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Bush Administration Provoking Showdown With Iran?; Georgia Teen Caught in Legal Nightmare

Aired January 26, 2007 - 22:00   ET


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, everyone.
A teenager is doing a 10-year prison term tonight, labeled a sex offender for something millions of teens do every weekend.

And a couple is alive tonight, after taking on a mountain lion that was trying to tear them to pieces, two remarkable stories we will be bringing you this hour.

We begin, though, with a pair of growing concerns, one, that Iran is meddling in Iraq, and, two, that the Bush administration is looking to provoke a crisis, maybe even a war, with Iran.

Virtually no one disagrees with the first notion, that Iranian agents are operating in Iraq, fueling some of the attacks on American forces. As for the second notion, rattling Tehran's cage, if you will, that's drawing plenty of attention lately, attention and concern that only grew today, when President Bush publicly endorsed the killing of Iranian agents inside Iraq.

With that tonight, here's CNN's Ed Henry.


ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush is trying to step up the capture and killing of Iranians who are fighting in Iraq, and providing the most sophisticated and deadly improvised explosive devices to militias.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If somebody's trying to harm our troops, or stop us from achieving our goal, or killing innocent citizens in Iraq, that we will stop them.

HENRY: This allows the president, sitting with his newly confirmed commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, to try and achieve two goals: improve security in Iraq, and get tough with Iran, which experts say has over 100,000 agents in Iraq, and, at the same time, is moving ominously closer to obtaining nuclear weapons.

But the president's action against Iranian agents also provides fuel to the fire fanned by Democrats that the White House is really gunning to expand the war in Iraq into Iran.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: We want the American troops protected in Iraq. But for the president to escalate this conflict outside Iraq is something he has to come back and ask us permission to do.

HENRY: Democrats charge, some of the president's rhetoric against Iran, like this last week, is reminiscent of the so-called cowboy diplomacy that led to the war in Iraq.

BUSH: If they are moving weapons inside Iraq that will hurt the cause of democracy and, more particularly, hurt our soldiers, we will take care of business there.

HENRY: But, on Friday, the president insisted, Democrats are wrong.

BUSH: Now, some are trying to say that because we are enforcing -- helping ourselves in Iraq by -- by stopping outside influence from killing our soldiers or hurting Iraqi people that we want to expand beyond this beyond the borders. That's -- that's a presumption that simply is not accurate.

HENRY: The president again stressed he's committed to solving the crisis in Iran through diplomacy, not war. But Democrats are skeptical, especially with the president brushing off bipartisan congressional opposition to increasing troops in Iraq.

BUSH: Most people recognize that failure would be a disaster for the United States. And, in that I'm the decision-maker, I had to come up with a way forward that precluded disaster.

HENRY (on camera): Top Democrats privately believe the president is prepping for war with Iran to divert attention from mistakes in Iraq. White House officials call that nonsense, and insist the president is committed to solving the Iranian crisis through diplomatic means.

Ed Henry, CNN, the White House.


KING: Whichever the case may be, it is clear the president is deliberately, and very publicly, drawing a line.

The questions now: How will they take it in Tehran? And where does the standoff go from here?

Questions I put earlier tonight to CNN's chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour.


KING: Christiane, what is the reaction in Tehran likely to be to all this blustery talk from Washington now that, if U.S. troops see Iranians meddling in Iran -- in Iraq -- excuse me -- they can open fire and shoot to kill?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there has already been reaction. One of the members of parliament in Iran has spoken to the Iranian news service, and basically called this a terrorist policy by the U.S. government, going on to say that, in their opinion, in the opinion of this M.P., that it shows the United States is -- quote -- "out of control" and doesn't know what to do in Iraq.

You can imagine, though, that that would be the tone of their response, when an official story is released saying that the policy now is to capture and/or kill Iranian agencies. It apparently refers to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and other -- other military personnel.

KING: This has been a discussion that goes back to weeks, even, after the Saddam Hussein statue fell, way back at the beginning of the war. The administration, since then -- since then, has been saying Iran is meddling; Iran is supporting the insurgency; Iran is supplying the bomb parts and the expertise to build these IEDs.

From your sources, what is truly the extent of the problem? How many Iranians should we say, on any given day, might be in Iraq, actively involved in this?

AMANPOUR: It's really hard to tell that, because, obviously, different sources say different things, depending on their interests. Most of the American sources we talk to, most of the Gulf allies, the Arab allies of the United States, believe that there is Iranian meddling.

If you talk to Iran itself, they will say: We have no interest in an unstable Iraq, and we would not be doing the kind of meddling that would lead to an escalation of the civil war.

But the fact of the matter is that many say that Iran's interference there goes beyond what they find acceptable. And the -- the real problem is the mixed messages that the United States has been sending over the last several years. If you remember, just about a year ago, there was talk that Iran and Iraq would enter -- sorry -- Iran and the United States would enter talks about how to resolve the situation in Iraq.

Former Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad was authorized to speak to the Iranians. That eventually went nowhere.

KING: On the one hand, Christiane, it's muscular language from Washington, specifically from the White House, to put Iran on notice, one would presume.

On the other hand, one might ask the question, why is it -- just three years and 10 months into this war, why, just now, are U.S. troops being told they have the authority, if they believe they're encountering someone, Iranians in this case, who could kill them or hurt them or undermine their mission, why, just now, would you say you have the authority to respond to them with force?

AMANPOUR: I think what seems to have been going on over the last several years is an attempt to try to deal with the Iran issue. And it's taken many different forms, for instance, at one point, as I mentioned, perhaps even talking to the Iranians about how to go forward in Iraq.

But I think the bigger issue is the rise of Iranian power. And that perhaps lies beneath this -- this policy that's been articulated in the newspapers. There are deep concerns, not only in Washington, but amongst America's Arab allies, the Sunni bloc, if you like, from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, many of the Gulf states, concerned about what they perceive to be a rise in Shiite power, the rise in Iran's influence.

And it's not just shown in Iraq. It's shown also in Lebanon and -- and elsewhere. So, there seems to be this growing crisis or potential battle, if you like, for influence looming between the Sunni bloc and Iran as the central Shiite power.

KING: Our chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, thank you very much.


KING: Adding to the tensions tonight, a new report by "Aviation Week and Space Technology" that Iran is planning to put a satellite into orbit.

The concern here is that the missile being perfected for orbital use could also be used one day to carry nuclear warheads.

As for Tehran's nuclear program, the United Nations' top weapons inspector says, you can expect it to grow. Mohamed ElBaradei warns that Iran will soon announce expansion of its assembly line for turning uranium either into fuel for nuclear power, or, as critics say, atomic bombs.

The United States, of course, has long suspected Iran of secretly building nuclear weapons. Here's the "Raw Data."

According to a report by the Iranian news agency, Iran has been conducting a small-scale research enrichment program using 164 centrifuges at one of those facilities. The report said the country should have 3,000 centrifuges by March.

Former U.N. nuclear inspector David Albright says that's enough for one atomic bomb. And, just this week, Iran banned 38 U.N. nuclear inspectors from entering the country.

CNN's Michael Ware is watching the Iran angle firsthand, as it plays out on the bloody streets of Iraq. We will hear from him coming up.

Meantime, in Iraq today, a chilling new twist to the brazen ambush on American forces this week that took the lives of five soldiers.

With that, CNN's Tom Foreman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New details suggests the attack in Karbala was precise, well-rehearsed, and very different from the assault the Pentagon first described; 5:00 in the afternoon, a dozen American troops are reviewing security plans for an upcoming Shia pilgrimage to two important shrines.

And a dozen gunmen wearing uniforms much like the Americans are heading straight toward them. They travel in a convoy of at least five American-made SUVs, such as those used by high-level military brass. Three times, the gunmen stop at Iraqi checkpoints. Three times, they apparently pass themselves off as Americans and are waved through.

When they reach the compound where U.S. troops are working, they unleash gunfire and explosives. Five U.S. soldiers were killed, the governor of the town first reports, but the Defense Department now says only one American soldier is killed on the spot. Four others are abducted. The convoy speeds away.

Outside town, the kidnappers hit another checkpoint. Iraqi police let them through again, but, suspicious, start following them. The convoy heads east, then north. And, finally, the insurgents abandon their vehicles. The Pentagon says, two American soldiers are found handcuffed together, dead in the back of one SUV, each shot through the head. A third is dead on the ground nearby. And a fourth, found alive, dies on the way to a hospital.

It is a much more complex story than the first version from the military.

ROBERT GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I have just been made aware of the discrepancy in the account. And I have asked for the specifics about it.

FOREMAN: This tactic of enemies posing as friends is not new. Two years ago, a suicide bomber dressed as an Iraqi soldier struck a mess tent. In Saudi Arabia, when terrorists hit a U.S. compound, they even made a training tape, showing how they painted an SUV to look like a police car.

And military analysts say, this attack was exceedingly well- planned.

Pat Lang is retired from military intelligence.

COLONEL PAT LANG (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Whoever was involved in this is a -- is a professional who really knew how to do this.

FOREMAN: But investigators still want to know if the kidnappers had help from someone the Americans trusted, someone on the inside.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


KING: Tragic story. In our next hour: a story that frankly left a lot of us and a lot of you in tears. We trace the lives of four American Marines from their hometown, to their first steps onto Iraqi soil, to a fateful moment at a bend in the Tigris River.

"Ambush at the River of Secrets," you can see it in its entirety at the top of the hour.

But, first, this:


KING (voice-over): Covering the story is dangerous enough, without nearly becoming the story.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These men intercepted my vehicle, and, with grenades with the pins pulled, so that they were live, pulled me from the car, and, with my own video camera, are preparing to film my execution.

KING: The story he lived to tell -- his unequaled view of the war he sees up close every day.

Then: a homecoming king and a football star caught in a legal nightmare.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have consensual teen sex criminalized to the extent that this kid has got 10 years in prison.

KING: Years in prison, labeled a sex offender for what he and another teenager did willingly and millions of teens do every weekend.

360 continues.



KING: At least 17 people were killed and dozens wounded today in attacks across Baghdad -- the deadliest, a bombing at a pet market in the center of the city.

CNN's Michael Ware, of course, has been covering the war since it began, and has watched the city spin out of control. In September 2004, on Baghdad's Haifa Street, U.S. troops were battling supporters of Ayman al-Zarqawi, former leader of al Qaeda in Iraq. They captured a Bradley Fighting Vehicle during the battle. You can see them cheering on top of it in this photo.

When Michael heard that al Qaeda in Iraq had claimed the area as its own, even plastering its banners on the street, he went there to see for himself. And that's when he was caught by al Qaeda insurgents.

Michael was in New York this week. And Anderson talked to him about that terrifying day. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Al Qaeda in Iraq had actually put its banners on a street in Baghdad, in central Baghdad.

WARE: Yes, they did.

And this was a symbolic passing of power here in the center of the capital. These men intercepted my vehicle, and, with grenades with the pins pulled, so that they were live, pulled me from the car, and, with my own video camera, are preparing to film my execution.

So, as far as we're aware, after that day on Haifa Street, I'm the only Westerner that we know of who's been in the control of Zarqawi's organization, al Qaeda, and to have lived to tell the tale.

COOPER: How did you get out of there?

WARE: Essentially, it was the nationalist insurgents who saved me.

Now, these two groups don't share the same agenda. The nationalists just want to free their country. The Islamists, al Qaeda is fighting -- for them, like the U.S. administration, Iraq is just one field of a global battle.

I was saved by the Iraqi insurgents. I mean, I benefited from the difference between these two elements of the war.

COOPER: So, you were -- you were in a vehicle, and they -- they pulled you out?

WARE: I was in a vehicle with a mid-ranking Iraqi insurgent commander, who had told me of Zarqawi's takeover, essentially complained about it. And I said, well, I need to see this.

So, he took me in there to show me that these radicals, these foreign Islamists, have taken our territory.

When the foreign radical Islamists, essentially, who became al Qaeda, dragged me from the car, this man was left to negotiate for my life. And this is where we see the difference come into play.

The Zarqawi fighters wanted to execute the Westerner. As they said: You bring a Westerner in here, and you expect us to let him leave alive? Well, no, it doesn't work like that.

So, even though these Islamists, at that time, had the upper hand in Haifa Street, they couldn't discount the local fighters. And, essentially, it came down to the local Iraqi insurgents saying: OK, you can kill this foreigner, but you know that that means we go to war, because he has come here at our invitation. And for you to kill him is essentially an insult to us.

And, as much as these foreign fighters wanted to kill me, at the end of the day, they knew that, practically, they couldn't, because they could not afford to have this local fight. And it was through gritted teeth that they essentially gave me back to the Iraqi insurgents, who then took me out.

COOPER: What was that feeling like, when you realized you were going to live?

WARE: It took a long time before it actually dawned on me.

I spent many of the following days in my room. I found it very difficult to leave the safety and comfort of my bedroom. It took some time for me to regather myself and to return to the streets. But, in fact, just days later, I did return to this very place.

COOPER: You went back to Haifa Street?

WARE: I went back to Haifa Street.


KING: Chilling account.

Just ahead: more from Anderson's interview with Michael Ware, including why Michael believes Iran is in Iraq.

Plus: what some are calling a legal outrage, a teenager sentenced to 10 years in prison. Wait until you hear what he did -- when 360 continues.


KING: As we reported earlier, President Bush today publicly endorsed the killing of Iranian agents in Iraq. To understand why those agents are there in the first place, keep in mind that Iran is a Shia Muslim nation that saw a giant opportunity when U.S. forces invaded nearly four years ago.

Here's part two now of Anderson's interview with CNN's Michael Ware.


COOPER: How did Iran get involved?

WARE: Iran has been involved from the very, very beginning.

Don't forget, you know, Iran and Iraq share a land border. There's many tribes and families that -- that live on both sides of this border. In the '80s, Saddam launched a vicious eight-year war against Iran. So, Iran very much has legitimate national security interests in terms of Iraq. And we have seen Iran aggressively pursue those interests.

What happened during the invasion, as U.S. and British forces advanced from Kuwait to the north, clearing Saddam's forces as they went, we saw, essentially, an Iranian-backed invasion at the same time that filled the vacuum that was left behind. It was extremely well-organized and coordinated. And, in fact, the irony is, we saw Iran use the -- the very same successful tactic that the American Green Berets used in Afghanistan to win against the Taliban and al Qaeda, against U.S. interests in Iraq.

COOPER: You mean covert forces...

WARE: Very much.

COOPER: ... small numbers.

WARE: During Saddam's regime, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Shia fled to Iran. Iran saw many of these people, not only as brethren and -- and refugees to be protected, but as an asset.

Hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of these Iraqi Shia who were in Iran were mobilized and used by the Iranians within its armed forces. So, what we saw during the invasion of 2003, as American and British forces advanced, these Iranian-backed Iraqi Shia forces entered the country from the east, along the northern, central and southern access.

And what they did is, in the chaos and the vacuum of power that was left behind the advancing coalition forces, they took power. They took the governor's office, the police chief's office, the Baath Party headquarters. And they never really left.

COOPER: And they have given the militias of, like, for instance, Muqtada al-Sadr, they have given them training; they have given them arms and money?

WARE: Yes.

What we saw with many of these networks and these organizations that were in Iran is that they were kept in place. And they moved into Iraq. And with them came what's essentially Iranian Green Beret advisers.

You had Iranian form of CIA advisers all come in with them to guide, direct, to channel them. And even elements within Iraq, like Muqtada al-Sadr, the rebel anti-American cleric, and his Mahdi army militia, Muqtada and his militia were very different to these others.

They never fled Iraq. They didn't go into Iran. They remained in Iraq. Now, in the beginning, that was a great rallying cry for Muqtada. He was able to represent himself as a true nationalist: I stayed, while these people left. I suffered with you.

That was very persuasive. That drew a lot of people to his cause. But, over time, we have seen Iran not only court Muqtada, but, then, militarily, support him.


KING: Michael this weekend making his way back to Baghdad. It was two years ago today that 37 U.S. troops died in Iraq. To this day, it remains the deadliest day in the war so far. Among the victims were four young Marines killed in an ambush on the banks of the Euphrates River.

Next hour, we look at how they lived, how they died, and who they left behind, a special edition of 360, "Ambush at the River of Secrets," starting right here at 11:00 p.m. Eastern.

And join us Monday, when Anderson takes us inside an amazing place that rebuilds the spirits and the bodies of the brave men and women coming home from the war. "The Toughest Battle: Healing Heroes," that's a special edition of 360, live Monday, from San Antonio, Texas.

Up next, though, one of those stories that makes you wonder, what on earth were they thinking when they wrote that law?


KING (voice-over): Then a homecoming king and a football star caught in a legal nightmare.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have consensual teen sex criminalized to the extent that this kid has got 10 years in prison.

KING: Years in prison, labeled a sex offender, for what he and another teen did willingly and millions of teens do every weekend.

You're out in the woods. A cougar attacks. This couple knew how to survive. Would you? Learn how from Animal Planet's Jeff Corwin -- when 360 continues.



KING: Karl Rove may be heading from the White House to the witness stand. CNN has learned the defense team for Lewis "Scooter" Libby's team has subpoenaed the president's top political advisor, as well as White House counsel, Dan Bartlett.

Libby, who served as Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, is accused of lying during the investigation of who leaked the name of CIA officer Valerie Plame.

The next story is not about politics. It's about punishment, and sex and a teenager who many believe did nothing wrong. CNN's Rick Sanchez reports.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Genarlow Wilson is a convicted felon. He's a prisoner. Despite being a good son, a good athlete, a high school student with a 3.2 GPA, with no criminal past. He was a track and football star being recruited by several universities. He was his school's homecoming king. He was the boy who seemed to have it all.

GENARLOW WILSON, CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER: I was somewhat popular, maybe too much in the spotlight for my own good.

SANCHEZ: Imagine now going from that to this: living behind bars for a minimum of 10 years for something he did that some may consider immoral, maybe stupid, maybe even criminal, but 10 years in prison?

The "New York Times" in an editorial is calling for his release. Web sites are dedicated to freeing him. Even conservative talk show host Neal Boortz has taking on Genarlow's cause.

NEAL BOORTZ, TALK RADIO HOST: The kid broke a ridiculous law passed by the general assembly that did not, can we use the phrase, grade on a curve.

SANCHEZ (on camera): You've lost your freedom. What's that like to lose your freedom?

WILSON: It's real hard, because I started off with -- it was like I had everything on one day and the next day I have nothing.

SANCHEZ: Where and when did all of this begin? Right here at this Days Inn in suburban Atlanta. December 31, 2003, Genarlow and some of his friends decided they would come here, rent a room and ring in the new year. It was a decision that has forever changed his life.

(voice-over) Here's why. During the night, several girls showed up. One of the boys whips out a video camera to record what's about to happen. CNN obtained the tape, but we blurred it out to protect the other teen's identity. In that video, the teens are seen having sex right out in the open.

In one scene, Genarlow receives oral sex from one of the girls. He's 17. She's 15. It appears to be a consensual act between two teens.

(on camera) At no time did you tell that young lady that she had to give you oral sex?

WILSON: No, sir.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Eddie Barker, who prosecuted Genarlow, shows us the tape that he used to prove his case.

(on camera) He says he never used any force, that he didn't force the girl at all. Is he telling the truth?

EDDIE BARKER, DOUGLAS COUNTY PROSECUTOR: From what we've seen on the videotape and heard from the victim ourself, we do not believe there was any physical force used.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): So if there was no force, why then is Genarlow in prison for ten years, surrounded by real hard-core criminals, even murderers and rapists? The answer to that question is found here in this now outdated Georgia criminal statute, which comes down hard on any act of sodomy and includes oral sex. It states, "If a person giving oral sex is under the age of 16, then the person receiving it is guilty of aggravated child molestation." Even if he's a teenager himself, ten years mandatory. No way around it.

(on camera) Do you see this as a travesty of justice in Genarlow's case?

B.J. BEARSTEIN, GENARLOW'S ATTORNEY: A hundred percent, because we have consensual teen sex criminalized to the extent that this kid's got 10 years in prison. And everyone is just saying, "Well, we can't help that. That's the law."

GRIFFIN (voice-over): That law that ensnared Genarlow does seem illogical. For example, if he'd had intercourse with a 15-year-old instead of oral sex, he would only have been charged with a misdemeanor.

(on camera) If you had known that it was illegal for a 17-year- old to have sex with a 15-year-old, would you have done it?


GRIFFIN (voice-over): So draconian is the law that, since Genarlow's case, the governor has signed a new law doing away with it. Now consensual teen sex is regarded as a misdemeanor.

A change in the law, though, comes too late for Genarlow and too late for the jurors, who say they felt horrible about having to find him guilty.

(on camera) So you weren't allowed to look at the spirit of the law?


SANCHEZ: Any other meaning. You had to look at it concretely?

MANIGAULT: Absolutely. And that was our biggest argument in the deliberating room. With the spirit of the law, he was not guilty. You know, with the letter of the law, based on what we were told, he was guilty.

WILSON: When you have someone who has a history of continually committing the same crimes with kids, someone who's weak, they prey on the weak, I wasn't preying on the weak when that happened.


SANCHEZ: Now, here's something you don't hear every day. Even though the case is settled, even though all the appeals are done, I asked the prosecutor if he thought that the sentence was rather harsh, John.

He said, "Yes, I have a 17-year-old son. I agree that it's harsh."

I asked him, "Would you be willing to reduce the sentence?"

He said, "Yes, even though all the paperwork, all the appeals are done, I would now be willing, if his attorneys, Genarlow's attorneys, call me to even split his sentence in half and make it five years instead of ten." That's different, John.

KING: And so is Genarlow's attorney willing to take that deal?

SANCHEZ: Not so fast. And here's what's interesting. Apparently, they think they might have a better deal, because the Georgia legislature is now convening and discussing the possibility of creating a situation where Genarlow would be sentenced under the old -- under the new law rather than the old law. That would mean he basically would be able to get out of prison.

I'm going to let you listen to something. This came in just this evening, as a matter of fact. This is Senator Emanuel Jones on the floor in the Georgia legislature, appealing with his colleagues to essentially let Genarlow be free.


EMANUEL JONES, GEORGIA STATE SENATOR: I do not believe this body intended to keep this child in prison for 10 years, but we -- we today have an opportunity to correct this wrong, with my bill, Senate Bill 37. As we debate, Genarlow waits.


GRIFFIN: John, it's up to the legislature now. If they agree, they may be somehow able to grandfather Genarlow into this new law.

KING: Fascinating stuff. Thank you very much.

GRIFFIN: Sure, John.

KING: We've got more questions on this one. And joining us now to sort through them, from New York is CNN's senior legal analyst Jeff Toobin.

Jeff, let's start with this. A bit mind-boggling. How is it possible that a minor can have consensual intercourse, a lot more risky, and you're charged with a misdemeanor, but oral sex is a felony?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I think when we think about how laws are created, we have this idea in our head, well, the Georgia legislature sat down and thought, well, what are we going to do about sex crimes? How are we going to put them each into the appropriate category?

But that's not how it works. The way it works is laws are amended piecemeal. Once back in the 19th Century, another time in the 1920s, another time in the 1980s. And each time the law is changed, often only a handful of legislators actually know what's being changed, because most -- most of them don't pay attention.

So what happened with this law, bits and pieces were changed. Oftentimes it wasn't enforced at all. And what wound up being the law of the state of Georgia was something that clearly makes no sense at all.

KING: And I guess this is an example of it. We are a nation of 50 states, because we can find other crimes that are much worse where the offender barely gets a slap on the wrist.

For example, you might remember the 25-year-old Florida teacher, Debra Lafave. She didn't spend a single day in prison, yet admitted having sex with a 14-year-old student. How can the law be so contradictory?

TOOBIN: Well, the laws are different in every state. I think Genarlow's case really illustrates one other phenomenon that doesn't have to do with the laws on the books, but it's the question of prosecutorial discretion.

There are all sorts of laws on the books technically, but the issue is what is prosecuted? What do prosecutors decide to charge?

And what happened here was the prosecutor thought that Genarlow was not taking responsibility, was not pleading to a lesser crime, so he hit him with this, what seems to me an absurdly harsh sentence.

But that's not something that was mandatory. That was something that the prosecutor decided to do. And that's why it's so important who holds these jobs as district attorney and county attorney, because they have that kind of power.

KING: You heard the state senator there, Rick Sanchez referring to, say they want to go back in the legislature and pass a new law that would free this young man from prison. Suppose that failed. Does he have any other options? He's already out of appeals.

TOOBIN: You know, Georgia is unusual. He doesn't even have the chance of a pardon from the governor, because Georgia's pardon system, they have a board that can only act once someone is finished serving their sentence.

So really a new law from the legislature, as far as I can follow the law, is really his only chance.

KING: Our senior legal analyst, Jeff Toobin, helping us sort out a confusing case that some may find a bit outrageous. Jeff, thanks very much.


KING: And much more on the Genarlow Wilson case on CNN tomorrow night, including a candid discussion about teen sex laws. Tomorrow night with Rick Sanchez on CNN NEWSROOM at 10 Eastern.

In a moment, he calls himself Tiko Tarzan, and you won't believe what he does every week. After seeing this, we're never -- maybe almost never going to complain about our jobs again. It's our "Shot of the Day", and it's just ahead.

But first Gary Tuchman joins us with a "360 Bulletin".

Hi, Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN ANCHOR: John, no complains here.

Search and rescue efforts are under way tonight in the waters off Southern California, where a U.S. Navy helicopter crashed today near San Clemente Island. At least one of the four people aboard was killed. A Navy spokesman said the chopper was on a routine training mission when it went down.

An update now on the story we brought you earlier this week. CNN has obtained exclusive video of a convicted Russian uranium smuggler. The video was taken by detectives in the nation of Georgia just moments after his arrest last year. Georgian authorities say the smuggler had just under 100 grams of weapons-grade uranium in his coat pocket, uranium they say he planned to sell it to a Middle Eastern buyer. They are now trying to figure out where the uranium came from.

A federal judge in Mississippi today rejected a proposed settlement that could mean as much as $500 million to payments to homeowners whose property was damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

The judge said the deal announced on Tuesday did not establish, quote, "a procedure that is fair, balanced or reasonable." But he did leave the door open for a new agreement.

And take a look at this. The pilot of this small plane, amazingly, was able to land on an interstate highway after his twin- engine Piper lost power. It was about 25 miles south of Tampa. It was no easy feat. He had to maneuver between traffic on Florida's I- 75, but no one was hurt.

Not exactly, John, what you'd expect to see on the Friday commute back home.

KING: I hope he had correct change for the toll. Gary, thank you very much.

And stay with us. You want to see this. Time now for "The Shot". There's a lot of strange people in the world, and this guy might top the list tonight.

This is how he earns a living in Costa Rica, by playing with a massive crocodile, all 16 and a half feet, 992 -- that's 992 -- pounds of it. He's known as Tiko Tarzan. He claims to have nursed his buddy back to health after it was wounded a few years back.

Tourists are eating his act up, and -- drum roll please -- let's hope the croc doesn't, too.

No joking, though, where another animal story is concerned. This animal was hungry and darn near deadly, too.


KING (voice-over): You're out in the woods. A cougar attacks. This couple knew how to survive. Would you? Learn how with Animal Planet's Jeff Corwin when 360 continues.



KING: They've been married for 50 years, but they've never been through anything like this.

First, we want to warn you, some of the images are graphic and may be difficult to watch.

Jim and Nell Hamm were hiking in a northern California state park Wednesday when a mountain lion struck. Its target, 70-year-old Jim, seen here in the hospital. His wife, who's 65, grabbed a log and bashed the lion over the head. When that didn't work, she took a pen from her husband's pocket, and tried to stab the lion in an eye, but the pen broke.

So she tried the log again and screamed and waved, and this time the lion let go, with blood on his snout. Wildlife officials say her bravery saved her husband's life.

Rare, but not unique. CNN's Dan Simon now with the story of another victim who lived to tell about her attack.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The mountain lion, native to North America, can weigh up to 150 pounds, majestic and ferocious. Few people know what it's like to be attacked by one. One of the few, Anne Hjelle.

In 2004, she and a friend were biking in California's Santa Monica Mountains, when a 110-pound mountain lion leapt from the brush, knocked her off her bike and tore into her face.

ANNE HJELLE, ATTACKED BY MOUNTAIN LION: He moved from the back of my neck to the side just over my ear. When he bit down there, he punctured the ear canal and then a fang broke my nose. And another fang went into my upper lip.

SIMON: Her friend Debi Nichols challenged the big cat and saved Anne's life.

DEBI NICHOLS, FRIEND: He was starting to pull her down a hillside, and I thought she's going to be out of my sight, grab her leg, you know, and it was just a tug of war from that point. SIMON: The mountain lion eventually let go, but turned out he had killed another biker, his body found in a deep ravine.

(on camera) Mountain lion attacks are extremely rare. In fact, far more people die from domestic dog attacks each year than from mountain lions. But because they're such powerful wild animals, their encounters with humans draw global attention.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope you've got a shotgun. There he is.

SIMON (voice-over): Mountain lions sometimes turn up in backyards or garages. This cat in suburban Northern California was tranquilized and returned to the wild. This one near Las Angeles got stuck in a backyard fence and was shot and killed.

JOAN EMBERY, CONSERVATIONIST: We're sharing resources with wildlife and with nature, and it's going to be a balancing act.

SIMON: Conservationist Joan Embery says mountain lions occasionally wander in human terrain looking for food.

EMBERY: Most of the incidents of cats moving into more urban environments tend to be younger cats, as they're forced out of ranges that are defended by mature males.

SIMON: Mountain lions can cover 40 feet in a single leap, capturing prey four times their size. California law requires killing wild animals that have attacked a human. That's what's happened in Anne's case.

She's undergone several surgeries to reconstruct her nose, eye and cheek, and she's come a long way.

HJELLE: The voice box, esophagus. Everything was OK. This animal was totally capable of taking me out, and I was here to tell the tale.

SIMON: And get back up onto her bike, even returning to the spot where she was attacked.

Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco.


KING: So what should you do if you cross paths with a mountain lion? We'll get some advice from Animal Planet's Jeff Corwin next.

And in our next hour, a special report, "Ambush at the River of Secrets", the moving stories of four Marines who died two years ago today, in what remains the deadliest day in the war for American forces.


KING: Before the break, you heard the remarkable stories from people who have survived mountain lion's attacks. What would you do in that situation? What should you do? I talked earlier tonight about just that with Animal Planet's Jeff Corwin.


KING: Jeff, we just heard the Hamm's harrowing and amazing story of survival. Nell Hamm is credited with saving her husband's life, among other things, clubbing the mountain lion with a nearby tree branch. Would you advise this tactic to anyone else who could come under such an attack?

JEFF CORWIN, ANIMAL PLANET: Absolutely. If you're in a situation where your life is at stake, defend yourself.

You have to remember, this creature is a predator by nature. And if he feels that his meal is too much of a challenge or at a risk to its own life, he'll sort of set it free. And that's basically what happened.

The reason why that gentleman survived is because his wife was brave, she took action, and she drove that creature away.

KING: So running is wrong?

CORWIN: Running is wrong. If you run, you're basically a yarn ball. You don't want to -- you don't want to run from a creature like this.

Even in situations, for example, in zoos, in natural history centers, where they have large predatory cats that are conditioned to be with people and even like people, humans when they run very fast near a large cat like that, it automatically stimulates a predator response to chase. You never, ever, ever run from a bear, a mountain lion, or even a dog, for example.

KING: Easier said than done. But let's put this in perspective. How common are these attacks by mountain lions here in the United States? And how concerned should people who live in those habitats be about their safety?

CORWIN: John, that's an excellent question. The truth is these attacks are incredibly uncommon. In -- in about a century's breadth of time we're talking just a little over a dozen attacks.

Now, it's true in the last few years there's been increases in mountain lion attacks, but the reason why this is occurring is because human beings are taking over the mountain lion habitat. And at that happens, these creatures are driven out.

And especially when you have competition between wild cats, the lesser of the two will sort of capitalize on whatever he can. But even with that said, these attacks are incredibly rare.

With that said, you need to take precautions. If you're exploring a place, a remote wilderness, you never want to do it alone and you should be prepared for the unknown.

KING: Is it simply sprawl, as you say, humans moving into their habitat? Or is there some other explanation for such aggressive behavior?

CORWIN: Probably the most important explanation, 90 percent of the cause behind bad encounters between human beings and wildlife is the result of habitat loss and the encroach of humanity that's sort of overtaking pristine habitat.

There is a small percentage that could equate to another reason why something like this could occur. Mountain lions as pets are not unknown in the United States. In fact, there's some states, for example, where it is legal to keep a mountain lion as a pet.

For $150, $200 you can buy yourself a baby mountain lion. And that cute, little cuddly kit will grow up to be a 100-, 150-pound animal that can be very powerful. And one bad day in that nice cat's life can spell a bad situation for the humans being.

And oftentimes people take these animals and release them back into the wild, but they never were wild. They don't take to this wild situations. And they automatically look to human beings for their survival.

KING: Where might they occur? Where are mountain lions in the United States?

CORWIN: Because of habitat loss and conflict and challenges between human beings and these incredible creatures and other animals, like wolves and bears for example, the U.S. range has been dramatically reduced. So they're primary limited to the western states, from Montana, a little bit north of Montana down to New Mexico.

KING: And the bottom line, fight don't run. Jeff Corwin, thanks for your help tonight.

CORWIN: Thank you.

KING: In our next hour, the stories of four young Marines and the lives they left behind when they went to Iraq. Their love, their dreams, their fateful encounter in a town along a river on the deadliest day of the war.

"Ambush at the River of Secrets", a 360 special, next.



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