next, what all these developments mean for prosecutors who may be trying to make a case against John Karr. We'll speak with former top prosecutor Trip Demuth.
Also tonight, Iran's latest nuclear moves and their current military might.
Plus, do Americans trust their government to protect them from terrorism? And which party do you trust more? Ahead on 360.
COOPER: A number of new developments in the case today. So far we heard a tape purporting to feature John Karr talking rather eerily about the JonBenet case back in 2001.
Also we learned that Mr. Karr has made another batch of self- incriminating statements since his return from Thailand. So there's plenty to talk about with my next guest, Trip Demuth, who is the former Boulder County prosecutor, and we ought to point out a one-time political rival of the current D.A.
Trip, it's great to have you on the program again. We had you on last night. What do you make, first of all, of this taped conversation that we heard in Brian Todd's report?
TRIP DEMUTH, FORMER BOULDER COUNTY PROSECUTOR: You know, so many of the facts about this case have been released already to the media, that these looky-loos that have followed the case can virtually know everything about the case and make a confession sound very convincing.
So you know, I continue to not put a lot of stock in anything that he said previously, just because he could have learned it from a source other than being the killer.
COOPER: There's so much stuff floating out there on the Internet, I mean, photos of the autopsy, just you know it's unbelievable what one can find out right now.
This woman, Wendy Hutchens, claims that Karr claimed to have met JonBenet Ramsey at a party at the Ramseys' house. From what you learned during the investigation, could that even be possible?
DEMUTH: Well, there was a party at the Ramsey's house on the 23rd. My understanding is that he said the night before, which is inconsistent. I could have that information wrong.
COOPER: No, no, that's correct. He either said the night before or day of, which is incorrect.
DEMUTH: So that's inconsistent and that's something that, again, causes me concern. That maybe he's just parroting back to us what he's heard others say. That party was actually held on the 23rd. I was on the case. Obviously I was the prosecutor assigned to the case at the time of the murder, and I reviewed the list of people, the guests of that party. I don't recall his name, but it's been nine and a half years. It's possible that his name was on there. But, you know, this is not a name that jumps out to me.
COOPER: But you guys had a list of everyone who was at that party. So even though you can't remember tonight, theoretically, that's something that's easily checked by authorities?
DEMUTH: Oh, absolutely, there is a list. I remember it.
COOPER: This woman also said that Karr's brother did work for the Ramsey family. To your knowledge, did his brother ever come up during the investigation?
DEMUTH: No. Not to my memory. It's possible. You know, one of the things I should tell you, Anderson, is that at the time the police were very much focused on the parents.
My team and I were advocating for a broader investigation into the possibility of an intruder. We had any number of people we wanted to follow up on, and because the investigation was in the hands of the police at that time, and I was the prosecutor on the case, my team, Lou Smith, Detective Aynesworth (ph), were not able to follow up on those leads.
So, one of the reasons why I may not remember his name is because we weren't able to pursue those leads.
COOPER: Did that change once the case was handed over, I mean, essentially in a rather unique circumstances, the case was taken away from the Boulder Police Department and handed over to the D.A.'s office, to prosecutors like yourself. Once that happened, was there a significant change in the prosecutors' abilities to pursue leads?
DEMUTH: Absolutely. I don't know that it was taken away from the police, but it was certainly transferred from the police to the Boulder D.A.'s office. And at that time, Lou Smith, the person who worked with me, came out of retirement, went back and volunteered with the Boulder County D.A.'s office, who was now in control of the investigation and for the very first time, they were able to follow up on leads that we have been prohibited from following during the first years of the investigation.
COOPER: And I can't even imagine how frustrating that must have been for you. Trip Demuth, appreciate your perspective again tonight. Thank you.
DEMUTH: You bet.
COOPER: Iran, coming up, says that it is ready to talk, but do not expect it to stop building a nuclear program any time soon. With the tough talk comes a massive show of force from Iran. We'll have more of its war games coming up.
Also later, brothers in arms. New allegations that Iran is helping fuel the sectarian violence in Iraq. We'll talk live with CNN's Michael Ware in Baghdad.
COOPER: That's a show of military might in Iran earlier this year. The West, concerned that Iran wants to add nuclear weapons to its military force, has demanded that the country end its nuclear program.
Today, it got a response, kind of. Iran's top nuclear negotiator says his country is ready to resume talks on its nuclear program, but he didn't say whether Iran will halt its nuclear activities. At the same time, Iran's military has been flexing its muscles, sending a clear message to the world.
Here's CNN's Aneesh Raman.
ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is meant to leave little doubt. In Iran, there is a readiness for war.
Over the weekend, the Iranian armed forces launched massive military exercises, set to continue over the next five weeks in half of the country's provinces, and set to showcase key assets, including this surface-to-surface missile, dubbed in Farsi, Thunder.
Iranian military officials say it can travel up to 155 miles. Short-range, perhaps, but this is all, they say, part of a new defensive doctrine.
The war games are in operation across the country, in a large scale, says the chief commander of the Iranian army, and they are aimed at encountering all sudden attacks from enemies.
The threat of a sudden attack is a not so veiled reference to potential air strikes Iran could face from the West against its nuclear facilities. And a not so far off prospect to Iran's government as they continue to show no desire to suspend their nuclear program by the end of the month. Iranian officials have, from the start, maintained theirs is a peaceful, civilian nuclear program, that they have the right to pursue it, but with suspension off the negotiating table, Iran will almost certainly face action by the U.N.
Iranian officials say they are ready for sanctions, and as these scenes are meant to reinforce, ready for any military strike by the West.
(On camera): Iran's government has long presumed that this nuclear dispute was not only fueled by the United States, but that President Bush is looking for immediate regime change. That, they say, cannot come from sanctions, it can only come from military action.
Aneesh Raman, CNN, Tehran.
COOPER: Well, earlier I discussed Iran's nuclear problem with Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow on the Council of Foreign Relations.
COOPER: You know, Ray, it's interesting, the U.S. and its allies insist that Iran suspend its nuclear program before negotiations about it begin. Monday, Iran's Spiritual Leader Ayatollah Khomeini said that that's not going to happen, and that Iran will continue to advance its program forcefully. What does that mean? Do we know?
RAY TAKEYH, SENIOR FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Namely that Iran will continue to accelerate its program based upon the technological apparatus available to it. In essence, what he's suggesting, that Iran's program and its pace and its temple is not condition on political sensitivities or international opinion, but on basically the technology that is available to the country.
COOPER: They basically are not willing to suspend their program in order to enter into negotiations. Why? They've done that before.
TAKEYH: Exactly, that's why, because the Iranians suspended their program last time for two and a half years, during the negotiations with the Europeans and ultimately those negotiations did not yield the type of result that they were interested in. But also this is a different time. Iran feels much more powerful in the Middle East.
COOPER: Because of what happened in Lebanon?
TAKEYH: Well, not just because of what happened in Lebanon, but what is happening in Iraq. And what's happening in Lebanon obviously reinforces that. What is happening in the Middle East in the past couple of years is Iran's principal antagonist, the United States and Israel have been humbled in case of the United States in Iraq, and in case of Israel and Lebanon. And Iran's allies throughout the Middle East are much more in power today and therefore so is the Islamic republic.
COOPER: How much do we really know about the Iranian nuclear program?
TAKEYH: Well, we know more than we did about the Iraqi program or other maybe even the North Korean program simply because there have been IAEA inspections taking place in the country and therefore the information we have is from the International Atomic Energy Organization inspection regime.
COOPER: But still, that's not a great comparison, you know, clearly we didn't know much about really what was going on inside Iraq at all. TAKEYH: Yes, there's reason to be humble based upon the information and intelligence that are available to us. But based upon the information that we do have, it suggests that Iran's program is rather sophisticated and perhaps more advanced than we initially anticipated.
COOPER: And the sanctions that, I mean, if Iran doesn't do this, the U.S. has promised to try to push the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions. What kind of sanctions are we talking about? I mean, they're not that severe.
TAKEYH: No, at this particular point the sanctions that are being contemplated are rather modest and symbolic. They have to do with for instance, travel bans on Iranian officials and perhaps even some sort of financial freezes.
COOPER: Why not make them tougher?
TAKEYH: Well, because there's no consensus among the great powers regarding Iran's nuclear program. In a sense that, while the Chinese, the Russians and the Europeans may agree that proliferation in Iran is a bad thing, they don't view this with the same degree of urgency or immediacy that Washington does and therefore they tend to be less inclined to press forward in a confrontational posture with Iran.
Also the question for the international community today is, do they want a third crisis in the Middle East, an ongoing crisis in Lebanon, a perennial crisis in Iraq and yet another crisis in Persian Gulf with Iran this time.
COOPER: But if there are no repercussions for Iran, basically ignoring the U.N. Security Council, that doesn't set a good precedent.
TAKEYH: No it doesn't, and I suspect that some point, the United States will try to have a sort of a coalition of the willing approach to sanctioning Iran.
COOPER: It's a confusing situation. I appreciate you trying to make some sense of it. Thanks very much, Ray.
TAKEYH: Sure, thanks.
COOPER: We'll have more from the Middle East coming up. I'll talk to CNN's Michael Ware about reports that Iran is fueling the insurgency in Iraq.
And here at home, politicians using the war in Iraq for political gain. Both sides are doing it, Republicans and Democrats. We'll talk to David Gergen about which message will win with the voters. That and more ahead on 360.
Also, a special CNN prime time tomorrow night, Sheryl Crow gets candid on a special edition of "LARRY KING LIVE." A special at a time of 8:00 p.m. A lot of specials there.
Then at 9:00, "Know your Enemy." CNN takes you on a 24-hour investigation, "In the Footsteps" -- excuse me, I should say a two- hour investigation, "In the Footsteps of Bin Laden." And later we take a look at five years after 9/11. Are we any safer? A special CNN prime time. It all starts tomorrow night, 8:00 p.m., Eastern, only right here on CNN. Stay tuned.
COOPER: Well, it appears Iran is not just building up its nuclear program and its military muscle as we just talked about in the last segment.
One British military commander now says that Iran is also playing a major role behind the scenes in the sectarian violence in Iraq, supplying some of the weapons that are being used against security forces in Iraq and killing Americans.
CNN's Michael Ware joins us live from Baghdad.
Michael, good to see you. So, British Lieutenant General Sir Robert Fry said today that there is a quote, "very clear Iranian role in stoking up violence inside Iraq." Where is that most evident, Michael?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, I mean, really, this is not a new development. I mean, U.S. military intelligence has been talking about this for well over a year and a half. I mean, this very much is a competition in Baghdad for influence between the United States and Iran. I mean, this is where the rivalry that you see played out in the security council over nuclear weapons comes down to the ground.
I mean, Iranian training, Iranian weaponry, and technology has been killing British and American troops here for almost two years. In fact, it was Iranian revolutionary guard that helped develop a relationship between Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and very particular, Shia militia groups here in Iraq, to introduce the most sophisticated IED or roadside bomb to Iraq. This is the shape charge bomb that punches through the American tanks.
So we've also seen the Iranians, according to Western intelligence, play a hand in the sectarian violence, adding weapons, fueling some of the violence directed against the Sunnis. Don't forget, too, we see Iranian intelligence here trying to compete with American intelligence here. For quite some time there has been parallel Iraqi intelligence agencies in operation, one U.S.-backed, and one Iranian-backed.
We now see the Americans through some of its allies, within the Iraqi government, trying to dampen the Iranian influence in the intelligence field. I mean, this is the front line in the rivalry in the great contest, the power play between America and Iran -- Anderson. COOPER: You know, it's interesting, you've been there really from the beginning of all of this. How are things now, today, this week, this month, compared to last year, two years ago, three years ago? Is it -- you know, from the pictures, from all the reports, it just seems like it's getting worse. Is that a fair assessment?
WARE: Well, yes, it is. I mean, there are increasing levels of violence and there's increasing pressures on the ordinary Iraqi who is trying to eek out a life. But also, a lot of this, a lot of these patterns have been under way for a long time. It's only now that we're hearing it from the Bush administration, or that we're only now hearing it from some of the top generals. They're just elucidating what a lot of their field commanders have been saying for a long time.
Essentially, Anderson, we are seeing a great catastrophe of U.S. foreign policy unfolding.
COOPER: Michael Ware, appreciate you joining us, stay safe. Michael, Thanks.
The war in Iraq, the war on terror, both political parties trying to frame these important issues to their own advantage. But what do Americans think? What do you think? Which party gets the edge? The answers coming up in a new poll. Some surprising numbers. And we'll talk to David Gergen about those numbers.
Also, an unsolved crime. Washington Intern Chandra Levy was murdered, her body left in a park. What is going on with the investigation now? Has the case gone completely cold? We'll take a close look when 360 continues.
COOPER: With public support for the war in Iraq at an all-time low and elections coming up in November, both political parties are scrambling to spin the issue to their advantage. Tonight, there are new poll numbers on what Americans think.
CNN's Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider crunches the numbers.
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Republicans want to frame the debate around the war on terror. Why? Look at the latest CNN poll conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation.
Americans believe Republicans in Congress would do a better job dealing with terrorism than Democrats by a fairly narrow margin.
Democrats want to frame the debate around the war in Iraq. Why? Americans believe Democrats would do a better job dealing with Iraq. Again, by a narrow margin, indicating most Americans don't see either party with a decisive advantage on terrorism or on Iraq. Most Americans have made up their minds about one thing, they are fed up with Iraq. Only 35 percent support it, the lowest level of support ever. Things have gotten so bad in Iraq, it may have soured the public's view of the war on terror.
DAVID DRUCKER, "ROLL CALL" MAGAZINE: As long as the war in Iraq is difficult, I think voters are going to feel more insecure about the terrorist threat.
SCHNEIDER: Just over one-third of Americans believe the U.S. and its allies are winning the war on terror. The prevailing view? No one is winning.
President Bush wants to flip that around. He's trying to re- build support for the war in Iraq by persuading people that it's part of the war on terror.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I repeat what our major general said, or leading general said in the region. He said if we withdraw before the job is done, the enemy will follow us here. I strongly agree with that.
SCHNEIDER: Does the American public agree with that? No. 52 percent believe the war in Iraq is a distraction from the war on terror. 44 percent agree with President Bush that Iraq is an essential part of the war on terror.
So far, Iraq is framing the debate, and for most Americans, President Bush has failed to connect Iraq with the war on terror. That gives Democrats an opening, but Democrats still need to convince most Americans that they have a better plan for Iraq.
Bill Schneider, CNN, Los Angeles.
COOPER: Earlier I discussed the significance of those poll numbers with Former Presidential Adviser David Gergen.
COOPER: You know, David, you look at these poll numbers that Bill Schneider was just talking about. It's interesting, people feel Republicans do a better job on terrorism, but Democrats, by a small majority, do a better job on Iraq. Why do you think the difference?
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, it clearly, and it's a very interesting set of numbers, isn't it? Clearly, people are separating on their minds the war on terror from Iraq. They just put Iraq in a separate category.
And they give the president very low marks on Iraq, but they give him high marks on handling terrorism.
I think it also suggests, Anderson, as people go as we head toward the fall of '06 elections, much is going to depend, the outcome is going to depend heavily on which issue is uppermost in people's minds, protecting ourselves against terror. If there is another potential attack right before the elections or whether it's going to be the situation in Iraq. If it's Iraq, the Democrats are going to be greatly helped and could take one or both houses.
COOPER: Do you think, though, that the Republicans continue to get a bump, when there is some sort of terror threat? I mean, it seems that was the way it was in the past. Is it still that way?
GERGEN: They still get a bump, but it's much more modest. And I do think the single most important element now in keeping the Bush presidency afloat is the fact that there's been no additional attack on American soil.
If there were another attack and it was seen to have gotten through our defenses and we weren't very competent in dealing with it, I think he'd be sunk. But right now, he can stay up a little bit on that.
COOPER: And on Iraq, do you think that the Democrats score higher on that, is that people really believe the Democrats have a plan for it or they're just sort of disgusted with what's happening now?
GERGEN: No, it's all opposition. It's all opposition to the war as it's being conducted now. I think, talking to people around the country, my sense, Anderson, is that most people think Plan A is not working. The president's plan is not working. Why should we leave another soldier to be killed with a plan that isn't working.
And yet when you hear the Democrats say, here's Plan C, which is get out right away and they're afraid that will make matters really bad in Iraq. And what they're looking for, I think, is someone who comes up with a credible Plan B.
COOPER: And that could be a Republican?
GERGEN: That could be a Republican. It could be a John McCain. It could be a Chuck Hagel. You know, there are ideas floating around. Joe Biden floated the idea of a federation separating out Iraq. That attracted some admirers and a lot of critics.
I talked to one major retired general tonight, who said, you know, what we really ought to do is take our American forces and put them in the north of Iraq, put them down in the south and turn Baghdad and the center of the country over to the Iraqi army and let them struggle with it. It will get worse before it gets better, but that's the only viable way to get out of there. And we ought to get out of the center of Iraq before it turns into a heavy civil war.
COOPER: It seems though that the Republicans, or at least the Bush White House continues to believe that they can turn some of these negatives or alleged negatives into campaign issues. I mean, that you know, a judge rules that the wire tapping is illegal. Well then activist judges become the target, and that they can just sort of flip these around which they've done in the past very effectively. GERGEN: They have done that. And, Anderson, I think what they're doing is they're experimenting with whatever comes along. They're trying to make it work. They're seeing if they can flip it. If it doesn't work, they'll go on to something else. They're desperately looking for something now because they know they're in trouble.
COOPER: And so you don't think they know what it is at this point?
GERGEN: No, I don't think they know what it is. I don't think they've found a silver bullet. They're hoping this terrorism argument will work again.
They do believe the cut and run, if they can make it stick on the Democrats, is a strong rallying cry because it says, yes, we may not have it right, but you guys really have it wrong. And so I think that's why the Democrats themselves need to be think being Plan B. They've got to have something which is not retreat, but which is a pullback of some sort, but also says we're going to stay in there and try to see this through. But right now, what we have going on right now is not working.
I do think, Anderson, we've got another issue right around the corner, and that's going to be Iran. You know, that's coming out as very fast. We may have action at the U.N. If there are sanctions out of the U.N., which the Bush administration wants, it could put real pressure on the price of oil.
So we could have within the next couple of weeks, we could have not one, not two, but three wildfires in the Middle East.
COOPER: And a wildfire that's not easily put out with Iran I mean, there are no easy answers to this.
COOPER: Sanctions are pretty tough at best. David, thanks. Appreciate it.
GERGEN: Thanks, Anderson. Good to see you again.
COOPER: Well, tonight in addition to politics, we've been dealing with all the new developments in the JonBenet Ramsey case and there have been plenty.
But what about those other long-running mysteries? We'll examine one you know very well in just a moment.
First, Randi Kaye joins us with a "360 Bulletin" -- Randi.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we begin with breaking news from the national hurricane center, word that a tropical depression has grown into Tropical Storm Debby. It's currently over Africa's Cape Verde Islands, packing maximum winds just over 40 miles an hour. As for where it's going, and when, it is currently on track for Bermuda sometime early next week.
On Wall Street, Markets gained in the morning, amid hopes that U.N. talks with Iran about its nuclear ambitions might be moving forward, but those gains were erased by the afternoon, after comments by the Chicago fed president renewed concerns that the fed might not be done raising interest rates.
The Dow closed down 5 points, ending the day at 11339. The NASDAQ gained 2 points and the S&P gained just 1.
Apparently folks aren't buying luxury homes like they used to. Toll Builders, Incorporated, which makes some of those pricey homes, says a weak housing market caused its third quarter profits to fall by 19 percent. The company abandoned some of its building locations as it doesn't see any signs of improvement nationwide.
And the Centers for Disease Control says a contact lens solution recall apparently stopped the spread of a serious eye infection. Bausch & Lomb voluntarily halted global sales of its ReNu with moisture lock solution back in May. Scientists still don't know what caused 164 people to become infected, but they are confident now that the outbreak is finally over -- Anderson.
COOPER: Randi, thanks.
The JonBenet Ramsey case may be closer to being resolved, but sadly we can't say the same about another mysterious murder. The case of Chandra Levy, killed five years ago. Tonight, the hunt for new leads and her killer. We'll have an update.
COOPER: Well, the case of JonBenet Ramsey is one of the most infamous, no doubt, and followed crimes in recent history. There have been other well-known murder mysteries of course that, to this day have been unsolved, but the killer or killers is still on the loose.
Tonight, we're going to take a close look at one of those cases, the case of Chandra Levy. You may remember the Washington intern who had a relationship with a Congressman, suddenly disappeared, only to surface dead.
CNN's Joe Johns now has the story and an update.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She was a driven, bright-eyed, 24-year-old intern, one of thousands who flocked to Washington when semesters change. A little dazzled by the power of this place, a little giddy with her own sense of possibility.
Chandra Levy came here in September of 2000, interning at the Federal Department of Prisons, dreaming of a job with the FBI. When spring arrived, she packed her suitcase for a trip back home to Modesto, California. She never got on the plane. On May 1st, 2001, Chandra Levy disappeared into thin air.
ROBERT LEVY, CHANDRA LEVY'S FATHER: My precious daughter, I just want her back. We just want her back alive.
JOHNS: For days the story of the missing intern was buried in the local paper, another lost soul in the big city, but behind the headlines, Washington was whispering. Chandra Levy had a secret.
Gary Condit, the Congressman representing Chandra's hometown of Modesto, California. According to Levy's relatives the 53-year-old married lawmaker and the 24-year-old intern were having an illicit affair. Chandra, relatives claimed, had said so herself.
Robert and Susan Levy were desperate to find their daughter, setting up a Web site for tips, begging the Congressman for information.
SUSAN LEVY, CHANDRA LEVY'S MOTHER: I don't feel he's been very truthful to me.
JOHNS: The public agreed. By August, the polls showed more than two-thirds of the country believed Gary Condit was at least somewhat involved in Chandra Levy's disappearance.
Under questioning, police say Condit admitted to the affair, but that's all.
CHIEF CHARLES RAMSEY, WASHINGTON D.C. POLICE: We have nothing at this time to connect him with the disappearance of Chandra Levy.
JOHNS: In public, Condit insisted that he and Levy were nothing more than good friends.
GARY CONDIT, HAD AFFAIR WITH CHANDRA LEVY: I had nothing to do with her disappearance.
JOHNS: And then, summer ended. September 11th wiped Chandra Levy's story from the headlines, until spring returned and a man, hunting for turtles in Washington's Rock Creek Park came across some bones.
C. RAMSEY: We do not know the identity of the person that we found.
JOHNS: Private Investigators Dwayne Stanton and Joe McCann, both former homicide detectives, were hired by the Levys to help find their daughter.
DWAYNE STANTON, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: And they're sitting by the phone waiting to hear something one way or the other.
JOHNS: When the news came, it was the worst. JONATHAN ARDEN, FORMER D.C. MEDICAL EXAMINER: The remains recovered last week in Rock Creek Park were positively identified by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner as those of Chandra Ann Levy.
JOHNS: Today Stanton and McCann took me back to the place where Chandra Levy's body was found.
JOE MCCANN, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: A lot that happened that day is still a mystery, otherwise we would know how she got here and who brought her here.
JOHNS: For all we know about Chandra Levy, we know next to nothing about how she died. The last time she was seen was at the gym, canceling her membership the day before her disappearance. After that, nothing.
There have never been official suspects in the case. For a time, police were questioning this man, Ingmar Guandike, convicted of attacking two women in the park within weeks of Levy's disappearance. He denied any involvement in Chandra's murder.
MCCANN: You know, it's coming up on five years. That's a long time.
JOHNS: That's a long time for a case.
MCCANN: You always hear people say that, you know, you try to close a murder case in the first 24 hours. We're talking five years.
JOHNS: Yes. You think this thing is ever going to be solved?
STANTON: Somebody knows. Someone has some information that can bring this case to a closure. And just like we always said, if that person would step forward and share that information, I think this case would be closed.
JOHNS: Until then, the death of Chandra Levy will remain yet another Washington mystery.
Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Well, we'll have more of 360 in a moment. Stay with us.
COOPER: Tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING," forecasters predicted this would be a very active hurricane season. So far, it's been relatively quiet. With Tropical Storm Debby forming tonight, we're only up to the fourth-named storm, but that could change.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The forecast we have is for seven, eight or nine hurricanes, an average of six. So it's likely that it's going to get busy and get busy quite soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Why forecasters say strong hurricanes may be just around the corner. That and the rest of the day's top stories are on "AMERICAN MORNING" tomorrow with Soledad O'Brien and Miles O'Brien from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., Eastern.
"LARRY KING" is coming up next with more on the JonBenet Ramsey case. New details about what John Karr said to U.S. police about what happened the night JonBenet was murdered.
Have a great night. Thanks for watching. I'll see you again tomorrow.
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