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Interview With Illinois Senator Richard Durbin; Taliban and al Qaeda Preparing For New Offensive in Afghanistan?; Border Patrol Defends Underground Gateway to America

Aired January 25, 2007 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
As the war over the war in Iraq heats up, there are growing signs tonight that all that talk of bipartisanship is beginning to fade away.

Today, we heard allegations by one Democratic senator that Vice President Dick Cheney is, in his words, "delusional."

Here's what Mr. Cheney told Wolf Blitzer yesterday about Iraq.


RICHARD B. CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, Wolf, if the history books were written by people who have -- are so eager to write off this effort, to declare it a failure, including many of our friends in the media, the situation obviously would have been over a long time ago.

The bottom line is that we have had enormous successes, and we will continue to have enormous successes.


COOPER: Well, that drew a stinging reply today from Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois.

Take a look.


SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: If the president says our continued course of action is a slow failure, you have to wonder where the vice president is receiving his information.

Earlier this morning, I said that he was delusional when it came to this issue. To be delusional is to be out of touch with reality. And I believe the vice president has been out of touch with reality when he makes comments like that. At the least, the American people expect an honest answer about the situation in Iraq.


COOPER: Well, Senator Durbin made those remarks on the Senate floor, as you saw earlier today. Is he backing down? To find out, I talked to him a short time ago.


COOPER: Senator Durbin, do you really believe the vice president is delusional when he suggests there have been enormous successes in Iraq? Delusional is a very strong word.

DURBIN: Delusional suggests that you are out of touch with reality.

Look at the quotations we have received from Vice President Cheney, from the start, about weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons, connections between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein.

This was the same vice president who said that, as we faced the bloodiest battles in Iraq, that the insurgency was in its last throes. And now he tells us we have shown enormous -- enormous -- successes. Those were his words.

He's out of touch with the reality of Iraq.

COOPER: His supporters would say, well, the overthrowing of Saddam Hussein, three national elections, Iraqis got to choose their own government for the first time in decades, they would ask, are those not successes?

DURBIN: Give credit where it's due. Our fighting men and women have been the best. And they have achieved goals that they were set out to do, you know, to depose Saddam Hussein, put him on trial, have free elections and a constitution, as you suggested.

But recall that the president just said, within the last day or so, that we are witnessing a slow failure with the current policy. The vice president says enormous success. The president says slow failure.

Clearly, they're not in touch with one another about what's really going on in Iraq.

COOPER: Why do you think he -- he said that? Do you think he really believes it? Do you think he's putting a brave face on it? What -- what's your reading of it?

DURBIN: I don't think he has a real realistic view of what's going on in Iraq.

When the secretary of defense, Mr. Gates, has the courage to say we're not winning this war, when the president says slow failure, when the American people are calling for change, you expect the vice president to understand the reality of what's on the ground in Iraq.

COOPER: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted for this resolution that basically voices disapproval of the president's Iraq policy. Senator Biden said -- and I quote -- that it was not an attempt to embarrass the president, it's not an attempt to demonstrate isolation.

What exactly is it, then, if they're not trying to embarrass the president?

DURBIN: It's what the Congress is all about, where the American people have a chance to debate and deliberate an issue. You know, this isn't a vote of confidence on the president. This isn't a vote of confidence on the troops, as Senator McCain suggested the other day.

It's a question about the policy of this country. And, if we cannot, as senators and congressmen, sit down representing the people that have sent us to Washington, and have an honest debate about policy, then we're giving us our constitutional responsibility.

COOPER: Do you buy at all -- is there any validity, in your opinion, to the arguments that McCain and Senator Lugar and General Petraeus have said, that -- that, basically, these resolutions could embolden the enemy?

DURBIN: I doubt that.

I really, honestly, don't believe that the enemy gets up each morning and looks at the news clips before they decide whether they're going to go build another IED on the roadside, and try to kill an American soldier.

But I do believe the American people expect us to engage in a debate. Look at the numbers. The numbers are overwhelming. People want a new direction in Iraq. That's what the elections said. And, if we didn't debate this, then, clearly, Congress would fade into irrelevancy.

COOPER: The editor of "The National Review" wrote -- and I quote -- "The Democratic Party has a bad habit of opposing anything that is George W. Bush's position, while offering no real alternative. Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin could only negativity, without an alternative. President Bush is taking us in the wrong direction, but there appears to be little more to the Durbin position."

You want a redeployment of troops. Is that a strategy for victory in Iraq or a strategy just to get American troops home?

DURBIN: Well, first, I hope the -- I -- my recent issue of "The National Review" has not arrived.

But the I hope the editor will be sensitive to the fact that many Republicans, including John Warner, no dove, have stepped forward and said that this policy is wrong.

What is the alternative? The alternative is what our generals have been calling for, for a long time, what Prime Minister al-Maliki is calling for, and what most Americans want: Start bringing American troops home. Let the Iraqi soldiers take their place, stand up, and defend their own country.

COOPER: Senator Dick Durbin, appreciate your time.

DURBIN: Thank you.


COOPER: Well, former presidential adviser David Gergen has worked in Democratic and Republican administrations. He's been in the trenches when bipartisanship breaks down, as it seems to be doing now, and things get ugly.

We spoke to him earlier tonight from Davos, Switzerland.


COOPER: David, we just heard Senator Durbin call the vice president delusional. And Senator McCain recently singled Cheney out for failures in Iraq, saying that the -- that the president was very badly served by Cheney, as well as by Rumsfeld.

What kind of impact do you think Cheney is having on the administration right now? Has he lost his power?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, he's -- he's certainly a weakened figure within the administration. I don't think the president listens to him quite as intently as he did before.

I think Dick Cheney is as loyal to the president as he was before. I think one of his good, close friends of -- me -- told me that one of the reasons he makes these kind of statements, as he did yesterday, about enormous successes is just an excess sense of loyalty.

But it has cost the president. And the tone that he used in that interview with Wolf Blitzer yesterday, Anderson, was so contrary to what the president had just said. The president was holding out an olive branch to the Democrats. And, here, the vice president comes on, just sort of like gangbusters, as hypercritical of people.

And, then, you have got Dick Durbin in what I think is an excessive comment about delusional. That just -- I'm just upset he made that comment.

But I think the net result is that, whatever positive impact the president had in his State of the Union address -- and it wasn't a lot -- but it gets hugely diminished by the vice president being so hard- nosed.

COOPER: What do you think is behind his insistence that the Iraq war has not damaged the administration's credibility? And he really can't come up with -- with any mistakes -- or virtually no mistakes -- that this administration has made?

GERGEN: Well, I think it does cause people to no only doubt the vice president.

Listen, this is somebody I worked with and for 35 years ago. And I thought the world of him for years and years. And I'm just sad by what's happened here, because there have been a series of statements by Vice President Cheney. Unfortunately, he told us before the war that there's no doubt that there are weapons of mass destruction.

He told us we would be greeted as liberators. He said in May a year-and-a-half ago, he said that -- the insurgency, the terrorists were in their final throes. And, here we are, a year-and-a-half later, with many more deaths than we had before.

And now we hear that there are enormous successes in Iraq the day after General Petraeus testifies in Congress that Iraq is in dire straits.

So, there is -- it's a shock to me to see this. I do think it hurts the president.

COOPER: But is that strategy?

GERGEN: I don't think that the kind of comments we saw from Dick Durbin are helpful.

COOPER: Is that strategy, though, to just...

GERGEN: That's an interesting question.

COOPER: ... put a brave face on it, or is it a real belief?

GERGEN: Oh, I think it's a real belief.

But, I mean, it's an interesting question. Does a good cop/bad cop kind of routine serve them well? I don't think it serves them well. I would be surprised if it's strategy.

I think that there's a part of Dick Cheney who is just boiling over in anger at what he sees now going on in the Congress. I can tell you that he would be particularly and personally aggrieved by a Congress voting a resolution to in effect oppose the president while a war is under way.

That's the kind of thing that would give him just deep, deep -- really give him a lot of anger. And I think what we may have seen yesterday was that anger and frustration boiling over.

COOPER: Republicans, like Senator Richard Lugar, say that the resolution sends -- though nonbinding, sends -- sends the wrong message, and will confirm to America's enemies that the U.S. is essentially in disarray.

Does he have a legitimate argument? And should the resolution, you think, be put to a vote?

GERGEN: I think Senator Lugar does have a legitimate concern. And he's the right person to raise it. He's a very sensible, as you know, man and a voice of real reason. So, I think it's legitimate for him to raise it. His point is undercut, his argument is undercut in this instance by the number of Republican senators, like John Warner, who are breaking with the president, and want to vote or are willing to vote for some kind of resolution against.

So, when -- when that happens, the political party that makes that kind of argument when you're running a war gets really undercut, when their own people begin to break away and say, no, no, no, we're going to stand up against it.

COOPER: Right. Interesting.

David Gergen, thanks.

GERGEN: Thank you, Anderson.


COOPER: Well, the 2008 presidential race is under way, of course.

And, according to a new "TIME" magazine poll, Senator Hillary Clinton is the clear Democratic front-runner. Here's the "Raw Data."

The poll shows Clinton leading Senator Barack Obama for the nomination by a margin of 40 percent to 21 percent. John Edwards is a distant third with 11 percent.

For the Republicans, the poll suggests a much closer race. Senator John McCain holds a narrow lead over former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, 30 percent to 26 percent.

But, as we all know, it is early days.

In a moment: the forgotten war, Afghanistan -- Taliban forces making a comeback and American troops already there having their tours extended, as al Qaeda seems to be on the ascendancy.

Also tonight: a murder mystery that is literally out of the wild- blue yonder. -


COOPER (voice-over): Police are calling it the love triangle that came crashing to earth, one man, two rival women, one rigged parachute -- murder at 13,000 feet.

Also: They will go through anything to get into the country, a deadly game of cat and mouse and sewer rat. Battle on the border, under the border -- 360 next.



COOPER: You're looking at video of Taliban fighters getting training to kill. According to the IntelCenter, a terrorism analyst company, the video is from Waziristan, Pakistan.

It obtained the video in April of 2006, and believes the training took place around that time. As you can see, these fighters are practicing firing various weapons, including rockets and mortars. They're also learning to make IEDs. You saw that a short moment ago. They take these deadly skills across the border into Afghanistan, where the Taliban are back with a vengeance and al Qaeda is regrouping.

Five years ago, the Taliban were on the run, after U.S. forces toppled the hard-line Islamist government. Today, what seemed like an early victory in the war on terror looks -- well, it kind of looks like a lot like Iraq, on a much smaller scale. Attacks in southern Afghanistan are surging. The local army and police are not up to snuff. And now the U.S. is sending more troops, more money to help turn the bloodbath around.

With that story, here's CNN's Jamie McIntyre.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The slowness of America's allies and NATO to provide more troops has forced the U.S. to keep 3,200 soldiers from the Army's 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan an extra four month to battle the resurgent Taliban and al Qaeda, who are expected to stage another deadly spring offensive.

A handful of those U.S. soldiers had already reunited with family members in Fort Drum, New York, this week, only to learn they will have to do an about-face and go back.

The problem is, despite the presence of 31,000 NATO troops, including 11,000 Americans, attacks in the south of Afghanistan are up 200 percent. U.S. commanders say, a big reason is that al Qaeda have been operating freely from sanctuaries across the border in Pakistan, ever since Pakistan has made a deal to rely on tribal leaders to keep al Qaeda in check.

A U.S. intelligence official tells CNN, al Qaeda training camps in Pakistan are full.

But Pakistan's president, a staunch U.S. ally, insists he's doing all he can.

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PAKISTANI PRESIDENT: We are tackling them with 50,000 troops. So, let it not be said that Pakistan is not doing enough. If there's anybody who is not doing enough, it is others who are not doing enough.

MCINTYRE: And, in fact, the other big problem is, just like in Iraq, the performance of local Afghan security forces, especially the police, has been spotty.

So, in addition to more troops, the Bush administration now plans to plow more money into Afghanistan, more than $10 billion, including $8 billion for police training and equipment, and $2 billion for construction, things like roads.

SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Afghanistan could be a real producer of various -- various types of agricultural products. But some of those are perishable. And, by the time -- with the current road system, by the time you get those -- those goods to market, they're no good.

MCINTYRE (on camera): After months of foot-dragging, NATO has announced it will finally send the rest of the troops allied commanders requested last summer. But, with the level of fighting on the rise, U.S. and NATO generals are saying they may need more troops as they head into summer.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.


COOPER: Of course, the reason U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001 was because the Taliban were providing a safe haven for al Qaeda.

Just after the 9/11 attacks, Pakistan agreed to cooperate with the U.S. in its fight against the regime. But, just a few months ago, Pakistan signed a deal with militants along the Afghan border, and Taliban attacks from inside Pakistan have soared.

Joining me now is CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen.

Peter, thanks for being with us.

Pakistan continues to insist that this peace deal that they have made with militants in their own country along the border with Afghanistan is not leading to an increase in attacks on U.S. and Afghan forces. It seems, though, by all indications, that's just simply not true.


I mean, when we were together, Anderson, on the Afghan-Pakistan border in eastern Afghanistan, right across the border, they had -- the Pakistani had recently signed a peace agreement with one of the two federally administered tribal territories that they have signed deals with so far.

And, you know, U.S. military sources say the -- the attacks have gone up something like 300 percent from that region alone. So, you know, clearly, this may have been good for Pakistani domestic political purposes to sign these agreements with the militants. The Pakistani army has taken a lot of casualties when it's gone into these areas.

But, from the point of view of attacks on U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, this has not been a good deal.

COOPER: What about al Qaeda? As we just heard in Jamie McIntyre's report, a U.S. intelligence official says that al Qaeda training camps in Pakistan are full. That sounds like an incredibly ominous development.

How much is this an al Qaeda operation, and how much is the Taliban? How do they work together?

BERGEN: Well, I mean, according to somebody I have spoken to who had visited Pakistan relatively recently on the U.S. government side, there are something like 2,000 foreign fighters in these tribal areas along the Pakistan-Afghan border.

COOPER: Two thousand foreign fighters, because, when they signed this deal, the Pakistani government was saying: Well, look, we have signed this deal. And the people we have signed the deal with have said that they are going to toss all the foreign fighters out.

That's not happening?

BERGEN: Apparently not.

And I think that, you know, the proof is in the numbers of attacks that we're seeing in Afghanistan. You asked the question how are the Taliban and al Qaeda cooperating. By their own accounts, sharing resources, money, personnel -- the Taliban is behaving in very al Qaeda-like manner, suicide attacks, beheadings, IEDs.

And, you know, just recently, when Robert Gates, the defense secretary, was in Afghanistan, the Defense Department released some rather sobering statistics, 139 suicide attacks in Afghanistan last year, up from 21 the year before. And the same is true with the exponential rise in IED attacks, an exponential rise on international and NATO and U.S. troops there. So, the situation is bad.

But, on the other hand, there was an interesting poll, Anderson, released in December, where eight out of 10 Afghans had a very positive view of the U.S. and international presence in the country. Eight out of 10 Afghans were very happy to see the end of the Taliban.

So, there is a reservoir of popular will. And some of the things that Jamie McIntyre was talking about in his piece, that's a good sign, that we are actually going to put more money into road buildings, et cetera.

But I -- I think that more can certainly be done in the right way -- if it's done in the right way.

COOPER: We have been getting a lot of e-mails from family members of some of the soldiers that we spent time with in the 10th Mountain Division on the eastern border with Afghanistan.

These guys have had their tours extended another four months. A lot of them had already come home, and, as Jamie was talking about, literally had to turn around -- after being reunited with their families briefly, had to turn around and go back.

The U.S. Army seems stretched pretty thin.

BERGEN: Indeed. Well, you know, one of the things that the president is advocating for -- and it's long overdue -- is an expansion of the U.S. Army and U.S. Marines. But that's going take time, to train these people and to get them into -- you know, it seems to me the one place where we could do a surge that would actually really work is in Afghanistan.

There is a need for more troops. Defense Secretary Gates said that when he visited there recently. That could make a difference. In Iraq, you know, there is a lot of debate whether that surge will make any difference.

In Afghanistan, the attitudes of the population are different, much more pro-American. There is a much better attitude about American forces. A little bit of money goes a long way in Afghanistan. And you could do a surge in Afghanistan in 2007, both militarily, diplomatically, and also in reconstruction, that would, actually, maybe try and reverse this trend, the very negative trends we're beginning to see.

COOPER: Well, Peter, as you and I know from being there, it is an incredibly dangerous mission for the soldiers who are there. We spent some time with the 10th Mountain Division.

Peter, thank you.

We are going to have more of what we learned in Afghanistan. We are going to show you what it's like for these soldiers in the 10th Mountain Division right along the Pakistan-Afghan border. That's in the 11:00 hour, at the top of the 11:00 hour, on 360. Stay tuned for that.

Coming up, though, ahead in this hour: Living longer could be just a flight away. We will take you to the destination that some say holds the secrets to longevity -- no kidding.

Also tonight: taking the border battle to new depths -- an elite group of border agents descend into the sewers for a dangerous cat- and-mouse game against illegal immigrants. We will take you inside and underground -- when 360 continues.


COOPER: Well, I don't know if you can actually read that poll, but, if you do, you can probably see that most Americans are tired of all the talk about illegal immigration. They want Washington to deal with the issue now.

While lawmakers debate what to do next, mass deportations are taking place in the Los Angeles area, after hundreds of illegal immigrants were nabbed in federal raids. And, still, they come, day and night, across the Mexican border, and below it, as I found out during a series of specials we did last year.

Take a look.


COOPER: So this is the tunnel. It is 2,400 feet all of the way through to Mexico. It's the size about eight football fields in length. Four -- seven of the football fields are underneath U.S. territory. One football field is in Tijuana. It goes from this warehouse here all the way to a warehouse in Mexico.


COOPER: Well, that tunnel was used primarily to smuggle in drugs.

Tonight, you are going to see another underground gateway to America. It's a place you would not want to be in, but, this time, border agents are inside, waiting.

CNN's Gary Tuchman reports.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the left side of this wall, Arizona, on the right, the Mexican state of Sonora -- huge numbers of illegal immigrants scale the wall to get into the U.S.

On the Mexican side, this man turned back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's two down here.

TUCHMAN: But this mother and child squeeze through a hole in the wall, just two of the roughly 400,000 people just in this part of Arizona nabbed in the last year.

The desperation of many Mexicans and the Border Patrol's effectiveness on the ground has moved the battle underground, to the huge sewers and storm drains that connect the cities of Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Mexico.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can see, there's not a whole lot to hide behind. So, you just got...

TUCHMAN (on camera): There's nothing to hide behind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not a whole lot.

TUCHMAN: Yes. So, if you're claustrophobic, afraid of the dark, this ain't the job for you.




TUCHMAN (voice-over): The U.S. Border Patrol is a specially- trained unit that scours the dark underbelly of this border region, searching for illegal immigrants and the smugglers who bring them and bring drugs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a Heckler & Koch. It's an H.K. UMP- 40.

TUCHMAN (on camera): And you're ready to use it, if need be?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, absolutely, to protect myself or anyone else on the team.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Tense moments are about to come, but, first, a look at where the journey begins, a strip joint in Nogales, Mexico, and, underneath it, a wide-open sewer, where many journeys to America start.

And this is where many of them conclude, a taco restaurant on the U.S. side, the tunnel's end point, where Border agents are preparing to begin their patrol.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You literally can't see your hand in front of your face.

TUCHMAN: Without special equipment, this is what you see as you're stepping in sewage muck. And this is what it looks like with the night-vision goggles the agents wear.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's clear.

TUCHMAN: All is quiet as the team approaches the international border. We pass tunnels on the sides of the wall with welded grates that are often broken by the Mexicans.

We encounter a short burst of daylight under a welded grate. A startled citizen sees me from above.

(on camera): Are you used to the fact that there are immigrants passing under your city?


TUCHMAN: It's kind of strange, isn't it?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): We go back to darkness. Part of the tunnel system is rushing sewage water flowing through. You find shoes and cell phones discarded.

And then the agents command us to be quiet. They see something.


TUCHMAN: "Who is it? Who is it?" the agents yell in Spanish.

And listen to this whisper. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have got a body south of us.

TUCHMAN: A body south.

As it turns out, the night-vision goggles reveal at least six moving bodies just feet away on the other side of the board.


TUCHMAN: "We are American police. Slow down," say the agents.

It's hard to make out their soft responses. And it's still not clear who these people are.


TUCHMAN: "What are you doing?" they ask. The moments are nerve- racking. Weapons are ready. The silence lasts minutes. There's always concern that smugglers with nothing to lose will fire first.

CHIEF MICHAEL NICLEY, U.S. BORDER PATROL, TUCSON SECTOR: It's them against the smugglers inside those tunnels. It is a very dangerous job.

TUCHMAN: This night-vision video was shot by the Border Patrol a couple of months ago -- on the right, Mexicans who have crossed over into the U.S. They can't see the Border Patrol agents on the left or the bats flying in circles.

Watch what happens when one of the agents jumps down to catch them. Chaos ensues. But, ultimately, the agents arrest them and others they find in the tunnel. They're brought out of the sewer. And the ones without criminal records are sent back to Mexico.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want you back here, behind me.

TUCHMAN: Back in our tunnel, the agents see lights. Mexican authorities have arrived.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on down, dude. It's clear.

TUCHMAN: The six suspicious people have disappeared on the other side of this yellow border line in Mexico. It's still not clear what they were up to.

So, I leave the sewer the same way many illegal immigrants do: climb through a side tunnel, and exit into blinding sunlight in the middle of a busy American street.

(on camera): It's not known how many people escape into Nogales, Arizona, without ever being seen. But it's clear a lot of them come through sewers, like I just did. And it doesn't even shock the people in the city, because it happens so frequently.

(voice-over): Most of the arrests are still of the traditional variety, but the number of people captured in the tunnels every month now sometimes approaches 1,000.


COOPER: Amazing, just amazing images.

Are -- are there patrols in the tunnels all the time?

TUCHMAN: They have daily patrols, but they're not there 24 hours.

But what happens, Anderson, is that there are sensors. There are cameras in the tunnel. Whenever the sensor is triggered, the agents get down there within five minutes. So, they're there a lot of the time.

COOPER: How much do the smugglers charge to bring people through the -- the sewer?

TUCHMAN: We went on the Mexico side and we talked with a man who said he had several friends who had gone through the sewers, and he said they were charged about $1,500 to $2,000 for each journey, which for poor Mexicans is an incredible amount of money.

COOPER: It certainly is. A fascinating report. Gary, thanks very much. You took a bath, didn't you?

TUCHMAN: I took a bath.

COOPER: Straight ahead tonight, the deadly plunge was caught on tape. The question is was it a murder? Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): Police are calling it the love triangle that came crashing to earth. One man, two rival women, one rigged parachute. Murder at 13,000 feet, next on 360.



COOPER: About 65 miles north of New York City, residents in the village of Fishkill are on edge. A family of five, two parents, their three young sons, are dead. Their loved ones and neighbors are in mourning.




COOPER: Obviously, we're having some trouble with the audio. That -- we will have the report a little bit later on.

The family was found dead in their burned-out home. It wasn't the fire, however, that killed them. In the next hour of 360, the ugly truth of the story.

First, though, love, jealousy and murder. The combination isn't that unusual, but in this case the alleged murder began in the open skies at 13,000 feet.

A mother of two plunged to her death during a skydiving jump after both of her parachutes failed to open. Her fatal free fall was captured by the camera which was attached to her helmet. We do not have the video and we wouldn't show it to you if we did.

But tonight police say it was no accident. Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): It was supposed to be just another jump for three members of a Belgian skydiving club, one they're done countless times before, but this time something went terribly wrong.

At 13,000 feet Els Van Doren pulled the cord on her parachute. It wouldn't open. Neither would her second chute, and she plummeted to her death.

Belgian investigators say it wasn't an accident. Her fate was sealed before she even left the ground.

MICHAEL ZEGERS, CHIEF PROSECUTOR'S SPOKESMAN (through translator): Both her main parachute and her reserve parachute had been tampered with, the first by binding it and the second by cutting the strings. She died after a spectacular fall.

COOPER: Tampered with, they say, by another member of the skydiving club. This woman, 22-year-old Els Clottemans. Her motive, prosecutors say it was jealousy. They say both women were dating the same man, another member of the skydiving club, identified only as Marcel.

They turned their attention on Clottemans when she attempted suicide the day before she was set to be questioned by police.

ZEGERS (through translator): The motives of this case have to be found in the area of passion.

COOPER: Sandy Reid wrote the FAA's official handbook for rigging parachutes and sky dives around the world. He says it wouldn't be hard for a close diving companion to cut the cords and sabotage a fellow sky diver after the parachute's been packed.

SANDY REID, PRESIDENT, RIGGING INNOVATIONS: It's very easy for other people to come along and to take a look at that and to do something with it. They'll wander off and go get a cup of cop coffee or a Coke or have a cigarette or just take a break for an hour or two and come back and they'll look at their parachute and say, "Hey, it's still there," but I think it's not very secure in the long term.

COOPER: Police say they have a video of Van Doren, video they haven't released yet, shot from a camera she was wearing in her helmet, that shows her desperate attempts to open her parachute. She failed.

She hit the ground at 130 miles an hour, landing in a back garden in a small Belgian town. It's taken two months, but prosecutors say they know she was sabotaged by a woman she considered her friend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can see on the video that Miss Els Van Doren was panicking very much when it appeared to her that her parachute would not open while going down, and that makes us conclude that she was not intending to commit suicide.

COOPER: At her funeral, Els Van Doren's sister said, "You did all you could during that final jump to save your life, but someone did not want you to live."

And Belgian police say Els Clottemans, fellow sky diver and once her friend, is now the prime suspect in her death.


COOPER: Such bizarre case. We haven't heard the last of that one. We'll continue to follow it and let you know of any developments.

Our "Shot of the Day" is coming up. Take a look. Aw, that's right. Panda cubs, cute, cuddly and missing something very important. We'll tell you what it is in a moment.

Once again, here's Gary Tuchman with the 360 news and business bulletin -- Gary.

TUCHMAN: Hello, Anderson.

We begin with deadly battles in Beirut. Clashes erupted in the university in Lebanon's capital between pro-government and Hezbollah supporters. The fighting ended only after troops were called in to stop the violence. At least three people were killed. A nighttime curfew was declared.

We'll have a live report from Beirut in our next hour.

A chain reaction crash on the interstate. It happened this afternoon near Erie, Pennsylvania. Dozens of cars and trucks were involved in this pile-up. One person died. White-out conditions in the area may have contributed to the accident.

The rollercoaster ride continues on Wall Street: a day after the Dow set a record high, stocks tumbled. News that existing home sales fell sharply added to investor jitters. The Dow lost more than 119 points. The NASDAQ and S&P were also down.

And 2006 wasn't just a bad year for Ford Motors; it was its worst year ever. The automaker posted a record loss of $12.7 billion. A shrinking share of the market and corporate restructuring sank the company even deeper into the red. The trouble may be far from over. Some analysts say there may not be a Ford in our future.

Ford, by the way, Anderson, one hundred four years old, the company.

COOPER: Terrible news.

Gary, time now for "The Shot". Take a look at this. Panda-mania in China. Get it? Panda-mania?

Anyway, 18 cubs born last year being raised in captivity. But the country needs help. None of the pandas have names. China is asking the public to vote on a moniker for each of them.

They also want to know which is the naughtiest. I'm not sure how you would determine that. I think it's that one. The one on the left, he looks like the naughty one to me.

Wait, there's more. Take a look at this.

Right. We're in love with Asian television. We found this on YouTube. Not sure what it is. One description says it's clips from an Asian TV show where people keep exotic and rare animals in their homes. I don't know if that's even possible. Can people possibly have pandas? Can a child have pandas in her bedroom like that? I don't think so.

Anyway, if you know what it is drop us an e-mail, if you have the answer. We'll try to figure that one out.

Coming up, living to a ripe old age. New secrets hidden until now. Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): Living longer, what if you could live to be a hundred and beyond?

DAN BUETTNER, FOUNDER, BLUEZONES.COM: This is an area about the side of Connecticut where, if you're a middle-aged man, you have about four times better chance of reaching age 90 or 100 than you do in America.

COOPER: Where is it and what's the secret? You might be surprised at how simple it is, next on 360.


COOPER: Living longer. Go to any cosmetics counter anywhere in America, and you'll find people willing to pay big bucks for the fountain of youth. Could be just a plane ride away, however.

World renowned explorer and longevity expert Dan Buettner has traveled around the world in search of places where people live longer and live better. I spoke to him about his latest discovery.


COOPER: You've actually found this area in Costa Rica where people seem to live the longest, or men live to seem the longest. BUETTNER: Yes.

COOPER: Why is that?

BUETTNER: Well, we were on a "National Geographic' expedition and we're working off the research of Dr. Luis Rosero. And this is an area about the size of Connecticut, 400,000 people, and it's an area where, if you're a middle-aged man, you have about four times better chance of reaching age 90 or 100 than you do in America.

And remarkably they only spend about 1/15th the amount we do on healthcare and they achieve this through lifestyle.

COOPER: What do you mean lifestyle?

BUETTNER: Well, only 3 percent of how long we live is dictated with our genes within certain limits. So they are eating a diet -- they have a way of shedding stress. They probably get micronutrients from their soils. They have a way of interacting that adds up somehow to more good years of life.

On the 29th of January I'm leading a team of doctors and scientists there for three weeks, and our mission then will be to tease out these ingredients.

COOPER: To see what it is.


COOPER: You've also -- I mean, you've identified other regions where there where the longevity is common. You call them blue zones. Sardinia, Loma Linda, California, and Okinawa, Japan. What do they have in common?

BUETTNER: No. 1, all the people there are living extraordinarily long. They tend to eat a plant-based diet, rich in legumes, rich in nuts. People who eat nuts live two to four times longer than people who don't eat nuts.

COOPER: Really?


COOPER: Like every day you need nuts?

BUETTNER: Well, you have to eat about two ounces of nuts four times a week. And the Adventist study followed about 30,000 people for 35 years. And they found that those who were eating nuts were living two to four years longer, and they're not sure if there's some magic ingredient in nuts or, because they're not eating nuts they're therefore not eating potato chips.

COOPER: And how often are they eating beans and...?

BUETTNER: Pretty much every day. If you go to the Sardinians, they're eating fava beans. The Okinawans are eating tofu, which is from soybeans. And the Adventists, they actually take their diet right out of Genesis, Chapter 20...

COOPER: That's why Loma Linda, California. Because there are many Seventh Day Adventists.

BUETTNER: Yes. It's the biggest concentration of Seventh Day Adventists. It's not really a geographic blue zone. It's more of a cultural blue zone. Adventists live between nine and 11 years longer than their American counterparts, the strict Adventists.

COOPER: That's fascinating.

BUETTNER: And it's all lifestyle. Imagine you're 72 years old and I can give you a formula to live nine more good years. What would that be worth to you? That's essentially the proposition we're offering people at Blue Zones right now.

COOPER: And how much of this is psychological, that people who have a positive outlook live longer?

BUETTNER: Yes, that's very interesting. The National Institute on Aging did a study. They asked people how old they thought they were going to be, and that was a greater predictor of how long they really lived than how long a doctor thought they were going to live.

So feeling like you're going to live a long time is really important in the scheme of things.

COOPER: What about relationships?

BUETTNER: People who have strong families lived longer. And as important as strong families is a strong social support network.

I've interviewed well over 100 centenarians, and universally, these were constantly likable people. They were either consciously or unconsciously being compassionate, generous. They were interesting or interested. And at the end of the day, they had better support networks, lower stress. And they tended to get better care for caregivers by being likable.

COOPER: So they're looking outward, not so much inward?

BUETTNER: Right. These aren't the people who are sitting on the couch watching TV in an air conditioned room with the doors locked. They are the ones...

COOPER: Uh-oh. You're described me.

BUETTNER: Yes, right. But we interviewed this 100-year-old woman in Nikoya (ph). Her name was Abuela Conchita (ph). At 100 years old, she's walking to a village every day, a mile there and a mile back, which is amazing for a centenarian. She chops wood. She cooks for herself. We even saw her taking her machete and hacking away a bush. And...

COOPER: At 100?

BUETTNER: At 100. I mean, for most 100-year-olds, if you can get out of your chair and walk to the bathroom, you're doing well.


COOPER: We're going to have more of my interview with Dan Buettner coming up, including something that really surprised me. Can a woman's birth date determine how long she'll live? We'll talk to Dan about that.

Plus, the oldest woman in the world lives right here in the United States. What she says is the key to her longevity when 360 continues.


COOPER: Before the break we talked about how picking the right place to live, you making the right lifestyle choices, can help you live longer, but can when you were born actually help determine when you'll die? More now with Dan Buettner.


COOPER: There are a lot of things, though, that surprised you in your research. The month a woman is born in can determine how long she lives?

BUETTNER: Yes, yes. For this January 29 expedition we're starting with several hypotheses, things that we found in other blue zones. In one of the other blue zones, we found that people who were -- women who were born in December had a 40 percent better chance of reaching age 105 than women -- women born in June.

COOPER: How can that possibly have any correlation?

BUETTNER: We don't know, but now that we have this hypothesis, we can ask that question to centenarians and find out the other components of their lifestyle and then try to put them together.

COOPER: I'm afraid I know the answer to this. What about people eating sweets and is there any role for sweets in living long?

BUETTNER: Yes. No. By and large, people who are living the longest are not eating processed food, period. Sweets, they're not eating canned goods. They do most of their grocery shopping, if you will, in the produce department.

COOPER: And what about sleeping? Does that have any correlation?

BUETTNER: The ideal amount of sleep is seven hours. In fact, people who sleep seven hours live longer than even people who sleep eight hours.

COOPER: Really?

BUETTNER: And a lot longer than people -- relatively speaking, than people who sleep six or five, you know, three like you do. COOPER: So someone at home is watching this, what should they take away from it? I mean, what -- is there something that they can do? A change they can suddenly make in their life that's going to make a difference?

BUETTNER: The wrong strategy, I'll tell you, is to look for a supplement that's going to give you more years. We've identified eight core factors of all these blue zones around the world. And they encompass several facets of life.

And I think you have to think about longevity as an a la carte menu. You can pick any of the offerings off the menu, but the more you pick off, the longer you'll live, up to about eight years for the average American.

COOPER: And on Blue Zone --, which is your web site, you have actually a test people can take in a matter of minutes...


COOPER: Which sort of gives a sense of longevity?


COOPER: I just started taking this test and it worries me a little bit. How does it work?

BUETTNER: We worked with Alden Slife (ph), the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, and we folded in well known data about longevity along with what we found in the blue zones. And we've come up with the most accurate life expectancy calculator available.

It will ask you 33 questions and, based on how you answer them, will give you up to a dozen customized suggestions to live up to eight extra years.

COOPER: It's fascinating stuff. And the website is fascinating, as well. Dan, thanks.

BUETTNER: Thank you very much. A pleasure, as always.

COOPER: We have some e-mails from folks who are trying to log on to that web site right now. There were so many people trying to log on to it, it's having some trouble, but it's and I'm sure if it's not working now it will work in the evening ahead.

Dan says that being born in December increases your chances of living longer. Tell that to Emma Faust Tillman (ph). She was born in November 1892. That makes her 114 years old, the oldest man or woman in the world. And she's not from Costa Rica or Sardinia, but from Connecticut.

According to family members, Ms. Tillman never smokes or drinks. She does not need glasses and only reluctantly agreed to wear a hearing aid. She's one of 23 children. One of her brothers lived to be 108. Another sister lived to 105 and two others lived to 102. Remarkable life.

Straight ahead tonight, the war you might have thought was already won, Afghanistan. The Taliban making a comeback. U.S. troops being kept there longer, some even being pulled back from home. Their story ahead. Why it's happening and what it looks like on the ground with American troops, now facing a growing insurgency, next on 360.


COOPER: Are al Qaeda and the Taliban mounting an offensive against U.S. forces? Details ahead on 360.

But first, no matter what happens with the war in Iraq, one company is trying to supply each fighting American with an innovative bandage.

Christi Paul has more in tonight's "On the Rise".


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. Marine Corporal Michael Beckwith's job in Iraq is to search for and disarm explosive devices, or IEDs, while riding in an armored vehicle called the Buffalo.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He called home one day and he says, "Well, I blew up." My instant thought was, "Well, what are we talking about here? Are you in pieces?"

He says, "No, no, no, I'm fine. You know that animal I ride in? It saved our lives."

PAUL: Sarah Beckwith (ph) is grateful to Force Protection, the company which not only makes the Buffalo, but several other ballistic and blast-protected vehicles. The trucks have v-shaped hulls which split the force of a blast up and away from the crew compartment, increasing the chance for survival.

RAYMOND POLLARD, COO, FORCE PROTECTION: We have sustained in excess of 2,000 IED hits and land mines. If you would consider four to six people per vehicle, do the math. Unfortunately, we have had, as we know, three fatalities in our vehicles to date.

PAUL: Force Protection trucks have logged more than two million hours of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003.

POLLARD: Last year our revenues will be roughly four times what they were the year before.

PAUL: As the face of modern warfare keeps evolving so, too, will Force Protection.

POLLARD: The challenge is to constantly be innovating to thwart the latest threat.



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