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Congress Sets Troop Withdrawal Date; Democratic Presidential Candidates Hold First Debate

Aired April 26, 2007 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
He told me he wouldn't even tell police about a serial killer next door. We're talking about rapper Cam'ron and the hip-hop message stop snitching. Now he's saying something else. And we're digging deeper into the code of silence preached by rappers, promoted by big companies, and enforced by killers.

That's coming up later on the program.

But we begin tonight with the news, top story, the first major event in the 2008 presidential campaign -- the small town of Orangeburg, South Carolina, playing host tonight to more than 600 members of the media, and eight people who want to be president, one of whom could be the first woman in the White House, one the first African-American, eight Democrats in their first real showdown.

CNN's Candy Crowley watched it all unfold.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No blood spilled in this first of umpteen presidential debates. You had to listen hard for the low-impact jabs.

JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Clinton and anyone else who voted for this war has to search themselves and decide whether they believe they have voted the right way.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I have said many times that, if I knew then what I now know, I would not have voted that way.

CROWLEY: Fresh off a vote to authorize more spending in Iraq, with a deadline to bring troops home, nearly all agreed the president should sign the bill, except for the most anti-war lawmaker in the group.

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Because, every time you vote to fund the war, you're reauthorizing the war all over again.

CROWLEY: They ran the gamut from Iraq, to abortion, to health care, differing on the details, but not the broad strokes. It was a largely cordial gathering.

CLINTON: Well, I think that what Barack said is right.

CROWLEY: Much of the heat came from the second tier trying to puncture the rarefied atmosphere around the front-runners.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D-NM), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the American people want candor. They don't want blow-dried candidates with perfection.

CROWLEY: As interesting moments go, the hands-down winner was the little-known former senator from Alaska who more than once shook up the stage.

MIKE GRAVEL (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Barak, who do you want to nuke?

OBAMA: I'm not planning to nuke anybody right now, Mike, I promise.


GRAVEL: Good. Good. We're safe.

CROWLEY: In the end, no faux pas, no unretrievable errors. The eight Democrats running for president cleared their first debate pretty much unscathed.


COOPER: Candy, were there any winners or losers? The candidate from Alaska certainly, I guess, caught a lot of attention.

CROWLEY: He did.

You know, what's interesting, Anderson, I'm in the spin room, which is where all the surrogates come to tell you how their candidate did. And the fact of the matter that most of them said, OK. We thought it was OK. There wasn't a lot of chest-beating, and, boy, you know, my gal really killed them or my guy was really good.

So, there was just the sense, even among those -- the fiercest supporters of these candidates, some of them just felt they didn't get enough time, which, with eight people on the stage, you never are going to going to get enough time. But they really they didn't -- their person didn't have enough chance to get into it.

Certainly no losers, but no big winners.

COOPER: Let's also bring in Paul Begala, CNN political contributor, former Clinton adviser, as well as Terry Holt, who served as campaign spokesman for Bush-Cheney in '04.

Good to see both of you.

Paul, you know, for the first time, we saw Barack Obama on the big stage. How do you think he handled himself sparring with the others? PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, he did fine. I think Candy's right. There was no, like, big winners or big losers.

But I think the expectations for Barack were different. Senator Obama is really spectacular on the stump. He's really one of the great orators in a prepared text and also stump speakers that I have ever seen. He's really a rare talent.

He's not as good a debater as he is a stump speaker. It doesn't mean he's a bad debater. And, actually, I think the other front- runner, Hillary Clinton, is a little bit the opposite. She's not as good a stump speaker as she is a debater.

I thought as -- particularly as the debate wore on, she relaxed more and she did a little bit better job. So, it's interesting. The two front-runners each kind of have complementary strengths and weaknesses.

COOPER: Well, there's certainly going to be enough debates, so, he will certainly be able to polish up his debating skills.

Terry, supporters of Clinton say one of her strengths is her experience. Was she able to reinforce that image?

TERRY HOLT, FORMER BUSH CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: Well, I think, tonight, she demonstrated she's the real deal. You know, a lot of people have said that she's too rigid, that she's too bound by the discipline of her campaign.

But that came through tonight with authority, with conviction. She hit it out of the park when she talked how she would respond to a two-city attack by terrorists. She was the most definitive and the strongest in that regard. And I think she did all she could do tonight, in this field, to distinguish herself as the front-runner.

And I agree with Paul. Barack Obama has that silky voice. He's got that stage presence. He's a superstar. And he's coming on strong. But he's going to have to get better at debates, because this is where he and Hillary share the stage. And he's going to have to do better than he did tonight in order to prevail.

COOPER: Candy, Governor Bill Richardson talked about blow-dried candidates. I don't know if that was a jab at Edwards. But how did John Edwards do?

CROWLEY: I'm thinking so.

You know, John Edwards did fine. I think he seemed, looking at the stage, the most frustrated. He really has been out there with a lot of plans, with a lot of details, and really kind of wanted to get into it. And I think he felt, you know, that he didn't get to explain things. His main goal here was to try to dust up both the front- runners, Obama and Clinton. And he took jabs at them as well. So, I think he did as well as he could do, given the constrictions that he felt. COOPER: Paul, was any candidate able to separate themselves or distinguish themselves on Iraq? I mean, it dominated the debate for the first 30 minutes or so.

BEGALA: Right. I think you're right. I don't think that they did.

Edwards, as Candy points out, had a little gentle jibe at Hillary. John Edwards voted for the war. So did Hillary Clinton. But Edwards has said it was a mistake, plain and simple. And I think that's given him a clarity on Iraq that Senator Clinton has not had.

But, then, when the moderator, Brian Williams, said to him the obvious, well, that's kind of a shot at Senator Clinton, isn't it, he said, no, no, no.

And I think that's what opened up Bill Richardson to say, come on, let's just be candid. Why not just tell the truth?

I think what they need -- and when CNN has its debate, here's my recommendation, Anderson -- a happy hour before the debate. OK, get them liquored up a little bit. Let's -- let's throw some punches, man.

I want to see Hillary calls Barack an egg-sucking dog, or Richardson calling Dennis Kucinich a little hobbit or something. Just loosen them up a bit, and they would be a lot better. They're actually very entertaining and pretty tough people. And that didn't really come -- they were like -- they were like I was at driver's ed in Sugar Land, Texas, with Coach Milton (ph) sitting next to me.

You know, I was going 54 miles per hour. I was scared to make a mistake. They ought to just lighten up.

COOPER: If I see Paul Begala running around with a flask at the next -- at the CNN debate, we will know what he's doing.


COOPER: Terry, do -- I mean, obviously, most of the criticism wasn't aimed at the other candidates. It was aimed at the Bush administration. At what point do they start aiming at each other?

HOLT: Well, quite a bit further down the road than this.

This was really just the curtain-raiser to a lot of debates and a lot of joint appearances. I think that it's not really in anyone's interest right now to draw a lot of distinctions. They're still in the mode of raising money and building their organizations.

I think you're right about John Edwards. In many ways, he's the most prepared to go after it right now. He's got the most detailed plans. And he's talked the most about the policies and so forth. He did do a good job on that question about his moral leadership. He couldn't quite say Jesus Christ, but he did say his lord and his mother -- his wife and his father as his moral leaders. He's prepared for these kinds of things. And I look for him to do better as these debates go on.

COOPER: Candy, the second-tier candidates, did any of them really improve their standing with tonight's performance? I mean, clearly, that was a big motivation for them.

CROWLEY: You know, I think it's going to take more time than that. Maybe some meter somewhere will move a little bit. But the fact of the matter is that this is an ongoing process.

It's -- it's really tough to find daylight, when you have the shadows of Clinton and Barack Obama over you. But, you know, look, they got -- it's just enough for these candidates to get on the same stage, to be seen going toe to toe with other presidential candidates. That immediately sort of lifts their stature. The more they can do that, the better off they think they are.

COOPER: Paul, who seemed presidential among the pack?

BEGALA: You know, I'm a little biased because I worked for Hillary's husband for so many years. And she has been there, obviously, as the first lady.

But she did play to experience, too. This is a time of change. And I think a lot of Democrats want change. That's bad for Hillary Clinton. But I think she's probably made the strategic choice to make a virtue of her experience. She can't pretend that she's the fresh face, particularly in a field with a guy like with Barack Obama, who is so startlingly fresh and refreshing.

So, I think she kept -- many times, you heard her referring to "Bill and I after Columbine, or "Bill and I after" -- or her own role as a senator from New York after 9/11. So, I think she did a pretty good job of playing to that sort of presidential card.

But I'm not entirely sure that's what Democrats want. Right now, they seem to just really want a fresh face. I think that's why Obama is coming on so strong.

COOPER: And, Terry, at what point do -- does Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, I mean, do they start either trading jabs or at least directly commenting about one -- each other? It's got to be sort of a tough game to figure out.

HOLT: Yes. And it's when it becomes a zero sum game, when the support goes to you or it goes to Hillary or vice versa.

And I think, while we're still a ways from there, you see these two people positioning themselves and sort of circling each other. Obama has something that I think, even as a Republican, you recognize is a potent force in politics. And that's a leadership quality.

There's a hope and optimism to his stump speech and to his approach to politics that's going to be very difficult to beat. The problem is that, in these kinds of settings, it's hard for him to bring that through. And it will be his challenge to transition to that, so that he can begin peeling support away from some of the other candidates, and ultimately take on Hillary Clinton.

COOPER: Interesting. Terry Holt, Paul Begala, Candy Crowley, guys, thanks very much.

HOLT: Thank you.

COOPER: One programming note: CNN is going to be carrying debates as well in New Hampshire, the first real battleground. They will take place on June 3 for the Democrats, June 5 for Republicans -- CNN, the home for best political team in television.

Now more on today's Senate vote on Iraq -- it came with General David Petraeus, the commander of American forces, back in Washington, urging lawmakers not to impose a deadline and bringing home a mixed message on progress.


GENERAL DAVID PETRAEUS, U.S. COMMANDER IN IRAQ: This effort may get harder before it gets easier. Success, in the end, will depend on Iraqi actions.


COOPER: Well, the general did, however, call the situation better than it was a few months back. And he promised to reevaluate conditions in September, and give the president a new assessment then.

Now, that would be a month before the October deadline in the bill that was passed today.

And more on that bill from CNN's Dana Bash.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By a vote of 51-46, the conference report is adopted.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With that Senate vote, the stage is set for a dramatic wartime showdown between Congress and the White House, the likes of which not seen since Vietnam.

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL), DEMOCRATIC WHIP: When the president receives this bill early next week, I hope he will ask himself some basic questions. How many lives, how many wounds, how many soldiers must America sacrifice waiting for the Iraqis to accept their responsibility?

BASH: It is a confrontation with the president the Democratic majority says war-weary Americans demanded with their votes last November.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: We have carried forth the wishes of the American people.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: In the last election, the American people called for a new direction. Nowhere were they more firm in that new direction being necessary than in the war in Iraq.

BASH: The $124 billion emergency spending bill would fund the war, but order U.S. troops to start coming home October 1, with a goal of withdrawing all combat forces by this time next year.

Republicans call that a surrender date.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: If the Iraqis make progress, we leave. If they don't, we leave. This is not a choice. It is a mandate for defeat that al Qaeda desperately wants.

BASH: They also called Democrats irresponsible for, in the middle of the war, sending the president a spending bill they know he won't sign.

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: The president will veto this legislation. And he looks forward to working with congressional leaders to craft a bill that he can sign.

BASH: The veto will put Democrats in a difficult bind. They will have to come up with a new war spending plan fast to minimize GOP attacks they are endangering troops in combat. And, to get the president's signature, it will have to be a plan without withdrawal deadlines, which could jeopardize support from lawmakers who want to keep pushing for an end to the war.

REID: It will take us a while to put it together, because you have to start all over again.

BASH: The Senate's top Democrat says his goal is a new proposal by June 1.

(on camera): Democratic sources say one leading idea is setting a series of benchmarks Iraqis must meet for U.S. troops to stay. Surprisingly, senior Republicans said that's a concept they could support.

Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.


COOPER: Well, the bill that the Senate passed today would bring the total amount spent in Iraq to over half-a-trillion dollars. Here's the "Raw Data."

About $100 billion in the new bill would be spent in Iraq and Afghanistan, most Iraq; $456 billion has already been spent or appropriated for the war. And Pentagon officials say the mission is costing about $2 billion every week.

Straight ahead: What message does today's vote send to the enemy and our men and women on the ground? Michael Ware joins us for that.

Also ahead tonight: a crisis in America's inner cities.


COOPER (voice-over): Who will stop, stop snitching? The message, see something, say nothing -- the result, killers getting away with murder.

JOHN WALSH, HOST, "AMERICA'S MOST WANTED": When I see a stop snitching hoodie, I say to myself, what about that murder victim that is 6 feet underground? How the hell could you wear that T-shirt?

COOPER: Crime fighter John Walsh weighs in. Rapper Cam'ron apologizes. But will other rappers change their tune about talking to cops?

Also, think a kiss is just a kiss? Not Richard Gere's. What's gotten a country of a billion people so hot and bothered, and landed Richard Gere on the wanted list? Answers ahead on 360.



COOPER: Well, the politics of Iraq are one thing. People differ sharply on them, of course. The facts are another. At least they ought to be.

So, having dealt with politics at the top of the program, we turn to another fact-check from CNN's Michael Ware. He and I sat down early today, shortly after the war bill passed the Senate.


COOPER: So, the Senate has given final approval. This is now going to go to the president. He will likely veto it.

Sending this message on a withdrawal, though, what kind of an impact do you think it has on ground for our troops and for the war?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, clearly, for the troops, it's not a positive message.

I mean, they feel that the American people are behind them as soldiers. But they're clearly feeling that support for the mission is eroding.

COOPER: This is what you hear from soldiers you're embedded with?

WARE: It's not articulated directly. But you can tell that -- that they know that there's slippage, in terms of the broader mission.

And I can certainly tell you that the troops on the ground, especially those coming back for their second, third, or fourth, guys who are being extended, told they were coming for 12 months -- now they are coming for 15 -- and, in future, they will always come for 15 -- are becoming much more cynical about what is going on, on the ground and what they're achieving.

COOPER: Does a withdrawal make sense, in terms of sending a message to Iraqi politicians?

WARE: No, none whatsoever.

I mean, the Iraqi politicians don't feel that kind of pressure. That's a delusion back here in Washington and in America, that, by threatening to withdraw U.S. forces, that's somehow a carrot or a stick to motivate them, or what I hear on the ground, to incentivize them, when, in fact, it's quite the opposite.

Maliki is not the true power in that government. The true building blocks of power there, to some degree, would love a U.S. withdrawal. And many of them call for it, publicly, definitely privately, because they will be the ones who would capitalize from the chaos that will follow.

COOPER: Because they want the chaos; they want a sectarian, once and for all, figuring this out?

WARE: They want to consolidate the power that they now have. And, indeed, they want to extend it.

And, for example, essentially, this Iraqi government doesn't exist as a government, per se. It's a loose alliance of militias, most of whom, according to U.S. intelligence, are backed by Iran. So, they want to consolidate that Iranian-sponsored power and, indeed, extend it.

And you can imagine what kind of threat that poses to America's Arab allies in the region.

COOPER: It doesn't seem like the U.S. has a plan B. President Bush, I think, recently said that -- that plan B was to make sure that plan A works.

Do -- it sounds like what you're saying is, a lot of these militias, a lot of these sectarian groups, and maybe even Maliki, they do have a plan B. And they're already working on the plan B. And the plan B is when the U.S. leaves.

WARE: I think everyone is working on their plan B, Anderson.

Indeed, when I had Major General Robert Nixon (ph) -- he's a commander of a U.S. division in northern Iraq -- when he opened the door and said that we can achieve U.S. victory here with a non- Democratic state, much like our other Arab allies in the Middle East, that's plan B. If Maliki and his democracy doesn't work, then there is another option.

COOPER: Petraeus said that, if all that's happening is the sectarian groups, the death squads are just laying low, then that's going to lead to failure.

Is that's what is happening?

WARE: Oh, yes, absolutely.

The surge has its positives. I mean, it's within a very narrow confine, the successes of the surge. The militias are not dismantled. The militias have not been taken apart. They have been disrupted. They have been displaced. But they are still there. And they are still the true power in Iraq.

Whatever the surge is doing, and whatever else the U.S. mission is doing, from the beginning, it's the same as now. We're still not fundamentally addressing the true dynamics of Iraq. And that's the militias and the foreign interference, principally Iran and Syria.

COOPER: Michael Ware, thanks.

WARE: Thanks, Anderson.


COOPER: Well, coming up next on 360: Bill Clinton in the kitchen with Rachael Ray? And another Republican throws his hat into the presidential ring. It is all in tonight's "Raw Politics."

Also ahead: Rapper Cam'ron issues an apology about his comments saying he wouldn't turn in a serial killer living next door to him. We will have that and a look at what has happened to some people who get labeled a snitch because they tried to do the right thing. Are we doing enough to protect witnesses in America? -- when 360 continues.


COOPER: Some say it was over the top. Others say Richard Gere should be thrown in jail -- why this kiss was not just a kiss, and why some in India want him arrested -- ahead on 360.


COOPER: In the next hour of 360: an in-depth report on a life- and-death subject.


COOPER (voice-over): Before their infamous murders, these killers were odd, but not obviously dangerous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It can happen anywhere in the nation.

COOPER: A college student, a housewife, a quiet middle-aged guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In big towns, in small towns, in rural neighborhoods.

COOPER: So, how did they all go unnoticed? Why weren't they stopped before they acted?

In the next hour, our special report: "Killers in Our Midst."


COOPER: And that's in the 11:00 hour of 360, though, right now, ahead, as the war of Iraq is being waged, the battle lines in Washington have been drawn, and the fighting is at fever pitch.

Today, the Democrats on Capitol Hill made it clear it is time to bring the troops home. But the president is not backing down.

And CNN's Tom Foreman has more in tonight's "Raw Politics."


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, while the Democrats were sanding and polishing their candidates for that first big debate, their colleagues back here in Washington were scoring a legislative coup on the battle on Iraq.

As we reported, the Senate finished what the House began, passing legislation to begin a troop withdrawal.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: We have carried forth the wishes of the American people.

But look at the "Raw Politics." The Dems also carried forth the wishes of some in their party in regard to timing. Sure, the president is going to veto it, but the Dems are expecting to make the paper land on his desk next week, very close to the fourth anniversary of his landing on that aircraft carrier.

A hat landing in the ring -- Republican Jim Gilmore in the race. The former Virginia governor says he wants less government, less taxes, more security, more conservative values.

JAMES GILMORE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I asked all conservatives of conscience to join me in the fight for these principles.

FOREMAN: Remember the name Jim Gilmore. This may be the only time you hear it.

On the red carpet, the Tribeca Film Festival was kicked off in New York by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is finally talking about the possibility of a presidential candidacy for Vice President turned filmmaker Al Gore.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (R), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: I hope Al Gore enters the race. I think it would be good for the country.

FOREMAN: And what about Gore's former running mate? President Bill Clinton, who coined the phrase "will jog for fires," has taped a TV show to promote healthy cooking as part of his campaign against childhood obesity. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "RACHAEL RAY")

RACHAEL RAY, HOST: So, who is going to be doing the cooking out on the campaign trail with you and Hillary?




FOREMAN: By the way, the Japanese prime minister came to the White House for dinner this evening. The Japanese, as you know, like sushi. That's healthy.

And that's "Raw Politics" -- Anderson.


COOPER: Ba-dum-ba.


COOPER: Don't miss "Raw Politics" and the day's headline with the new 360 daily podcast. You can watch it on your computer at Or go to the iTunes store, where it's already one of the top downloads.

Straight ahead tonight: a killer epidemic, not a virus, but just as deadly, an idea promoted by rappers, marketed by big companies.


COOPER (voice-over): Who will stop, stop snitching? The message, see something, say nothing -- the result, killers getting away with murder.

WALSH: When I see a stop snitching hoodie, I say to myself, what about that murder victim that is 6 feet underground? How the hell could you wear that T-shirt?

COOPER: Crime fighter John Walsh weighs in. Rapper Cam'ron apologizes. But will other rappers change their tune about talking to cops?

Also, think a kiss is just a kiss? Not Richard Gere's. What's gotten a country of a billion people so hot and bothered, and landed Richard Gere on the wanted list? Answers ahead on 360.



(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: If there is a serial killer living next door to you, though, and you know that person is, you know, killing people, would you be a snitch if you called the police and told them?

CAMERON "CAM'RON" GILES, RAPPER: If I knew a serial killer was living next door to me?


GILES: No, I wouldn't -- I wouldn't call and tell anybody on him. But I'll probably move. But I'm not going to be calling to say the serial killer is in 4-e.


COOPER: That's what rap artist Cam'Ron recently told me in a report on snitching I did for "60 Minutes". Cam'Ron's taking a lot of heat for his comments, although I give him credit for speaking out publicly. He's just about the only rapper who would speak out about the Stop Snitchin' movement.

Today, Cam'Ron apologized, saying what he told me reflected his own distrust of police when he was a shooting victim two years ago. In a statement, he said, "Where I come from, once word gets out that you've cooperated with police that only makes you a bigger target of criminal violence."

He went on to say, "There's a harsh reality around criminal violence and criminal justice in our inner cities."

He also said, "My experience in no way justifies what I said. I apologize deeply for this error in judgment."

It's worth noting Cam'Ron could have said all that during the interview. But he didn't. The interview was largely about how the Stop Snitchin' message that he sometimes sings about and raps about, he says it's a business decision, as well as a code of ethics. But a business decision because, if he didn't say that, he said you should talk to police, no one in some communities would buy his records.

A look at the snitching story we began looking into days before Cam'Ron apologized, whether or not witnesses are protected. Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): In Connecticut, an 8-year-old boy. In Baltimore, a 36-year-old wife and mother. Just outside Baltimore, another mother, still in her 20s. Each one witnessed a crime. Each spoke up about it. All three paid with their lives.

CAROL GRIM, MOTHER OF MURDER VICTIM: She was shot once in the back and twice in the back of the head. And was killed instantly.

COOPER: The message couldn't be stronger. If you tell police what you saw, you'll be called a snitch. And you could die. Law enforcement experts say witness intimidation has become a serious problem. And studies suggest it may be getting worse.

PATRICIA JESSAMY, STATE'S ATTORNEY FOR BALTIMORE: Witnesses either go underground because they've been threatened and intimidated and are afraid. Or they come to court, and they recant their prior statements. This must not continue.

COOPER: At least 14 states have passed witness protection laws. A federal bill is also pending. But keeping witnesses safe also takes money. And often there's not enough.

EUGENE O'DONNELL, JOHN JAY SCHOOL OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: You can imagine in a city like New York, in a city of millions of people, that protecting just one person, adequately, having a car in front of their house, watching where they go, surveilling them, that alone just for one person would be enormously expensive, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

COOPER: That's New York. Next door, New Jersey's witness relocation program is nearly broke. The grant that funds it expires in July. And when it does, there could be a chilling effect.

In one study of criminal courts, more than one-third of witnesses say they'd been directly threatened. And without witness testimony, experts say many crimes go unsolved.

O'DONNELL: The life blood of the system, really, is witness testimony. That's what keeps the criminal justice system operative.

COOPER: But convincing people to testify requires trust. And that, say many who study the problem, is mostly missing in neighborhoods where crime is highest.

ALEXANDRA NAPATOFF, LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: The core of the problem is not the lack of a witness protection program. But the relationship between communities and the police in the first instance. When people trust the police, they're going to turn to the police.

O'DONNELL: It's very important that the police have the skills, especially investigators, have the skills to talk to people, the trust in the community. And they know when to approach people, where to approach people.

COOPER: Still, all the trust in the world can't promise safety. It didn't save Angela Syke (ph) or Angela Dawson and her family. All seven died when their house was firebombed. And trust didn't save 8- year-old Leroy Brown Jr.

O'DONNELL: Police people can never guarantee any witness that they're going to be completely safe. The actually surprising thing is so many people are, as of this moment, still willing to come forward courageously, to tackle individuals who are a danger in the community.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: And those deaths are the cost of this Stop Snitchin' message. The distrust of many people in the inner city toward the police is a very serious problem, a very legitimate concern in many cases.

But it is not helped when rappers and major corporations who sponsor them or promote them and market them, are spreading this message.

John Walsh, the host of "America's Most Wanted", knows better than anyone how vital witnesses are to catching criminals. I spoke to him earlier.


COOPER: You've been tracking the Stop Snitchin' movement for a long time.

JOHN WALSH, HOST, "AMERICA'S MOST WANTED": I saw it first-hand almost two years ago in Boston, where I was asked by the mayor and the police commissioner -- the police commissioner to come up there.

The homicide rate was out of control. And in these stores were these T-shirts and hoodies and all this kind of garb that said "Stop Snitchin'."

And I found out that somehow, a defendant had been brought to trial. His defense attorney had leaked the witness list. And these thugs had murdered the main witness. Sending this horrible message, that if you know about a murder, and you tell the police about it or you cooperate, we're going to kill you. You're going to pay for it.

And the most disgusting thing is, that they would exploit this for material gain, that they send this message, that Stop Snitchin', don't work with the police. Don't honor the time-honored -- the time- honored concept of America to protect victims and to work with police, anonymously. I'm not saying anybody has got to come forward. To make money out of it, it is -- it's absolutely disgusting.

And, Anderson, I know you've covered this. And I commend for you for it. The one thing that bothers me is who speaks for the victims?

When I went into the hood that night, to do the show, thousands of people came out and said, "John, go get them. We're terrified. We are the ones that are being terrified by the Stop Snitchin'. We feel that we could be a murder victim. A guy's out here. He's already killed two or three people, and nobody will cooperate. We're trapped here. We're trapped here."

It's a disgusting trend. And anybody who defends it is absolutely wrong.

COOPER: Well, one of the things we've been focusing on in the last couple days is, you know, this is something which is backed by major corporations, you know, who are backing these rappers who are telling people not to snitch in neighborhoods that they even don't live in. They're living out of mansions in New Jersey...

WALSH: In Westchester.

COOPER: Right. And in gated communities. And it's the people, you know, who can't afford to move out of the neighborhoods, who, as you said, are suffering from it.

WALSH: It isn't right. You can't justify it. It's got nothing to do with First Amendment rights. It's got everything to do with intimidating witnesses, intimidating people to cooperate and say, "Stop this. I saw a murder. I need to be safe. I need to be able to tell somebody."

He'll always say, what if it was your loved one that was victimized and murdered? And somehow you knew there was somebody out that knew something about it, that could get a conviction?

It's not about the police. It's not about police brutality, saddling up with the police. It's not doing the right thing, and it's about big corporations exploiting a horrible, horrible message.

COOPER: There's also a lot of -- and what a lot of people have said to me is, look, you don't understand. There's a lot of distrust in predominantly African-American communities in the inner city toward the police. And that's where some of this reluctance to come forward comes from. And I think that's certainly true.

But it's being manipulated. That fear of police or distrust of police, in a very calculated way, being manipulated?

WALSH: What does that say about minority cops? There's 14,000 names on that memorial in Washington, D.C., of cops who died in the line of duty. A lot of them are minorities. There's black cops. There's Hispanic cops. There's all kinds of minority cops. I don't buy that argument.

COOPER: Are we, as a society, doing enough to protect witnesses? Is it funded enough?

WALSH: I don't think so. You know, everybody says to me, how have you caught almost 940 of the world's worst fugitives in 20 years? I say, "Because I protect the sources. People can call me anonymously. I'll take it from there."

I wish police could say to people, we'll take the information, and we will protect you if you come into court.

But people are terrified. And that's supported by the Stop Snitchin' -- what is it? What is it? Is it an urban myth? What is it? I see a Stop Snitchin' hoody, I say to myself, what about that murder victim that's six feet under ground and that family who desperately wants you to do the right thing? And how the hell could you wear that T-shirt?

COOPER: John, thanks.


COOPER: John Walsh with "America's Most Wanted".

Up next on 360, Richard Gere kisses a famous actress and demonstrators pour into the streets. The actor is burned in effigy because of this kiss, and now there's an arrest warrant issued for him in India. What's all the anger about? Is this all about politics? Find out ahead on 360.


COOPER: That's Richard Gere kissing one of the biggest stars in Bollywood. It happened in India. For some, it was fun. They looked like they were having fun. To others, his public display of affection wasn't just offensive. It was criminal. Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): It started out innocently enough. But in India, a kiss is not just a kiss. Especially this kiss, planted by Hollywood actor, Richard Gere, on Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty. Again and again and again.

OK. So, maybe it was a little over the top. But does it warrant jail time?

POORAN CHAND BHANDARI, PETITIONER: The court passed the order, that Gere should be arrested.

COOPER: This man thinks so. He filed a complaint. And Thursday, this small town Indian court agreed, issuing arrest warrants for both actors. The offense: violating India's obscenity laws, which include no kissing in public.

PRAMIT PAL CHAUDHURI, FELLOW, ASIA SOCIETY: It is illegal. India has a lot of extremely unusual laws, or should we say regressive laws about -- about obscenity and public acts of affection.

Reporter: Last week, this public act of affection, which went down at an AIDS awareness event and was broadcast around the world, prompted protests by some Hindu right-wing nationalists.

Demonstrators burned effigies of Richard Gere in several Indian cities. But many say these protesters are in the minority.

NANDITA DAS, BOLLYWOOD ACTRESS: I just think it's a bit strange that people should go into the streets and burn effigies and you know. There are a hundred other issues that are far more important in our country and in the world today.

COOPER: Still, public displays of affection in India are taboo, and Richard Gere travels there frequently. Lisa Tsering, the entertainment editor for "India West" newspaper, says he should have known better.

LISA TSERING, ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR, "INDIA WEST" NEWSPAPER: He knows Indian culture very well. And he knows how women in India are supposed to be treated.

COOPER: So far, Gere has refused to talk about the case publicly, although Shilpa Shetty says he did call her to apologize.

Shetty is a rising Bollywood star, in part because of another controversy: her role on the British version of the reality TV show, "Big Brother".

SHILPA SHETTY, ACTRESS: What about me is so different? What about me?

COOPER: When her competitors in the show lodged racially-charged insults at her, they set off a firestorm in India and the U.K., making her more popular than ever.

In a statement Thursday, Shetty said the filing of the arrest warrant "says far more about those who complained, than it does about Richard Gere and Shetty."

So will this kiss be the kiss of death for this starlet's career?

TSERING: She's going to emerge victorious and more famous than before. I think she's going to emerge on top.

COOPER: Which just goes to show that in Bollywood, as in Hollywood, there's no much thing as bad publicity.


COOPER: So, did Richard Gere cross a line? Or is the judge out of order? What's really going on here?

Bobby Ghosh is the correspondent from "TIME" magazine, who was born and raised in India. He joins me now.

Bobby, thanks for being with us. How serious is this? I mean, how serious is this kiss by Richard Gere being taken in India?

BOBBY GHOSH, CORRESPONDENT, "TIME" MAGAZINE: I don't think -- I don't think it is terribly serious, Anderson. The key thing to remember here is that this is a small town court and a small town judge. And it reflects a small town mentality.

It is a reminder that, while India may be at the cutting edge of information technology, once you get away from the big cities, India is a deeply conservative, deeply traditional and, if I may say so, old-fashioned place.

But this is an issue that is being politicized, that a small town judge is getting a little publicity out of it. Political right-wing -- political sort of loony groups are getting a little publicity out of it.

It is the silly season in India. There's not a lot of other news going on. And something like this sometimes can run and run for days and days. COOPER: So I mean, there are taboos against public displays of affection in India, though?

GHOSH: It is true. Even in my parents' generation. My parents never held hands in public. And I grew up in a small town in India. It is now -- it is less conservative than that. And married couples, I suppose, are allowed to hold hands in public.

But we're talking about unmarried people. We're talking about high-profile people. A Hollywood star, a Bollywood star. And that sort of thing is bound to raise eyebrows and get attention, especially from politicians who are trying to take advantage of the moment.

COOPER: So when you hear in America there's an arrest warrant issued for Richard Gere, it sounds very serious. Not so serious, though, in reality, in India. I mean, if he flies to India today, and he steps off the airport in Delhi, is he going to get arrested?

GHOSH: I doubt very much that he would be arrested. I think what you -- what would more likely happen is that in the next few days this thing will run its course. People would move on to hopefully more serious subjects. But certainly to other subjects. And the court will quietly drop the case.

COOPER: This -- there's some irony, I guess, in all this. And perhaps inappropriately so. This was at an AIDS event to raise awareness about HIV infection.

Is that message getting lost in all of this? Or is this in some way helping, you know, spread the message about HIV awareness?

GHOSH: Well, you're right. The context of this kiss that I think Richard Gere and Shilpa Shetty were trying to put across the message that a peck on the cheek does not spread AIDS.

And in a sort of ironic, perhaps unintended way, this has got that message across much more powerfully than they probably would have expected themselves.

COOPER: Do you think this will affect either of the two long- term? Richard Gere does spend a lot of time in India, as well, obviously, Miss Shetty wants to have a long career there.

GHOSH: As you said, this is great for her. Any publicity in the movie business is good publicity.

And Richard Gere is admired and held in very high esteem by many Indians for his work among Buddhist -- Tibetan refugees. So I suspect that this will blow over and he will continue to be held in very high regard by those people.

COOPER: It's a fascinating story. Bobby Ghosh, appreciate your perspective. Thanks.

GHOSH: Any time. COOPER: Up next on 360, the dean of one of the most prestigious universities in the country resigns after lying about her own education.

Plus, he can't walk, for a moment tonight, he flew. Astrophysicist Steven Hawking in zero gravity. That's him. It is our "Shot of the Day".


COOPER: Coming up, Stephen Hawking's incredible space odyssey. The astrophysicist is freed from his wheelchair for a once in a lifetime journey. It's our "Shot of the Day". We'll bring it to you in a moment. First, Erica Hill joins us with our "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, an update for you on the father who fled the country after promising to donate a kidney to his son. Byron Perkins and his companion, Lee Ann Howard, were arrested in Mexico yesterday. They appeared in a Los Angeles court today.

The judge denied them both bail because they are both considered to be flight risks and dangerous to the community. The judge also executed an order to have them transported back to Kentucky.

Jack Valenti has died from complications from a stroke. He as 85. As the long-running president of the Motion Picture Association, Valenti called the shots on what could or could not be seen in films. Before Hollywood, Valenti was the special assistant to President Lyndon Johnson.

Some welcome news to the thousands devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, today, the White House announcing it would extend federal housing aid through 2009. The deadline was supposed to be this August. But the government said homeowners displaced by the storm who can pay their rent, must start doing so my next March.

On Wall Street, another day, wouldn't you know it? Another record. Strong earnings reports that led the Dow to close over 13,000 for a second-straight day. Blue chips adding 15 points to finish the day at 13,105. The NASDAQ gained six. The S&P, though, fell slightly.

And Anderson, a scandal rocking one of the best universities in the country. The dean of admissions at MIT, the person who decided who got in and who didn't, resigned for lying on her resume. Mary Lee Jones said she received degrees from several institutions, but the trouble is, she made it up.

MIT calls it a sad and unfortunate event. And probably a shock for a lot of folks, too.

COOPER: That is just bizarre.

Take a look at "The Shot". The genius who gave us "A Brief History of Time" takes a brief and remarkable trip in the sky. That is renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, who went weightless and without a wheelchair today, during a ride 40,000 feet high.

Mr. Hawking was a guest of Zero Gravity Inc., the company that lets people experience weightlessness aboard a specialized 727. Hawking, who can only communicate through facial expressions, calls it his first step toward space travel, a topic he certainly knows a lot about.

HILL: Wow.

COOPER: And that is today's "Shot".

HILL: Had to have just been incredible for him, too.

COOPER: Really, yes. It was a unique experience.

We want you to send us your "Shot" ideas. If you see some amazing video, tell us about it: We'll put some of the best clips on the air. And Erica Hill will comment about them.

Erica, thanks.

HILL: I'll do my best, Anderson.

COOPER: Up next on 360, the first showdown between eight Democrats who want to be president. Was there one big winner? Not so much. We'll have all the angles, though.

Also ahead, killers in our midst. What are the warning signs? How do we protect ourselves? A 360 investigation, next.


COOPER: Tonight, they're the faces of deeply disturbed killers: Seung-Hui Cho, Ted Bundy and many more. Driven to kill by a darkness inside that went unseen or not fully recognized, at least, until it was too late. Killers in our midst. How to recognize them. What to do. That's coming up later.

We begin, however, with the showdown in South Carolina, the first presidential debate of the campaign season. Eight candidates. Three big names. Ninety minutes to stake out positions. And more importantly, not make any mistakes.

Reporting tonight from Orangeburg, South Carolina, here's CNN's Candy Crowley.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No blood spilled in this first of umpteen presidential debates. You had to listen hard for the low-impact jabs.

JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Clinton and anyone else who voted for this war, has to search themselves and decide whether they believe they voted the right way.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I've said many times that if I knew then what I now know, I would not have voted that way.

CROWLEY: Fresh off a vote to authorize more spending in Iraq with a deadline to bring troops home, nearly all agreed the president should sign the bill, except for the most antiwar lawmaker in the group.

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Because every time you vote to fund the war, you're reauthorizing the war all over again.

CROWLEY: They ran the gamut from Iraq to abortion to health care, differing on the details but not the broad strokes. It was a largely cordial gathering.

CLINTON: Well, I think that what Barack said is right.

CROWLEY: Much of the heat came from the second tier, trying to puncture the rarified atmosphere around the front runners.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D-NM), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the American people want candor. They don't want blow-dried candidates with perfection.

CROWLEY: As interesting moments go, the hands-down winner was the little-known former senator from Alaska who more than once shook up the stage.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not planning to nuke -- I'm not planning to nuke anybody right now, Mike.

GRAVEL: Good. Good. We're safe.

CROWLEY: In the end, no faux pas, no irretrievable errors. The eight Democrats running for president cleared their first debate pretty much unscathed.



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