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Is Iraq War Breeding Terrorism?; Bill Clinton on the Attack; Military Recruiters Preying on Female Enlistees?

Aired September 25, 2006 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again, everyone.
President Bush calls it the central front in the war on terror. Now his own intelligence community says the war in Iraq is making global terrorism worse.


ANNOUNCER: Intelligence bombshell.

RICHARD HOLBROOKE, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: It has increased anti-Americanism around the world. It's contributed to other crises. It has strengthened Iran. Those are simple facts.

ANNOUNCER: How fighting terror in Iraq could be making the fight everywhere else even tougher.

They were supposed to be recruiting the troops of the future.

TRISH GIUNTA, MOTHER OF JILL GIUNTA: I handed her to him. I signed permission slips for her to go with them. I thought she was safe.

ANNOUNCER: Instead, they were recruiting victims -- military recruiters forcing themselves on young women, some as young as 14 years old -- a 360 investigation.

And the big dog barks and takes a bite out of FOX. So, was it a counterattack on right-wing bias, or did Bill Clinton go in loaded for bear? We report. You decide.


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

Reporting from the CNN studios in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.

Well, we begin tonight with a stunning assessment of whether the war in Iraq is breeding a new generation of terrorists. Whether it is or isn't, there's no disputing the fact that it is stretching the armed forces pretty thin. And, given that, the last thing the military needs is this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The sergeant drove Jill to Marine Corps physical training, a program to involve kids in the Marines, in hopes they will join. Nearly every week, he picked up Jill at her home in his government car and drove her to this New York recruiting center, until, one day, he made a sharp turn down this deserted road, not even a mile from Jill's home.


COOPER: Well, Jill was raped on that road. She is not alone. 360' Randi Kaye and the Associated Press have uncovered at least 83 recruiters, 83 nationwide, disciplined for sexual misconduct or other inappropriate behavior with potential enlistees -- that story is coming up.

Now today's blockbuster from a newly revealed national intelligence estimate. This is the nation's 16 spy agencies talking. Bear in mind the report is classified. The portion in question was leaked, some say for political reasons. That said, it seems to answer a key question, a question first asked by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld nearly three years ago. Are we creating more terrorists than we're killing?

Here's CNN's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's billed as the most comprehensive and authoritative assessment of the worldwide terror threat since the Shock and Awe offensive that launched the war. The headline: The struggle to stabilize post-Saddam Iraq has energized terrorist organizations worldwide.

RICHARD HOLBROOKE, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: It has increased anti-Americanism around the world. It's contributed to other crises. It has strengthened Iran. Those are simple facts.

FOREMAN: The classified assessment should not be a surprise. Some U.S. officials and civilian security analysts have been saying for the past two years that radicals are using Iraq to advance their own agendas.

The findings? Iraq is serving as a training ground for young jihadists, a battlefield on which to learn and test their skills against the greatest military power on Earth. Iraq is a shipping-out point, from which these newly-trained terrorists may be embarking for other nations. And Iraq is a recruiting tool. The White House already said as much in a public report earlier this month. "The ongoing fight for freedom in Iraq," it says, "has been twisted by terrorist propaganda as a rallying cry."

Some Republicans, like Senator John McCain, are sounding a cry of their own.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: This is an argument for prevailing in Iraq and succeeding in Iraq, so that they won't be further encouraged.

FOREMAN: And supporters of the war say, even if it energizes terrorists, so what? Nine-eleven happened when the United States wasn't fighting anyone. And only parts of the classified report have been leaked, they say. Other portions may paint a less ominous picture.

(on camera): Still, opponents of the administration are using this report to renew their calls for the White House to change its policies and its personnel.

(voice-over): The secretary of defense heard that question again.

QUESTION: Are you considering resigning at all? And, if so, why not?



FOREMAN: And, again, he made it clear, the White House is convinced staying the course in Iraq will prove good for America, not for terrorists, in the long run.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Well, as you might imagine, with Defense Secretary Rumsfeld also coming under fire on Capitol Hill today, and Americans already leery of the war going into fall elections, the White House spent the day on damage patrol.

Here's CNN's Suzanne Malveaux.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): White House officials are on the defensive and crying foul.

FRANCES TOWNSEND, WHITE HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: It does not say that. It does not say that the war in Iraq has worsened the terror situation for the United States.

DAN BARTLETT, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT BUSH: And I think there were some characterizations made in the papers that I think leave a wrong impression.

MALVEAUX: Since the leaked parts of the national intelligence estimate are classified, top Bush administration officials said they could not talk about its contents. Instead, they took on their critics.

TOWNSEND: We ought to -- we ought to question the motives of the individual or individuals who leaked this. It was written in April. It is more than sort of a coincidence to me that we're now in almost October before a midterm election, and now once again we're seeing a leak of classified documents, and taken out of context, to make a political point.

MALVEAUX: Democrats are taking advantage of the opportunity to score political points that Mr. Bush's Iraq war plan is a failure.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: We know this is not working, and we know that it's creating, you know, very difficult problems for us down the road.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: The present course is doing more harm than good.

MALVEAUX: But the counselor to the president, Dan Bartlett, did thought hesitate to make a political point of his own.

BARTLETT: The reason why Democrats can't win any control of the Congress or the presidency is because one of the most central issues facing our country is national security. And they don't have a clue how to do it.


MALVEAUX (on camera): But convincing the American people that the Republicans know how to do it could be in jeopardy, if voters believe that the administration's own intelligence does not back the president's rhetoric.

(voice-over): That's why some members of Congress, including the Republican head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Pat Roberts, is calling for the White House to declassify the national intelligence estimate, and do it quickly.

Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, the White House.


COOPER: Joining us now folks some reaction, chief national correspondent John King, senior national correspondent John Roberts, and Candy Crowley, our senior political analyst.

John King, let's start with you.

No matter how the White House tries to spin it, this -- this really undercuts the president's assertion of progress in Iraq.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it certainly adds to the Democratic fodder, saying this president has mismanaged Iraq from the beginning. And now the Democrats are saying it runs counter to the president's argument that, five years after 9/11, whether you agree or disagree with going to the war in Iraq, the president has been campaigning, saying America is safer, and the Republicans in the Bush White House will keep you safer going forward.

So, the Democrats certainly believe it's fresh ammunition. I have to say, though, Anderson, in both parties, most people say voters have made up their mind about the Iraq war. They are either for it or against it. And they will take out their political views in the November election.

But, certainly, it gives the Democrats more to talk about. And we're seeing that, not only in Washington today, but from Democratic candidates, especially challengers around the country. They're trying to use this to their advantage, saying Republican in Congress are rubber-stamping a bad Bush policy.

COOPER: John Roberts, you have now John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, coming out, talking. He's basically warning the media that -- that the leaked report is -- is not representative of the complete document, and that, without revealing any more of the classified report, though, how much traction do you think this -- this rebuttal is going to get?


Also, right now, in the Senate, Pat Roberts, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, says that he wants it declassified as well, sent a letter to Negroponte, asking him to do it. Roberts says he saw the NIE back at the -- in the spring. And he says, if you read the whole report, he says it does buttress the administration's argument that there are a lot of successes on the war on terror.

But, you know, are they saying this knowing that it's never going to be declassified, and hoping that people are just going to pick up on their comments, or -- or might it play very well for President Bush?

COOPER: Candy, do you think that's true, what John King said, that -- that -- that people have already made up their minds? I mean, do you think this story resonates with voters come November?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what is interesting is that CNN did a poll in early August that showed that only 36 percent of the people thought Iraq made us safer.

So, the public was sort of way out ahead on this. And the numbers really haven't changed on Iraq. They -- they -- certainly, people, since the mid-summer, up until now, have not changed that much. The majority of people think Iraq was a mistake. The majority of them are not sure we're winning.

So, yes, I think that the polling certainly indicates that people are pretty much jelled as to how they feel about the war in Iraq.

And, John King, you know, the -- the -- the administration paints Iraq as the central front in the war on terror. Can they still do this, after -- after what we know about this report? Or does this report, in some strange way, validate that, that -- that -- that it is still the central front on the war on terror; it just happens to be doing terribly? KING: Well, you raise a very fascinating point, Anderson, about what is being fought out strategically, tactically, in many of these campaigns, in that there are some Democrats who say, even if you oppose the war, that it's the Pottery Barn rule: We broke it. We need to fix it. Or we broke it. We own it.

So, there is a debate in the campaign. And the Republicans will continue to use this, they hope, to their advantage on just that point, that, look, whether you agreed or disagree with the war, the terrorists are now gathering in Iraq. They're using it to foment anti-American sentiment. They're using it to attack the United States troops, using it to undermine the Iraqi democracy. Whether you agreed with going in or not, we can't simply leave.

That will still be a defining issue between now and the election.

COOPER: John Roberts, today, there was a forum conducted by Senate Democrats. And retired generals criticized Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for bungling the war in Iraq, they said. Once again, they called for him to resign.

Is there any scenario in which Rumsfeld would leave before either the president's term is up or -- or before these November elections?

ROBERTS: Well, I -- I don't see how that could possibly happen, Anderson.

For -- for him to leave before November really would be admitting defeat. And -- and I think that you could still -- the president could still certainly make the case that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror. The problem he has now is that everybody is going to start -- or people -- at least his opponents -- are going to start asking, well, how did it become the central front in the war on terror? Perhaps it was the Iraq war.

We notice in this poll that Democrats have picked up three points, in terms of who people would rather vote for. And where they picked up that ground is among moderates and independents.

So, Anderson, perhaps this idea that the Iraq war not going as well as it could, people getting tired of it, people thinking maybe it's time for a change could be gaining some traction. And that could play poorly for Republicans on November 7.

COOPER: Candy, how much do you think this helps -- helps the -- the new round of criticism helps Democrats?

CROWLEY: Well, it keeps it going.

Listen, what -- what Democrats want to do is to be in the face of the Republican strength. And that is the war on terror. So, we have seen Nancy Pelosi, for instance, complaining about Democrats, not getting the microphone as much as the president does, which is, by the way, sort of a perennial complaint of the party that is not in the White House. But, nonetheless, this gives them a lead story in which they can play on what they have been trying to play on, and that is on the issue of national security.

COOPER: Candy, John, and John, thanks, guys.

KING: Thank you.

COOPER: Meanwhile, thousands of American soldiers will be staying in Iraq longer than expected. Here's the "Raw Data."

The Pentagon now says the January homecoming for about 4,000 troops will be put on hold, so that another unit will have at least a year back in the U.S. before returning to battle. About 4,000 troops from Texas will go to Baghdad by late October, a month earlier than expected. The Pentagon hopes that this will allow a unit from Alaska, one hit hard by casualties, to return home by Thanksgiving.

All of this, of course, is to make sure that they're up to 145,000 U.S. troops in Iraq through spring of next year, and who knows how much longer.

The question is, how is this, coupled with a civil war, or something close to it, being felt on the ground? Up next, we will head to Baghdad for some answers and talk with CNN terrorist analyst Peter Bergen about that national intelligence estimate.

Then, a 360 exclusive: military recruiters preying on potential females enlistees, turning them into victims instead.

And later tonight: Bill Clinton going ballistic. Here what he had to say about 9/11, bin Laden, and his enemies on the right. Was it all planned?

All that ahead tonight on 360.


COOPER: Some new polling from our friends at Opinion Research. Forty percent of Americans, when asked, say they support the war in Iraq. Fifty-nine percent oppose it. Forty-two percent now approve of how President is -- President Bush is handling his job. That's up a couple points from early August. Fifty-five percent give him failing grades.

The polling was done before intelligence story came out this past weekend.

Want to take look at the impact at ground level. We're, of course, continuing to focus on this national intelligence estimate, which is basically a report put together by all the intelligence agencies in the United States, saying that, in effect, the -- at least the parts that were leaked to "The New York Times," saying that the war in Iraq is actually contributing to the global jihad against the United States, from CNN's Michael Ware right now -- he joins us from Baghdad -- and Peter Bergen, CNN terrorism analyst and the author of "The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History."

Michael, does this match up to what you're seeing on the ground over there, things -- that things are getting worse, that this is making things worse?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the fact that the Iraq war is creating more enemies for America, or is fostering al Qaeda, not weakening it, has been self-evident here on the ground since at least the summer of 2004.

Coincidentally, this national intelligence assessment, they began writing it that same year. Once Zarqawi arrived here, he began to hijack a local fight and internationalize it, globalize it, turning it into jihad. Now, this is exactly what Osama bin Laden had been hoping for. I mean, the al Qaeda patent is to inspire and to franchise terrorism.

And that's what we're seeing. We're now seeing this as the melting pot, or even the blooding ground, for the next generation of al Qaeda. And that's being seen here on the ground -- Anderson.

COOPER: Peter, I remember you actually wrote about this in an article for "Foreign Affairs" back in 2005, saying, in part -- and I quote -- "Today's insurgents in Iraq are tomorrow's terrorists."

I mean, was it really that predictable? Should -- should U.S. officials have seen this coming?

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, U.S. officials did see this coming, because, Anderson, even before the war started, the intelligence community made an assessment that the war was likely to produce exactly this effect. So, this is not entirely surprising.

And, you know, there's a problem, a logical problem, that the president has had with a lot of this, which is the argument that it's better to fight them in Baghdad than in Boston, A, is based on two false predicates, one, that there's a finite group of people that you can attract to one place and kill. It turns out that there's a lot of people who are attracted to this fight.

And, secondly, the -- this war is going to end. It may take a long time. And not all the foreign fighters who come to this war are going to be killed. And, believe me, when the war is over, they're not going to go back home and open coffee shops and falafel stands in their home countries. They're going to be the well-tested shock troops of the international jihad.

They will have swapped business cards. They will have fought the best army in history. They will have used terrorist tactics, like IEDs, suicide bombings. They're going to be a giant problem. And, for the moment, you know, this problem is largely confined to Iraq. But that is not going to be true in the future.

COOPER: Well, Michael Ware, the White House is saying, well, look, if these people have hated America, hated Israel for years, they didn't need Iraq to -- to hate us more. And others have said -- John -- Senator John McCain said, look, if it wasn't in Iraq, it would be in Afghanistan.

WARE: Well, I mean, the invasion of Iraq did several things.

One -- firstly, it fueled their -- their information operations. I mean, the images of Abu Ghraib, the images of U.S. troops entering Iraqi homes, everything that spins off that played directly into their hands. But the other thing is, they were looking for a platform, the next Afghanistan, the next Chechnya. Where better than in the face of the great enemy, America, itself?

We saw that Zarqawi had this vision back in 2003, his bombing campaign of that summer against the Jordanian Embassy, the U.N. headquarters. And then the plan he outlined for Osama bin Laden in a letter intercepted by U.S. intelligence and published in early 2004 mapped all of this out. He said: This is precisely what I'm going to do.

And he's done it. This is Zarqawi's enduring legacy, even after his death -- Anderson.

COOPER: Peter, though, is there something unique about Iraq? Because, I mean, I will put you the same quotes that I just put to -- to -- to Michael Ware.

I mean, you know, if not Iraq, could have been Afghanistan, could have been somewhere else. Do you agree with that, or do you think that's -- that's misleading?

BERGEN: Well, A, it is happening in Afghanistan. I mean, Anderson, you and I were there just recently. I mean, we have got foreign fighters in conducting suicide operations in Afghanistan. So, it's not that it isn't happening in Afghanistan.

But Iraq has made it much worse. And I will give you an objective standard to judge this. In 2003, worldwide significant terrorist attacks were the highest since 1982, as the war began in Iraq. Those numbers then doubled in 2004. And they went off the charts in 2005. And when the 2006 figures are in, you will see this trend is exponentially rising.

We have had suicide attacks in London. We have had suicide attacks in Madrid. We have had suicide attacks in a lot of places that didn't have these problems before the Iraq war. And we don't -- the objective standard is terrorist attacks around the world have gone through the roof as the Iraq war began.

COOPER: Peter Bergen, Michael Ware, appreciate it. Thanks, guys.

Coming up: the sex scandal that is plaguing the Pentagon.

First, though, Thomas Roberts from Headline News joins us with the 360 news and business bulletin.

Hey, Thomas.


Federal authorities are relaxing the regulations now, limiting what liquids passengers can carry aboard airplanes. Starting tomorrow, travel-size or containers that are three ounces or smaller will be allowed on planes. The containers must be carried inside a clear plastic bag with a zip top.

Now, liquids have been banned since August, when British authorities uncovered what they said was a plot to blow up planes over the Atlantic.

The NTSB says neither of the pilots of Comair Flight 5191, which crashed last month in Lexington, Kentucky, was under the influence of drugs of alcohol. Now, plane crashed when it attempted to take off from the wrong runway. One of the pilots survived, and now his left leg has been amputated. Doctors say the co-pilot has no memory of the crash that killed 49 people.

WorldCom Incorporated founder Bernard Ebbers surrendered to authorities -- or surrenders to authorities tomorrow to begin a 25- year sentence for fraud and conspiracy. Ebbers was convicted last year of an $11 billion accounting fraud that led to the downfall of the company.

And an historic day on Wall Street -- the S&P 500 closed at five- and-a-half year highs, up 11 points, the Dow climbing more than 67 points, and the Nasdaq gaining 30 -- Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Thomas, thanks.

She may have wanted to be a Marine, but the recruiter had other things in mind -- now dealing with the pain.


TRISH GIUNTA, MOTHER OF JILL GIUNTA: There's a lot of guilt. I handed her to him. I signed permission slips for her to go with them. I thought she was safe.


COOPER: A sergeant convicted of rape, and he was not the only recruiter accused of sexual assaulting potential enlistees. The numbers will shock you. That's coming up -- only on 360.


COOPER: Tonight, the Pentagon may be facing one of its biggest sex scandals ever. Two separate investigations have uncovered hundreds of accusations that military recruiters raped or sexual assaulted young female recruits.

If you think the sheer number of allegations is disturbing, wait until you hear from one victim.

CNN's Randi Kaye investigates in a report that was a joint project with the Associated Press and 360.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Shedrick Hamilton was a Marine sergeant, a popular and respected recruiter.

JILL GIUNTA, VICTIM: He had that uniform on, and everybody trusted him.

KAYE: Yet, he had a terrible secret.

TRISH GIUNTA, MOTHER OF JILL GIUNTA: I had no idea. I didn't ever think anything happened. I vouched for this man when my husband questioned why. Why was calling all the time? It's Hamilton. Everybody -- the kids loved him.

KAYE: Especially Trish Giunta's daughter, Jill, until:

J. GIUNTA: He threw me in the back of the car. And, you know, again, like, I kept saying, no. Like, you know, I mean, I didn't want to do it.

KAYE: Sergeant Shedrick Hamilton first raped Jill Giunta on Valentine's Day nearly three years ago. She was 16 years old. Sergeant Hamilton was 34, married, with two children.

T. GIUNTA: I woke her to go with him.

KAYE (on camera): As a mother, do you feel -- am I seeing guilt? Is that what that is?

T. GIUNTA: There's a lot of guilt. I handed her to him. I signed permission slips for her to go with him. I thought she was safe.

KAYE (voice-over): The sergeant drove Jill to Marine Corps physical training, a program to involve kids in the Marines in hopes they will join. Nearly every week, he picked up Jill at her home in his government car and drove her to this New York recruiting center, until, one day, he made a sharp turn down this deserted road, not even a mile from Jill's home.

J. GIUNTA: He decided doing what he wanted to do. And, you know, I would just like sit there and just, like, you know, look off. And tears would just come down my face and stuff like that. And he just would finish what he wanted to do.

KAYE (on camera): Help me understand why, after the first incident, or even the second incident, why didn't you run home and say, "Mom; help me; this guy is attacking me"?

J. GIUNTA: He kept making sure that I knew that he would repeatedly tell me that nobody would find out about this; nobody would believe me.

KAYE (voice-over): As disturbing as it is, Jill's story is not unique. An investigation by the Associated Press found, last year, at least 35 Army recruiters, 18 Marine Corps recruiters, 18 Navy recruiters and 12 Air Force recruiters were disciplined for sexual misconduct or other inappropriate behavior with potential enlistees.

MARTHA MENDOZA, ASSOCIATED PRESS: In 2005, 80 recruiters were disciplined for sexual misconduct, with more than 100 victims.

KAYE: AP reporter Martha Mendoza found, across all services, one out of 200 recruiters, those who deal directly with young people, was disciplined for sexual misconduct. The abuse ranged from inappropriate touching to rape.

In Pennsylvania, an Army recruiter pleaded guilty to having sex with a 14-year-old girl. In Wisconsin, a Marine Corps recruiter was recently charged with sexual assault and false imprisonment of a potential female enlistee. He has pleaded not guilty. In Indiana, a National Guard recruiter was indicted for allegedly assaulting eight different potential recruits outside schools, in cars, and in recruiting stations. He's out on bail, pending trial.

(on camera): Why are there so many cases of sexual misconduct among recruiters? Remember, the No Child Left Behind act was passed in 2001, in part to help grow the military's ranks.

No Child Left Behind guarantees schools' federal funding, as long as they grant recruiters access to students on campus. Unlike the rest of us, who have to show id, recruiters can walk right in, no questions asked.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would be sitting in class and then my teacher is like, tapping me on my shoulder saying that -- to go outside the classroom, that somebody needs to speak to me and it was him.

KAYE (voice-over): No Child Left Behind also mandates recruiters be provided with students' home phone numbers and addresses.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I definitely feel that he was stalking me. There were times when he would call the house, and he would tell me to look out my bedroom window. And he would be sitting in the government van right on the corner of the street.


KAYE: Shedrick Hamilton pleaded guilty. He was convicted of rape and endangering the welfare of a child and sentenced to prison. At sentencing the judge called Hamilton a child molester and a disgrace to his country and his uniform.

Sergeant Hamilton spoke with the Associated Press from jail.

HAMILTON: I ended up putting myself into a position to where I sought at comfort in a young lady that I shouldn't have done. I allowed myself to -- to get caught up into the wrong situation at the wrong time and I have no one to blame but myself. KAYE: The Department of Defense declined our request for an on camera interview but issued this statement to CNN: "All military recruiters are briefed in regard to the conduct and ethics required of them and receive training. The Department of Defense has zero tolerance for misconduct by military recruiters."

The Pentagon says it is now monitoring its recruiter and will evaluate whether it needs to change its policy. But that comes only in response to the A.P. report and a Congressional Accountability Office study which found the DOD does not track all allegations of recruiter wrongdoing.

In January, having served two years for rape, Shedrick Hamilton is expected to be released.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is my child. He hurt my child. So, I'm going to watch him.

KAYE: Jill Giunta (ph), now 19, has decided not to join the military but to go to college and become a police officer instead. And she's made a promise to herself, when she puts on that police uniform, never to abuse her authority.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Monroe, New York.


COOPER: That is a remarkable story.

Coming up, what everybody is talking about, former President Clinton losing his cool during an interview. Why he says he was set up. Next on 360.


COOPER: Right now you've probably seen or heard about that angry confrontation between former President Clinton and Chris Wallace. It happened during a taped interview that aired on "FOX News Sunday".

The sparks flew when the former president accused Wallace of ambushing him and pushing a conservative agenda.


COOPER (voice-over): President Clinton is usually polished and polite, but yesterday he seemed to lose his cool with Chris Wallace.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You've got that little smirk on your face and you think you're so clever. But I have a responsibility for trying to protect this country. I tried and I failed to get bin Laden. I regret it, but I did try.

COOPER: In his first interview on "FOX News Sunday", Clinton forcefully defended his efforts to track down Osama bin Laden, contending that his Republican successors didn't finish the job.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Do you think you did enough, sir?

CLINTON: No, because I didn't get him.


CLINTON: But at least I tried. That's the difference in me and some, including all the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try. They did not try. I tried. So I tried and failed. When I failed, I left a comprehensive anti-terrorist strategy and the best guy in the country, Dick Clarke, who not demoted.

COOPER: Clinton surprised many when, not far into the interview, he accused Wallace of setting him up for an attack.

CLINTON: So you did FOX's bidding on this show. You did your nice little conservative hit job on me. What I want to know is...

WALLACE: Whoa, whoa, whoa, sir, I'm asking a question. You don't think that's a legitimate question?

CLINTON: It was a perfectly legitimate question, but I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you ask this question of. I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you ask, "Why didn't you do anything about the Cole?"

COOPER: And then Clinton took his argument in another direction, citing his relationship with Rupert Murdoch, the man who owns the company that runs FOX News.

CLINTON: You set this meeting up because you're going to get a lot of criticism from your viewers, because Rupert Murdoch is supporting my work on climate change.

And you came here under false pretenses and said that you'd spend half the time talking about -- you said you'd spend half the time talking about what we did out there to raise $7 billion plus in three days from two -- 215 different commitments. And you don't care.

WALLACE: President Clinton, if you look at the questions here, you'll see half the questions -- I didn't think this was going to set you off on such a terror.

CLINTON: Set off on a terror because you didn't formulate it in an honest way, and because you people ask me questions you don't ask the other side.

COOPER: Wallace told his friends at FOX today that he was surprised by the president's reaction.

WALLACE: I just asked, as I say, a non-confrontational question and whether it's the ABC docudrama or whether, you know, it's defensiveness or whatever, it just touched off something inside him. And he had -- I don't think this was preplanned.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Well, there are some in the conservative community who are saying it was preplanned. We're going to talk about that coming up. The other question is was President Clinton as aggressive as he claims in trying to track down bin Laden? We asking CNN senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre, to check the facts.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Back in August of 1998 the U.S. military insisted publicly the 62 Cruise missiles it lobbed into Afghanistan were aimed at terrorist infrastructure. The inside word at the time was infrastructure was simply a euphemism for Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants.

But after the attacks of September 11, former Clinton administration officials wanted full credit for targeting the terrorist leader.

SANDY BERGER, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: I assure you they were not delivering an arrest warrant. The intent was to kill bin Laden. That's No. 1, the overall intent was manifest in August '98.

MCINTYRE: Bin Laden escaped by hours, apparently, and in an impassioned interview with "FOX News Sunday", President Clinton claims, while he failed, no one has had a better shot since.

CLINTON: I worked hard to try to kill him. I authorized the findings of the CIA to kill him. We contracted with people to kill him. I got closer to killing him than anybody's gotten since. And if I were still president, we'd have more than 20,000 troops here trying to kill him.

MCINTYRE: Clinton argues his efforts were undercut by partisan sniping, including some critics who charged the Cruise missile strike was a "wag the dog" stunt to divert attention from the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

And Clinton's own FBI director, Louis Freeh, charges in his 2005 book that the U.S. lacked the political spine to put its full force behind covert attempts to get bin Laden.

Former deputy CIA director for intelligence John McLaughlin says, from his inside perspective, it looked a lot different.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, FORMER DEPUTY CIA DIRECTOR: President Clinton did aggressively pursue Osama bin Laden. I give the Clinton administration a lot of credit for the aggressiveness with which they went after al Qaeda and bin Laden.

MCINTYRE: President Clinton also argues he was hampered by inconclusive intelligence. Bin Laden's backing of Muslim militants in Somalia in 1993 wasn't immediately clear.

And the U.S. initially suspected Iran in the 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. Even after the 2000 attack on the USS Cole, he says, there was no consent sis bin Laden was the mastermind.

CLINTON: We could not get the CIA and the FBI to certify that al Qaeda was responsible while I was president.

MCINTYRE: That assertion is backed up by the 9/11 Commission report.

RICHARD BEN-VENISTE, FORMER 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER: We expected people to look at the facts, look at what happened after the Cole, why there was no response by the Clinton administration, which wasn't advised by CIA that it was an al Qaeda sponsored attack until after the election of 2000.

MCINTYRE (on camera): If nothing else, the debate over President Clinton's spirited defense shows the conclusion is debatable.

Officially, the White House is staying out of it. Spokesman Tony Snow, a former FOX News commentator quipped, "He retorts, you decide."

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.


COOPER: Well, we're going to talk to former CIA commander coming up, Gary Berntsen, whose unit tried to track down bin Laden in Tora Bora. Hear what he thinks about President Clinton's comments.

And what does clogging have to do with homeland security? Joe Johns tonight, keeping them honest, when 360 continues.


COOPER: More now on the reality of the hunt for Osama bin Laden during the Clinton administration. As we showed you before the break, over the weekend on FOX News, former President Clinton defended his efforts to kill the most wanted terrorist.

We're joined now by a man who's familiar with the hunt for bin Laden, Gary Berntsen, a former CIA commander and the author of the book, "Jawbreaker." Berntsen was at Tora Bora, and that's what "Jawbreaker's" about, in 2001 when the Bush administration failed to capture bin Laden.

Thanks for being with us. You worked in the CIA under President Clinton and under President Bush. What was the difference?

GARY BERNTSEN, FORMER CIA COMMANDER: Well, first of all, the Clinton administration, two terms. First term, the problem was the Clinton administration reduced the directive of operations by 25 percent.

COOPER: That's the clandestine branch, paramilitary branch.

BERNTSEN: Right. And that was unhelpful when they did that. But in the second term, George Tenet ascends, becomes the director. And we undertook a very aggressive policy of doing disruptions around the world. We were destroying terrorist infrastructure in a lot of places. That's '96, '97, '98. And this is against groups like Hezbollah, some al Qaeda, some other groups.

The problem is after the attacks in east Africa in 1998, in August, we can see, now we have a strategic problem with al Qaeda. The problem was, the Clinton administration didn't want to make that jump. They didn't want to go into Afghanistan with boots on the ground or into Somalia. They didn't want to do that harder part of it.

Tactically, we made a lot of progress, and a lot of groups were destroyed, you know, during that period of time. Smaller terrorist groups around the world, which presented a significant threat, but you know, now that they're gone.

COOPER: Conservatives have been critical of President Bush (sic) for not responding to the USS Cole attacks. His response is, "Look, it's wasn't confirmed to be al Qaeda until -- until after my administration was over."

But what -- from my reading of the history of Osama bin Laden in most recent books is that he looked at the operation in Somalia and the pull out of U.S. forces there as really a sign that the U.S. was not willing to take casualties.

BERNTSEN: He witnessed, too, when he saw the missiles fired at him in Afghanistan after -- in August, he believed we were afraid to put troops on the ground. When we put troops on the ground in 2001, he was in shock, because he had come to believe that the United States was unwilling to fight and defend itself and sacrifice its own lives to do that.

COOPER: He also -- my reading of it, is that he -- he wanted U.S. to send in troops to Afghanistan, thinking that it would become like Afghanistan was for the Soviets. He never anticipated that the U.S. would have a clever strategy to fight the war in Afghanistan.

BERNTSEN: The strategy was very clever, and it was well executed.

COOPER: Right. What about -- so the name bin Laden, the name al Qaeda was known in the intelligence community under the Clinton administration, was talked about?

BERNTSEN: Right. But the issue is it really becomes important in August of 1998. Prior to that, you know, it was a group. It was considered dangerous, but they hadn't done a major strategic attack on us. Attacking those embassies, you know, in Dar Salaam and Nairobi, that was the strategic attack.

COOPER: Right. And was it always viewed or as a law enforcement effort, as, you know, as a law enforcement effort, as a "we've got to prosecute these guys to get them to an American courtroom"? BERNTSEN: The Clinton administration's view was to pursue it that way. And it was, you know, you know, arrest these guys, put them in jail, you know, and do that in as many places around the world working, with local law enforcements. And it was. It was a law enforcement view of this, whereas the Bush administration is conducting all out war on them.

COOPER: Do you think that they're doing it effectively?

BERNTSEN: In some -- in some ways, it is effective. If other ways it's not affective. It's complicated. It's a broad, you know, conflict that we're in that's going to be with us for a while.

We've got to be more nimble. We've got to do it in a way where we don't create hostile populations against us, and we've got to do development at the same time.

COOPER: Do you think we're creating hostile populations by painting the opposition with a very broad brush that's sort of labeling it as global jihadist movement?

Because when you look at the goals of al Qaeda, I mean, they're looking, you know -- they're looking to kill other Muslims. They're just as opposed to regime -- Muslim regimes as they are to the United States. We've sort of made ourselves the enemy of them when, in fact, we've done little to point out their a true enemy and how fratricidal they are.

BERNTSEN: We have to point out that al Qaeda is at war with those parts in the Islamic world that want to coexist with secular democracy.

COOPER: Right.

BERNTSEN: We've got to point that out. And we've got to help our friends, and we've got to make sure that they understand that the United States cares about Muslims in the world.

We've got to, you know, make public the fact that we donate a lot of money to Islamic countries, more so than to Israel. A lot of money to Egypt, to Turkey, to Pakistan.

COOPER: And that's it's Al Qaeda who is just as interested in killing Muslims as they are in killing anyone else to reach their objective.

Gary Berntsen, appreciate you joining us. Thanks.

BERNTSEN: Pleasure.

COOPER: Coming up, after the politics and the war on terror, how a fired up Bill Clinton could actually help his party in November. Was he sending a signal to Democrats? Some call his interview a misstep. Others see it as a rallying cry for the Democrats. Former presidential advisor David Gergen gives us his take on the debate. And a French intelligence report has been published in newspapers saying that bin Laden is dead. Now the world waits to see if it's true and, even so, what impact it would have on al Qaeda. A look at that when 360 continues.



CLINTON: You did FOX's bidding on this show. You did your last little conservative hit job on me. What I want to know is that...

WALLACE: Wait, wait, wait. You don't think that's a legitimate question?

CLINTON: It was a perfectly legitimate question, but I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked this question of.


COOPER: Well, Chris Wallace says he was stunned by Clinton's reaction to his question about Osama bin Laden, while he says it wasn't preplanned. But what if Clinton's answers were planned? What if they were to take a shot at his critics while going his own party a boost? Some, especially conservatives, are suggesting that now.

Joining me is former presidential advisor David Gergen.

First, David, what did you think of it?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR: Well, I think that the president felt he was sandbagged when he walked in there. He'd just come off the best week of his ex-presidency.

He raised over $7 billion at the Clinton Global Initiative Conference, and so he was very happy about that. Thought he was walking into an interview in which least of it would be devoted to that. He could showcase his accomplishments.

And boom, one of the first questions out of the box is how did you let -- how did you drop your guard on bin Laden, basically? Why are you responsible for the 9/11? So I think he was -- I think he was angry.

COOPER: William Kristol, the weekly editor -- standard -- the "Weekly Standard" editor, is essentially saying now that that Clinton maybe planned this and said that if Democrats do well in November, and I quote, "Bill Clinton can take credit at a crucial moment for discrediting the terror issue as a mere political ploy and showing Democrats how to fight back and how to stand up to the right-wing propaganda machine."

Was Clinton sending a message, you think, a calculated response?

GERGEN: Well, I think this, Anderson, that he went in there anticipating that he might get a punch and he was going to be ready to counter punch.

My understanding is he did not expect this tough a question, especially so early. And it just hit a hot button for him.

You know, he felt that the ABC miniseries on "The Path of 9/11" had been terribly unfair to him and his administration. And that the writer of that was somehow -- or the person very deeply involved in it was close to Rush Limbaugh.

And he feels that there is conservative effort to paint him as the guy who was soft on bin Laden, opened the door to bin Laden, and therefore bears responsibility. And that goes very deep. He gets very angry about that.

And, you know, he's a sunny fellow but when you hit that button the storm comes and it comes quickly. There's a lot of thunder, a lot of lightning and the storm passes.

Now whether he -- I don't think he calculated it, but I will tell you this. Symbolically, I think it's taking on an importance within the Democratic Party just here in the last 72 hours that far exceeds the -- what actually happened in the interview itself.

COOPER: How do you mean?

GERGEN: Well, I think that his -- his office today was flooded with calls and e-mails and the like, congratulating him, saying, "Thank you for rallying us."

And I think that there is -- you know, Bill Clinton is very sensitive to symbolic moments. Sister Soldier way back in the 1992 convention, when he went to Oklahoma City when he president and that was sort of a turn around moment for his administration when he was in trouble after Newt Gingrich and company took the Congress.

Here I think that he was trying to show Democrats, in effect, listen, when they start to bully you from the right, when they try to roll over you, don't just sit there and take it. Push back, fight back, counter punch hard. That's his belief.

You know, there's a whole sense, a larger sense in which Democrats are viewed as weak. You know, they're weak on terrorism. And in effect they can be pushed around. And I think Bill Clinton is trying to send a message to other Democrats, if you fight back we'll have a much better chance in this election.

So even though conservatives look at this and say, 'Well, you know, he sort of blew his top here. It shows, you know, he's got this temper," I do think that underneath Clinton was pleased about the impact. I don't think he planned it, but I think he was pleased that he was able to show you can fight back; you can make your argument.

COOPER: Bill Clinton, even though out of office, man, he's still got a lot of power.

GERGEN: He does. He's -- you know, he remains true. He's the best champion of the Democratic Party for his own values.

COOPER: Interesting. David Gergen, appreciate it. Thanks, David.

GERGEN: Thank you.

COOPER: Next up, we're going to shift from politics to future history, at least we hope it is. What happens when either troops or disease or plain old age takes Osama bin Laden out of the terror business?

Coming up, CNN's Nic Robertson looks at where it leaves al Qaeda and what new shape the enemy right take once bin Laden's gone.

And billions spent on homeland security. Square dancing, including, well, clogging, to be precise? What is going on? We're going to look at the fancy footwork that can turn money to fight terror into pure country pork. Yee-ha! Keeping them honest when 360 continues.


COOPER: Tonight a top secret report and what it says about your safety more than three years into Iraq and five years into the war on terror.


ANNOUNCER: The president says Iraq has made us safer against terrorism, but a newly leaked classified report paints a much darker picture about the war, terror and our future.

After Osama. Tonight, bin Laden's health and a look at al Qaeda's future, with or without the most wanted man in the world.

And sex scandal, from military recruiter to sex predator.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He had that uniform on, and everybody trusted him.


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