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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Jurors in Warren Jeffs Trial Speak Out; Michael Vick Facing New Dogfighting Charges; Planet in Peril: Polar Bears Facing Extinction?
Aired September 25, 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: Today, a case that's rocked Utah and stunned many around the world. The so-called prophet, polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, was convicted of rape by accomplice for his role in ordering a 14-year-old to marry and have sex with her own cousin.
We have got the in-depth story in a 360 exclusive interview with the jurors who convicted him.
Also tonight, attacking Ahmadinejad and the backlash. Yesterday, a university president all but called him out. The question tonight, did his streaking truth to power actually hurt America in the Middle East? We will get some early answers.
And later, we will take you, courtesy of wildlife biologist Jeff Corwin to arctic Alaska, where the polar bears, the mightiest bears on Earth, are now facing the consequences of our "Planet in Peril."
We begin with the top story, Warren Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints, or FLDS. He is a self- proclaimed prophet and polygamist. He's got as many as 80 wives and 10,000 followers, and now he's got a pair of felony convictions.
The trial opened a lot of eyes to a religious movement that's been hiding in plain sight in America along the Utah/Arizona border. Defenders of Warren Jeffs say that persecuting that religion, their religion, was at the heart of the case.
But the victim, Elissa Wall, says the trial was simply about child abuse, her abuse.
In a moment, in a 360 exclusive, you will hear what the jurors thought and what happened inside that jury room.
First, today's verdict and CNN's Gary Tuchman.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Aboard this helicopter, the man thousands believe is a prophet of God, Warren Jeffs, being transported to jail as a convicted felon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Jeffs, would you please stand as the verdict is read?
TUCHMAN: Moments earlier, the leader of the largest polygamous sect in North America standing on the left with his lawyers listened as a jury decide he had facilitated the rape of a 14-year-old girl.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Count one, that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crime charged in count one of the information rape as an accomplice; count two.
TUCHMAN: He was found guilty of two counts involving the same girl who was forced to be married and have sex against her will with her adult husband. The victim is now 21, and, after the verdict, came forward publicly for the first time.
ELISSA WALL, VICTIM: When I was young, my mother taught me that evil flourishes when good men do nothing. This has not been easy for us. The easy thing would have been to do nothing. But I have followed my heart, and I have spoken the truth.
TUCHMAN: Warren Jeffs was on the FBI 10-most-wanted list for four months because of accusations he's done this to many underage girls. But they are either too scared or not motivated to come forward.
Elissa Wall was the only one who would testify against the leader of the sect that split from the Mormon Church in the late 19th century over the issue of polygamy.
WALL: This trial has not been about religion or a vendetta. It is simply about child abuse and preventing further abuse.
TUCHMAN: Jeffs' expression did not change when he heard the verdict. Neither did that of more than a dozen of his followers in the court. Jurors had said they were split in the beginning of deliberations and that fists nearly flew, but were united at the end.
Police sharpshooters were perched on building tops and cliffs near the court in case there was violence after the conviction, but all stayed quiet. The victim had testified that her husband forced himself upon her on many occasions, including in this honeymoon picture when she said she tried to push herself away from him. She still has family and friends in the church who will not talk to her.
WALL: I hope that all FLDS girls and women will understand that, no matter what anyone may say, you are created equal. You do not have to surrender your rights.
COOPER: Gary, what -- what happens to Warren Jeffs now?
TUCHMAN: Well, Warren Jeffs right now is in a jail with the ironic name of Purgatory. That's where he's been for the last 13 months. It's about a half-an-hour away from here.
But he will go to a prison after he's sentenced on November 20 by this judge. This judge, though, on these counts, Anderson, has a lot of latitude, from five years to life. So, it remains to be seen how long he will be in prison. But, no matter what this judge says, the state of Arizona also wants to try Warren Jeffs on similar charges. And, if he's found guilty of those charges, there will be more prison time for...
COOPER: And -- and when do we find out the sentencing?
TUCHMAN: November 20 is the sentencing. He had a right to have the sentencing within 45 days, but Warren Jeffs waived that right, as they conduct an investigation, his attorneys. So, November 20, we will find out how long Warren Jeffs will be in prison on the Utah charges, but there may be more still to come.
COOPER: All right, Gary, thanks.
So, the question is, why did the jury decide the way they did? Only 360 has the answers, because, well, as you can see, only 360 has the jurors. You're going to hear what they have got to say.
Because we hear you, and you're telling us our commercial breaks have been too long, we're experimenting tonight.
We will be back in just 60 seconds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We the jury duly impaneled in the above entitled case find as follows: that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crime charged in count one of the information rape as an accomplice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Rape as an accomplice.
That verdict reveals a man whom some saw as a prophet of God, in fact, subject to the same laws as we all are. The jury got the case last Friday.
We have now got a chance to ask what went into their decision. Five of the jurors have decided to talk to 360 first and exclusively tonight.
Joining me now are jury foreman David Finch, Danielle Newkirk, Ben Coulter, and, up front, Deirdre Shaw and Rachel Karimi.
Appreciate all of you being with us.
Deirdre, going into the deliberations, you were leaning towards a not guilty verdict of Warren Jeffs. What changed your mind?
DEIRDRE SHAW, WARREN JEFFS TRIAL JUROR: I just had to keep referring back to the law, the law that she doesn't have to say no. There's other factors that were involved. And I just kept telling myself that I didn't know if there was an actual no, but that didn't matter.
I had to keep reading the law. And that's the main thing. The jury instructions that stated the law, that was the main thing I had to keep reading over and over and over and over again, that she was 14.
COOPER: And -- and, Ben, watching Warren Jeffs during the trial, what was your impression of the guy?
SHAW: He was very calm, a lot calmer than I would have been. He didn't really show much facial expression at all, almost like a sedative look. He was -- no smile, no scowls, nothing, just very calm, straight-faced the whole time.
COOPER: And let me ask the same question to Ben.
Ben, what did you think?
BEN COULTER, WARREN JEFFS TRIAL JUROR: I thought exactly the same thing. I was kind of kind of -- just kind of taken back that he did show no emotion.
COOPER: David, you -- you were the foreman. And I know things got a little out of control during the deliberations. A fistfight almost broke out. What happened?
DAVID FINCH, WARREN JEFFS TRIAL FOREMAN: Well, there was just a disagreement that was readily solved. And it was just concerning the second charge.
COOPER: Concerning the second...
FINCH: It wasn't as dramatic...
COOPER: Go ahead.
FINCH: It wasn't as dramatic as it sounded.
COOPER: Rachel, you were the replacement for the juror dismissed today. Did -- did you worry that you might be pressured to agree with whatever the group had already decided when you first came in?
RACHEL KARIMI, WARREN JEFFS TRIAL JUROR: No, not at all. They all had made a final decision. So, when I came in, I just came in with an open mind and told them how I felt and what I thought. And I just wanted to know their opinion, so that we could come to a just verdict for him.
COOPER: Deirdre, how much did you know about the FLDS before this trial?
SHAW: Not as much as I thought. I learned a lot through this, a lot more than I thought I knew.
I knew of the plural marriage. I knew of the arranged marriage. I knew of the dress, how they wear -- what they wear. I learned a lot more during this, though. A lot of it is quite interesting. And then a lot of it is kind of not interesting.
SHAW: Kind of scary. But I did learn a lot more during the trial.
COOPER: David, I assume you -- you felt that the -- the witness, Elissa, was a credible witness. What -- what made her so credible?
FINCH: Partly the emotions. But she was very specific about her timeline. And the -- her husband at the time, his timeline was quite contradictory to her, and he contradicted himself.
COOPER: David, the -- the -- the defense argued that the case was really about religious persecution. Why didn't you buy that argument?
FINCH: It had nothing to do with religious persecution. It had to do with breaking the law.
COOPER: Simple as that?
FINCH: And that is marrying an underage girl.
I'm sorry. Go ahead.
COOPER: We're -- we're going to talk more with the jurors coming up next, including -- including why one of them changed his mind and -- to vote guilty.
Later also tonight, the woman who escaped the cultlike sect when faced with a terrifying choice: Accept to a forced marriage or possibly never see her family again.
We're back in 60 seconds -- more with the jurors.
COOPER: Continuing our conversation with the Warren Jeffs' jury.
Ben, you walked into the deliberations thinking that you would vote not guilty for Jeffs. Why did you change your mind?
COULTER: Well, initially, you know, you kind of -- I thin I had kind of just listened to the testimony and kind of made a determination that he wasn't guilty, until I actually got a chance to look over, you know, the laws and read them over and over again. And, once I was able to read the laws, make that determination, by following the laws, rather than just kind of emotion, that's when I was able to, you know, go for the guilty verdict.
COOPER: Rachel, how much of the fact that, you know, Warren Jeffs had this following of some 10,000 people played into your decision?
I mean, the charges were very, you know, individual charges about this woman, Elissa. But the -- the fact that he did have a larger community who was following him, did that weigh in on your decision?
KARIMI: No, absolutely not.
I think that all of us truly set aside the fact that he was very important in his community, and that he did have a lot of followers. But we just kept going back, as a group, and just making sure that we were sticking to the reason he was on trial and not -- make sure that that wasn't playing a role in the decision at all. So...
COOPER: Danielle, did you know much about polygamy before this trial started? I mean, what -- what was it like to hear women talking, sometimes in graphic detail, about this culture that -- that oppresses them?
DANIELLE NEWKIRK, WARREN JEFFS TRIAL JUROR: You know, I didn't -- I didn't know much.
I mean, I -- obviously, I grew up in Utah, and so I knew it was present. I basically knew that there were some people that had plural lives, but, basically, that was it.
COOPER: David, what surprised you most about this case?
FINCH: This news coverage.
COOPER: You didn't know that people would be interested?
FINCH: Well, I guess it was just a question of interpreting the law. And I believe that all the jurors did a great job.
The -- the prosecution also did an excellent job of disputing the defense attorneys' statements in closing arguments.
COOPER: Deirdre, did it bother you that the -- the victim, Elissa, Elissa Wall, is filing a civil suit for financial compensation? Did that matter to you?
FINCH: It really has no bearing on this.
COOPER: No bearing.
And -- and, Ben, what did you think about the husband's testimony? I mean, there -- there are those who say, well, look, he should be on trial for rape, if Warren Jeffs is on trial for -- for, you know, being an accomplice to rape.
COULTER: Is your question, what did I think about his testimony?
COOPER: Yes. What did you think...
COOPER: ... about his testimony?
COULTER: ... do I think...
COOPER: And do you...
COULTER: ... he should be charged?
COOPER: Well, both.
COULTER: Well, on -- on the end of his testimony, I don't think it had a lot of, you know, bearing. It didn't have a lot of pull in our hearts. We didn't feel like he was being real truthful in a lot of his, you know, actions and words.
And, then, you know, I don't -- I don't think it matters in this particular case if he's charged or not, but, yes, I think he should be charged.
COOPER: David, can you tell us anything about -- about why a juror needed to be replaced today? I mean, a fistfight almost breaking out, I know you said it was, you know, kind of no big deal, but replacing a juror is a big deal.
FINCH: Well, I really don't know why she was replaced, but it wasn't anything to do with the so-called fight.
COOPER: What -- what was -- what did the -- can you say what the disagreement centered on?
FINCH: The timeline for the second charge.
COOPER: The timeline.
So, it was -- it wasn't a personality clash; it was an argument over the facts?
FINCH: That's correct.
COOPER: Well, you have all done your -- your duty well. And we appreciate you talking tonight. I know it's been a long trial for you all.
You're a good representation of what the jury system's all about. Thank you very much.
COOPER: With us next...
COULTER: Thank you.
COOPER: With us next is Kathy Jo Nicholson, who knew Warren Jeffs and experienced his creepy magnetism up close. We will talk to her in less than two minutes.
We will be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: Here's the "Raw Data" on Warren Jeffs' sect.
He took control of the FLDS in 2002, after his father's death. He reportedly has as many as 80 wives, more than 250 children. He's got 10,000 followers in the Southwest, British Columbia, and Quintana Roo, Mexico. The FLDS has an estimated $110 million in assets.
Now Kathy Jo Nicholson, who had Warren Jeffs for a school principal, if you can imagine that. She escaped the church, rather than be forced into marriage. Understandably, she's been watching the trial with more than just a passing interest.
Kathy Jo Nicholson joins us now from Charlotte, North Carolina.
Kathy Jo, this man, you knew him. He was your principal. What was your reaction when you heard the -- the jury read the guilty verdict?
KATHY JO NICHOLSON, FORMER FUNDAMENTALIST CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS MEMBER: Shock, elation, pride, gratitude.
I had to rewind it several times to let it sink in. It gave me faith, so much faith, in our justice system. I think I had lost that for a long time. And, just, I'm so proud of Elissa Wall.
COOPER: I know it's an -- it's an emotional thing for you. You have been through a lot with -- with the FLDS. What -- what is the emotion?
NICHOLSON: Just that a man that had so much power -- and still probably does -- is -- he's just a man, just like he's -- he's human. God created us all equal. And I think that his followers have hopefully -- possibly -- seen that he -- he is just human. I hope that he doesn't become a martyr, like Joseph Smith.
COOPER: Do you think -- do you think this will -- will bring him down in their eyes, or do you think they will see him as a -- as a persecuted martyr?
NICHOLSON: My hope and prayer is that it will bring him down. I hope so much that he that -- that his conviction will open the gateway into that community.
I think justice has been served with him, and I hope that there are many more people that will come forward. And I -- I, in my heart, know that there are people in that community that have been waiting. There's a deep-rooted, intrinsic something in all of us that wants to be truthful and wants to know the truth and wants to be free. And I think that people will have hope.
COOPER: You think this is going to help other young -- young women, young girls who are still in this sect maybe have the courage to leave?
NICHOLSON: I think so.
I know I have family there, and I think that it will give hope. I think that there needs to be, like I said, more law enforcement going in. And I think the laws need to be enforced, in order for this community and this regime to be disbanded.
I think that the next man in line will take power. And I think that it could all happen over again, whenever someone has that much power over the people. But I -- I just can't tell you how grateful I am to the jury and to Elissa. I -- I commend the prosecution. I'm so grateful.
COOPER: You were -- you were raised, one of 13 children raised by -- by three mothers. You have spoken before about the death of your brother inside the community. You say it happened under mysterious circumstances.
You have been trying to get information about his death. Do you think that's going to be a little easier now that Warren Jeffs is going to prison?
NICHOLSON: Yes, I do. And I fully intend to go back. I was there and tried to investigate. And, as you have seen, the doors -- doors slammed. The windows closed. Everyone refuses to speak.
And I -- I think that it will make a difference, and I intend to go forward. There have been so many injustices in that town. My brother has been tugging at my heart since July 24 of 2004. And justice needs to be served in his situation. There are many, many girls and women and boys.
I was so pleased to see Brent Jeffs back on TV. I -- Flora is a -- a close friend of mine. And I'm just -- I talked to her today, and she reminded me that we're not victims. We're survivors. And I just hope to see many, many more survivors come out of that community.
COOPER: Well, Kathy Jo, I know, as I said, it's not easy for you to talk about it. It's been a long road for you. And I appreciate you -- you coming on and talking tonight.
NICHOLSON: I appreciate you so much for having me.
COOPER: All right. Kathy Jo Nicholson, thanks.
We have been investigating a story that, frankly, stunned us when we first heard about it. Most of us assumed that the drugs in our doctors -- that they prescribe us have undergone rigorous safety checks. But that assumption is flat-out wrong.
As many as 2 percent of prescription drugs out on the market have actually never been approved by the FDA. That's 65 million prescriptions a year.
CNN's Gary Tuchman went to the FDA to get some answers. Take a look.
TUCHMAN: Do you have a list of the 2 percent of drugs that aren't approved?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's no one list of the 2 percent. We have a number of sources that we use to generate our understanding of the unapproved drugs that are out there.
TUCHMAN: Do you know what all the unapproved drugs are?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We pretty much know.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): But, for now, the FDA won't release a complete list of unapproved drugs. It won't say how many people have been killed or hurt by unapproved drugs. It won't even say which unapproved drugs or how many of them have killed or injured people.
COOPER: It's an alarming report. We had hoped to bring it to you the nation. We're still working on some aspects of the investigation. We are going to bring it to you tomorrow, a "Keeping Them Honest" report -- tomorrow on 360.
Up next tonight: a mystery at sea, and deja vu for Michael Vick, the new charges that could have him facing up to 10 years in prison -- after the short break.
COOPER: Erica Hill joins us now with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, today brought more trouble for Michael Vick. A Virginia grand jury indicted the suspended pro quarterback and three co-defendants on state charges or running a dogfighting ring at Vick's Virginia home.
Now, Vick has already pleaded to a federal conspiracy charge stemming from the illegal operation. These new charges carry a possible prison term of 10 years.
The FBI is searching for the four-person crew of a Miami charter boat found empty south of the Bahamas. The two men who chartered it were rescued from a life raft about 12 miles away. One of those men is a fugitive from Arkansas, where he is wanted for theft. And investigators say they may now be looking at a possible crime on board that boat.
And another celebrity booking. Not talking about a talk show, though. Actor Kiefer Sutherland arrested this morning on charges of driving under the influence. He was pulled over for a traffic violation in West Hollywood, and then failed a sobriety test. He posted bail and is to appear in court next month, Anderson.
And time now for our favorite question here, "What Were They Thinking?" Check this out. It's a house in Cincinnati. The gash around it, well, the man who lives there actually sawed it in half himself. Look at this. It goes all the way around the house, sawed it in half lengthwise, cutting through siding, drywall, windows, from the inside out.
Why, you ask? And it's an excellent question. Well, he claims he made a deal to buy the house from his friends who built it, but they backed out of the deal. His friends say he never offered them any money.
Either way, the 66-year-old man fired up the saw, then called police and showed them what he had done. The officers say he made menacing remarks about the builders, also had a loaded gun, so they arrested him. He is due in court later this week.
A lot there.
COOPER: What was he thinking? Not much, apparently.
Here's Kiran Chetry with what's coming up tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRAN CHETRY, CO-HOST, "AMERICAN MORNING": Thanks, Anderson.
Tomorrow, we bring you the most news in the morning, including an unflattering look at the Miss America Pageant from the inside out. The one-time Miss South Carolina says she never received the $25,000 scholarship she deserves, and she says she's not the only contestant who's been stood up. We're going to meet her tomorrow.
It all begins at 6:00 a.m. Eastern -- Anderson, back to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: All right.
Hear the presidential candidates weigh in on the president of Iran tonight.
"Raw Politics" when we come back -- in just 90 seconds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRED THOMPSON, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, Fred Thompson has heard enough from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Today, the Republican presidential candidate said Columbia University gave the tyrant a public forum to spread lies, and that Ahmadinejad made a mockery of free speech by denying the existence of the Holocaust.
You can be sure the other presidential hopefuls are also sounding off on the Iranian president's words. And, soon enough, one of them will have to deal with him from the White House, or not.
For now, let's get the latest on the campaign trail in tonight's "Raw Politics."
Here's CNN's Tom Foreman.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Greetings from beautiful New Hampshire, where the sun is shining, the river, like the candidates is running, and, right here, on the Election Express, we have got new polls.
FOREMAN: The "Raw Politics" headline: Hillary Clinton has been leading in the national polls for some time, but now she is expanding her lead right here in the Granite State.
Democrats appear increasingly convinced that she can win the general election, even though they don't like her much. Our numbers show Dems are considerably more fond of both Barack Obama and John Edwards. But, with the Hill's gap widening, watch for them all to be bearing their fangs during the Democrats' debate at Dartmouth Wednesday night.
Speaking of fangs, Politico.com says camp Clinton snapped at "GQ" magazine over a planned article critical of her campaign, even threatening to pull former President Bill out of a cover story. "Politico" says, the article the Clintons did not like was then killed. Neither "GQ," nor the Clintons are discussing it publicly.
The short stack on the Republican side still looking sweet for Rudy Giuliani but tightening up. The latest poll of polls shows him in front nationally, with Fred Thompson on his tail, then John McCain.
But keep an eye on No. 4, Mitt Romney. Campaigning on the West Coast right now, polls have shown him leading the early voting states. He continues spending a boatload of money on ads.
And Senator Larry "Watch Your Feet" Craig will not be in court Wednesday when a Minnesota judge decides whether to overturn his guilty plea. He says he was advised not to go.
(on camera) Ah, if only he had been given that advice in the first place. That's "Raw Politics" on the road in New Hampshire -- Anderson.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Stuck on the bus. "Raw Politics" is always fresh on our new 360 daily podcast. You can check it out: CNN.com/AC360podcast on the computer or download it from iTunes.
Before his U.N. speech today, Iran's president was slapped down by an Ivy League president and by Congress. So how's he taking it, how his chilly reception is playing in the international press. You may be surprised, when we come back in 90 seconds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEE BOLLINGER, PRESIDENT OF COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator. And so I ask you -- and so I ask you, why have women, members of the Baha'i faith, homosexuals and so many of our academic colleagues become targets of persecution in your country?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That was Columbia University President Lee Bollinger just getting warmed up. He greeted Iran's president with a blistering 10-minute verbal assault yesterday.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Columbia sparked intense protests, as you know, and so did his speech today at the United Nations. More than a dozen demonstrators were arrested.
Meantime, on Capitol Hill, the House delivered its own slap-down by tightening sanctions against Iran, and two senators opposed a resolution, calling Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group.
The man at the center of it all didn't flinch. Just the opposite, in fact. CNN's Christiane Amanpour knows. She's at a question-and-answer session with him tonight. In fact, it ran a bit long, so she's not going to be with us. We're going to bring you her one-on-one interview with Ahmadinejad tomorrow.
Joining me now is Reza Aslan, author of "No God but God".
How did this play internationally? Because, I mean, many Americans found it, you know, satisfaction in seeing the Colombian president -- Columbia's president basically, you know, stick it to Ahmadinejad. But internationally, how did it play?
REZA ASLAN, AUTHOR, "NO GOD BUT GOD": Well, I mean, it played right into Ahmadinejad's hands. I mean, this is exactly what he is so good at doing.
Don't let the, you know, plain clothes and the simple language fool you, Anderson. This guy is very sophisticated in manipulating the media.
And I think that the Columbia address and, particularly the way that Bollinger introduced him which, quite frankly, was inappropriate in many ways, true, yet inappropriate. Really...
COOPER: Why is it inappropriate, because you think it's rude?
ASLAN: Well, for two reasons. One, because it is -- it is rude, and it allowed Ahmadinejad to essentially take the moral high ground by saying, in effect, "In Iran, we don't treat our guests this way."
But secondly, because in referring to him as a dictator, you're giving this man far more credit than he actually deserves. This is a completely powerless person. He's not in charge of the army. He's barely in charge of the budget. He makes no foreign policy decisions whatsoever. He's not part of the intelligence apparatus in Iran. He can't suggest or pass any laws.
He has no power. He's a completely powerless figurehead. And to call him a dictator is really to give him far too much authority.
COOPER: It seems -- it seems that every couple years in the United States a political leader labels someone, you know, some other foreign leader a Hitler. You know, I remember when I was a kid. It was Moammar Gadhafi, who clearly supported, you know, terrorists around the world and stuff. But now Ahmadinejad seems to be in this role.
Do we give him more power by elevating him to a Hitler status?
ASLAN: Absolutely. It's just simply absurd.
I mean, first of all, I'm with you. I think we need to knock off the Hitler analogies that are being tossed around willy-nilly all the time.
But more importantly, again, you know, because the president of Iran is basically a powerless figure, the only way that he can bring any authority to himself is by using the bully pulpit. And he uses it with the enormous sophistication by essentially setting himself up as some kind of pan-Islamist leader.
Look, the fact of the matter is, is that there is no other leader in the Muslim world who is talking about the things that Ahmadinejad is talking about, and particularly on an international stage.
I mean, when he talks about the suffering of the Palestinians, the injustice of the Gaza situation, the growing gap between rich and poor and the fact that the United Nations is basically, you know, in the hands of the United States, you don't hear Mubarak saying this kind of stuff. You don't hear King Abdullah saying this kind of stuff, and it makes him an enormously appealing and popular person outside of Iran.
And that's the important thing to understand. He is not a very popular figure in Iran, but in the rest of the Muslim world, he's becoming more beloved.
COOPER: So should Columbia have not even invited him, because it just gives him a pulpit? ASLAN: No, they should have invited him, but they should have made the issue less about these, you know, peripheral things like his denial of the Holocaust, which is absurd and ridiculous, but which has to take a back seat to the much more important issues of a lack of human rights in Iran, the economic collapse under his regime, the way that his rhetoric has essentially isolated Iran and made life even worse, and the fact that his popularity is plummeting.
COOPER: Let me play devil's advocate, though. I mean, isn't there some value in hearing this man speak when, frankly, a lot of what he says is just nonsensical? I mean, it just -- it doesn't make much sense.
And when he comes out with statements like there are no homosexuals in Iran, you know, isn't there some value in him literally being laughed at by an audience?
ASLAN: Absolutely. And that's exactly how to treat Ahmadinejad. You know, there's an old saying that C.S. Lewis once said that, you know, the best way to defeat the devil is to mock him. And that's exactly what we need to do with Ahmadinejad.
The more we set him up as this kind of Hitler figure, this dictator, this tyrant, none of which he is, the more we give him the power and the attention that he craves, and which, by the way, makes him a more powerful and more authoritative figure.
COOPER: Interesting. Reza Aslan, I appreciate your perspective. Thanks.
ASLAN: My pleasure, Anderson.
COOPER: Christiane, as I said, sits down with Ahmadinejad tomorrow for a one-on-one interview. Should be pretty interesting. We're going to have all of it here on 360. Don't want to miss that tomorrow at 10.
Next on the program tonight, an incredible power and extraordinary look at the inner workings of the Supreme Court. CNN's Jeffrey Toobin giving us the legal drama after this short break.
COOPER: "The Nine", Jeffrey Toobin's fascinating new book. CNN senior legal analyst that takes us, in the pages of this book, really where few people go, inside the secret world of the Supreme Court.
For instance, we learned that it's hard to reach Justice David Souter at his home in New Hampshire. He doesn't have a fax machine, or a cell phone or even e-mail or an answering machine, for that matter; just a telephone and a fountain pen. Who knew?
Tonight, Jeffrey again lifts the veil to reveal how a former president played a pivotal part in helping the court shape history. Take a look. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST (voice-over): In the years after his controversial pardon of Richard Nixon cost him his own term in the White House, President Gerald Ford became best known for golf, for skiing, and for his wife's rehab center in Palm Springs.
But few know that two decades after he left Washington, he played a vital role of the man behind the curtain. Almost invisibly, he saved one of America's most controversial social policies, affirmative action.
In the late '90s, the law school at Ford's alma mater, the University of Michigan, was at the center of a roiling legal drama. It was being sued to try to stop it from considering race in its admissions.
Ford wrote this op-ed piece in "The New York Times", in which he stated, "Of all the triumphs that have marked this as America's century, none is more inspiring, if incomplete, than our pursuit of racial justice."
At about the same time, James Cannon, a White House aide under Ford, was having dinner with his former boss. Ford asked him to help.
JAMES CANNON, FORMER AIDE TO PRESIDENT FORD: Ford said absolutely do everything you can, because this is an important case to him and to the University of Michigan and to all universities around the country.
TOOBIN: Cannon's view of affirmative action was formed by his own experiences in the 1980s when he'd been on the board of the U.S. Naval Academy. At that time, black sailors usually had to serve under white officers.
Cannon believed black naval officers were essential, and he feared the destruction of affirmative action at a public university could ripple to other public institutions like the Navy. So he helped shape a friend of the court brief on that point.
CANNON: I wanted to tell the justices, this would be devastating on the integration of the armed forces of the United States. It would be a national security problem.
TOOBIN: Which he did in a now famous court filing called the Green Brief. The case was argued at the Supreme Court.
(on camera) This brief is discussed over and over again by the justices, isn't it?
TOOBIN (voice-over): Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted the Green Brief said the military would not have enough minority officers if it did not consider race. RUTH BADER GINSBURG, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: There is no way to do it other than to give not an overriding preference but a plus for race.
TOOBIN: Affirmative action would survive in a 5-4 ruling.
(on camera) And when the decision came down, who wrote the -- who wrote it?
CANNON: Sandra Day O'Connor.
TOOBIN: And she quotes this brief at length, doesn't she?
CANNON: Right, right.
TOOBIN (voice-over): Justice O'Connor wrote, "The military must train a racially diverse officer corps."
Then these words: "We agree it requires only a small step from this analysis to conclude that our country's other most selective institutions must remain both diverse and selective."
(on camera) Isn't it pretty remarkable that your dinner with President Ford led to this brief, which led to the Supreme Court decision?
CANNON: Well, it is, and it's a wonderful thing. But it's one more indication to me of President Ford's influence. He knew what was the right thing to do, and he assigned me, in effect, go do something.
COOPER: It's a fascinating ruling. It's in danger of being struck down, though, depending on which way the court goes after this next election.
TOOBIN: And -- and even already, with the new makeup of the court, that decision was 2003. The -- just this past term, in June of 2007, Justice -- Chief Justice Roberts wrote an opinion in the Louisville and Seattle school district cases where he said the use of race in any sort of integration setting was very questionable. He struck it down there.
So Justice O'Connor's opinion from 2003 may not last very long.
COOPER: Also in terms of Roe v. Wade, this next election is crucial.
TOOBIN: Absolutely crucial. Because the next three justices likely to leave, Justice Stevens is 87 years old. Justice Ginsburg was 76. Justice Souter, who's 70. All of them are supporters of abortion rights. There are at least four almost certain votes to overturn Roe now. If those three go, Roe is gone?
COOPER: Jeff Toobin, appreciate it. The book is "The Nine". It's excellent. We'll have more from Jeff tomorrow. We're going to take a look at sort of the secret lives of the Supreme Court justices, things you don't even know about these men and women. It's really fascinating.
Just ahead, though, tonight: "Planet in Peril". Temperatures rising, the ice cap melting and polar bears are in danger. We'll take you there and show you why they're at risk when 360 continues.
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AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The entire north polar ice cap during the summer season, when it is needed as one of the principal ways to cool this planet, could be completely and totally gone in less than 23 years.
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COOPER: That's former Vice President Al Gore speaking at a luncheon yesterday during the U.N.'s climate summit, the largest gathering of world leaders to focus on global warming.
And the summit comes on the heels of a scientific report you heard Mr. Gore talk about, one that says the polar ice cap is rapidly melting and could be gone in 23 years. This year alone, it shrank more than a million square miles, roughly the size of six Californias.
We saw the melting ice firsthand as we ventured to the Arctic for next month's "Planet in Peril" documentary. It's CNN's first ever documentary shot in high definition. For those of you who don't have HDTV yet, tonight's excerpt is being shown in wide-screen format.
Here's Animal Planet's Jeff Corwin.
JEFF CORWIN, WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST (voice-over): Searching for polar bears in northeastern Alaska isn't like looking for a needle in a haystack; it's like looking for a haystack-colored needle in a haystack.
(on camera) We have incredible terrain. There's ice that seems to almost go on forever. Somewhere in on this ice, on this white- reflected snow and ice is a white creature that we need to catch up with.
(voice-over) Steve Anstrom (ph), a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, has been doing this for 26 years, trying to learn all he can about what polar bears can tell us about global warming.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a nice lead here that we might be able to pick up on one.
CORWIN: His eyes are keenly trained to find what seems impossible.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see tracks going across that Hill?
CORWIN (on camera): Oh, my goodness. Look at that. We've got a family group.
(voice-over) However, finding the tracks is only the beginning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They did a 180-degree turn here. Now at 12 o'clock, right off the nose.
CORWIN: Our helicopter hugs the ground as we trace the footprints through the snowy expanse over the rubbled ice. Until finally we spot them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see the tracks are going along there. And there's a bear right there.
CORWIN (on camera): This is what it's all about right here. We're alongside. And now we're going to move in. And you're about to see something absolutely incredible.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good deal. Straight across. OK. Looks good. We're right on them.
CORWIN (voice-over): Anstrom (ph) loads the tranquilizer dart into the gun as we circle low over the mother bear, to make sure we don't scare her away from her cubs.
Then we lift up and she takes off, racing across the ice. Our helicopter lowers down within feet of her. And Anstrom (ph), hanging from the side of his window, aims and takes his shot.
COOPER: You can see what happens next in the four-hour documentary "Planet in Peril" premiering October 23 and 24. Jeff Corwin, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and I went to 13 countries, uncovered a lot of fascinating stuff.
See for yourself through the video trailer on our "Planet in Peril" web site. You can just go to CNN.com/360 and click on the "Planet in Peril" link.
Up next tonight, judgment day for Warren Jeffs. More on the jury's verdict.
Plus, racial injustice. Wait till you hear who's now getting involved in the Jena 6 case, in hopes of freeing one of the accused. We're back in less than two minutes.
COOPER: "The Shot of the Day" is coming up: 4,000 monks taking to the streets. We'll tell you where and why and why it's so important. But first, Erica Hill from Headline News has a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, more on our top story tonight. A Utah jury has convicted polygamist leader Warren Jeffs as becoming an accomplice for rape for arranging the marriage of a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin.
Prosecutors said the girl was forced into the marriage and had sex against her will. When Jeffs is sentenced in November, he could face up to life in prison.
On Capitol Hill, a lawmaker pushing for the release of Mychal Bell. He's the only student behind bars in the Jena 6 case in Louisiana. Congressman John Conyers, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, says he will pressure the Justice Department to look at what he calls a miscarriage of justice.
Bell is one of six black teens charged with beating a white classmate. An appeals court threw out his conviction, saying he should not have been tried as an adult. He's still being held, as prosecutors decide whether to try the case in juvenile court.
And a fallout from that strike by 73,000 United Auto Workers at GM plants in 30 states. About 10,000 members of the Teamsters union, who drive new cars to dealers, are honoring the picket line and not making deliveries.
Other unions, we're told, could do the same, Anderson.
COOPER: "The Shot" of the day, 4,000 monks taking part in a pro- democracy march in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, in Southeast Asia. This I-Report video is from Benjamin Bellak (ph). He didn't expect to see this on his vacation.
The 4,000 monks and supporters defied an order from the military government to stay out of politics. This military government is one of the most repressive in the world.
The government has now banned groups of more than five people from gathering on city streets. There's also a curfew in place. We'll be watching to see if the demonstrations continue.
We want you to send us your "Shot" ideas. If you see remarkable demonstrations like what we just saw in Burma, tell us about it: CNN.com/360.
COOPER: Up next, five members of the jury who convicted Warren Jeffs are speaking out, and they're only talking to us. Our exclusive interview is coming up.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: The case that has rocked Utah and stunned many across the world. The so-called prophet, polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, was convicted of rape by accomplice for his role in ordering a 14-year-old girl to marry and have sex with her own cousin.
We've got the in-depth story in a 360 exclusive interview with the jurors who convicted him.
Also tonight, attacking Ahmadinejad and the backlash. Yesterday, a university president all but called him out. The question tonight: did his speaking truth to power actually hurt America in the Middle East? We'll get some early answers.
And later, we'll take you, courtesy of wildlife biologist Jeff Corwin, to Arctic Alaska where the polar bears, the mightiest bears on earth, are now facing the consequences of a planet in peril.
We begin with the top story. Warren Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints, or FLDS. He is a self- proclaimed prophet and polygamist. He's got as many as 80 wives and 10,000 followers. And now, he's got a pair of felony convictions.
The trial opened a lot of eyes to a religious movement that has been hiding in plain sight in America along the Utah/Arizona border. Defenders of Warren Jeffs say that persecuting that religion, their religion was at the heart of the case, but the victim, Elissa Wall, says the trial was simply about child abuse, her abuse.
In a moment, in a 360 exclusive, you'll hear what the jurors thought and what happened inside that jury room. First, today's verdict and CNN's Gary Tuchman.
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