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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Iraq Summit; A Way Out; New Face of Terror; Carter Speaks; The Pope in Turkey; FEMA Outrage; Killer Whale Attack
Aired November 30, 2006 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again from Amman, Jordan. The summit is over. The war in Iraq goes on. Now comes the hard part, bringing Iraq under some kind of control, and bringing the troops home. New details tonight on that advice that President Bush is about to get on how to do it.
ANNOUNCER: A blue ribbon panel and its plan for getting out of Iraq. A plan, but no timetable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All that does is set people up for unrealistic expectations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: The panel was supposed to have fresh eyes. So why does its plan sound so familiar?
Matriarch and martyr.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FATIMA AL-NAJJAR, SUICIDE GRANDMOTHER (through translator): I want you neither to wail nor cry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: She said that just before she blew herself up. Why a 70-year-old grandmother killed herself in the name of God.
Deja vu. Two schools wrecked by Katrina. FEMA promised to rebuild them, then changed its mind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SONNY BEAUDRY, IBERIA PARISH SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT: The door slammed in our face. The way it was is -- really, it's unacceptable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Students and parents are still waiting for help. And tonight, we're keeping FEMA honest.
And they paid to see a killer whale perform. Instead, they watched a horror show unfold. What made this nearly three ton animal attack its trainer?
Across the country and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360. Reporting tonight from Amman, Jordan, here's Anderson Cooper.
COOPER: Thanks for joining us. Dawn now in Amman. President Bush is back at the White House tonight after his meeting here with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
The president today, calling al-Maliki the right man for the job, promising to stay the course, but acknowledging the difficulties ahead.
Fair to say there are many problems bedeviling not just Iraq, but the entire region. One of them is the epidemic of suicide bombers, and not just angry young men.
CNN's John Roberts is in New York with a preview of that story -- John.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we expect suicide bombers to be in their early 20s, men who turned to radicalism to escape hopelessness or vent their anger against their perceived oppressors.
But radicalism, it turns out, knows no bounds of gender or age. Tonight, you will meet a 70-year-old grandmother determined to die for her cause, willing to kill innocence in the name of Hamas -- Anderson.
COOPER: Hmm. Troubling, John. Thanks.
We're going to hear as well tonight from Jimmy Carter. The former president has just written a book on the Palestinian problem that is drawing praise and quite a bit of controversy, as well.
First, though, the current president and the summit and what comes next.
COOPER (voice-over): With support for the war falling and violence in Iraq soaring, President Bush stood side by side with Prime Minister al-Maliki today and came out swinging.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to stay in Iraq to get the job done, so long as the government wants us there.
COOPER: It was tough talk from a commander in chief under fire at home and abroad. And despite reports of administration doubts over al-Maliki's ability to stop the sectarian bloodshed and control his country, the president gave the prime minister a public vote of confidence.
BUSH: He's the right guy for Iraq. And we're going to help him. And it's in our interest to help him. For the sake of peace.
COOPER: Privately, however, the White House may not be so sure.
ROBIN WRIGHT, "WASHINGTON POST": I think they have been disappointed in the leadership of Prime Minister Maliki and there has not been much progress when it comes to the critical issues. Amending the constitution and most importantly, reconciliation with the Sunni minority which is, of course, critical if you're going to undermine the insurgency.
COOPER: As for Maliki, he insists democracy will prevail.
NOURI AL-MALIKI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We have many visions and many ideas about the transformation process and we are determined to succeed in the face of all the challenges. That we believe are probably -- should exist in a situation such as the situation that Iraq is going through.
COOPER: The summit follows two embarrassing developments for the White House. It was Maliki's last-minute cancellation of a meeting with Mr. Bush on Wednesday. Then there are the leaked reports of the Iraq Study Group, recommending a significant reduction in troops beginning as early as January.
Today, the president responded.
BUSH: I know there's a lot of speculation that these reports in Washington mean there's going to be some kind of graceful exit. In my judgment, if we were to leave before the job is done, it would only embolden terrorists.
COOPER: And once again, the president linked the war in Iraq to a much larger struggle against terror.
BUSH: The prime minister and I agree that the outcome in Iraq will affect the entire region. To stop the extremists from dominating the Middle East, we must stop the extremists from achieving their goal of dominating Iraq.
(END OF VIDEOTAPE)
COOPER (on camera): Well, they have been at it for months, the bipartisan blue ribbon Iraq Study Group. Its report is due out next week, but already it's starting to come to focus.
On the diplomatic front, bringing Syria and Iran into some kind of regional peace process. And on the military side, some sort of redeployment with some period of time.
As for all the more details, we turn to CNN's Jamie McIntyre as he tells us those recommendations, if that's what they turn out to be, won't exactly come as a shock to the Pentagon. Take a look.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): So far, the few details that have leaked out of the Iraq Study Group would seem to suggest no drastic change in strategy is coming. SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Well, I think the truth is we're all talking about withdrawal. The question is, whether that withdrawal will be based upon security considerations or based upon domestic politics here in the United States.
MCINTYRE: A gradual pullout or pull back of U.S. troops with no set timeline and emphasizing training Iraqis over conducting combat operations sounds very similar to what U.S. commanders advocate.
GENERAL JOHN ABIZIAD, U.S. CENTRAL COMMANDER: I think it's very, very clear that we have got to do more to speed the transition to get the Iraqis in the front because the Iraqis being in the front is the key to victory.
MCINTYRE: But the panel does seem to favor a subtle, but important shift, according to sources. Essentially putting the Iraqis on notice, the U.S. commitment is not open ended. By recommending gradual, but meaningful U.S. troop reductions beginning relatively early next year and moving U.S. troops off the front lines, out of the bull's eye, as an official put it, it will also call for setting clear benchmarks for Iraq to meet, which is something the Pentagon is already doing.
GENERAL PETER PACE, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: How much of the Iraqi armed forces are under the command and control of the Iraqi leadership? How much of the country has been turned over to provincial leadership? These are all things that we can judge and measure.
MCINTYRE: Although many of the recommendations may mirror current policy, some analysts argue they also reflect a more sober reality, that Iraq's problems can't be solved by military force.
JOE CIRINCIONE, CNETER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Iraq is a failure on so many levels it is hard to count. Clearly, it's a military failure. There is no military victory possible. The consensus is clear on that.
MCINTYRE (on camera): The Pentagon is not scheduled to get any formal briefings on the recommendations before the full report of the independent study group is released next week. Still, the military brass is already preparing its own list of options in case it has to counter any suggestions it sees as unwise.
Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.
COOPER: More now on the options from here on out from CNN's Nic Robertson in Baghdad, Michael Gordon of the "New York Times, and Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Bob Maginnis. We spoke to them earlier.
COOPER: Michael, from what you've read in the leaked reports, how different do you think the recommendations are from current U.S. policy that are going to be made by this Iraqi security group?
MICHAEL GORDON, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I mean, in one respect, they're dramatically different from what the administration is talking about and that's in the realm of diplomacy. I mean, Secretary Baker and Mr. Hamilton and that panel, they want to have a direct dialogue with Iraq and Syria. That's been widely reported for some days. The administration really doesn't want to go there and they've made that abundantly clear.
In another respect, it's not clear to me that the Baker panel is really saying something all that new or necessarily that helpful. I mean, this is a panel that has Republicans, Democrats -- it looks to me like they tried to find the lowest denominator between the two. They talk about reductions. That's for the Democrats. There's no time line. That's for the White House. It's a bit of a compromise.
COOPER: Yes. At this stage and trying to reach consensus, it seems like they're not really going to end up pleasing anyone on the Republican or the Democrat side.
Colonel Maginnis, this study group will reportedly recommend a gradual troop reductions tied to certain benchmarks met by the Iraqis. How far along are the Iraqi security forces for that to even start happen?
LIEUTENANT COLONEL BOB MAGINNIS (RET), U.S. ARMY: Yes, Anderson, you have a real mixed bag. Yes, you've had some that have been trained for a couple of years. But the desertion rates, the -- really, the attrition of the training is not very good. Their willingness to stand and fight is a mixed bag. And that is going to really cause a lot of military professionals, especially with our Army, to come to the conclusion that aren't ready to do this.
Now, you know, if they're talking about a staged withdrawal without an announced timeline, that's different than one that has a surprise timeline. But the fact is, as soon as you start to withdraw, a chaotic situation's only going to get worse and then that's going to have major implications for who's going to fill that vacuum. The vacuum will be filled by the most powerful people on the ground. And that's probably the Mehdi army or Iranian -- other proxies that are already in that country.
So, we have to be very cautions about what we believe that Maliki and his army and his interior ministry might be prepared or could do.
COOPER: Yes, and Nic, does this -- I mean, you've been spending so much time in Baghdad since before the invasion. Does any of this sound new to you? I mean, under the General Patrias, they were all saying the training of the Iraqi security forces is the top priority. Now this study group is talking about, you know, training Iraqis -- emphasizing training Iraqis over conducting combat operations. But is that really going to make that much of a difference on the ground?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The language really here doesn't have a whole lot new, Anderson. I mean, I remember sitting here, talking to a U.S. military general who was running the training site here. Over a year ago, he was talking about the long plan. The long plan was to continue this training, that this was always going to be the sort of endgame which was to maintain large numbers of U.S. military personnel in that advisory capacity.
What's very interesting with the report is, it talks about a pullback, a sort of drawdown, down to perhaps 70,000 troops. What so many here like Muqtada al-Sadr and some of the Sunni parties are saying as well is, look, set a date for withdrawal.
This report, pulling back to 70,000, this is in a way an element of a withdrawal. There seems to be some political gain to be had here by calling it what it is, Anderson. And that doesn't appear that anyone's prepared to take that political step and capitalize on that.
There are political factions here who would and say they would work more effectively with the United States now if that statement was made much more clearly -- Anderson.
COOPER: Well, the devil's in the details. And we'll get those details beginning of next week.
Michael Gordon, Nic Robertson, Colonel Maginnis, appreciate it. Thank you.
COOPER: Whatever the future holds for Iraq, the present conditions for most civilians is frankly unbearable. Here's the raw data. The sectarian violence is forcing Iraqis to leave their homes at the rate of more than 1,000 a day. Even basic utilities are a luxury. Since Sunday, electricity was on in Baghdad for an average of just seven hours a day. Also, in the capital, private armies roamed the streets with reports of as many as 23 militias in the city.
A tough situation, and there is no shortage of advice for the president, including some words from one of his predecessors.
Former President Bill Clinton sat down today for an exclusive interview with "AMERICAN MORNING's" Soledad O'Brien.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that we probably shouldn't set a definite timetable right now because we don't want to lose all the leverage we have to get others in the surrounding countries to work with us, and to get the Iraqi political forces to try to get more and more people to choose politics over violence. That's a fundamental problem within Iraq now is that there are a lot of people who believe they can get what they want at the end of the gun, better than they can through deliberations in the political system. And we've got to find a way, if we can, to minimize that, to keep the whole thing from falling apart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: More of Soledad's exclusive interview with President Clinton on "AMERICAN MORNING," plus best-selling Author Rick Warren and Senator Barack Obama, kicking off a full day of special global coverage of World AIDS Day. That's right here on CNN.
Also, up next now on 360 tonight, another fight against death, though a tactic filled with hate, one that seems to have no boundaries. Why women, even grandmothers, are willing to pay the ultimate price for what they say is a cause they believe in.
Plus, what made a killer whale snap at Sea World? Was it truly an attack? Wait until you hear the feedback.
And a visit to the holiest sight for Catholics in Turkey. Find out why it also attracts Muslims, and why the pope went there as well, when 360 continues.
COOPER: We'll have more of my interview with President Jimmy Carter coming up. Hear what he has to say about the current situation between Israel and Palestinians -- Palestinian territories.
First, back to John Roberts, though, in New York for a look at a startling tactic used by militants in the Middle East -- John.
ROBERTS: Anderson, thanks.
Suicide bombings are a brutal, disturbing fact of life in Israel and in other parts of the world, including Iraq.
Another fact is that the face of these bombers is changing. In the last six years alone, seven Palestinian women have acted as suicide bombers. And there appears to be no age limit. This past weekend a grandmother killed herself for martyrdom. She detonated her explosive belt when Israeli soldiers noticed her and threw a stun grenade at her.
With a look at her deadly mission, here's CNN's Ben Wedeman.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This woman is now perhaps the most notorious of the sorority of martyrs. She's the oldest. At 70, Fatima Al-Najjar is a grandmother. In a video statement before her death, she told her family...
FATIMA AL-NAJJAR, SUICIDE GRANDMOTHER (through translator): I want you neither to wail nor cry.
WEDEMAN: She asked her daughters to hand out sweets to her family. In the video, she complains with a shy chuckle that something, perhaps the machine gun, perhaps the explosives belt is heavy.
Relatives said the Israeli army demolished her house in the (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It had imprisoned all of her sons, some of whom were injured in clashes with the Israelis. Family members say it's little wonder she became an active member of the militant Palestinian group, Hamas, and would eventually give her life for the cause.
Slapped and slaps were dealt her and her sons, a nephew tells me. She lived with the killing and destruction around the clock.
Her 12-year-old grandson, Rapha (ph) shows me her Spartan bedroom. On the wall, a pencil sketch of a Muslim warrior. Tomorrow, we will be victorious, written at the bottom.
Like many Palestinians, she saw the conflict with Israel as a struggle between good and evil. Islam against its enemies.
And earlier this month, Fatima was among a group of women who braved Israeli gunfire to act as human shields to help Palestinian militants escape a mosque surrounded by Israeli forces in the town of Beithanoon (ph).
We are going to martyrdom, she told a reporter. Victory comes from God.
Israeli soldiers killed two of the women. The militants in women's clothing escaped unharmed.
She said she wanted to die a martyr, her daughter Fataya (ph) recalls. She said the same thing many times. She wanted to go to our Lord. She wanted to go to heaven. But we're happy to be killed, adds Hadi al-Najjar (ph), another relative. Paradise awaits us, not hell like them. By them, she means the Israelis.
Which is why her daughter and other family members vow they're ready to follow their mother or their grandmother wherever it leads them.
Ben Wedeman, CNN, Gaza.
ROBERTS: So how do you break the deadly cycle? Former President Jimmy Carter, who has a long history of working for peace in the region, talked to Anderson about that. He has written a new book on the subject.
And the pope made a historic visit to a Turkish mosque. The reaction and more, when 360 continues from Istanbul, New York and Amman.
COOPER: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, meeting with Palestinian authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank today, just a few days after the Palestinians and Israel hammered out a cease fire in Gaza.
Former President Jimmy Carter is very familiar, of course, with the challenging process of trying to establish peace in the Middle East. He helped forge the Camp David agreement of 1978 between Egypt and Israel.
Now Mr. Carter has a new book, "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid." Earlier today, he shared some of his ideas about what it will take to have peace between the Palestinians and Israel.
COOPER: Your new book, "Palestine Peace not Apartheid" is getting certainly a lot of attention, a lot of controversy. The "Jerusalem Post" says, quote, "You smear a damning image of Israel into the consciousness of anyone who reads this." U.S. Representative John Conyers disagrees with your implications about apartheid, or at least what he says are your implications about apartheid, and actually wants the title of the book changed.
Just to set the record straight for your critics, are you saying that Israel is to blame for undermining Mid East peace?
JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, the title was very carefully chosen by me. And the first word is the most important. It's Palestine. The land of the Palestinians. It doesn't refer to Israel at all. Inside Israel, there's no semblance of apartheid. It's a wonderful democracy, with everyone treated the same. Arabs and Jews, both have the same privileges. There's no allegation of any kind of discrimination.
But inside Palestine, outside of Israel, where the Israelis occupying forces are there, the persecution and deprivation of the Palestinians is horrendous. And that's the only thing I address in my book.
The Israelis have gone into Palestine, just a tiny portion of the Holy Land. They have occupied the territories. They have confiscated the land that belongs to the Palestinians and then they have colonized those areas.
So this is meant that Palestine has been changed into a horrible situation, something like a honeycomb or a spider web. With Palestinians cut off from the land that they belong to.
And in order to keep them from any sort of protest, it is -- the Israelis are persecuting them terribly by confining them to their homes, by taking their homes away from them. And now by building a wall all out through the West Bank.
Now, there's no process underway even to give Israel peace. That's the primary purpose of my book is to make sure we have some circumstances whereby Israel can have peace, live in peace, and let the majority of Israelis who are against the continued operation, occupation of the Palestinian land be honored. It's a minority of Israelis who insist that they would rather keep the Palestinian land instead of having peace.
COOPER: Has this administration, the Bush administration, dropped the ball in terms of peace in -- between Israel and Palestinians? It seems not much has been done in this area at all. Was that a huge missed opportunity?
CARTER: Well, I don't think the administration has ever picked up the ball, much less dropped it.
There was a very good move made when the so-called international quartet was formed with the United States and Russia and the United Nations and the European Union. And they came up with the road map for peace, which President Bush endorsed enthusiastically and publicly.
The road map for peace is based on Israel withdrawing from the occupied territories. And it has a whole series of events that are supposed to take place, all of which the Palestinian leaders have endorsed enthusiastically. But all of which have been rejected by the Israeli government.
The Israeli government has rejected all the key issues that are included in the road map for peace, which is the predication that President Bush has said is the key to the future. And this has precluded any sort of peace talks.
So I think that's a circumstance now. And I hope it would change. I mean, I really pray that it would change. That's the purpose of my book. I've been working almost 30 years with a very dedicated effort to bring peace to Israel and justice for the people around Israel.
But this present circumstance is a deadlock, it's a stalemate. And I hope that this book, which is -- has a provocative title, but I don't consider provocative to be a bad word. I think it -- I want to provoke debate and discussion in the United States. There is zero debate, you might say, in this country about this issue. And so that's what I hope to change.
COOPER: Hmm. We'll talk a little bit more with Jimmy Carter later in the program.
On day three of his historic and high stakes visit to Turkey, Pope Benedict XVI toured Istanbul. Coming up, a full report on his day and what his trip accomplished.
We'll also show you one of his stops before he got to Istanbul. A small cottage where some believe that the Virgin Mary once lived. But Catholics aren't the only ones who consider it holy.
Plus, another outrageous example of FEMA perhaps dropping the ball. Two schools destroyed by Hurricane Rita. FEMA promised to rebuild them. It hasn't happened. We are keeping them honest, next on 360.
(BEGIN BREAKING NEWS)
COOPER: And we have some breaking news to report. There is new information just out, now being published by the "Washington Post," some new details about what the Iraq Study Group is proposing.
CNN's Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre joins us now. With that, Jamie, what is the "Washington Post" saying?
Jamie McIntyre, joining us now on the phone. Jamie, what is the "Washington Post" reporting?
MCINTYRE: I am here. Yes I am.
COOPER: Jamie, go ahead. You're on the air. What's the "Washington Post" reporting?
MCINTYRE: I'm not hearing you though.
COOPER: Clearly, we're having some trouble establishing contact with Jamie McIntyre. We'll try to get back to him shortly.
(END BREAKING NEWS)
COOPER: We'll turn right now to what has been happening with Pope Benedict XVI. He has now spent three full days in Turkey, his first visit to a Muslim country. He returns to Rome tomorrow. He spent today touring Istanbul, Turkey's largest city, where he visited one of Islam's most famous mosques.
The original purpose of the trip, of course, to mend relations between Orthodox Christians and Catholics. He's taken a bit of a backseat to the issue of Christian Muslim relations, but he did address both those things.
CNN Analyst John Allen is traveling with the pope. He joins me now.
John, how was the visit overall? From the Vatican perspective, was it a success?
JOHN ALLEN, CNN VATICAN ANALYST: Well, Anderson, I think that requires knowing what the point was. Coming into the Turkey trip, it wasn't clear whether the aim was going to be primarily to try to mend fences with the Muslim world after Benedict's explosive comments on September 12th at the University of Regensburg, effectively linking Islam with violence. Or whether the point was going to be for him to bring a really aggressive challenge to Muslim governments, including here in Turkey, on religious freedom issues and on the need to reject religious violence.
I think what has taken shape is that clearly the Vatican chose option A, which is this overwhelming effort to try to send every possible signal of sensitivity and dialogue to Muslim public opinion, including, of course, this afternoon. Benedict XVI's visit to the Blue Mosque, where not only did he become only the second pope to enter an Islamic mosque, but he actually prayed in the mosque in yet another gesture of sensitivity and in kind of common religious concern.
And so, I think if the point was to try to turn around that climate of uncertainty and anger that had followed Regensburg, it would certainly seem from all the evidence that we have gathered that that's been accomplished.
COOPER: Is there talk of what happens next? I mean, he talked about dialogue. He talked about brotherhood on this trip. In terms of an actual dialogue though between Muslims and Christians, how would that work? What would that look like?
ALLEN: Well, that obviously is the $64,000 question. I mean, this is what papal trips do. They are heavy on symbolism and often a little short on substance.
I think what we have got here is that the climate has been changed, and now a dialogue is to some extent possible. But exactly what form that's going to take, we don't yet know. I mean, now, the Vatican has had for many years now long standing dialogues with various entities in the Islamic world, including a formal dialogue commission with the Al Hazar (ph) University and mosque in Cairo and a number of other bodies. No doubt those will be reinforced.
There were also several days ago a group of Islamic scholars representing a number of different traditions, wrote a very lengthy letter to Benedict, picking up some of the ideas from his Regensburg address and volunteering, in effect, to serve as a dialogue body. And I'm sure the Vatican is going to want to try to pick that up. But that's going to be the hard work of the coming weeks and months is to try to decide exactly how this conversation can be carried forward.
I think what we can say about the Turkey trip is that it has made that work much more possible than it seemed coming in here.
COOPER: John Allen, reporting. Appreciate it John, your expertise always on display. John Allen, thanks very much.
(BEGIN BREAKING NEWS)
Again, we want to bring back to -- Jamie McIntyre, who has this breaking news report, the "Washington Post" reporting some new details about what the Iraq Study Group is going to be indicating next week.
Jamie joins us now on the phone.
Jamie, what's the "Washington Post" saying?
MCINTYRE (on the phone): Well, Anderson, you know, we've been working this story all day about exactly what the proposal is from the Iraq Study Group regarding U.S. troops. And as we reported, they're talking about moving U.S. troops basically off the frontlines into more of a support role. But what the "Washington Post" has got on sources tonight, which will be in tomorrow's paper, is that the bipartisan Iraq Study Group really is planning to recommend as a goal, not necessarily as, you know, a hard set timetable, but a goal to basically cut the number of U.S. troops in Iraq in half by early 2008. And the way they're proposing that apparently to take the combat troops, the frontline combat troops -- there are about 15 brigades, that's about 70,000 troops -- and move them, transition them into a support role, putting the Iraqi forces out in front. That's something that the U.S. military wants to do.
But what this does is set up really a firm, not so much a timetable, but a really solid goal. It does give commanders on the ground the discretion not to meet this goal if they feel like it really is unwise. But it really sets up a benchmark for the U.S. military to by the end of -- essentially by the end of next year to have made some significant reductions in U.S. forces.
It comes very close to the proposal that is -- has been advanced by Carl Levin and some other Democrats to have a phased withdrawal of troops. But it doesn't go so far as to have an absolute firm deadline.
So we're getting a better picture now from various sources and various reports of exactly what this compromise was that the panel has come up with. And it's going to put a lot of pressure on the Bush administration to, to take really a more aggressive stance in putting U.S. troops on the road to getting out of Iraq within a year's time.
That would be a pretty significant shift if you could take 70,000 troops, take them off the frontline, either move them out of Iraq or move them to places where they're not performing combat operations and put all the emphasis on pushing the Iraqi forces to the front. So that's what the Post is reporting tonight and tomorrow morning.
COOPER: And that's an important point to make. When you talk about 15 combat brigades, that's not bringing them back to the United States. That's them staying either in the region, perhaps in Kuwait or somewhere else in Iraq, that's not in the killing zone. Is that correct?
MCINTYRE: Well, you know, ideally -- and it's hard to -- again, we are getting sort of tidbits of this plan. And we'll see the whole thing next week on Wednesday when the whole plan is -- it's almost 100 pages if you count the annex, it's about a 50-page document. But the key point is ideally they would bring all the troops all the way back to the United States, they'd come home. But it doesn't say they would have to do that. The idea is to just get them off the frontlines.
As source told CNN earlier today, take the bull's eye off their back essentially and push the Iraqi forces out front. And it would really set up a timetable to try to accomplish that, but it would have the caveat, it would give U.S. military commanders some wiggle room if they really felt like that wasn't going to be a militarily prudent thing to do. They would still have to justify though why they wouldn't do that.
So -- and it would send a clear message to the Iraqis that the U.S. plans to leave. And that's one of the things that many people have argued, that the Iraqis are just dragging their feet about taking care of these problems. And until they know that the U.S. is actually going to leave, a lot of people feel they're just not going to deal with some of the problems that they have got over there.
COOPER: There's also increased talk about very rapidly putting in U.S. advisers and more U.S. advisers directly into Iraqi units. What do you know about that?
MCINTYRE: Yes, now that's something that General Abizaid, the top U.S. commander over there, has -- that's been his strategy. He said, look, we had a plan to transition to Iraqi forces of 12 to 18 months. We think we can do that a lot faster. They're accelerating the training of the trainers. And that's been their -- that's been the U.S. military's option of choice in trying to accelerate, turn over to Iraqi troops.
But what this is, is sort of an one-two punch. You do the increase in trainers, but at the same time lay down a marker to the Iraqi government and tell them, look, these troops are going to be leaving on sort of a definite timetable unless things really go badly. And you need to step up and take care of it. And that's the compromise.
And the compromise is that it's not an absolute threat that they're going to leave. Because there is a chance that the commanders would have the flexibility to change the plan if they have to. But it really lays out this very firm goal to reduce the number of troops, really cut them by half in about a year's time. That's a pretty ambitious goal, considering how much difficulty the U.S. military has had with their planned troop reductions in the past. In fact, they've hardly been able to reduce any of the troops they thought they'd be able to by this time -- Anderson.
COOPER: Of course, it also has political implications for the upcoming elections. We'll talk about that later on, on 360.
Jamie McIntyre, appreciate it.
We'll be right back with a lot more coverage. Stay tuned.
(END BREAKING NEWS)
COOPER: Well, FEMA finds itself still under fire over the hurricane -- or the hurricanes, I should say, along the Gulf Coast. In a moment, the outrage over a promise to rebuild schools, a promise not kept.
And now, a federal judge has ordered FEMA to pay to resume housing aid to thousands of Hurricane Katrina evacuees. The federal judge criticized FEMA for cutting the housing and subjecting victims of the storm to a convoluted application process. Your government at work.
Earlier today, I spoke to former President Jimmy Carter about the situation now existing in the Gulf Coast.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: So I know you're heading back down to New Orleans soon.
CARTER: I am.
COOPER: In your opinion, has enough progress be been made? And if not, what is holding it up?
CARTER: I'm going down on behalf of Habitat for Humanity, which is building houses right and left every day and has made a lot of progress.
I noticed in the "New York Times" report last week that $7.8 billion was appropriated by the Congress for loans to families that want to rebuild their homes. And as of the first of October, only 11 loans had been made to more than 10,000 families that wanted them. And I think the last report I saw was that 28 loans have been made for people to rebuild their own homes.
So I'm going down to see what's going on among Habitat homebuilders, but also to maybe bring some publicity to the fact that practically nothing is being done for the Katrina victims, despite the early promises of support for them.
COOPER: The work that Habitat has done there is just incredible, as well as many church and just volunteer organizations.
CARTER: That's true.
COOPER: I've been there a bunch of times.
CARTER: A lot of...
COOPER: The last -- last spring break, there were tens of thousands of college kids, high school kids, church groups down there, you know, taking their spring break and helping out total strangers, helping out their community. So there's a lot of good work being done.
But I know it's frustrating and enraging for the people down there when, you know, you go to the Lower Ninth Ward and there's peoples' possessions still literally laying out in the street. And it's a hard thing to figure out just what is going on.
Do you feel like -- like that part of America -- that what happened there is being forgotten to some extent?
CARTER: I think it's been forgotten to a large extent. These volunteers are still flooding down there, and that's a very gratified thing for me to see, both Habitat and many other organizations and students -- including students. They have done a good job.
But the federal, state and local government process to get the money appropriated to the families so they can start rebuilding their homes is a total disaster. And I think it's pretty well forgotten. And I think visits by me and other people might bring attention to this and expedite the process. That's what I hope.
COOPER: Well, more now on FEMA and schools left in limbo. Keeping them honest, here's CNN's Joe Johns.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): See if this sounds familiar.
JOEY HEBERT, VERMMILION PARISH SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT: There was no one ever able to say, you know, let's get this thing going. Let's take care of this situation. We'd always deal with a new person and have to show them the whole ropes all over again.
JOHNS: Did you ever know who was in charge?
JOHNS: Here we go again. Charges of indecision and blundering by a federal agency Americans love to hate, FEMA. We're talking about damage from Hurricane Rita last year. Two devastated schools, and kids and parents waiting for help.
A few months ago, the folks at FEMA told the schools, one in Iberia Parish and one in Vermilion Parish in Louisiana, that they would get millions to relocate to higher ground.
Iberia Parish schools was so sure the money was coming, they spent nearly $400,000 on land to build a new school. FEMA even helped them draw up the plans. And then, FEMA took it back.
SONNY BEAUDRY, IBERIA PARISH SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT: The door was slammed in our face. The way it was is, really it's unacceptable. And I don't believe it's over with.
JOHNS: What happened? Put simply, FEMA said it made a mistake, that the school in question, Peebles Elementary, which lies squarely in the path of future floods, did not suffer enough damage to qualify for relocation after all.
DAVID GARRETT, FEMA DIRECTOR, RECOVERY: The field staff made an inaccurate assessment regarding the scope of the damage. But our system is designed to review those assessments and catch and correct those assessments.
JOHNS: Even though FEMA insists this was an isolated case among 18,000 such projects, this one turned into a political firestorm.
Senator Mary Landrieu, who posed for a photo op at Peebles when the relocation money was first offered was fit to be tied.
SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU (D), LOUISIANA: We want a FEMA that is smart. That works. That stretches taxpayer dollars and uses them wisely. And unfortunately, we don't have that kind of FEMA in America today.
JOHNS: And this week, First Lady Laura Bush canceled a trip here where she had been expected to meet with school kids. Her office wouldn't say why she canceled. And with all the heat coming down, no surprise, FEMA is all of a sudden talking about a way out.
GARRETT: They may very well receive federal assistance comparable to and potentially even equal to the amount of assistance that they were originally expecting to receive.
JOHNS: Sounds like a happy ending, right? Maybe for one school. But what about the other one?
(On camera): This is Henry Elementary School in Vermilion Parish. It's one of two schools in the parish that has not opened since Hurricane Rita.
It's a very similar situation to what happened in Iberia, only here, arguably, it's worse.
(Voice-over): Henry was all but gutted by Hurricane Rita. And yes, FEMA promised it would provide funding to relocate and rebuild. And FEMA reversed itself here, too.
In fact, local officials now fear FEMA may be scaling back on other school reconstruction projects. It's enough to make a Cajun rage
BOBBIE LEBANCE, IBERIA PARISH SCHOOL BOARD: FEMA's got a plague on their hands.
LEBANCE: And they -- plague? Because the whole south is suffering.
JOHNS: Another bureaucratic tangle. And while FEMA looks for a solution, the kids are still riding the buses, with everyone wondering what the government is going to do.
CHANTEL HELMS, PEEBLES ELEMENTARY PRINCIPAL: I feel like I'm, as an administrator, should have the answer for some of these questions, and I don't.
JOHNS: We'll be watching and keeping them honest.
Joe Johns, CNN, Iberia Parish, Louisiana.
COOPER: It just seems like this never ends. It seems to be the same stories, just over and over, no matter how much time passes. Incredibly frustrating, John.
And John, of course, I had forgotten this until I just saw it recently. Today was the last official day of hurricane season and thankfully it was no hurricane hit the United States this year.
ROBERTS: Yes, it's over for another year. El Nino, a lot of people say, was to be credited with the fact that there were no hurricanes. It might make for a milder winter in the northeast, as well.
Of course, the northwest and the mid section of the country are getting walloped by bad weather. We'll have more on that, coming up.
Meanwhile, a killer whale goes on the attack, but this wasn't in nature, it was at Sea World, as a trainer is pinned under the water.
ROBERTS: Killer whales. The name says it all. They are among the most feared predators in the open ocean. Yet, as we know in captivity, they can be trained to perform.
Well, yesterday, at Sea World in San Diego, with many children looking on, one killer whale that spent years doing tricks suddenly snapped.
CNN's Dan Simon reports.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A whale goes wild at Sea World in San Antonio. This incident two years ago shows what can happen when an orca, or killer whale, decides to act out.
But this isn't the way it's supposed to be.
If you've ever been to a Sea World show, the last few minutes are usually spectacular. It's punctuated by daring dives off of killer whales.
This video from a few months ago shows the same trainer, who was injured Wednesday, performing the kind of stunt he was supposed to do when the whale turned on him.
CNN obtained home video showing Ken Peters on the surface. At this moment, his foot in the whale's mouth. The orca, named Kasatka, refusing to release him.
Twice the 30-year-old whale takes him under water. The first time, for 30 seconds. The second time, for a whole minute. Spectators knew immediately something wasn't right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You could tell. This was -- this was not part of the show.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't get why he would do that, bite the trainer.
SIMON: But Mike Scarpuzzi, who oversees the training at Sea World in San Diego, says this was no attack. MIKE SCARPUZZI, SEA WORLD: All of us have seen killer whales attack other animals in the wild. And this was nothing like that. A killer whale wants to attack, it will be different than this. Remember, all of our training encourages and reinforces these animals for calm, gentle behavior.
SIMON: And Peters apparently calmed the whale down by gently rubbing it even as it bit into and broke his foot. The whale eventually let go and Peters got out of the water on his own before being rushed to the hospital.
In the wild, killer whale attacks on humans are almost unheard of. But there have been a few over the years with trainers.
Sea world says this is the second time Peters and the same whale have had a problem. In 1999, the whale exhibited similar behavior while performing and tried to bite him. Then, this dramatic San Antonio incident in 2004. The whale kept breaching and landing on top of the trainer. Somehow, the trainer wasn't injured.
Scarpuzzi says these things are bound to happen. And that Sea World constantly reevaluates its training and procedures.
SCARPUZZI: Two times in 12 years. We'll take that track record, especially all the thousands of good interactions.
SIMON: No one's figured out yet what caused the animal to act up. But Peters' calm reaction likely prevented a tragedy.
SCARPUZZI: Hey, I wouldn't say there was too much luck. It was an awful lot of skill. And, you know, he did the right job.
SIMON: Kasatka was back in action today, performing with her fellow whales. As a precaution, however, trainers stayed out of the water.
SIMON (on camera): And we're told the trainer is still in the hospital. He's in good condition. He did have surgery to repair his broken left foot, but in good spirits. He's been talking to fellow trainers, sort of reliving what happened, trying to figure out what set that whale off.
John, at this point, no operating theories as to why the whale acted out the way she did.
ROBERTS: I guess whales will do what whales do. Very lucky man. Dan Simon, thanks very much.
A lot of problems in the Midwest in terms of air travel. And probably looking ahead to tomorrow with more of that as well.
More of 360 in a moment. We'll check in on the weather across the Midwest. Stay with us.
ROBERTS: John Roberts again in New York with a 360 news and business bulletin.
Wintery weather is padding the plains in the Midwest tonight from Texas to Illinois. Sleet, freezing rain and up to a foot of snow in some areas. A cold snap just a day after near record high temperatures.
Getting out of Chicago's O'Hare airport is not going to be easy tomorrow morning. At least 265 flights canceled so far.
Blizzard-like conditions in Oklahoma have turned roads into ice. Just west of Oklahoma City, a 16-vehicle pile-up on Interstate 40 shut down the highway. An ambulance and eight semis were involved in the collision. Several people were injured.
From the Department of Homeland Security, word of caution, but there is no corroboration to it. It says al Qaeda may be planning cyber attacks on banking and financial institutions during the month of December. The threat was posted on a jihadist Web site. But again, there is no firm evidence that it is a credible threat.
And on Wall Street, November ended with a bit of a whimper. The Dow lost nearly 5 points. The NASDAQ dropped a half point. The S&P up just slightly. But for the month, all three were substantially on the plus side.
Now let's go back to Amman, Jordan. And with the final word, here's Anderson -- Anderson.
COOPER: Hey, John. Thanks very much. Appreciate you covering for me on the New York side. We'll be heading back to the states in -- well, about three hours from now.
Thanks very much for watching our special coverage from Amman. We'll have a special on Pope Benedict XVI tomorrow, if you watch that. And we'll see you later.
"LARRY KING" is next.
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