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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Virginia Tech Holds Graduation Ceremonies; Rudy Giuliani's Abortion Choice; God, Politics, and Mitt Romney

Aired May 11, 2007 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
The astronaut who made headlines is back in the news. She stepped into the spotlight for an alleged attack on a colleague. Now surveillance video is made public that appears to show astronaut Lisa Nowak stalking her romantic rival before police say she assaulted and tried to kidnap her.

Also ahead tonight: battling wildfires on both ends of the country, including a small island where just about every acre is precious.

And the many faces of Christianity, from preachers promising wealth to green Christians, to believers who say we're living in the end times -- a look at what it means to be a Christian today -- all that ahead.

But we begin right now with former astronaut Lisa Nowak and surveillance video taken just before police say she pepper-sprayed and tried to kidnap Air Force Captain Colleen Shipman. If it bears out, the images could be one more piece of evidence for the prosecution that her encounter with Captain Shipman was no spur-of-the-moment thing. Or it could help the defense make a case that astronaut Nowak was simply a very disturbed individual.

Here's the tape.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): It's after midnight at Orlando International Airport, the date, February 5. Prosecutors say the figure highlighted on this security tape is NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak.

They say this video shows Nowak stalking Air Force Captain Colleen Shipman, the girlfriend of the man Nowak had recently had an affair with, astronaut Bill Oefelein.

On the tape, we see Nowak allegedly waiting for Shipman's plane to land at the airport. After walking back and forth, Nowak, prosecutors say, disappears and returns wearing a disguise, including dark wig and glasses, all the while allegedly on the lookout for her victim.

Shortly after 1:22 a.m., Shipman appears, carrying a blue backpack and walking through the concourse. And prosecutors say, right behind her is Nowak, who traveled nearly 1,000 miles to get here, all the while wearing diapers, so she wouldn't have to stop often.

A few moments later, surveillance video from the baggage center shows Nowak allegedly following Shipman down the escalator to the baggage carousel. What the video does not reveal is what happened next.

Nowak, a mother of three, is accused of attacking Shipman in the airport parking lot, burning her face with pepper spray. When she was arrested, Nowak allegedly was carrying a bag containing a knife, a B.B. gun, a hammer, and other supplies.

She's free on bail. Her lawyer is considering whether to mount an insanity defense. Both sides may try to use this video to prove their case.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Some perspective now on how stalkers think and operate, not to mention what to do when confronted with one.

With us tonight again is Rachel Solov, who heads of the Sex Crimes and Stalking Unit of the San Diego district attorney's office.

Rachel, it's good to have you on the program again.

You know, as you see this tape, you have studied stalkers. You have investigated these cases. As you see this tape of Lisa Nowak allegedly stalking Colleen Shipman through the Orlando Airport, what goes through your mind?

RACHEL SOLOV, SAN DIEGO COUNTY DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: What goes through my mind, in particular, is that, if this is going to be a defense of a mental type defense, is that you look at what she's doing, and she's disguising herself, and she's hiding. And she's -- she's changing her appearance.

And all that stuff goes to, in my opinion, disprove that she had some sort of mental incapacity, because it clearly shows she knew that what she was doing was wrong. She was trying to hide her actions. And, so, while she may have had some mental illness issues, the question will be is whether that actually rises to the level of a defense.

In terms of just the case in general, this is very common in female stalkers. And female stalkers often may go after the person they perceive to be in the way of their ultimate goal, in this case was the man that she was -- had had the relationship with.

COOPER: The vast majority, of course, of stalkers are men -- female stalkers much rarer.

But she had to know that Shipman would be flying in that day. She had to have done some research. How far, in your experience, do stalkers look into the life of the person that they are stalking?

SOLOV: It really just depends on the person. Stalkers are persistent.

Stalkers will go to whatever lengths necessary to find their victim and to carry out what they're going to do, whether it be Internet research. It's absolutely incredible, the information you can find on the Internet these days on people. Just about anyone, you can find out so much information that's really scary.

And, in this case, there was a lot of planning that went into it. She had to know when the victim was coming in the airport. And she had to drive all that way, get all of the disguises in place. So, there was a lot of preparation. And that all goes against a mental defense.

COOPER: And how often do these cases end with violence, does a stalking case, in your experience? And is there some way to tell if it's going to become violent?

SOLOV: There's a lot of factors that we look at in determining whether it's going to become violent.

Obviously, we don't have a crystal ball and e can't always say what's going to happen. Our goal in dealing with these cases is to step in and prevent the violence. And that's what we hope to do. But, unfortunately, in many of the cases, they do turn violent.

COOPER: Would Lisa Nowak have known somehow that what she was doing was wrong? I mean, the stalkers that I have dealt with in -- as any of us who have been TV have had to deal with, you try to maybe reach out at one point and sort of say, look, what you're doing is inappropriate and wrong.

It doesn't make any sense to them. Do you think -- I mean, is that your experience?

SOLOV: Yes, it is my experience.

You know, there is that boundary setting, where we want our victims to definitely convey the message that they don't want the contact. But, as often happens, is that to the stalker, that negative contact, even though you're saying, I don't want to have anything to do with you, leave me alone, the stalker sees that as a victory.

And the stalker doesn't care that it was negative. The stalker just cares that there was a response. So, oftentimes, that response is enough to spur on more activity.

COOPER: Well, it's so -- it's just so chilling to see this tape and to think that there are people out there following other people, and they don't even know about it.

Rachel, appreciate your perspective, as always -- Rachel Solov, deputy DA from San Diego County. Thanks very much, Rachel.

SOLOV: Thank you.

COOPER: We last talked to Rachel just after the Virginia Tech massacre. The shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, had stalked female students long before he murdered. At least he was accused of that by some of the students.

It's been almost a month since Cho's rampage. And, today, on the Blacksburg campus, the sense of loss was especially raw. Today was commencement day.

CNN's Gary Tuchman was there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A graduation ceremony, heavy with competing emotions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will begin by bestowing nine posthumous degrees.

TUCHMAN: Three-and-a-half weeks after 32 students and teachers were murdered by a gunman, the victims were awarded their graduate and undergraduate diplomas.

Juan Ortiz received his master's in civil engineering.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Accepting his diploma are Liselle Vega Cortes, Brunilda Ortiz Santalis (ph), and Juan Ramon Ortiz Colon (ph).

(APPLAUSE)

TUCHMAN: All day long, students and their parents walked the campus, their joy at reaching this milestone tempered by memorials and memories.

Theresa Walsh received her degree today.

THERESA WALSH, VIRGINIA TECH GRADUATE: I don't think there's anything they could do. If it didn't happen that day, it was going to happen another day.

TUCHMAN: Theresa was in the hallway of the still shuttered Norris Hall during the rampage, when she came face to face with Seung- Hui Cho.

WALSH: And he just raised his gun at us. And we dove back into the classroom. And that's when he shot. Thank God he missed. I don't know how he missed. He was three-and-a-half, four feet way.

TUCHMAN: Theresa ran back into her computer science class. Other classmates put a table against the door.

WALSH: When I got into the room and they barricaded the door, I was in the bathroom calling 911, tell them that -- what I had seen.

TUCHMAN: But she hadn't seen what happened next.

WALSH: He tried getting into the room, but he couldn't. So, he stepped back and shot twice through the door. But he -- he missed all of us. One went to the podium, and the other went through the window. So, he -- he missed us, because we were all on the ground.

TUCHMAN: The experience harrowing, the sadness still powerful, on what deserved to be purely a day of celebration.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Gary, at this point, what is the latest in the investigation?

TUCHMAN: Well, Anderson, no official answers yet. But an expert panel has been set up. And that panel had its first meeting right here on Virginia Tech's campus yesterday -- the purpose of the panel, to find out what happened, to prevent it from happening in the future.

And there were three topics that were discussed a lot among the people at the meeting, which included the governor of the state of Virginia and the president of this university. The three topics were Cho's mental health, how Cho got guns so easily, and the university's communication with its students.

Now, most of the meetings will be private, but, during yesterday's public meeting, an interesting note: Some of the people on the panel said they wanted more information about the possibility of the state of Virginia adopting a five-day waiting period for buying firearms. Right now, the state of Virginia has no such waiting period.

COOPER: And there were two graduation ceremonies today. What happened?

TUCHMAN: Well, that's right.

In the stadium behind me -- this is the football stadium, where the Virginia Tech Hokie football team plays -- that's where the undergraduate ceremony was tonight. It just ended about 30 minutes ago; 4,000 students participated in that graduation. Earlier today was the graduate student commencement. That was about 500 students.

Tomorrow, they will have one more ceremony. And that's the individual colleges and majors, where the graduates actually get their degrees handed to them. And that's the end of school for those people.

COOPER: A happy ending for many of them.

Gary, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Coming up tonight, we're live on the fire lines in Florida and Southern California.

Also ahead: the political pluses and minuses of being a pro- choice Republican running for president.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): Laying it on the line about abortion. RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In a country like ours, where people of good faith, where they come to different conclusions about this, I believe you have to respect their viewpoint.

COOPER: Rudy explains. And we bring you the hidden explanation behind the explanation -- "Raw Politics."

Also tonight: God, politics, and Mitt Romney.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As a Mormon, I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and a woman, and a woman.

COOPER: He's joking there. So, what does he really believe? We will dig deep for answers.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Hundreds of firefighters heading into another night on the battle lines out on Catalina Island, just offshore from Los Angeles. They're not the only ones.

In northern Minnesota, flames have engulfed anywhere from 30,000 to more than 50,000 acres, threatening a prime fishing area just a day before the season opens.

Then there is in Florida. And this is what it looks like from space. You're looking at smoke, not clouds, there.

CNN's John Zarrella is on the ground, reporting tonight from Lake City.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI BUREAU CHIEF: Anderson, fires are burning across the state of Florida tonight; 150,000 acres have already burned. There are fires burning in 50 of the state's 67 counties.

There are some 220 active fires burning right now. Perhaps the worst of those is just to the north of me. Beyond me there is Interstate 10, beyond that, a fire that has already consumed some 85,000 acres. In fact, at one point, this fire burned 60,000 acres in 24 hours. It was raging.

We just got back a little while ago from a tour of the fire lines with Division of Forestry firefighters.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZARRELLA: We're standing out, literally, in the middle of a pine forest. And what you see here behind me is the fire line. This is a trench that the firefighters have built to hold back the flames.

What they have done is, they dig absolutely down to the bare organic soil. There is nothing in this soil that is flammable and will start fires. So, what they want to have happen is have these flames burn right up to this fire line, and then go out.

You can see the flames burning here and all the way back up into the woods out there. And, by building this fire line, they have been very, very lucky today, lucky in that the humidity went up and the wind died down. It is absolutely still out here, but there are embers falling in the air. And the sky is thick, thick with smoke. You can see the smoke rising up through these pine trees.

And you can see how absolutely tinder-dry all of this is.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZARRELLA: Now, right now, only -- only 10 percent of this fire is contained. And they say they are going to have to construct 80 to 100 miles of firebreaks, at an average of seven miles a day -- Anderson.

COOPER: Exhausting work.

Have you seen any damage to buildings, John?

ZARRELLA: Just a little bit. They have been very, very fortunate. No structures of any houses have been lost, but only one hunting camp we were at this afternoon. They showed us the remains of that hunting camp.

You could see how this fire swept through there, destroyed everything at this hunting camp. Even the tires on the vehicles out there were absolutely burned down to just ash and charcoal. That's a testament to the power of this fire, but very lucky. That is the only structure they have lost to this fire -- Anderson.

COOPER: John Zarrella reporting -- John, thanks very much.

Let's go now to Southern California's Catalina Island. Despite improving conditions, firefighters still have a lot of work ahead of them.

CNN's Dan Simon is on the island.

Some very expensive property escaped the flames today -- Dan.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, Avalon itself, this beautiful resort community on Catalina, seems to have escaped danger.

That was made evident a few hours ago, when crews lifted the evacuation orders for people who live here. But it still applies for tourists. So, if you're a hotel operator or a restaurant, that is not good news, as you look towards the weekend, and, of course, Sunday being Mother's Day.

In any case, there is still fire burning on other parts of the island, but those are in uninhabited areas. And crews at the moment do not seem too concerned with those other areas. You know, Anderson, people live on this island for the small-town feeling and the clean air. But that sense of peace was really shattered yesterday, about 12:30 in the afternoon, when those flames came dangerously close to these beautiful homes here in Avalon.

There was a bit of mayhem going on. As you can imagine, you see those flames coming towards your house. And you're obviously very scared when you see that orange glow. But fire crews really made quick work of the blaze, thanks to the helicopters and the airplanes that dropped retardant.

But what ultimately may have made the real difference here are these so-called hovercraft. These are vessels donated by the Marine Corps. These were vessels used to transport fire crews, along with their engines.

And we talked to residents, and they say that's ultimately what may have made the difference.

Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK GIBSON, RESIDENT OF AVALON, CALIFORNIA: If they hadn't got the fire trucks over here from the mainland as quick as they did -- they have got dozens and dozens of firefighters and fire trucks over here now that -- they got them over here in an hour to two hours, in some cases, on the hovercraft. If not for them, these things might still be burning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON: And fire crews also got help from nature. The winds really died down today. And the temperatures dropped. So, that really assisted them in their firefighting efforts.

You know, it's been a tough week here in Southern California for firefighters, Anderson. And the concern is that things are only going to get worse in the coming weeks -- back to you.

COOPER: Yes, obviously, very dry areas in Los Angeles, that's contributed to the fires.

What about in Catalina? Has there been much rain this season?

SIMON: Well, you're dealing with this -- with the identical weather systems, not much rain here either. And that's why this area is so dry.

And, of course, that is what enabled this fire to spread so quickly. It was spread with 20- to 30-mile-per-hour winds. Fortunately, you didn't really lose any structures. I mean, you lost a couple of warehouses. But we're told that's about it -- back to you.

COOPER: Dan, thanks very much. Even though Catalina Island is about 22 miles off the coast of California, it is part of L.A. County. Let's check the "Raw Data."

Catalina Island is 21 miles long, eight miles at its widest. The highest elevation is 2,069 feet. The city of Avalon has a population of about 3,200, which can climb to more than 10,000 during the weekends or the summer months. One interesting note: About 200 Buffalo roam the island.

Still ahead on the program tonight: real life vs. "CSI," how a popular TV show could actually be hurting justice in some cases.

Plus: Rudy Giuliani standing firm on abortion rights, even though many in his party oppose them. Of course, there's a reason why he's doing this. We have got the strategy in "Raw Politics" -- next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: In Washington, the week began with a visit by the queen of England. Next week, outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair will be in town. His travels are part of "Raw Politics," which begins tonight with the boldest political move of the week.

Here's CNN's Tom Foreman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Mitt Romney is grabbing all the headlines, but many in Washington are absolutely buzzing over what they consider a nearly death-defying political maneuver by Rudy Giuliani.

We told you that he's openly supporting abortion rights. Conventional wisdom says that's a Republican campaign-killer. So, what's he thinking? Insider analysis now says Giuliani is hoping to withstand potentially poor showings in early primary states with lots of conservatives, like Iowa and South Carolina, then run from behind, if need be, to grab the lead in later, larger primaries that involve more moderates.

Call the fire marshal. All the big Democratic contenders crowded into little New Hampshire to talk to the firefighters union -- all except Barack Obama, that is. He had to visit by phone. And he used the occasion to publicly scold his staff for the bad scheduling.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I wasn't happy that I couldn't be there personally.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

FOREMAN: So, does that make him a good candidate or a bad boss?

1-800-(r)MD-BOŻDONT-CALL-ME. A judge says the alleged D.C. madam Deborah Jean Palfrey cannot release phone records that show if she had customers among Washington's movers and shakers. That's a little joke there, boys. And that noise from Washington? A collective sigh of relief. But it sounds like she's heard plenty of those.

Speaking of overnight guests, British Prime Minister Tony Blair is on his way out of office, but stopping by Washington next week to chat with President Bush, the two closest allies in the war.

And, on the red carpet, not many clues, but lots of speculation that "Law & Order" man Fred Thompson will decide by July if he's in or out of the Republican lineup for president.

Ah, if only Lennie Briscoe were around, he would crack that one.

That's "Raw Politics" -- Anderson.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Dun-dun!

Remember, you can catch "Raw Politics" and the day's headlines on the new 360 daily podcast.

That's the sound they make on "Law & Order." (INAUDIBLE)

You don't need an iPod. You can watch it on your computer at CNN.com/AC360podcast, or you get it from the iTunes store, where it is a top download.

Dun-dun!

Now here's Kiran Chetry what's coming up tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Anderson.

Monday on "AMERICAN MORNING": The winner of "Survivor: Cook Islands" makes it his new mission to take on Hollywood, trying to debunk some of the hurtful stereotypes about Asian-Americans. It's our special report, "Uncovering America," Monday, 6:00 a.m. Eastern, on "AMERICAN MORNING" -- Anderson, back to you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Thanks, Kiran.

Still to come tonight: Iraqi officials say things are looking up. We're "Keeping Them Honest."

Also tonight, these stories:

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): You know how they do it on "CSI."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Visible match to the hairs I pulled...

(CROSSTALK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: The question is, how well does reality match up? Do juries understand the difference? And are trials lost because they don't? We will take you inside a top crime lab to find out.

Also tonight: God, politics, and Mitt Romney.

ROMNEY: As a Mormon, I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and a woman, and a woman.

COOPER: He's joking there. So, what does he really believe?

Find out ahead.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, the clash this week between the Reverend Al Sharpton and presidential candidate Mitt Romney has put religion back on center stage, though, frankly, it never really left.

Sharpton denies that he suggested Mormons aren't true Christians -- more of Romney's faith coming up in the hour ahead.

But, in the next hour, we are going to take a close look at what it means to be a Christian today. If you think you know the answer, you may be surprised.

Here's a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PASTOR RUSSELL JOHNSON, FAIRFIELD CHRISTIAN CHURCH: Secularism, materialism, intellectualism, hedonism.

COOPER (voice-over): Pastor Russell Johnson rallies so-called patriot pastors behind conservative issues. He preaches, America is in the grips of a war over its moral soul.

TUCHMAN: You have said, this is a battle between the forces of righteousness and the hordes of hell.

JOHNSON: I do believe there's a battle between right and wrong. I do believe that there is a forces of darkness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And all God's people shouted...

COOPER: Many Christians believe the end-of-days prophesies in the Bible are happening right now. JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Do you see what's been happening in the Middle East as the beginning of the end of times?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The beginning of the end as we know it, yes. Yes, you look at the Bible and you see all of these things lining up.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Our special report, "What Is a Christian?" in the next hour of 360.

But before we turn to religion, first some science, forensic science. They call it the "CSI effect." Juries today are being influenced by the popular crime television show "CSI." And what they see on TV shapes their expectations about real evidence. But how realistic are those expectations and are they doing more harm than anyone might have anticipated.

We asked CNN's Jeffrey Toobin to separate fact from fiction.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST (voice-over): The search for the microscopic case-breaker. Enhancing the prints, mountains of evidence combed for what really matters. A rare look inside a forensic crime lab.

Look familiar? Well, sort of.

(on camera): The labs on "CSI" have -- are always very dark with kind of a cool blue light.

LISA FABER, NYPD'S HAIR & FIBER UNIT: Yes.

TOOBIN: But it's not that way here.

FABER: No. It's actually the opposite. You want as much light as possible, because you're looking for evidence that is hard to find.

TOOBIN: But it's not as cool.

FABER: It is definitely not as cool.

TOOBIN (voice-over): Lisa Faber is the top criminalist in the New York City Police Department's hair and fiber unit. Over 10 years her meticulous work has helped solve some of the city's worst crimes.

(on camera): Do you have a favorite case involving hair evidence?

FABER: Yes. It was a kidnapping homicide where a 99 cent store owner was kidnapped in Queens, and his body was found dumped in Bayonne, New Jersey. And detectives ultimately found the car of a suspect, and they asked me to look for the victim's hairs in this car.

So, after poring through hundreds and hundreds of hairs, I found three. And so there was a conviction, and he was sentenced to life.

WILLIAM PETERSON, ACTOR: They also found a strand of hair. Our lab has matched it to you.

TOOBIN (voice-over): But hair analysis isn't as conclusive as it is on "CSI".

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The cuticle and cortex are a visual match to the hairs I pulled from Kate Wolcott's (ph) brush.

FABER: We would never use the word "match," because that implies that they are the same. And that is not the case. We say "similar to," "could have come from."

TOOBIN: To a jury, the hair sample on the left may appear to have the same structure as the hair sample on the right. Indeed, a prosecutor could argue that these hairs are similar to each other. But even those words, "similar to," have led to major controversy.

MARGARET BERGER, BROOKLYN SCHOOL OF LAW: I am not sure that juries understand what they're being told when they're being told that something is consistent with this coming from the defendant. There's no statistical basis for the microscopic hair analysis.

In other words, they have no idea of how many other people would have that same sample of hairs.

TOOBIN: For Berger, hair evidence should be permissible in court only if it includes a DNA match, the gold standard of forensic evidence. The problem is visual comparisons from hair found at a crime scene and hair from a suspect have led to terrible miscarriages of justice.

In a 1987 case, Jimmy Ray Bromgard convicted of raping an 8-year- old girl. Arnold Melnikoff, the manager of the Montana state crime lab, testified there was a one in 10,000 chance that hairs found at the scene did not come from Bromgard.

A bogus scientific claim. Bromgard was convicted, but 15 years later, DNA evidence showed the hairs weren't his.

Back in the crime lab, Faber may already be a step ahead of the controversy.

FABER: This is an example of a root that would be suitable for nuclear DNA because of the tissue that you can see around the root end.

TOOBIN: At the NYPD, hair analysis rarely stands alone anymore. It's a screening test before the big one, DNA.

(on camera): The days when a jury hears this hair looks like that hair, those may be over?

FABER: Yes. I mean, slowly, as they're hearing more and more DNA statistics, they're probably looking to hear those type of numbers. And as DNA is on TV more and more, it's something that they're looking for.

TOOBIN (voice-over): So in the dim light of "CSI," hair analysis may be a sure thing. But in the bright light of a real crime lab, it may be a first step, but only a first step, to the DNA lab.

Jeffrey Toobin, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: You can read Jeffrey Toobin's reporting in The New Yorker magazine.

Still ahead, those questions following presidential candidate Mitt Romney. His Mormon faith got a lot of attention this week, and his spat with Al Sharpton. But will it be a liability on the campaign trail? We are going to take a look at that.

Plus, the war in Iraq, what has been said by the Iraqi national security adviser on this program and what's really happening on the ground, a reality check from Johns Burns of The New York Times when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: In Baghdad today, suicide bombers struck two bridges just minutes apart, killing at least 10 people and wounding dozens. Both attacks were aimed at police checkpoints in a mostly Shia area of the city. Sadly aftermath pictures like those have become so familiar, which is why it was so surprising when Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, told me that sectarian violence is becoming less of a problem. In fact, he said virtually not a problem at all.

I interviewed Dr. Rubaie yesterday. He has been in Washington trying to get Democratic lawmakers to back off their calls for timetables and withdrawals. He hasn't had much luck with that. Last night we heard his version of the story. Tonight we are keeping him honest with a reality check from Baghdad.

I talked earlier with The New York Times' John Burns.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: It sounded sort of startling, the amount of -- the things he said just seemed to be very much at odds with the facts as they have been reported and certainly as I understand them, and as I've read in articles of yours. And when you go back and look at old statements he has said, very little what he has said publicly has come to pass.

And so I want to play some of the things he said in the interview and have you respond to them. Let's play this recording.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOWAFFAK AL-RUBAIE, IRAQI NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: And people were talking about Iraq as sliding in a civil war, Iraq as sliding into a sectarian war. Now nobody is talking about Iraq as sliding into a sectarian war. Sectarian violence is considerably lower than before. It has reduced by probably 60, 70 percent if you compare it to six months ago.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Is no one talking about sectarian violence anymore?

JOHN BURNS, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think it's just plainly not true to say that the shadow of civil war has passed. There is a kind of civil war in progress here. Sectarian violence remains a major problem. So I think it's far too early to say that.

Dr. Rubaie, of course, is advancing a political agenda which in itself has changed interestingly since last fall when Dr. Rubaie was talking about the need to get American troops out of the cities, out on to the periphery, put them on the major bases and use them in kind of a standby or fire brigade role.

Now he is in the United States speaking to you and to The New York Times and The Washington Post saying that American troops must stay and that the United States has to work by an Iraqi, not an American agenda. I think this is frankly unrealistic.

COOPER: Well, on that point, I found that incredibly fascinating. Because when you go back to his statements back in 2006, he was saying that there is a danger of Iraqi troops becoming too dependent on American forces, American forces need to get out of Baghdad, that Iraqi troops know Baghdad better and that Iraqi troops are ready to take over the security basically for Baghdad.

Here's part of our exchange that we had yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL-RUBAIE: Last year, Baghdad was under the command of an American general called General Thurman. And now Baghdad is under the command and control of General -- an Iraqi general called General Abud. And he is commanding and leading and controlling two-and-a-half Iraqi army division and 11 or 13 Iraqi national police brigades.

So now Baghdad is under the command and control of an Iraqi command.

COOPER: So you're saying Iraqi forces control Baghdad.

AL-RUBAIE: There is a huge shift -- there is a sea shift from last year to this year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, he's saying dependency isn't a problem. But, I mean, my understanding is Baghdad, whoever may be officially under command, I mean, that's why it has been flooded with U.S. forces, because the Iraqis aren't up to the job. BURNS: Yes, I think to be fair to the Iraqis, their army has done -- and the national police have done a lot better in the last six months than they had. And that's very encouraging to the Americans. But every American general you speak to says they have a very long way to go.

More important, every American brigade, battalion, and company commander says the same thing. That they are a long way from being able to fight this war on their own. That they fight well when they do fight, largely because of the presence and logistical support of American forces.

So again, I think there's a case of gilding the lily. I think you have to understand that Dr. Rubaie, in addition to being national security adviser, is a key member of a government which is in a very difficult position. And what he says is really reflexive to the inner machinations of Shiite politics here, with which I won't detain you. But they -- he is speaking about realities in Shiite politics more than he is military realities on the ground, I believe.

COOPER: John Burns, appreciate it. Thank you, John.

BURNS: Thanks, Anderson.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: John Burns of The New York Times.

Coming up, "God and Politics." Presidential candidate Mitt Romney working hard to demystify his Mormon faith. Tonight, we'll take a closer look at how his beliefs have shaped his life.

Plus, the shot of the day, just how many legs does this cat have? It is quite an unusual sight. Erica Hill will explain that ahead on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: The politics of religion now continues to come up for the presidential candidates, especially Mitt Romney. He is a Mormon, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The only Mormon among the contenders. And tonight, we're putting his faith "In Focus."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As a Mormon, I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and a woman, and a woman.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER (voice-over): He was joking, of course, but for many Americans, Mitt Romney's religion is no laughing matter. Romney touts his record along the campaign trail. At the same time, he's also trying to demystify his Mormon faith. ROMNEY: My religion's theology may be different than that of other faiths, but my religion is like other religions. It has its own unusual beliefs for those who weren't born in the church. And yet it has also taught me to be a better person than I would have been.

COOPER: As a Mormon, Romney does not drink coffee, tea or alcohol and he doesn't smoke. In an interview airing this Sunday on "60 Minutes," he says he did not have pre-marital sex with his wife, Ann.

Part of being a Mormon is spreading the faith, for Romney that meant traveling to France during the late 1960s as a missionary.

ROMNEY: This was during the Vietnam War, and every door I went to said, you know, you're an American, get out of Vietnam. So it made me search my soul, talk about what is important to my friends and colleagues, and make some decisions that made me when I came home, much more studious.

COOPER: It was in France at that time that Romney was in a car accident, one that killed another Mormon missionary. Much has been made about Mitt Romney trying to become the first Mormon president, but he is not the first Mormon candidate. His father, former Michigan Governor George Romney, also ran for the White House, as have other Mormons.

But it's not just politics that is in his family's past. Both Romney's great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather had multiple wives at a time that the Mormon church encouraged polygamy.

ROMNEY: They were trying to build a generation out there in the desert and so he took additional wives as he was told to do. And I must admit, I can't imagine anything more awful than polygamy.

COOPER: As he looks to the future, Romney is reaching into the past, comparing himself to John F. Kennedy, who because the first Catholic president.

JOHN F. KENNEDY, 35TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I do not speak for my church on public matters and the church does not speak for me.

ROMNEY: The victory that John Kennedy won was not just for 40 million Americans who were born Catholics, it was for all Americans of all faiths.

COOPER: In the end, the candidate who wants to make history says he shouldn't be judged solely on his religion.

ROMNEY: People are going to make an assessment of the person who is president of the United States -- or that would be president, based on every piece of information they have. And I think if they take a look at me and my family, they'll say, you know what, this guy has got the same values that I have.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: So there has been some questioning this week as to whether Mitt Romney really is a Christian. Christianity in itself means different things to different people, of course. So tonight in our next hour, we're going to look at the many ways that Americans follow their Christian faith. What is a Christian and where do you fit? Coming up in less than 10 minutes.

Also ahead, the "Shot of the Day," a newborn calf getting a lot of attention in Nebraska. A farmer calls him a real freak and says maybe he'll sell him if you want him.

First, Erica Hill from HEADLINE NEWS joins us with the bulletin -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, American outposts in Germany are on higher alert tonight as authorities investigate a potential terror plot. Not many details at this hour. One official though says Islamic extremists hoped to stage multiple attacks involving bombs and small weapons at U.S. military and diplomatic facilities in the country.

Off the coast of Nigeria, gunmen have kidnapped four American oil workers. The suspected kidnappers, rebels from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger River Delta, or MEND. They also bombed three major oil pipelines just this week. Chevron, which employs the kidnapped victims, has temporarily suspended some non-essential work in the region.

Remember the dad who abandoned his dying son, saying he would help him get a kidney? Well, now that guy back behind bars in Kentucky. A judge let Byron Perkins out of prison early last year to donate that kidney to his son. But instead, he took off with girlfriend to Mexico, where authorities nabbed the couple last month. Perkins' son, by the way, did get a kidney from an unanimous donor and is said to be doing just fine.

And in a Boston courtroom, apologies from the two men at the center of the botched TV promotion that sparked terrorism fears back in January, a much different tone from the two today. In a deal with prosecutors, the two won't be charged and have done community service. The devices planted were a promotion for the Cartoon Network, a sister company of CNN. And by the way, this time in court, the two men did not talk about their hair, Anderson, shocking.

COOPER: Do you remember that press conference they gave? All they would talk about was their hair.

HILL: It was classic.

COOPER: Yes. Good times. Time for the "Shot of the Day." I hadn't seen this...

HILL: You don't know what to say about it, do you? It's wild.

COOPER: I don't really know because you actually brought us this shot. It is a -- what it is, is it a six legged cow? HILL: This is a six-legged cow out of Nebraska. We actually had this on our show "PRIME NEWS" earlier in the week. The owner of the cow said, and I'm quoting here: "He's a real freak."

COOPER: Oh, that's not nice.

HILL: Well, no, he says it in a nice way. He's actually very affectionate about the cow, says he likes it. It's a six-legged calf.

COOPER: He said freak in a nice way?

HILL: Yes, I think he meant it nicely. Check this out. There are the six legs, apparently there are two extra legs that come out the back, one of them is a front leg, one is a back leg. Now the calf was also born with no rectum, but both male and female organs, so...

COOPER: Oh, my God. All right. All right, you lost me there.

HILL: ... Bryan Slocum (ph), the guy whose farm -- no, no, no, wait, this is good. Took him to the vet. They fixed some things. And the vet said probably the way that this calf ended up like this is that it was really fraternal twins but some time during the development they fused, hence the additional legs and other organs.

COOPER: Wow. So can the calf live a natural life?

HILL: Apparently it can. And we had actually Bryan Slocum, the owner of the calf, at his farm, on earlier. And he said, if you want to buy it, he'll sell it.

COOPER: There you go. I don't know what happened there. We just want you to send us your shot ideas. If you see some amazing video, tell us about it, cnn.com/360. We'll put some of your best clips on the air. If you want another look at the shot or get the day's headlines, check out the 360 daily podcast. You can watch it at cnn.com/ac360podcast, or get it from iTunes, where it is a top download.

You're likely watching 360 from home tonight, which you should consider yourself lucky. Around the world more than 20 million have been forced from their homes and are now refugees. Many of them living in camps set up with basic needs like food and shelter. One American student believes they deserve more.

CNN's Randi Kaye tonight shows us this remarkable woman is "Giving 360."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kjerstin Erickson is a college student reaching out to those in need by devoting her time to help refugees in South Africa. Her motivation to make a difference came during a trip there in high school.

KJERSTIN ERICKSON, FOUNDER, FORGE: Coming from a privileged background in Northern California and entering a school in which they didn't have enough desks and there were no materials was my first taste of, wow, there's really something that I can do here.

KAYE: Three years later, the Stanford University student formed a group called Forge to help empower and educate refugees.

ERICKSON: One aspect that you will see throughout refugee communities is a severe lack of opportunity. Refugees are usually not allowed to work at all, not allowed to leave the camp. If we stopped viewing refugees as just a humanitarian problem, started giving them the skills that they needed that once they go home, then they could contribute to rebuilding their society.

KAYE: Forge built the world's largest refugee camp library and set up computer training and health centers within the camps. Erickson recruits other American students to help with the program. Training is required before the students head to Africa, where they introduce the various projects to the camps. And within two months, the refugees are hired by Forge to take over the work.

ERICKSON: We have seen an incredible boosts in morale amongst the refugees. They really feel like they're working toward something. In the long term, Forge's work is designed to bring peace and stability and economic development to the African continent.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Erickson took two-and-a-half years off from college to run Forge full time. She hopes to complete her degree within the next year or two, but says Forge will remain her top priority. For more information about the organization, go to forgenow.org.

Just ahead, one faith but many different ways of celebrating it. Most Americans say they're Christian. What does that really mean today? We are going to explore the many angles from those who preach a gospel of wealth, to those who call for conservation, to those who say the end times are near. "What Is a Christian?" And where do you fit? Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Nearly nine in 10 Americans is a Christian. So what is a Christian? How is the definition changing? No matter what you believe, no matter what your faith, chances are the answers will one day touch your life. So, what do you believe?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Patriot pastors.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You've said this is a battle between the forces of righteousness and the hordes of hell.

PASTOR RUSSELL JOHNSON, FAIRFIELD CHRISTIAN CHURCH: I do believe there's a battle between right and wrong. I do believe that there in the forces of darkness.

ANNOUNCER: The end of days. PASTOR LARRY HUCH, NEW BEGINNINGS CHURCH: You look at the Bible and you see all these things lining up, and it's not a coincidence. It is -- it is the end of the ages as we know it.

ANNOUNCER: A gospel of money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Word of God is the gateway to the world of wealth.

ANNOUNCER: Protecting the planet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It means God himself in his word has said we have a responsibility to take care of this Earth, to be a steward over it.

ANNOUNCER: So what is a Christian? And where do you fit in? This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360.

Here now, Anderson Cooper.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Thanks for joining us tonight. If you were expecting a sermon or a civics lesson, sorry. You won't find one here. This is an hour about religion and politics.

But first and foremost, we hope it's a vivid color snapshot of your neighbors and our country and how we all have a stake in this question that seems to bring a thousand answers.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com

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