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Nancy Pelosi Dealt First Defeat; Tornado Kills Eight in North Carolina; Americans Abducted in Iraq; Outrage Grows Over O.J. Simpson Book

Aired November 16, 2006 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, everyone.
A deadly storm, a killer tornado leaves death and destruction and a night of grief.


ANNOUNCER: No warning, no time, no shelter.

CHRIS BATTEN, COLUMBUS COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA, SHERIFF: Homes turned upside down, vehicles completely destroyed, debris over the whole area.

ANNOUNCER: Trees down, lines down, homes gone -- the death toll high. And it could be rising.

She's supposed to be the most powerful Democrat in the House, but she just backed a loser to be second in command. What does it say about Nancy Pelosi's leadership? And can Democrats ever get their act together?

Also tonight: It helps to laugh.

ROBIN WILLIAMS, COMEDIAN: ... money. What's left over from my campaign, now that I won, Maria can eat.

ANNOUNCER: How these three are using laughter to help rebuild New Orleans.


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

Now here's Anderson Cooper.

ANNOUNCER: Good evening again. Thanks for joining us to our viewers in America and watching around the world on CNN International.

After two days of brutal weather across the South and mid- Atlantic states, at least 12 people are dead, the worst of it, in terms of death and destruction, focused in a single spot, a small town located, grimly enough, along a river called "Cape Fear."

A killer tornado killed at least eight people, hospitalized many more, four injured children in very bad shape. Here's what it looks like from above. Up close, of course, it is something else yet again.

Reporting tonight from the town of Riegelwood in south -- southeastern, North Carolina, here is CNN's Rick Sanchez.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The sheriff's department got the first warning at 6:29 in the morning. Fifteen minutes later, the tornado was on the ground.

Mark Brown was home when it arrived.

MARK BROWN, TORNADO SURVIVOR: And it sounded like a train was coming. I said, let me get up and look out that door, see what's going on. When I looked out the door, the tornado was coming.

SANCHEZ: Brown's house was destroyed. He was lucky to have survived. Others in town of Riegelwood, North Carolina, never had a chance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was real terrible. I never seen anything like it before. And I hope I never see anything like it again.

SANCHEZ: The tornado was a killer -- among the dead, two children. The victims lived in this mobile home park sheriffs say was disintegrated by the storm.

CHRIS BATTEN, COLUMBUS COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA, SHERIFF: It is a major catastrophe. There is an area that is probably almost a half-a- mile wide. It reaches probably three-quarters to a mile in length, stretching northward, that is totally demolished, homes turned upside down, vehicles completely destroyed.

SANCHEZ (on camera): Authorities say, this tornado was so ferocious, its winds so strong, that some of the deceased were found in the woods, a full 200 yards, two football fields away from where they were when the tornado first touched.

BATTEN: We assume that the tornado created that kind of thing.

SANCHEZ (on camera): Literally took them from their home to the place where they were found?

BATTEN: Exactly.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Authorities say, 20 people were injured. Four, including three small children, are in critical condition.

Meanwhile, thousands are still without power. To look at the devastation, it's amazing the death toll isn't higher. And then there is this to think about. The town doesn't have a siren to alert residents of an impending tornado.

BATTEN: We do not have that type of system (INAUDIBLE)

SANCHEZ (on camera): There is no siren?



COOPER: Rick joins us now.

Rick, for those who made it out, how did they survive?

SANCHEZ: Luck. One word, Anderson, really. Luck.

It may be best described in the account of one particular survivor -- he says, when the tornado hit, all of a sudden, everything started moving around. But he was lucky enough to have a mattress fall on top of him before the rest of his house, in this case, fell on top of him, as well. And that's how he survived.

This is, by far, according all the officials that we have talked to -- and this an area that is hurricane-prone, by the way -- the worst natural disaster that's ever hit Columbus County -- Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Rick, appreciate that. Thanks.

The Riegelwood tornado was merely the killer punch in a brutal nationwide beating. The storm came to life in the Pacific Northwest. They are still getting drenched out there. Then, time zone by time zone, from rain, to snow, to tornadoes, it only got worse -- in a moment, what happened in Alabama, where a skating rink collapsed with dozens of children inside -- some now calling a miracle.

First, the bigger picture and CNN meteorologist Rob Marciano.


ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): Tuesday, the rains had turned into a severe snowstorm, dropping nearly two feet in the Colorado Rockies.

That storm system pulled cold air down, and spun it into the Plains, drawing warm, moist air in from the Gulf of Mexico as it moved east. By early Wednesday, the system caused strong thunderstorms, some developing the swirling winds that produce tornadoes.

A twister dropped north of New Orleans, cutting a path two miles wide and three miles long through Greensburg, Louisiana. When it had passed, one man was dead, his home destroyed. Eleven homes were left damaged or devastated in Lamar County, Mississippi. And it wasn't finished yet -- next up, Alabama, five confirmed tornadoes, taking down an elementary school and a skating rink, with its busy day care facility inside.

The storm continued on its deadly path, feeding off the Gulf, and moving all of the way to another source of moisture, the Atlantic Ocean. It pushed into South Carolina, killing a utility worker checking on power lines. But North Carolina took the worst beating, with young children among the dead and injured.

Then, that same storm system continued up the coast, bringing torrential rains to Virginia and Maryland. Sandbags brought in to stop the water couldn't prevent flooding in the streets and businesses in Annapolis, Maryland.

Rob Marciano, CNN, reporting.


COOPER: Those pictures are terrible.

What happened now when the storm hit that skating rink in Montgomery yesterday -- tonight, there is a child in a cast. Another child has a bump on the head. And that is it. And that is all, after they and 29 other preschoolers watched their little corner of the world literally come crashing in. It -- it is an amazing survival story.

CNN's David Mattingly reports.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The storm hit so quickly, people nearby barely knew what had happened. A violent Category 2 tornado flattened a skating rink -- inside, a day care with dozens of children.

STEVE MOSELEY, RESCUER: A lady started screaming, "There is children in there."

MATTINGLY: Next door, workers at the Worth cleaners rushed to wreckage. And, at first, their hearts sank.

ANTANIYA LIGON, RESCUER: When we first got there, you didn't hear any of the children. You didn't see any of the children. You didn't see any adult.

MATTINGLY (on camera): What they and other neighbors pouring on to the scene didn't know at the time was that 31 children, one of them only eight weeks old, were huddled underneath all that twisted metal and broken stone. But, instead of signs of life, all they heard was silence.

JOHN DALY, RESCUER: That was the bad part. Everybody said, you know, shut up and listen for -- you know, for anybody screaming. There was no sounds. And we said, oh, everybody's got to be dead.


911 DISPATCHER: Montgomery 911.

You say people are trapped?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. We have a day care here.


MATTINGLY: From the first 911 calls, officials also expected the worst.


911 DISPATCHER: The building has collapsed?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The top of the building, some of the ceiling has collapsed.


MATTINGLY: It took an agonizing few minutes to find at least some of the children were still alive. Rescuers converged on the wreckage and found dozens of cold, wet and frightened children.

(on camera): What were the kids saying when you pulled them out?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They want their mommy.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And they wanted the Elmo doll.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want to go back in that building.


MATTINGLY: Were they crying?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, they was screaming, crying all over.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): But, as the rain continued to pour, children were lifted out and carried to safety. Almost beyond explanation, no one seemed to be seriously hurt.

MOSELEY: Infants, there were infants in there. They survived. And it's just a miracle that anybody made it out of that -- that building alive.

MATTINGLY: In all, it took only minutes to find all the children and the adults, who had acted quickly and taken all of them to safe parts of the building just in the nick of time.

Past tornado drills paid off, and the timely help of worried neighbors gave this disaster a happy ending.

David Mattingly, CNN, Montgomery, Alabama.


COOPER: It is just incredible.

There are reports that the tornado that struck North Carolina may have been an F-3 under the Fujita scale. What does that mean? Well, here is the "Raw Data."

An F-3 is a severe tornado, with winds of up to 206 miles per hour, strong enough to overturn trains. An F-4 is described as a devastating, with winds of up to 260 miles an hour. Well-constructed homes can be leveled. And an F-5 tornado, with winds as high as 318 miles an hour, can literally disintegrate homes, and turn cars into missiles that can be propelled at least 300 feet into the air.

COOPER: We move on now to Iraq, where kidnappings, even mass kidnappings, are become the norm. Mainly, they involve Iraqis.

Tonight, though, U.S. troops trying to locate four Americans abducted earlier today in southern Iraq.

CNN's Michael Ware is following the developing story for us from Baghdad. He joins us now.

Michael, what do we know at this about the kidnappings? Are there any details yet?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, what we're being told by the U.S. military is that an incident took place yesterday afternoon at a checkpoint near the southern town of Nasiriyah.

What we have established from other coalition sources is that the attack apparently took place at an Iraqi checkpoint, most likely an unofficial or illegal one, yet, that's still to be determined. There was as many as a dozen vehicles. And up to 14 people may be missing as a result of this attack.

Of that 14, there are reports from coalition sources that four of the missing are American citizens, and there may be a fifth foreigner missing, a European -- Anderson.

COOPER: So -- so, how does this work? I mean, has any group come forward to take responsibility? Or is that not the -- the common procedure?

WARE: Well, we do see that in many cases, particularly those that have been motivated for political reasons.

Most often, we have seen that take place with Sunni insurgents, in particular, al Qaeda and some of the other groups. However, it doesn't necessarily mean anything that we have not heard from the kidnappers. Perhaps they have no intention of making themselves publicly known. We also see that happen quite a lot as well.

And, remember, this happened in what's Dhi Qar Province. This is an area that was transferred over to Iraqi security forces for complete responsibility back in September.

So, the coalition forces, the Brits, the Australians, the Italians who are there, merely protect very important logistics bases, and move along the convoy routes. And that is about it. So -- and this is in Shia militia-dominated territory. So, it's clear that, most certainly, a paramilitary force of some kind was involved here -- Anderson.

COOPER: You know, there -- there are many different kinds of kidnappings happening right now in Iraq. It might be worth just kind of going through what -- what -- the different reasons that -- that groups kidnap.

I mean, some of it is clearly just banditry. Some of it is -- for money. Some of it has political meaning. Some of it is -- is sectarian, right?

WARE: Absolutely.

I mean, the most common form of kidnapping that plagues not just Westerners, but also Iraqis, at -- at horrific levels, is kidnapping for ransom, criminal gangs benefiting from hostage-taking. There is also some degree to which insurgent elements use kidnap for ransom, particularly of Iraqis, to fund their operations.

More disturbingly -- more disturbingly, however, are kidnappings that are motivated politically, such as the use of, you know, Western hostages to pressure Western governments, or sectarian-motivated, where members of a particular sect are kidnapped and killed -- Anderson.

COOPER: And -- and, just briefly, are they still beheading people? Or does that seem to have sort of lessened?

WARE: No, that still takes place. And, principally, that's been labeled as a signature of some of the more extreme Sunni groups, whereas some of the more extreme Shia groups, in their sectarian- motivated killings, generally seem to have a pattern of torture, one of the most prominent features being the use of drills to drill joints and into the body, and execution by gunfire -- Anderson.

COOPER: Unbelievable.

Michael, Michael Ware, appreciate it. Stay safe, Michael.

Back home, voters wanted a change in Iraq and especially in Washington -- up next, how some are saying, the woman who promised to lead that change has already taken a blow. The fallout tonight from Nancy Pelosi's defeat at the hands of her own party, we will talk about that.

Later: growing outrage over O.J. Simpson's new book. Now the publisher is trying to explain why she's publishing it. You won't believe her explanation, some surprising things she said. Her answers have a lot of people kind of scratching their heads. You can draw your own conclusions in a moment.

Plus: comic relief for Katrina, our interview with Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, and Billy Crystal -- all coming up when 360 continues.


COOPER: Well, she's supposed to be the boss, incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But now, after fellow Democrats voted on her second in command, voting against her chosen candidate, there are some questions. In the words of one seasoned observer, she lost. She lost publicly, and she lost big, a setback for a woman who, just a couple weeks ago, led her party to victory. The question is, how damaging is it?

Here's CNN's Dana Bash.


DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A moment in history -- Democrats unanimously elected the first woman to speaker of the House -- but, with her victory, also a stinging defeat. Nancy Pelosi put her prestige on the line in backing Iraq war critic and longtime friend John Murtha to be majority leader, her number two. But Murtha lost to Steny Hoyer in a blowout.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER-ELECT: Steny came out a big winner today. It was a stunning victory for him. We have had our debates. We have had our disagreements in that room. Let the healing begin.

BASH: A plea for healing, just 10 days after triumphantly seizing control of Congress, was proof to many Democrats their new leader made a major strategic blunder, even before being handed the speaker's gavel.

REP. ALLEN BOYD (D), FLORIDA: Well, I think the caucus, Dana, is fractured now, not because of the race, but because of speaker-elect Pelosi's heavy involvement in the race.

BASH: Heavy involvement that some Democrats complained crossed into strong-arm tactics, like suggesting committee assignments were at stake in the vote.

REP. RON KIND (D), WISCONSIN: We're all grownups around here. And, sometimes, elbows are thrown from time -- it shouldn't surprise too many people.

BASH: There is concern in the Democratic ranks this could be an early warning. Pelosi may misread her diverse caucus again, and have big problems when it matters, corralling Democrats to pass an ambitious agenda.

BOYD: She has a -- a challenge to -- to put the genie back in the bottle here, and get everybody back together.

BASH: That won't be easy. Pelosi will have to work hand in glove with the man she tried to get rid of. Steny Hoyer has been Pelosi's deputy for four years, but they have been rivals. She beat him in a head-to-head leadership race back in 2001. In the end, Hoyer's feverish campaigning and fund-raising for colleagues won him a victory, by a wide margin. He took pains to promise no hard feelings.

REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), MAJORITY LEADER-ELECT: Nancy and I, I think, have been a good team. In my opinion, it was not that somebody was rejected today. It was that a team that had been successful was asked to continue to do that job on behalf of the American people.

BASH: Pelosi said she had no regrets, and attributed her support for Murtha to his prominence in making Iraq the central election issue.

PELOSI: ... to change the debate in this country in a way that I think gave us this majority in this November.

BASH: As for Murtha, he took defeat in stride...

REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: My congratulations to the other leaders, and look forward to working with them to redeploy our troops and -- and to get -- get these troops out of Iraq.

BASH: ... and promised to keep his party focused on ending the mission in Iraq.


COOPER: You know, Dana, I guess, to a lot of people who don't follow as closely as -- as you do, probably, this sounds like inside baseball. What is the biggest lesson in this?

BASH: Well, I think, in talking to Democrats here, there -- there are a couple.

First of all, Nancy Pelosi is going to have to be mindful of exactly who her new majority is. Many of these freshman coming in come from red states, where they just got pounded by their Republican opponents day after day, warning the voters that they were going come to Washington and be just like the liberal Nancy Pelosi.

Well, they're -- they came here this week, having that ringing in their ears. So, in their first encounter with Nancy Pelosi and her allies, they were asked to switch their vote, to vote for her anti-war candidate for her number two. And many of them just said, you know: No, we want to go for the guy, Steny Hoyer, who came out and campaigned for us, ran -- raised money for us.

And they said no. So, that's one thing that perhaps she is going to have to keep in mind, in going forward, when she has to do not just personnel, if you will, but the big issues that she campaigned on.

COOPER: Dana, thanks.

While that drama was playing out in the House, President Bush was preparing to face the past halfway around the world. Coming up: The president heads to Vietnam for an economic summit, but will the ghosts of war get in the way?

Plus: more outrage, growing, over O.J. Simpson's new group that some are calling a confession disguised as fiction. Today, his publisher is defending herself, and claims she didn't pay O.J. for anything -- when 360 continues.


COOPER: An innocent American citizen caught in the crossfire of Iraq, accused of being a terrorist.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... think you were going to die there at that point?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I remember, I kept telling myself, stay awake. You won't die today. Stay awake.


COOPER: We will tell you how he ended up in Abu Ghraib prison, even though he never committed a crime. His story is coming up later on 360.

Right now, though, President Bush, tonight, he's halfway around the world, in Singapore. He kicked off a three-nation tour of Asia with a speech to university students. His next stop is Vietnam, where he is expected to arrive any moment now. He will attend an economic summit of Pacific Rim leaders.

It is his first visit to Vietnam. And he's there to push free trade and future ties. But that economic agenda will have some competition from the elephant in the room, the past, that other war.

More now from CNN's Ed Henry.


ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the Vietnam President Bush wants to highlight at the Asian-Pacific Economic summit, hustle, bustle, Asia's fastest growing market for U.S. products.

But it's still an awkward time for the President to visit Vietnam, evoking painful memories of another polarizing war, just as he's trying to chart a new course in Iraq.

ROBERT DALLEK, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: The similarities are so palpable, in the sense that we're now three years and eight months later, with the sense of being trapped there, caught in a quagmire.

HENRY (on camera): Even before arriving here in Hanoi, the president was asked about the parallels between Vietnam and Iraq -- an inevitable question that may overshadow this economic summit. GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Support for our troops is strong here in the United States, and it wasn't during the Vietnam era. So, I see differences. I really do.

HENRY (voice-over): But, just last month, the president did see one similarity between the two wars. Asked about "New York Times" columnist Thomas Friedman's contention the recent spate of violence in Iraq may be the jihadist equivalent of the Tet Offensive, the president said, that could be right.

The 1968 Tet Offensive turned Americans against the Vietnam War by undercutting President Lyndon Johnson's rosy claims about the conflict.

Presidential historian Robert Dallek, the highly respected Johnson biographer, says Mr. Bush and his team are now in the same danger zone.

DALLEK: They were no longer credible. They kept saying: Things are going well. Mission accomplished. We're making progress.

And, after a while, people look at the realities, and they don't see this progress. And it reminds them again of the kind of rhetoric and illusory thinking that we had in Vietnam.

HENRY: Under fire, Mr. Bush has now pushed out much-maligned Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and is vowing to take a close look at the upcoming report from the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which may call for a drastic shift in U.S. strategy -- signs, perhaps, that this president is starting to hear the echoes of Vietnam.


COOPER: Ed Henry joins us now from Hanoi, Vietnam.

Ed, what's at stake at this summit for the president?

HENRY: A lot, Because, you know, coming out of last election, this is the president's real first shot on the world stage to show he has clout.

He's gotten off to a bit of a shaky start, not really of his own doing. He wanted to come here to Hanoi with a Vietnam -- a Vietnamese trade deal in his pocket. Congress dropped the ball on that. So, he's coming here empty-handed.

Instead, I think you're going to see the focus a little bit more on the North Korean nuclear crisis. That enables the president to put himself in a good light, trying to rally allies against Pyongyang, and also trying to tout progress in those upcoming six-party talks -- Anderson.

COOPER: Ed, thank.

Iraq is not Vietnam, of course, but the lessons of that long-ago war have become part of the debate over how to end the war in Iraq. That much was clear in yesterday's congressional hearings. The specter of Vietnam was very much in the room, even if no one said so directly.

Here is CNN's Jamie McIntyre.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): During General John Abizaid's contentious appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee, no one uttered the V-word, but the ghost of Vietnam seemed to haunt the hearing room, as politician after politician lectured the general about the best way to win the war.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: ... that stay the course is not a strategy for success in Iraq.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Hope is not a strategy.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I don't understand that tactic, General.

MCINTYRE: But Abizaid, who was a newly minted 2nd lieutenant when the U.S. signed a peace treaty with Vietnam back in 1973, put his marker down early on. He was not about to be swayed by armchair commanders in Congress.

GENERAL JOHN ABIZAID, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: While new options are explored and debated, my testimony should not be taken to imply approval of shifts in direction.

MCINTYRE: Abizaid may have missed the war, but not one of Vietnam's basic lessons: Wars should not be micromanaged by what is sneeringly referred to in the Pentagon as an 8,000-mile screwdriver that is Washington.


LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We intend to convince the communists that we cannot be defeated by force of arms.


MCINTYRE: President Lyndon Johnson and his defense secretary, Robert McNamara, were criticized for unduly interfering in military strategy.

Johnson insisted on approving bomb targets, even as he insisted his generals had his full support.


JOHNSON: I have asked the commanding general, General Westmoreland, what more he needs to meet this mounting aggression. He has told me. And we will meet his needs.


MCINTYRE: Sound familiar?

But William Westmoreland's strategy of using heavy firepower to run up the body count has been criticized as flawed by historians, underscoring Clemenceau's famous adage, "War is too important to be left to the generals."

KALEV SEPP, IRAQ STUDY GROUP: These political leaders in Congress are gaining a very clear-eyed view of the situation in Iraq and aren't being satisfied with -- with continuing reports of we're making progress.

MCINTYRE: Abizaid may be giving his best military advice, but critics say he and others perhaps some others in the chain of command, as well, ought to be replaced by officers with better ideas.

COL. DOUG MACGREGOR, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Abizaid is in a position of responsibility similar to men like Pershing, Patton, Ridgeway, generals who came to power, who had to get results. And they were ruthless with their subordinates, firing hundreds of generals collectively until they got results.

MCINTYRE (on camera): Another lesson of Vietnam is embodied in the words of a U.S. president who had no problem second-guessing generals, even relieving a few of command. Abraham Lincoln once famously said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

HENRY KISSINGER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: No war can be won if it isn't conducted on a bipartisan basis, whatever the election is. When the country gets divided then the enemy is bound to believe that he only has to hold on.

MCINTYRE (voice-over): Can peace with honor be far behind?

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, The Pentagon.


COOPER: Well, back here in the United States, the book that many are vowing not to read. O.J. Simpson says his account of how he could have killed his wife is pure fiction. Tonight, the publisher is trying to explain why she decided to make the book deal. See if you believe her statement.

Plus three of the funniest people in the world reuniting to make people laugh and help rebuild New Orleans. My interview with Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams and Billy Crystal ahead on 360.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We the jury in the involved entitled action find the defendant, Orenthal James Simpson, not guilty of the crime of murder, in violation of penal code section 187, a felony upon Nicole Brown Simpson, a human being, as charged in count one of the information.


COOPER: O.J. Simpson, the story seems to never lose its power to outrage. New developments today, the publisher today of his new book, and woman who actually does the interview with him in this upcoming TV show explained why she backed what's being billed as Simpson's thinly- disguised confession.

She says she's doing it for people like herself who suffered from domestic violence and for the Simpson children. We'll have more on that statement in a moment.

First, the growing outrage, and growing sales. "If I Did It" is already No. 54 on Amazon, a potential bestseller.

Here's CNN's Ted Rowlands.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even O.J. Simpson's own lawyer in Florida is coming out against the book. Yale Galanter insists he had nothing to do with the deal and he told us this about his client's book and television appearance.

Quote, "If I was asked whether to do it, I would have said no. It's in bad taste."

In fact, many people believe that O.J. Simpson and anyone else who stands to profit from his book and show are cashing in on murder.

"If I Did It" reads like a detailed account of the brutal slayings of Simpson's ex-wife Nicole and Ronald Goldman, told by O.J. Simpson as though he were the killer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: O.J. Simpson: If I Did It, Here's How it Happened.

ROWLANDS: The FOX network decided to air two hour-long O.J. specials and has started promoting it.

BARBARA WALTERS, ABC NEWS: I was offered the interview and turned it down.

ROWLANDS: Other networks, including ABC, turned O.J. down. In a statement, NBC says it was approached but, quote, "We did not feel it was appropriate for our network."

Nobody from FOX would talk us to about why he decided to run the show.

Regan Books, the publisher, which is owned by FOX's parent company, also declined an interview.

The victims' families are urging people not to watch the special or buy the book, but many experts think both will end up making a lot of money.

MARVET BRITTO, PUBLICIST, THE BRITTO AGENCY: I think people will be just as interested in reading the book and watching the interview as they were following the trial. I think there's a fascination with O.J.

ROWLANDS: The book is already on sale on Borders and other major retailers say they plan to sell it.

Wal-Mart released this statement, saying, quote, "We plan to carry the book in our stores and on, as initial indications suggest it is likely to be a highly sought after title."

At Murder Ink, a small Manhattan book store specializing in crime, the owner there told us he doesn't plan to stock it, and customers we talked to were vowing not to buy it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most of us already believe we know that he's probably participated in this horrible act, and I certainly wouldn't want to participate by paying any of my money.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If he did murder his wife he's proceeding to cash in on the whole thing again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Leave the writing of books for the writers not for the football, actors, criminals. And also the message crime pays is upsetting.

ROWLANDS: Simpson owes more than $30 million to the Goldman family. They plan to go after anything he makes on this deal.

FRED GOLDMAN, FATHER OF RON GOLDMAN: I would imagine that, knowing him and knowing his various disgusting team that he works with, that he's probably been paid that money already.

ROWLANDS: And the families say they'll be looking closely to see who, if anyone, is helping O.J. shield any of the money.

Ted Rowlands, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Well, a late update on that. Lawyers for Fred Goldman this evening told the Reuters wire service they have, in fact, began their efforts to seize the money and keep it away from Simpson.

Coming up, we're going to talk to our legal experts, Jeffrey Toobin and Lisa Bloom, about their chances, whether the victims' families have any recourse.

Plus, more on the stunning statement from the book's publisher, why she says she's decided to make a deal with O.J.

And later, laughter and hope: Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Crystal and Robin Williams team up to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Fun, fascinating conversation when 360 continues. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, it's not even in stores yet but O.J. Simpson's new book, "If I Did It", is raising serious questions. How did it get published in the first place? And does Simpson stand to make a profit from it?

Joining us from our New York studio is Court TV anchor, Lisa Bloom. Her firm represented Nicole Brown's estate during O.J. Simpson's murder trial. Also, CNN senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, author of "The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson".

All right. You both have seen this statement allegedly made by Judith Regan. It's been carried on -- it's on "The Drudge Report". We haven't been able to independently confirm it.

But here's part of what the statement said. She writes, "In the past few days, since the announcement of the forthcoming book and televised interview, 'If I Did It', it has been strange watching the media spin the story. They've all but called for my death for publishing his book and for interviewing him. A death, I might add, not called for when Katie Couric interviewed him, not called for when Barbara Walters had an exclusive with the Menendez brothers, who killed their parents in cold blood."

She also goes on to talk about how she's a victim of crime herself, of abuse and that somehow that played into this.

Jeff, did it make any sense?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, this statement, which actually in the last few minutes we have confirmed did come from Judith Regan...


TOOBIN: ... is the single most deranged statement I have ever seen from a corporate -- from a public figure in corporate America. Makes utterly no sense.

The analogy to Barbara Walters and Katie Couric is completely absurd. Barbara Walters and Katie Couric did not pay the murderers. They interviewed them. They were not business partners with the people they interviewed. That's the problem with this interview.

We interview bad people all the time. That's our job. We're journalists. But we don't go into business with them. That's the problem with this project.

COOPER: Let me -- let me read you this excerpt -- another excerpt from the statement, because it talks about his payment.

She says, "What I do know is I didn't pay him. I contracted through a third party who owns the rights, and I was told the money would go to his children. That much I could live with. And though it might sound a little strange, Nicole and Ron were in my heart. And for them, I wanted him to confess his sins, to do penance and to amend his life."

Lisa, you believe that?

LISA BLOOM, COURT TV: Well, if Nicole and Ron were in her heart, she should have paid the money directly to O.J., and then that money would have gone to Nicole and Ron's heirs, who are entitled to 30-plus million dollars from the judgment that O.J. has never really made any attempts to satisfy. So...

COOPER: By the way -- the heirs to that estate, a part of it, are his children, so in essence...

BLOOM: Yes. On his side.

COOPER: ... by not paying that estate he's also not giving that money to his children.

BLOOM: Well, that's correct, and he's also cutting out the Goldmans entirely, you know, by wanting to pay his own children, he's cutting out the Goldmans, who are entitled to a substantial part of the judgment.

But look, she's not doing anything illegal, as far as I can see. Maybe highly immoral and offensive to a lot of us on. But on O.J.'s side it may be illegal if he's trying to avoid a court order to pay a particular judgment and if he's setting up shell corporations and he's got people working with him, all of that is going to be subpoenaed by Goldman's very aggressive attorneys. They're already on this.

COOPER: Well, Jeff, what does it mean to you? She said, "What I do know is I didn't pay him. I contracted through a third party who owns the rights." What does that mean?

TOOBIN: I don't know exactly what it means, but what it suggests is that this was a laundering operation. In order to avoid the judgment against the Goldmans, he -- Judith Regan -- and by the way, Judith Regan is not Judith Regan. She is Rupert Murdoch, HarperCollins, FOX News. It's all one company.

That company, Rupert Murdoch's company, is paying millions of dollars to O.J. Simpson's benefit. And what they are doing is trying to avoid having to pay it to the Goldmans. And so the idea that this is somehow for the benefit of Goldmans, for the honor of the Goldmans is just, as I said, deranged.

COOPER: Lisa, as someone who's worked with crime victims, did it kind of stick in your gut that in her statement she seems to be painting herself as a victim?

BLOOM: Well, she does claim to be a victim. I don't know whether she's a victim or not. That's not really my concern. I'm more concerned about the result, the outcome. Is she paying $3.5 million through some shell company that's eventually going to get to O.J. or his children?

You know, that's what strikes most of us as wrong here. Where she's coming from, it may be misguided, it may be well intentioned, but it just doesn't make any sense.

And one other quick point, Anderson, about this setup, you know, the Goldmans recently brought a case against O.J. to control the likeness to his name. The judge said you cannot control that. That's O.J.'s right of commercial exploitation.

So they may have used that judgment now to try to get around his obligation to pay the Goldmans by trying to say this is just further commercial exploitation of O.J.'s name. He's selling the rights to his name. He's not doing a book deal. That's what maybe they're trying to do is to get around the judgment.

COOPER: A lot of people talking about, you know, finding out -- we don't know yet who's advertising on this special yet, because there are a lot of people who want to boycott whoever it is to who advertises.

TOOBIN: That's quite possible. And by the way, you know, they released a little excerpt from O.J.'s interview with Judith Regan, and I suggest there may be a little bit of a bait and switch going on here, because the interview suggested he was not confessing.

He says, you know, there -- there would have been a lot of blood there if two people had been killed that way. And it suggests the killer would have had a lot of blood on him. That was an argument made by the defense in the criminal trial, asking the jury, well, why didn't O.J. have blood on him?

So, this may be more a marketing operation than a true confession.

COOPER: Well, I have no -- I have no doubt about that. The two clips that everyone has quoted that they've released really show nothing of any kind of alleged confession or anything.

I'm sure this is all -- this is all, of course, to get more publicity. And that's one of the things, you know, that we debated in whether or not we should even cover this, because does it just end up giving more publicity down the road to this eventual TV show and this book? And that's something, you know, I wrestle with, you guys did...

TOOBIN: ... that kind of thing with these cases. And you know, it's a hard question.

BLOOM: But it's a newsworthy story, and we have to talk about it. I think O.J. is going to maintain it's not a confession. His attorneys are going to maintain that. Judith Regan apparently is saying it is a confession. And that creates the story; that creates P.R.

You know, she's a very bright marketing person. She's a very intelligent businesswoman with a highly successful business. Judith Regan knows what she's doing.

COOPER: Yes. We've got to go. We're going to talk about this more in the next hour. And of course, people can watch it or not or, you know, buy the book or not. It's up to them.

It's been 14 months since Hurricane Katrina. We have not forgotten. We never will, of course. And neither will three comic legends. Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal, they're the hosts of this weekend's "Comic Relief" here in Vegas to raise money for Katrina victims. They talk about Katrina and a whole lot more, next on 360.



ROBIN WILLIAMS, COMEDIAN: Tonight's break (ph) was sponsored by Anderson Cooper. CNN. Watch out O'Reilly, Anderson is much macho.


COOPER: That, of course, is Robin Williams. Saturday night here in Las Vegas, he and Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg will return as hosts of "Comic Relief", the show that helped raise $50 millions over the last 20 years. They're now going to turn their attention to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

I spoke to all three earlier. Here's part of our interview.


COOPER: Do you think if the people in the convention center had been predominantly white, the response would have been different?

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, COMEDIAN: I hate to say it, because I've never been this kind of person but yes, I do. I do. This would have never happened in Florida this long. This would have never -- honey, if Disneyland had got hit do you think that mouse would be down?

WILLIAMS: I got to get on a boat!

I don't believe they're coming with a trailer!

GOLDBERG: I mean, you know, and I don't...

WILLIAMS: It's time once again for the Katrina reenactment. Everybody brace yourselves!

GOLDBERG: I don't take way from them at all. I don't want to it sound like I'm saying that, but this is...

WILLIAMS (singing): It's a small world after all. It's a small world after all.

GOLDBERG: What you going to do?

BILLY CRYSTAL, COMEDIAN: Well, I think what Whoopi said is true, and what it also means is that he and I are going to get audited.

COOPER: I heard you call this tour the "We Still Have Our Own Hips Tour"? For Comic Relief?

CRYSTAL: Yes, 20 years later, a little of this, a little of that. It's the "We Still Have Our Own Hips" tour. We're all OK. We can get through the metal detector.

WILLIAMS (singing: Can't get no medication.

It's always good for me to come to Vegas after rehab. I love that. Good time for you. It's like going to Colombia. You know, where are you going for detox? Columbia.

Take it easy in this 24-hour alcohol town. Get out of rehab, and you know, like getting out of Jenny Craig and going, "Let's go work at the Haagen-Dazs factory."

For me, I like being here. I don't know why I'm talking like this. For this, but you know, mama grew up in New Orleans.

COOPER: Did she?

WILLIAMS: For sure.

CRYSTAL: She did. That's right, she did.


COOPER: Did she really?

WILLIAMS: She was born in Pass Christian, which for years and years and years I thought was Louisiana. And then some very sweet Southern woman said, "Sweetheart that's Mississippi. Your mother was trying to upscale herself, bless her heart." They always say "bless her heart," rather than "back that bitch up."

We'll be right back. How much money have we raised in the first ten minutes here with Anderson? God bless you.

(imitating Truman Capote) Also, we have to remember that Truman Capote lived in New Orleans for a long time.

CRYSTAL: Yes, he did.

WILLIAMS (imitating Truman Capote): Lived there with Tennessee Williams, and they were just sharing an apartment. And writing the early drafts of "Streetcar Named Bill".

CRYSTAL: Was it originally called that?

WILLIAMS (imitating Truman Capote): Yes. But that didn't sell.

CRYSTAL: It didn't?

WILLIAMS (imitating Truman Capote): Desire or Desiree if you're truly French. I love the fact they're just doing movies about me right now.

CRYSTAL: There's been two movies about you.

WILLIAMS (imitating Truman Capote): And a musical.

CRYSTAL: What's the musical called?

WILLIAMS (imitating Truman Capote): "Where the Boys Are". God bless you. Let's get back to our topic.

CRYSTAL: Suddenly I'm Bud Abbott.

WILLIAMS: Who's on first? You went first.

CRYSTAL: What's it called?

WILLIAMS: What's it called? (imitating Truman Capote) It's called "All of Me", "A Street Car Named Sodomy".

CRYSTAL: You'd want a drum (ph). Thank you.

GOLDBERG: Where is my spear (ph)?


COOPER: It was quite a conversation, I can tell you. I didn't get a word in edgewise. It's a great cause. You can hear more from the comic legends and their mission to help the victims of Katrina tomorrow night on a special edition of 360. It helps to laugh. Don't miss it. It's going to be quite an hour.

Coming up, the "Shot of the Day" for a very good cause. First, Joe Johns joins us with the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Joe.


Tonight, in Detroit, police are questioning a person about a shooting rampage that left two people dead and three others wounded, all in a space of about 10 minutes. They originally thought two gunmen were involved. Now they think it was just one. The shootings took place in a three to four block area of the city's west side.

To Los Angeles and an update on the story we've been following on 360. Remember the surveillance video from March? That's a homeless patient from a local Kaiser Permanente Hospital wandering L.A.'s Skid Row in a hospital gown. Today, city prosecutors filed criminal charges against Kaiser for dumping the woman on the streets. That's the first case of its kind in the U.S. A spokeswoman for the hospital chain called the charges action a big disappointment.

On Wall Street, yet another record for the Dow. Blue chips climbed 54 points to close at 12,305. The NASDAQ rose 6. The S&P added three points.

And in New York and other cities, diehard gamers who were in line for days finally got their hands on the new Sony PlayStation 3 today. The price tag for the new game console: $500 or $600, depending on what model you want. But with only 400,000 on store shelves nationwide, some of today's buyers are gaming for a profit. They hope to resell their PS3s for three times the price.

Anderson, it's all about the graphics.

COOPER: I guess so.

Joe, check out "The Shot" today. It's a shot to raise $100,000 for charity. It's got no NBA star, but Chris Harvey put all his heart into trying to make a slam dunk. Take a look. Did he do it?

JOHNS: Oh? Did it go in?

COOPER: Well, it went in. The question is, was it a slam dunk? We'll let you decide. What's more important is, he raised a lot of money for the Children's Defense Fund that helps make sure kids get a healthy start in life. And that is "The Shot" for today.

JOHNS: Two points is two points.

COOPER: It sure is. Joe, thanks.

Straight ahead, anything but a slam dunk for the leading Democrat in the House. Nancy Pelosi's bitter defeat at the hands of her own party. She put a brave face on it, though, today.

We'll also have the latest developments from North Carolina, where at least eight people died when a tornado struck. The powerful blast of weather may not be over yet. We'll have the latest.

Also more on the Simpson book controversy. The bizarre story has taken another strange turn. You're watching 360. Stay tuned.


COOPER: She led her party to victory over the Republicans. Now Nancy Pelosi's own party lays a political smack-down on her.


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