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Outbreak of Deadly Bacteria; Iraqi Officials Outline New Baghdad Security Plan

Aired September 15, 2006 - 22:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And thanks again for joining us. Tonight breaking news, score one for the bug hunters, for days now people all across the country have been falling deathly ill from a nasty strain of E. Coli bacteria. Nineteen states, at least 90 confirmed cases of E. Coli poisoning, one fatality, central to it all, raw bagged spinach. The question, until now, from where. Tonight after interviewing people who became ill, the Food and Drug Administration said it has traced the problem to fresh spinach packaged by a California company, Natural Selections Foods Earthbound Farm. The spinach is sold under about 20 brand name across the country. We should point out that they have not yet isolated E. Coli bacteria in company products only that Earthbound spinach was the common denominator in the patients who FDA investigators spoke to. The FDA says the company has issued a voluntary recall, any spinach products with expiration dates of August 17 through the 1st of October. And again, they go by a variety of store brands. For more on this breaking story, we turn now to 360 MD Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, this is the 0157 E. Coli bacteria that we all remember from hamburgers. How serious are the effects from this bacteria?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: This could be very problematic John, there's no question. This is a dangerous strain. As you know, E. Coli can live harmlessly in someone's intestines not causing any problem whatsoever, but there are a few strains like the 0157H7 strain that can cause all sorts of problems. There are 94 cases, to put this in context John, of those, 14, which is about 15 percent, have a significant complication of the infection, something known as hemolytic uremic syndrome. The name's not that important, but what it does to your body, it can cause kidney failure, it can cause bleeding and it can cause death. And it's usually a rare sort of complication of an E. Coli infection but you get a sense of just how bad this bacteria is by how many complicated cases there have been so far.

ROBERTS: So Sanjay, give us the gruesome details here. How might somebody know that they're becoming sick from this?

GUPTA: Well you know, it can be hard. Sometimes the symptoms can be vague and sometimes it takes a few days for them to develop. So unless you remember what you had a few days ago or even last week, and maybe you have a hard time putting it together but it can be significant diarrhea, it can be abdominal cramping, it can be just a feeling of lethargy sometimes. It can be kidney problems as well. Sometimes these things are hard to put together. But John I'll tell you, you know we've had an explosion in the number of cases, they really amplified and I bet you in part it's because people have been paying attention to your coverage and they hear these symptoms and say, wait a second, I ate some spinach, this is probably what's going on, they're going to the hospitals, and you're seeing the case numbers increase.

ROBERTS: You mentioned going to the hospitals, what should someone do if they come down with these symptoms, if they've eaten spinach, if they suspect that they may be infected by this E. Coli?

GUPTA: Well let me give you the good news first. The good news is despite everything that we've been talking about and all that you've been hearing, you still have a very good chance of getting not very ill at all and just being perfectly fine. It is unlikely for any individual watching to actually be contaminated by the E. Coli bacteria even if they've eaten some spinach or they might just get slightly sick. But if you have any of the symptoms we just talked about, you probably should at least talk to your doctor, maybe go to the hospital so they can at least document the case and keep better track of this whole thing John.

ROBERTS: So as opposed to just taking an antacid or an anti- diarrhea or something like that, because of this scare people should see a doctor about it?

GUPTA: They should see a doctor and a lot of times there's not going to be an antibiotic and some people actually recommend against anti-diarrheas. The point is to get that bacteria moving through your system as opposed to keeping it in there.

ROBERTS: All right, Sanjay Gupta, good advice. Thanks very much.

GUPTA: Thank you.

ROBERTS: One last note, Natural Selection Foods Earthbound Farm, the making of the suspect spinach is providing a number for customers to call if they have questions about the recall. Here's the number for you, 800-690-3200. You can also find that number at our website at

Now to Iraq and how is this for surreal. When it comes to the war tonight, a figure of speech is literally coming true. Right in the middle of what many are calling a last-ditch effort to secure Baghdad, they're actually about to start digging ditches. Iraqi officials today outlined a plan to ring Baghdad and the 6 million people who live there with a network of 28 checkpoints with trenches in between them. It's the latest development in a season that has already seen thousands of American and Iraqi troops flooding the city neighborhoods, while insurgent attacks just keep on coming. CNN's Michael Ware sees it all up close every day, he joins us now from Baghdad. Tell us more Michael about this plan to put in these defensive emplacements around Baghdad, these big trenches?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well John it's unclear at this stage how serious people will be taking this suggestion, which has been floated by the controversial ministry of interior. The spokesman for the ministry says the idea was inspired from a battle which was led by the Prophet Muhammad in 627 AD, where a city was ringed by trenches to defend it from a much larger force. He's trying to translate that idea into modern times, saying if it could have been dug then with hand tools, surely we can do it today with modern equipment. The idea is to encircle Baghdad with these trenches, there's no details on how big or how deep, getting 28 checkpoints or entrances in and out of the city. Militarily, already some questions have been raised about the plan, obviously, making so many checkpoints or just so many entrances and exists to city is also choke points, this is the sort of place that insurgents would love to attack. A perfect place for a car bomb and we've seen it sealing off smaller cities still does not stop the insurgents or the car bombs. John?

ROBERTS: Michael, we know that Baghdad is an area of real concern for U.S. forces and Iraqi troops, they have been bolstering the forces in there. The question is though, are troops being diverted from other areas of Iraq to come into Baghdad?

WARE: Very much there's a focus on -- as American commanders at the highest levels and both within the command structure and military intelligence say it's Baghdad, Baghdad, Baghdad. They claim that the war could all but be won or lost here in the capital, with this massive operation, the battle of Baghdad, operation together forward, it fails to reclaim the city from insurgents, militias and death squads, they say that the whole war could be lost. So focus is being drawn from elsewhere. Meanwhile in al Anbar province, an al Qaeda-led insurgency with al Qaeda national headquarters sitting there under the noses of U.S. forces cannot be defeated, according to the U.S. marine general who owns that province. He says I have enough troops in my current mission which is to train Iraqis, I do not have enough troops to win. John?

ROBERTS: And despite all this focus on Baghdad, Michael, there is still many killings going on there, dozens and dozens of them. Is the strategy not working?

WARE: Well, we're still seeing in a period of three days, well over 100 bodies executed and tortured many of them, according to Iraqi police, showing up in the streets. I mean, this operation, as large as it is, having searched something like 28,000 homes, has only found a few dozen weapons caches, made 90 odd arrests, it's very small. And the flaw in the plan, well one of the questions, should I say in the plan, is that firstly, they're working with the very Iraqi security forces that it's alleged the death squads are coming from and they didn't hand these areas over to the same Iraqi forces. John?

ROBERTS: Problem after problem. Michael Ware for us in Baghdad, Michael thanks very much.

More now on those killings that Michael just talked about, specifically the rising number of them. Here is the raw data for you. Since Wednesday, at least 130 bodies have been found in Baghdad, most of the victims were shot in the head and dumped in various parts of the city. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations says Iraqi casualties climbed 51 percent over the past three months and the number of weekly attacks rose 15 percent.

Back home, President Bush says time is running out to pass legislation enabling military tribunals and potentially tougher interrogation methods for enemy prisoners of war, detainees, terrorism suspects. This, critics say, even though some of the prisoners in question have been in custody now for nearly five years. Those same critics call Mr. Bush's timing on the issue political. But if that's so, it's not exactly going as planned, thanks to a rebellion within the Republican Party. More on that now from CNN's Suzanne Malveaux.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush came out swinging, offering an aggressive defense of his plan for tougher interrogations of detainees under U.S. custody. Making no apologies for his request to clarify the Geneva Conventions, the international treaty which defines how prisoners of war are to be treated.

BUSH: We're trying to clarify law. We're trying to set high standards not ambiguous standards.

MALVEAUX: It's all part of the president's recent strategy to get voters to focus on national security, a Republican strength and off of focusing on the unpopular Iraq war. With the midterm elections now just seven weeks away, Mr. Bush is trying to push tough anti- terrorism measures through Congress. Banking on the belief that Americans will back him.

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: They have calculated if he puts more heat on Congress he's more likely to get his own way. And secondly that if he's justified as belligerent, he will actually help his own standing with the public and in turn help Republicans in the fall campaign.

MALVEAUX: But what the president didn't count on was a revolt from top members of his own party like possible 2008 presidential candidate John McCain. Over just how far he could go in asserting his executive power to spy on, imprison and interrogate terrorism suspects. Former secretary of state Colin Powell broke his loyal silence saying altering the Geneva Conventions would throw the moral basis of the U.S.'s war on terror in doubt.

BUSH: It's flawed logic. I simply can't accept that. It's unacceptable to think that there's any kind of comparison between the behavior of the United States of America and the action of Islamic extremists.

MALVEAUX: Senior administration officials insist the split within the party is just a bump in the road. They say history shows the American people back the tough talk on terror. So that's what the president dolled out in his hour-long news conference, tough talk on the search for Osama bin Laden.

BUSH: We have been on the hunt and we'll stay on the hunt until we bring him to justice.

MALVEAUX: And on his refusal to sit down with Iran's president although the two men will be at the U.N. next week.

BUSH: No, I'm not going to meet with him.


ROBERTS: Suzanne Malveaux is with us now, along with chief national correspondent John King and Dana Bash our congressional correspondent. Suzanne, is the president surprised at the amount of blow back that he's getting from Capitol Hill? I mean you might expect it if it were just John McCain but the fact that John Warner is in there too makes this a lot more significant.

MALVEAUX: It certainly does John and it really poses a problem for the president if you have such strong Republicans coming out as specifically surprising of course, was the former secretary of state Colin Powell coming out, that was really a big surprise, a big bombshell for this White House. Here is what they are thinking, however. Is that they can get through this, they see this as a bump in the road, it is a big bump but they believe ultimately they may not win this legislatively but politically they're going to do well.

ROBERTS: A bump in the road and certainly one that the White House hopes isn't going to tear the back end of the car out. John King he wants clarification of common article 3 of the Geneva Convention, particularly outrages against humanity. What is it that the president's asking Congress for here in terms of nuts and bolts?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well on the one hand the president says that's just too vague. If you send a woman in to interrogate a male Muslim, is that an insult to that person's dignity, that is one of the things the administration talks about. The members of Congress though involved in this, including Senator McCain, Senator Warner, say those things can be worked out. What they're worried about is that some of the CIA interrogators want the right to do extreme psychological or extreme physical measures. To use extreme psychological and extreme physical measures against people and that's something that the senators say they simply won't tolerate, especially in the wake of the Supreme Court decision. So the president is going to be forced to compromise. What you saw today was vintage Bush though John, he's not going to compromise until the House goes first and passes his bill, that will be more to the White House's liking, then the president thinks he'll have more strength.

ROBERTS: Right, so what is going to happen Dana Bash if the Senate passes its version of the bill, the Warner, McCain Graham Bill and if the House passes its version, which is very much more along the lines of what the president wants, is there going to be a real battle in the conference committee? Might this thing just get completely held up?

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. I mean that is certainly a real possibility. The question is, what happens between now and then. There is still a big open question about how this plays out on the Senate floor, of course the House is planning to take this up next week, they will very likely pass the president's bill pretty easily. The Senate, the strategy for either side is still up in the air. But what the folks on the Senator McCain side, they are pretty confident they have the votes here and nobody at the end of the week, nobody is talking at all, all talks are off. So whether or not they can even get back to the table to even talk about compromise right now seems pretty unlikely at least in the short term.

ROBERTS: You know Suzanne Malveaux, President Bush is getting to that period where he's nearly into lame duck status because everything is going to start to focus on the 2008 presidential campaign. With McCain being the front runner, does President Bush really have the heft that he needs to be able to drive his version of the bill through the Senate?

MALVEAUX: You know that's a very good question because essentially what the White House is trying to do here is get the conservative Republicans, the diehards to the polls for the Congressional midterm elections to make sure that they maintain the majorities in the House and the Senate. Ultimately, that is the only way that the White House believes that President Bush is going to get anything done in the next two years and does not become a lame duck right away but already there is some senior GOP strategists who are beginning to wonder if they're hearing that quacking sound. But one person I talked to said, look, every day that this White House talks about the war on terror, that the president comes out and talks about the broader war, even if it's controversial, not the Iraq war, that is a good day for the White House.

ROBERTS: John King, the president was originally hoping when he brought up this idea of legislation for commissions that it was going to be the Democrats who were going to come out looking bad, because they were perhaps going to want to sign on to something that was different than what the president wanted, now he's up against some of the most visible members of his party in the Senate and the Senate is at war with the White House, the Senate's at war with the House. You're a Democrat, you have to be saying, man, it doesn't get any better than this.

KING: Well the Democrats are clearly enjoying this right now and we see that from Dana's reporting and other reporting on the hill. The question is, what will the Republicans do to get there in the end? I think it's an interesting point for the president. As Suzanne notes, the president helps himself with Republicans when he's out there battling the media, when he's out there criticizing the Congress. But John McCain and Colin Powell, two of his opponents on this issue, are two of the most popular Republicans among independent voters, conservative Democrats, so this is a very interesting political dilemma for the president. He's probably helping himself with Republicans right now but most would concede hurting himself in the middle.

ROBERTS: Dana Bash, John King and Suzanne Malveaux, thanks very much, appreciate it.

Straight ahead, the brutal reality of the unfinished war seen up close by Anderson on his first day in Afghanistan when a suicide bomber struck. We're going to take you there.

Also tonight, one island, many adversaries. The summit in Cuba, attracting a who's who of U.S. haters. We're live from Cuba tonight.

And in the next hour, a special "360" Beyond the Front Lines, a look at war time through the eyes of the young Americans fighting it in some out of the ordinary ways.


ROBERTS: It's nothing new of course to hear anti-American rhetoric coming from Cuba but this week the volume has been turned way up on that as a who's who of U.S. enemies meet to unite against the United States. CNN's Gary Tuchman is in Havana tonight.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Heads of state from nonaligned nations posed for their class picture 90 miles from U.S. shores in Havana, Cuba. And the anti-American tone of this gathering can be summed up in this one shot. On the top right Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gets his back slapped. In the middle of the screen Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez does a little hugging and back slapping of his own. And waiting on the left for a little of the action the leader of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe. Three leaders preoccupying the U.S. government and the whole time they were assembling Cuban TV was playing a song, "Strangers in the Night Exchanging Glances" only added to the surreal quality of the photo op. The summit is officially hosted by Fidel Castro, but because he's still too sick after intestinal surgery to appear in public, his brother Raul welcomed the guests and defended people like Ahmadinejad.

RAUL CASTRO, INTERIM CUBAN LEADER: Let us denounce the hypocrisy of the U.S. government while supporting Israel's bid to increase their nuclear store is threatening Iran in an attempt to prevent the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

TUCHMAN: And Ahmadinejad responded in kind.

MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRANIAN PRESIDENT: Cuba's fight for liberation and against imperialism is inspiring to many people as the resistance of the leadership of five decades has always had the support of the nonaligned movement.

TUCHMAN: Venezuela's Chavez who has visited Fidel Castro three times in the hospital, has been unmatched at this summit in antagonism towards the U.S.

HUGO CHAVEZ, VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT: American imperialism continues to prepare plans to arm conspiracies against the governments of Cuba and Venezuela. And I have the feeling against others.

TUCHMAN: Most of the nations here have decent relations with the United States, but the ones that don't have been loud about it.

HANS DE SALAS DEL VALLE, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI: It's a wake up call for those who care to listen in Washington but it's also a threat. At the same time, it's no coincidence that the summit was inaugurated on September 11th. What we have seen is a drift from sympathy to antipathy against the United States since September 11, 2001.

TUCHMAN: Secretary-general of the United Nations visited the summit, too. His prepared speech steered clear of controversy. From what we know he did become the first international diplomat to visit the ailing Castro. And amid thundering applause declared Castro was doing well and had --

KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: A firm handshake and an active and ever curious mind.


ROBERTS: That's CNN's Gary Tuchman reporting from Havana. We had hoped to have him live tonight but couldn't get him. Nothing nefarious though, just some technical problems. Gary's going to be reporting from Havana all weekend long.

Up next, an apology and a plea from a disgraced congressman, high power and high crimes, as a six-term Republican pays the price for corruption.

And backlash and protests in the Muslim world after the Pope makes controversial remarks about Islam. All that and more when "360" continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROBERTS: After months of denials, Congressman Bob Ney pled guilty today to accepting bribes and favors from a corrupt ex- lobbyist. The Ohio Republican could face 27 months in prison and as CNN's Joe Johns tells us, his crimes are nothing new to politics.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What happened to the once-powerful committee chairman Bob Ney is a case study of an age-old problem in government. Doing favors for people in exchange for things of value. Take Ney's dealings with a small tribe of Native Americans, the Tigua Indians of El Paso, Texas. The tribe once lived in poverty, then hit the jackpot with a $60 million a year casino, their luck ran out when the state essentially shut the casino down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The tribe went from rags to riches to rags again.

JOHNS: Then a high-priced lobbyist arrived with a promise to use his connections with a powerful congressman, Ney, to pull strings and restart the casino. The lobbyist, of course at that time no one knew that lobbyist would soon be at the white hot center of Justice Department investigations.

ARTURO SINCLAIR, TEXAS TIGUA TRIBE: Along comes Jack Abramoff and he says you know I'm from Washington, D.C. and I have the perfect solution, it's going to cost you $4.2 million dollars.

JOHNS: Not only did the tribe pay but it also forked over more than $30,000 to Ney's political action committees and his home state charity. The plan, get Ney to slip a few gambling sentences into of all things an election reform bill to reopen the casino. Lobbyist Jack Abramoff apparently thought it worked when he emailed his partner. "Just met with Ney, we're F'ing gold, he's going to do Tigua." But later surprise, Abramoff told the tribe he still needed another $50,000, this time to take Ney overseas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had a plan to take him on a golfing trip.

JOHNS: Did he say where?


JOHNS: Scotland as in St. Andrews, famed home of the British Open. After the trip, Abramoff told the tribe how close they were to getting their casino back. Later tribal leaders met with Ney.

CARLOS HISA, TEXAS TIGUA TRIBE: He gave us a little explanation of how a bill turns into law and where the process was right now and where our language was going to be slipped in, at what time. And that this happens in Washington all of the time. They have 800 page bills and they insert one or two sentences somewhere where no one would find them. All that was explained to us.

JOHNS: In fact, Congressman Ney apparently tried to do it but he got caught by the then chairman of the senate rules committee.

SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD, (D) CONNECTICUT: I said why would you want to include that kind of a provision into an election reform bill? Had no place in it. So, within hours or less than that, we rejected -- I rejected.

JOHNS: Bob Ney has now admitted to conspiracy and making false statements for his role in the Tigua mess and other shady deals. He admitted making serious mistakes and apologized. He also said he has a drinking problem but wasn't using that as an excuse. Jack Abramoff is awaiting sentencing and cooperating with prosecutors. And the Tigua, they're still waiting for their luck to get better. Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.


ROBERTS: A roll of the dice that came up snake eyes.

Also under fire tonight, the Pope, his comments about Islam spark protests across the globe. Did he go too far? Plus, new insight on the power of the human brain, a woman thought to be nearly dead in what her doctors called a vegetative state, tonight those doctors are stunned by what they discovered. "360" MD Sanjay Gupta reports on how the findings could change how doctors treat similar patients, when "360" continues.


ROBERTS: Coming up tonight on 360, a special hour-long report, "Beyond the Front Lines". Anderson takes a look at the lives of young Americans, men and women, who since 9/11 have joined the war on terror.

Tonight, we hear from six journalism students who spent a year with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's the last night at this location, and the band is rehearsing. That's when we met Jason, who had to make due with the sound check, because he wasn't going to be here for the concert.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm down here on R&R from Afghanistan for two days. Still kind of on edge, loud bangs and noises. You jump a little bit.

A lot of things that stick with you that you never forget: the first time you're shot at, the first person you have to shoot at, I guess you could say. I don't know. RPGs, mortars.

I think the thing that will stick with me the most out of this experience was my first IED. I just remember this loud just boom, and your ears go, you know, started ringing. And it was -- you felt this warm air and it just sucked out all of the breath out of your lungs. And it's hard to explain it. Until you've been there to understand, but it's just -- I think it's something I'll never forget.

Yes, we're going back. It sucks. That was my own personal concert. I feel special. Something before I go back to hell.

C-17, C-17 straight shots, three-hour, 15 minute flight. It's a long flight back. It's a lot longer than coming here, trust me.

Frank out. Y'all take care.


ROBERTS: That's "Beyond the Front Lines", just ahead on 360.

Leaders across the Muslim world are furious at Pope Benedict XVI tonight. They want an apology from the Roman Catholic leader for what they call a smear character assassination of the Prophet Mohammed and a smear campaign.

With more on the controversy, here's CNN's faith and values correspondent, Delia Gallagher.


DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pope Benedict XVI was speaking in front of a familiar crowd, at a university in his native Germany, but his comments caused outrage among Muslims around the world, comments they saw as insulting to the Prophet Mohammed.

POPE BENEDICT XVI, LEADER OF CATHOLIC CHURCH (through translator): Show me what Mohammed brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.

GALLAGHER: The words weren't his. In fact, the pontiff was quoting a 14th Century Byzantine emperor when he spoke about jihad and holy war and the role of violence in Islam, but Muslim reaction to those words was swift and angry.

"The pope has dishonored our prophet. He said our prophet was a terrorist and had used a sword."

That anger erupted not only in the streets but in the mosques. The imam of this Egyptian mosque says the pope's remarks show ignorance and could worsen relations between Christians and Muslims.

Governments in many largely Muslim countries also reacted angrily. Pakistan's parliament criticized the pope for what it called his derogatory comments. Turkey, a predominantly Muslim, though secular nation, demanded an apology from the Vatican. It's especially awkward because the pope has scheduled a visit there in November, designed to help improve communication between Christians and Muslims.

This member of parliament calls the pope's remarks arrogant, his approach hostile, and said he took an unfortunate stance which fuels religious fights.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi defended the pope's comments but did not offer an apology.

FEDERICO LOMBARDI, VATICAN SPOKESMAN: It was certainly not the intention of the Holy Father to undertake a comprehensive study of the jihad and the Muslim ideas of the subject, still less to offend the sensibilities of the Muslim faithful.

GALLAGHER: These controversial comments made by a religiously conservative pope could undermine strides made by his predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first pope to set foot in a mosque on a visit to Syria in 2001.

And some Vatican analysts say, though this pope is open to discussions with other faiths, his approach will be decidedly different.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN VATICAN ANALYST: The pope has made it clear that he continues to want to have serious, sustained dialogue with the other religions of the world, including Islam. On the other hand, you know, I think it is also clear, and I think this has to be said, that there is a sense in which Benedict is a bit more hawkish on Islam than John Paul II was.

GALLAGHER: The Vatican says the pope's speech was really about starting a discussion. Officials hope now that one century's old quote won't override his message.

Delia Gallagher, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ROBERTS: Joining me now is Ahmed Younis. He is the national director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Ahmed, the Vatican has said that this speech was meant to be an academic discussion, to cultivate a position of respect and dialogue toward other religious -- other religions and cultures, including Islam.

The pope quoted an emperor who died 600 years ago. They weren't the pope's words. It was a quote. Help us to understand. Why so much outrage among Muslims at this?

AHMED YOUNIS, NATIONAL DIRECTOR, MUSLIM PUBLIC AFFAIRS COUNCIL: Well, it's actually very interesting. It's because of the role of the pope's comments in bolstering the very world view, the narrative that is posited by the most extreme in Muslim societies, the people that are engaging in violence as a means of change.

There is, in fact, a clash of civilizations. There is an abode of war that is fueled by a fundamentalist Christianity that is fighting the abode of peace or the abode of Muslims and that the extremists have to engage on behalf of the majority of Muslims in the defense of the integrity of the religion, the tradition of the prophet and the words of the Koran.

So what we expect from a pope, as people of faith, as people of Muslim faith or Jewish faith or what have you, is a reasonable contribution to the conversation saying, there is no clash of civilizations. There is a clash amongst the extremists.

And we, as the vast majority of moderates that are fighting extremism in our mosques, that are trying to make sure that our youth are not radicalized, we as moderates are not bolstered by this kind of speech.

ROBERTS: Ahmed Younis, do you really believe that the pope's intent was to disparage Islam?

YOUNIS: No, not at all. I don't have any evidence to say so, and I think this is something that can be resolved with -- with a contribution that's much more impactful than an apology.

And that is a real ignition for a dialogue of civilizations, a dialogue between Catholics and Muslims, that is seen personally to, by the pope, to succeed in the future. What we have to do is maintain the cohesion of our religious pluralisms globally. We have to be the moderates of all faiths, saying to extremists, "Your narrative is not correct. It is the narrative of the prophet, peace be upon him, and the narrative of the Koran that we all endorse."

ROBERTS: So what are you suggesting, that the Vatican try to convene some sort of a summit so that people from different religions, including perhaps Christianity, maybe the Jewish faith and the Islamic faith can get together and they can talk about these issues?

YOUNIS: Well, absolutely. I think that would be a very good start. A dialogue between these groups of people, as many people around the world are calling for, is the way for us to move beyond these kinds of commentaries, that really only do what we don't want to do, which is bolster the ability of the extremists to maintain the tone and tenor of the conversation.

ROBERTS: Immediately what has this done to relations between Muslims and the Vatican? Benedict's predecessor, for instance, Pope John Paul II, worked very hard to try to build bridges between the two religions.

YOUNIS: I think this is a clear statement. And as I just said, it might have been very much negligent. But I think this is a statement to the majority of Muslims that there will be a shift in policy and that the tradition of John Paul II of engaging with Muslim communities on issues that affect Muslim communities globally, is a new policy that is being left, and a new policy is being adopted in which the pope, of all people, might begin to take a hawkish position towards Muslims.

ROBERTS: Well, certainly the Vatican under a lot of pressure tonight to somehow make this right. Ahmed Younis of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, thanks for being with us tonight to try to help us understand all of this. Appreciate it.

YOUNIS: My pleasure, John.

ROBERTS: Less controversy about some medical news tonight but plenty of mystery. A startling discovery on the power of the human brain. A woman plays tennis, even though she's in a coma-like state. Doesn't make sense, right? 360 and Sanjay Gupta sorts it all out for us, coming up.

Plus, one week ago today, a suicide bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan. Anderson was there. Tonight, a different and unique perspective on the tragedy, when 360 continues.


ROBERTS: New research being made public may revolutionize the way that brain injury patients are treated. Doctors have found a British woman, unconscious after an accident, is aware of her surroundings and seems to be able to respond to what people are saying to her.

As you can imagine, this has stunned the medical world. And as you might also imagine, it's both awe-inspiring and just a little terrifying, too.

360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta reports.


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is an unimaginable nightmare: trapped inside your own brain, no way to talk, no way to communicate, written off as nearly dead.

For five months, a 23-year-old English woman lay in what her doctors called a vegetative state. But Cambridge researches decided to take a closer look and were stunned by what they found.

DR. ADRIAN OWEN, MEDICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL: Not only was she able to hear and understand speech, but she was able to carry out simple tasks in her head. It's clear to us that she was consciously aware, aware of herself and what was going on, what was going on around her

GUPTA: A patient in a vegetative sleep will sleep and wake regularly, show some eye movements but have no discernible response to his or her environment. Armed with findings from a functional MRI scan, Doctor Adrian Owen thinks a lot more is going on. And he is shattering many long-held beliefs about the vegetative state.

OWEN: What we've shown here for the first time is that we can detect awareness.

GUPTA: Owens' team placed the vegetative state patient in a machine like this one and asked her to imagine playing tennis at Wimbledon.

OWEN: This is the brain of a healthy volunteer, who's imagining playing a game of tennis. And this is the brain of our patient, when we asked her to do exactly the same thing. As you can see, same area is activated in both.

GUPTA: With each task, researchers look to specific parts of the brain involving speech processing or visualizing a walk through rooms of her house. Every time her scans were indistinguishable from those healthy volunteers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's one patient in one study.

GUPTA: Doctor Joseph Fins says there are about 25,000 vegetative patients in the United States but says anywhere from 20 to 40 percent of them are misdiagnosed.

DR. JOSEPH FINS, NEW YORK PRESBYTERIAN WEILL-CORNELL: We have to be very cautious about generalizing her experience to all vegetative patients.

GUPTA: Like Terri Schiavo, whose brain was deprived of oxygen after cardiac arrest.

FINS: This patient was still within the window of being able to move. This patient in the vegetative state is not Terri Schiavo.

GUPTA: Schiavo's type of injury had a much grimmer prognosis than that of the study subject, who suffered a traumatic brain injury from a car accident.

Currently, there is no treatment for these patients, but doctors hope these scans may help early identify which patients have a better chance of recovery.


ROBERTS: Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us tonight from Atlanta with more on this woman's story.

Sanjay, is the woman doing any better now than she was? What's her condition?

GUPTA: she is doing better. And it won't sound like a lot different, but you know, those scans you just saw were about five months after her accident. Now 11 months after her accident, she actually will fixate on a mirror that's held off to the right side of her head at about this angle.

What exactly that means in terms of her brain function or her prognosis is hard to say, but she does appear to be graduated from the vegetative state to the minimally conscious state, John.

ROBERTS: That is remarkable, in and of itself.

You mentioned Terri Schiavo. Did she ever have one of these scan? And does brain activity mean that a patient's got a better prognosis?

GUPTA: It's a good question, and I don't know for sure that she had one of these functional MRI scans. My guess is no. A couple of things about that. One is that it's hard to prove a negative, and what I mean by that is that, if you have the scan and it doesn't show activity, it does not mean that there is no awareness. That's an important point.

But also, Terri Schiavo's situation and this 23-year-old woman's situation very different. Terri Schiavo had what's called an anoxic brain injury. Her brain went for a long time without any oxygen supply. This woman was a trauma.

Also, this woman's brain function ultimately appeared to be within the window of being able to improve. Now, she could graduate, if you will, from one state to another. Terri Schiavo, as you know, John, many years in that state with no significant or discernible improvement. So very different situations.

ROBERTS: So what is going to happen now, Sanjay? Are doctors around the world going to run out and find these vegetative patients and put them in a functional MRI machine, just to see if their brain does light up or not?

GUPTA: Well, I don't think it's going to happen quite yet, and there is some -- there is some controversy about this, because this is just one patient so far that's had this happen. It's exciting, nevertheless. I don't say that to belittle this at all.

A couple things that will probably happen. One is this may start to get used as a prognosticator. Meaning that if someone is in a coma and then they do one of these tests to sort of give them an idea of how they're going to do in the future.

But also what's, I think, incredibly exciting, John, is that the idea that you might have someone who's in a persistent vegetative state and start asking them yes-no questions, and they answer with their brain. And they're somehow able to record that with a functional MRI. So in a way they're communicating with you through their brain scans. It's far off in the future, but this is the way the researchers are thinking.

ROBERTS: All right. Thanks, Sanjay. Appreciate it.

GUPTA: Thank you, John.

ROBERTS: And of course, Sanjay Gupta is our resident neurosurgeon. This Sunday night, don't miss Sanjay's special, "Genius: Quest for Extreme Brain Power". He looks at what's unique about the brains of highly intelligent people. None of them in this room. And that's at 10 p.m. Eastern -- sorry -- here on CNN.

Tonight, though, back to the war. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have had many heroes. Up next on 360, the story of one of the most unlikely, one of the oldest reservists, in her own words.

We'll be right back.


ROBERTS: There are roughly 20,000 American troops fighting in Afghanistan. Some, like Meredith Howard, came when their reserve units were called up. She arrived in Afghanistan five months ago. This is the story of her time there and what happened just after Anderson arrived there last Friday.

Here is CNN's Dan Simon.


SGT. 1ST CLASS MEREDITH HOWARD, U.S. ARMY: I'm Sergeant 1st Class Meredith Howard.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Meredith Howard didn't have a choice about going to Afghanistan. Her reserve unit called into action. But she embraced it because of the difference she saw she was making in people's lives.

(on camera) Howard had a home in Wisconsin, as well as here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before her deployment, she and her boyfriend of 15 years decided at last to get married. It seemed they realized she was going to a place of extreme danger. And in the event of her death, he wanted to be sure the Army would allow him to have a say in all of her final arrangements.

(voice-over) On the ground, for five months, Howard seemed proud of her work and the connection she felt with the Afghan people.

HOWARD: We have a good relationship with the people here in the village and, of course, as everybody in Afghanistan they are in need.

SIMON: This interview done in May by an Army camera crew showing the U.S. military's efforts to put Afghanistan back together. Howard was part of a unit helping to rebuild the country's roads, schools, and water systems.

HOWARD: The very basic things that we in America take for granted all of the time.

SIMON: And make life better for children.

HOWARD: We wanted to do a humanitarian drop here so we can help the kids out. We're giving them some backpacks for school. Most the kids are in school, even if it's just a few hours a day.

SIMON: And that brings us to 10:20 a.m. in Kabul last Friday. It was three days before the September 11 anniversary. Experts now say the massive car bomb that exploded near the U.S. embassy was the Taliban's way of saying it is still strong. Nine Afghan civilians and two U.S. soldiers were killed. In fact, the suicide bomber actually crashed into Meredith Howard's Humvee.

At 52, she became the oldest American female soldier to die in either Iraq or Afghanistan, and it happened just as her tour of duty was nearing its end. But perhaps it wasn't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She actually told me that she wanted to stay here. She was thinking about staying here an additional time.

SIMON: Command Sergeant Major Daniel Wood (ph) met her the day this footage was shot. He says he could tell she felt a real sense of purpose.

COMMAND SGT. MAJOR DANIEL WOOD, U.S. ARMY: When I asked her why she was here, her main comment was that she was here for the people of this land, and she realized that the only way this long war could be won is by interacting and engaging with the children of Afghanistan, as well as with the young adults and the women.

SIMON: Meredith Howard, a woman who embraced her role and the people caught up in this unfinished war.

HOWARD: The people of Afghanistan are very warm and friendly people. And there are millions of children here, and I think this is the key to the future of Afghanistan.

SIMON: Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco.


ROBERTS: Sad story.

The "Shot of the Day" is coming right up, but first, Erica Hill from Headline News joins us now with a 360 news and business bulletin.

Hi, Erica.


Police in Green Bay, Wisconsin, believe they may have stopped a Columbine style massacre in the works. They've arrested two teenaged students, suspected of planning an attack on a local high school. Police found several weapons and homemade bombs at their homes, suicide notes and mannequin heads that appear to have been used for target practice. The two were arrested yesterday after a student alerted school officials.

Hurricane Lane is veering toward Mexico's Pacific Coast. The National Hurricane Center says the Category 2 storm will come ashore Sunday, but it's not expected to make a direct hit on Baja, California. Baja is, of course, still reeling from Hurricane John, which killed at least three people when it struck earlier this month.

And Ford Motor Company has announced plans for more job cuts and plant closings. The nation's No. 2 car company says over the next two years it will close at least two more plants and cut 10,000 more white collar jobs than previously expected. The company is also offering buyouts to 75,000 union workers in an effort to save $5 billion, John.

ROBERTS: And the auto industry at pains to remake itself to compete against imports.

Erica, time for "The Shot of the Day" here now. You're going to like this, because this is like a battle of the titans. Godzilla versus Megalon. Predator versus an alien. Gore versus Bush. Well, take a look at this one. A shark versus an octopus.

HILL: A battle for the ages.

ROBERTS: We get this video from our friends at National Geographic. Both are in the same tank, which may seem like a bad idea. But not for the reason that you might think. Sharks have been known to snack on the occasional octopus, but this time it was the octopus that got the upper hand.

This octopus was equipped with camouflage, some rather powerful tentacles, and that was enough to catch the shark...

HILL: I don't think I'd mess with either one.

ROBERTS: ... off guard. That's what you get for trespassing in an octopus' garden.

HILL: I guess so. I'll remember that.

ROBERTS: Erica, thanks. We'll see you next hour.

HILL: Thanks, John.

ROBERTS: And just to clarify, a few minutes ago when I was talking about no geniuses in the room, I was talking about me. Obviously, I'm dumb as a box of rocks, because now I have everybody in the studio angry at me.

Well, still to come tonight, Anderson is going to take you to some unexplored corners of the war on terror. The young men and women fighting that war in unconventional ways. We're calling it "Beyond the Front Lines", and it's coming right up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


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