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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Women and Islam; U.S. Military Turning the Corner in Iraq?

Aired November 29, 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: Tonight: They talked tough at the CNN/YouTube debate, especially about immigration. Now, where do Republicans plan to take their fiery message and their heated differences with one another?
Also ahead tonight, "Crime and Punishment": the mystery of Stacy Peterson. Did she leave her house in a barrel? New allegations about her disappearance and a new -- and new insight into what the suspect, her husband, Drew, is thinking. We will talk with a close friends of his.

And, later, the teacher convicted -- her crime, naming a teddy bear Mohammed.

And a far worse story out of Saudi Arabia: a woman sentenced to hundreds of lashes simply for being the victim of violent crime. We will talk about women and Islam with a woman who now faces death threats for speaking out.

We begin with the race for president, voters now really starting to wake up to their choices, and it shows. The CNN/YouTube Republican debate last night was the most watched of this campaign by far.

Tonight, the road ahead, five weeks to Iowa. So, how do Republicans plan to capitalize on the fire they started last night?

The flip side, of course, is, how might they get burned by issues like taxes, religion, immigration -- especially immigration? The "Raw Politics" in a moment, but, first, an overview from CNN's John King.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Five weeks to Iowa, and immigration is the most contentious debating point in the wide-open Republican race.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I said no to driver's licenses. I also said no -- when a bill came to my desk giving illegal immigrants a tuition break, I said, no.

KING: Mitt Romney's tough message is being delivered by mail, too. This glossy pitch to Iowa conservatives suggests his four top rivals support amnesty for illegal immigrants. They take exception.

FRED THOMPSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Governor Romney supported the Bush immigration plan until a short time ago. Now he's taking another position, surprisingly. KING: Governor Romney once did have a much softer view, speaking favorably in a "Boston Globe" interview two years ago about Bush and McCain proposals he now labels amnesty.

ROMNEY: Not taking benefits, and, then at the end of that period, registering to become a citizen or applying to become a citizen and paying a fee. And those are things that are being considered, and I think that that's -- that those are reasonable proposals.

KING: Rudy Giuliani also draws then-and-now comparisons.

RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I were president of the United States, I could do something about that by deploying a fence.

KING: He had a softer tone as mayor. In 1996, for example, he urged GOP nominee Bob Dole not to tap rising anxiety about government benefits to illegal immigrants.

GIULIANI: This is an opportunity to show that you're a leader, a statesman, and that you can step beyond the most immediate form of public opinion and really go to the core of what makes America such a great country.

KING: Senator McCain is a case study in the quicksand of immigration politics. The McCain-Kennedy bill collapsed in a conservative revolt, and the senator has all but given up on Iowa.

JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we, as Republicans, and those motivated by Judeo-Christian values, ought to understand that these are God's children, that there is a human side of this issue.

KING: Religious conservatives are a force in Iowa and behind this year's early surprise.

But, for all his progress, Huckabee concedes his support for college aid to children of illegal immigrants could hurt him.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're not going to punish a child because the parent committed a crime.

KING: Abortion is another flash point, this Fred Thompson attack video evidence of his struggles on the right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, THOMPSON CAMPAIGN AD)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years, that we should sustain and support it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And, if immigration and abortion aren't emotional enough, the Iowa mail also stokes the same-sex marriage debate, Romney again suggesting he stands out by backing a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman -- tough stuff, but still five weeks until Iowa opens the voting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Five weeks, and the clock is ticking fast.

John King joins us now, along with CNN's Tom Foreman, Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary for President Bush, and political consultant Hank Sheinkopf, a member of the Bill Clinton reelection team back in the '96 campaign.

Ari, let me start off with you.

Five weeks to go before Iowa. Months ago, everyone was saying Iraq was going to be the issue that would define this. Is that still the case? Or, now that things are better in Iraq, has that lessened?

ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No, Iraq has still largely defined the overall environment, which means it's still a tough year for Republicans heading into 2008.

But, given Hillary Clinton's, if she is the nominee, negatives, it brings everything back to 50/50. Having said all that, it remains, especially after last night, a wide-open Republican nomination race, still.

COOPER: It was interesting, though, Hillary Clinton not mentioned as much last night, Hank, as -- as in previous debates.

HANK SHEINKOPF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It tells you something is going on.

She was the issue for both sides of the aisle, both parties, both candidates, all the candidates. Now that's changed. Now Rudy Giuliani is the issue on the other side. So, people are much more interested in beating somebody. They know that Iowa is breathing down their necks, and they want to get as close to it as possible.

COOPER: Tom, did last night's debate do anything to alter the playing field, do you think?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I don't think it did anything to alter it for that great big 40 percent of independent voters out there. Some people are working up to their choices.

I think a lot of voters, from what I hear, are waking up in horror, because they have been very concerned about the inability of this -- of either party to get anything done. And now they're looking at both sides and saying, you're producing a rank of people, none of whom are expressing a grand vision of a united America and what it can do.

COOPER: John, how much -- on the campaign trail, that you see, how much anger is there out there on -- on both sides of the aisle? KING: Well, there's certainly -- there's anger at the Democrats that their candidates and their Congress haven't been able to end the war. There's anger among independents, maybe, that they don't see either party talking to the middle.

But, right now, Anderson, the campaign is not about that. The campaign is about, especially on the Republican side right now, Iowa and then New Hampshire, two very different campaigns. Iowa is culturally conservative, so you're going do see abortion, same-sex marriage, and immigration dominating the debate.

Pretty telling that, the morning after the YouTube debate, when abortion, immigration, same-sex marriage not mentioned last night, but mentioned in the mail in Iowa. Those are the debates -- issues in Iowa. What does Rudy Giuliani do? He launches an ad in New Hampshire on taxes, a very different Republican Party in the state of New Hampshire.

So, both parties right now worrying about the nomination. Then they will worry about trying to bring the country together and reach out to independents.

FOREMAN: Anderson...

KING: Both nominations are wide open.

FOREMAN: But, Anderson...

(CROSSTALK)

FOREMAN: ... let me jump in on that for just a moment, if I can.

I think that, John, is precisely why so many voters are angry in this country, because they see both parties triangulating winning most. And I think what people, from what I hear from voters, are desperate for is a voice from somebody saying...

COOPER: Well...

FOREMAN: ... I really want to do the right thing for America, not just win.

COOPER: Let's bring that to -- let's bring that to Iowa, where Mike Huckabee has done an incredibly -- I mean, he's raised incredibly strongly the last couple of months. He's -- he's running -- it depends on which poll you look at -- first or even second in some of these polls.

What is the -- what is his core appeal, and, beyond the politics of it, him on the campaign trail?

FLEISCHER: Well, I think what you have to realize, in Iowa, Rudy Giuliani is nowhere near as strong as he is in other places. That created an opening.

Huckabee -- and don't underestimate the power of the fair tax -- a lot of people are really supporting that with a passion. I think that and the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney is what propelled him in Iowa.

COOPER: So, it's not religion; it is -- it is the fair tax? It's economic?

FLEISCHER: Absolutely. It's a combination of factors, not just one. It's both of them.

COOPER: How serious, though, should people take Mike Huckabee? I mean, Iowa, as Ari said, is very different than New Hampshire. In New Hampshire, independents can vote in the primaries.

SHEINKOPF: Take him very serious. Religion is an issue that crosses party lines and has significant value. He is the minister on the deck. And he is the guy who talked about taxes. He's able to wind them both together -- religion and taxes, a potent combination for Republicans historically, since 1968, certainly.

FLEISCHER: You know, Anderson, one of the things I think is so fascinating and why it so wide open is, which way will independents go in New Hampshire?

If Barack Obama wins Iowa or is even very close in Iowa, I think a lot of independents are going to go Democrat. They will vote because they can choose, Republican or Democrat primary. If they go Democrat, it means the Republican vote is a much more conservative vote, which can help Rudy -- help Mitt Romney in New Hampshire.

However, if Hillary soundly beats Obama, a lot of independents are going to go for Rudy. Both parties play off of each other on this one. It's an unusual cycle, and it's so hard to predict because of that.

SHEINKOPF: If Mike Huckabee wins in Iowa or comes close, Rudy Giuliani benefits tremendously.

FLEISCHER: That's true.

SHEINKOPF: They will be moved back to center. You will see it right away. And the issue may again become Hillary Clinton on both sides of the aisle among all candidates.

FLEISCHER: Well, the issue will certainly become Hillary Clinton.

(CROSSTALK)

SHEINKOPF: No question...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: No doubt about that.

John King, how much -- I mean, last night, we saw a lot of elbows being tossed. We heard boos from the crowd at some times against Giuliani, against others, when the debate got very contentious.

Does -- does -- does that -- do those fights turn people off? Does it turn voters off?

KING: Well, it works. In a small audience, negative attacks, or spats, if you will, turn off the voters right there in the room. We saw that in our dial groups as well, our focus groups with independent voters.

But negative attacks also work in the broader audience of politics, which is why they're used campaign after campaign, even though voters complain about them.

But the point -- the reason you're having these attacks is, look, the Republicans are still fractured. The reason Mike Huckabee is succeeding is that Fred Thompson was supposed to get the conservative vote. Well, he didn't get a big slice, Fred.

And then Mitt Romney is working on the conservatives, but he hasn't built a big enough base. So, what is Mike Huckabee doing? He's authentic. In a campaign when people are looking at people saying, that's a politician, Mike Huckabee is authentic.

And Ari was just talking about the independents in New Hampshire. I would add one more wild card. The results in Iowa no doubt will influence what the independents do in New Hampshire. If they don't like their choices, there's another guy sitting out there, Ron Paul. He's an anti-war Republican. He says, pretty much, everything in Washington is messed up.

If you're an independent and you're looking up in New Hampshire at the last minute and you're mad at both parties...

COOPER: You're shaking your head.

KING: ... you have another alternative.

FLEISCHER: No, I think Ron Paul is just a flash. But there's going to be nothing to back him up when it comes to time to vote.

COOPER: What about John McCain? I mean, a lot of people saying he looked very presidential last night.

FLEISCHER: I think John McCain's biggest problem is, he always looks angry. I John missed his chance to run as an independent candidate, because his positions really are an interesting blend of different parties. If he had run as an independent early in 2007, this would be a very different race. I think he's going nowhere in the Republican primary.

(CROSSTALK)

FOREMAN: Ari, I think you're raising an interesting point there, though, the same thing John raised a while ago, this idea of an independent. Whether or not there will be one or not, I think the wild card in this is that question of authenticity. What I hear from so many people is this sense, this what I always call the militant middle. I think what the militant middle is saying is, we're tired of having our election process hijacked by the left and the right.

We want somebody who we think is actually saying the election should be of the people and by the people, not of the parties and for the parties.

COOPER: Hank?

SHEINKOPF: It's not even the parties. It's about personalities and characteristics now and what do people want.

They don't want -- they want to see some vision. They want to see some humanity. They're -- that's why they like Rudy Giuliani. He appears to be a hero. If these present allegations about him have any -- have no standing at all, you will see more people gravitate to him, I think, on both sides of the aisle. This is a very up-in-the-air kind of event. And we don't know really who the nominees will be. And those who can predict it are probably wrong.

COOPER: John...

FLEISCHER: Primary politics always brings out the poles in greater numbers, the extremes in both parties.

If that was true about the militant middle in primaries, then Barack Obama would be beating Hillary Clinton right now. There's such an anger against Republicans and George Bush among the Democrat base...

SHEINKOPF: True.

FLEISCHER: ... that's why they want Hillary, because they don't want somebody who can get along. They want somebody who can beat -- beat Republicans and criticize Bush.

KING: But, Anderson...

FOREMAN: I think what makes it true about the militant middle right now is the vast number of growing independents. They don't have anywhere nowhere to go right now. They have to decide. And they don't much like choosing between the Democrats and Republicans. They have to.

But the simple fact is, the people of the country, at least large numbers of them, are giving up on the party system. They don't have a place to go yet, but that doesn't mean it's not a significant movement that won't produce results.

COOPER: John, John King, final thought?

KING: Well, the militant middle is going to have to wait for a while, Anderson. There are so many candidates on the Republican side, they're not just fighting over who. They're fighting over what, immigration, abortion, same-sex marriage, taxes.

The Republicans are having a very big fight on the issues. The militant middle is going to have to wait for the Republican Party to decide who the nominee is.

COOPER: We're going to have to leave it there.

John King, Tom Foreman, thanks very much.

Hank Sheinkopf, thanks for being with us.

Ari Fleischer, good to have you on.

Up next: the remarkable turnaround in Iraq, insurgent attacks way down, deaths down. Is the U.S. military turning the corner? And what happens to the political situation now? Michael Ware is "Keeping Them Honest."

First, a reminder: al Qaeda still out there. That leads off our 360 bulletin.

Here's Erica Hill -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we begin with the voice of terror. Today, an audiotape believed to be that of the voice of Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, surfaced. On that recording, the speaker blasts European nations for supporting the war in Afghanistan. A spokesman for the State Department, however, called it old news.

The man whose videotaped beating by four cops ignited riots in Los Angeles was shot multiple times last night, Rodney King grazed by several bullets while biking near Rialto, California. There's no word yet on suspects, nor a motive. King was repeatedly kicked and hit by four L.A. officers in 1991 after being pulled over for speeding.

Guilty, but spared the whip. The British teacher that could have faced 40 lashes after her class named a teddy bear Mohammed was sentenced to 15 days in jail today -- that decision coming from a Sudanese court. The teacher was arrested for blasphemy when her class of 7-year-olds voted to give the stuffed animal that name -- Anderson.

COOPER: That story is just so unbelievable.

HILL: It is.

COOPER: Another kind of remarkable story made us ask "What Were They Thinking?"

The tape tells the story this time. What you're looking at is a pregnant woman in Ohio being thrown to the ground on her stomach and Tasered by a police officer. Now, it all happened at the police station. The woman went there because she wanted to give up custody of her 1-year-old son. When she refused to answer questions, a scuffle broke out. And that is when she was Tasered on the neck. The FBI is now investigating the incident. The woman was arrested and taken to the hospital. Police say the officer had no idea that she was pregnant.

HILL: Wow.

COOPER: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

HILL: Crazy story there.

COOPER: Erica, thanks.

Good news out of Iraq, how good it is to say that. It is interesting, though. Here at home, Americans say they agree that things are looking up, but they still favor getting out ASAP. We will take a closer look at that view next.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): Peaceful streets of Iraq, bombings down, killings down, al Qaeda on the run. So, what's the catch? Our new Sunni allies' next target.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're talking about this government.

COOPER: Yes, it's the Iraq government. Problem? We're "Keeping Them Honest."

Later, Drew Peterson, he says he's grieving for his missing wife, Stacy. And here's how he's showing it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could you explain why you did this?

DREW PETERSON, WIFE MISSING: Yes, I could.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want to?

PETERSON: I don't want to.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Does that look like grieving to you? One wife missing, another one dead -- tonight on 360.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: I would do a lot of things, but the first and most important and vital element is to continue this surge, which is succeeding. And we are winning the war in Iraq.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MCCAIN: That's the first thing I would do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, it doesn't get any clearer than that -- John McCain telling you last night the U.S. is winning the war in Iraq.

He's not alone. You heard the applause that followed. Senator Fred Thompson also said progress was being made. And close to half of Americans agree. In a new Pew Research poll, 48 percent say things are getting better. The number is a sharp increase from the 30 percent back in February.

Also, also the U.S. death toll from November is 36. It hasn't been that low since March of 2006. The surge is working militarily. The question is what politically? What happens next, the next step? Is any progress being made on the political front?

We're "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.

Here's CNN's Michael Ware.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The condemned, those singled out by al Qaeda, walking these narrow alleyways to the makeshift torture chamber behind these doors was the last act of their lives.

Al Qaeda dumped mutilated bodies in rubbish heaps or left them in this fetid water -- all of this happening right in the heart of Baghdad, in this small Sunni neighborhood called Fadl. Al Qaeda marked the homes of families to be punished, the men to be killed, the houses burned.

(on camera): So, like, from al Qaeda, this is like a mark of death?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His family not good here.

WARE: Right.

(voice-over): This man is a Sunni commander here in Fadl.

(on camera): What would have happened to me on these streets when al Qaeda was here?

(voice-over): My body would have been fed into a meat grinder, the commander tells me. Then al Qaeda would have asked CNN and my country for millions of dollars.

The murders and torture continued until only a few weeks ago, when these men rose up, making Fadl the latest neighborhood to drive out al Qaeda.

(on camera): But look at all the bullet holes even in this school.

(voice-over): They are Sunni insurgents now allied with the U.S.

(on camera): This is all from the fighting, yes?

(voice-over): Across the country, the American military has recruited 72,000 former Sunni insurgents, of whom 45,000 are temporarily on the U.S. government payroll.

(on camera): They have been a huge part of a stunning American success. Insurgent attacks are back to levels not seen for almost two years. And, in Baghdad, civilian deaths have dropped by a remarkable 75 percent.

(voice-over): The one thing America now needs most of all in Iraq is reconciliation between the Sunni and Shia religious sects. Without it, U.S. commanders say, the military victory will have been wasted, as the country keeps tearing itself apart.

So, we travel to Fadl, the scene of this most recent success...

(on camera): Is this Hasha (ph) Street?

(voice-over): ... to gauge what hope reconciliation might have.

(on camera): This neighborhood has had many wars washed through it, hasn't it, I mean, fighting with the Americans, fighting with the Shia militias, fighting with government forces, fighting with al Qaeda? And, I mean, all that you wonder now is, what's the next battle to come?

Do you think this government will ever be able to embrace the Sunni groups?

(voice-over): The government is not loyal to its country, says this U.S.-backed commander. They are supported by the intelligence service of a neighboring country. This, he says, is the abyss.

(on camera): Who will you be fighting when the Americans leave?

(voice-over): He already knows who his next battle will be against.

(on camera): We're talking about this government.

It's this government, he answers.

The other commander believes reconciliation has little chance. "Everybody knows militia and Iranian agents are inside the government and inside the security forces," he says. "They cannot work with us."

Suddenly, we have to hide our camera, put it down.

(on camera): A convoy.

(voice-over): Because a military convoy is coming. Tension is high.

(on camera): It's an American convoy or Iraqi?

(voice-over): Who is it?

(on camera): It's American? Then we can film.

(voice-over): And can they be trusted?

(on camera): Get out of the way. If it's American, we should be fine.

How does he feel? Nervous?

(voice-over): It is the Iraqi army carrying a brigadier general.

"With orders from the government," the general says, "we're asking these Sunni elements to join the police and army, because we don't want the security institutions owned by one sect."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WARE: And those words from the Iraqi general did not comfort America's Sunni commander. As we quickly jumped in our car to leave that area, he leaned in my window to say he did not trust the general's offer.

This mistrust is shared on all sides and deeply troubles U.S. commanders, for they know that they cannot return home unless Iraq can make peace with itself -- Anderson.

COOPER: Michael, when I was there -- last there a couple months ago, the Sunni groups it talked to, like the Sunni group you're talking to, I mean, they -- they don't trust the government, and they say that the government has been slow to accept them, slow to give them money, slow to incorporate them in the police.

How do you bridge that trust? How do you make that -- that reconciliation happen?

WARE: In one sense, Anderson, it's not going to happen.

This government, this power structure, these militia blocs who run the government, these political parties who front those militias, they have no interest in seeing this American-Sunni program develop. They don't want to share power. They don't want anything to do with the Sunnis.

So, American commanders are saying, we believe we can keep this violence down hopefully until next summer. But, if they haven't reconciled by then -- and, to be honest, no one really thinks they will -- we're going to have to completely rethink U.S. strategy yet again -- Anderson. COOPER: Political reconciliation the key, as always.

Michael Ware, appreciate it. Thank you, Michael.

When we come back; new allegations about what happened to Stacy Peterson. She's missing, presumed dead, and her husband is a suspect. The allegations center now on a blue barrel big enough to hide a body -- details next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: In "Crime and Punishment" tonight: Drew Peterson, a suspect in the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy.

That's him with the camera there. We don't presume to know what he's thinking or why he acts in sometimes bizarre ways, but the former police officer's behavior is certainly unusual. You see the latest example there, appearing before the media with his little camcorder.

While he's watching us, a lot of people are wondering and watching him. Tonight, there are new details in the story. And one of the new developments including a shocking allegation.

CNN's Randi Kaye investigates.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If Drew Peterson killed his wife, did he have help getting rid of the body? Bizarre new allegations indicate his stepbrother, Thomas Morphey, may have unwittingly helped him.

Investigators have been quoted saying Morphey believes Stacy Peterson may have been inside the large blue plastic container he helped Drew remove from the home the day she vanished. The container was -- quote -- "warm to the touch."

Peterson had few answers for a local TV reporter.

DREW PETERSON, WIFE MISSING: I have no idea of what anybody is talking about like that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Warm to the touch?

PETERSON: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He says he believes that he helped you dispose of your wife's body. Can you at least respond to that?

PETERSON: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not at all?

PETERSON: No response. Talk to my lawyer. I have got nothing to say about it

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No truth to it whatsoever?

PETERSON: None. Nobody helped me with anything in such a manner.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On October 28 -- where were you on October 28? This gentleman says he helped you carry a container out of your home.

PETERSON: You're going to have to talk to my attorney.

KAYE (on camera): Police tell us the stepbrother, so distraught by what he thought he did, attempted suicide the next day. He swallowed sleeping pills. Drew's lawyer, Joel Brodsky, calls the stepbrother hardly credible and says the two were not close.

JOEL BRODSKY, ATTORNEY FOR DREW PETERSON: There is no blue barrel. There was never was a blue barrel and -- nor -- nor a blue container.

KAYE (voice-over): We tried to call Morphey, but couldn't reach him.

A close friend of Stacy Peterson's family says searchers had been told weeks ago to look for a blue container. State police won't talk about the investigation.

PAMELA BOSCO, FAMILY SPOKESWOMAN: We did suspect that probably somebody did help with this container. We heard that three weeks ago. We always suspected that might have been the case. We do have questions, like what happened after -- or with that container? Who helped him with it after that?

KAYE: The search for Stacy continues. The FBI has volunteers focused on specific waterways. Investigators reportedly think her body may have been dumped in the water, based on cell phone calls placed from that area.

Meanwhile, Drew Peterson remains free. Police say he's a suspect, but he's denied doing anything wrong and hasn't been charged. He's resigned from his job with the Bolingbrook P.D. and, in his free time, continues his strange behavior, just yesterday turning the tables on reporters with a home video camera, joking about camping out at their houses.

KERRY SIMMONS, STEPSISTER OF STACY PETERSON: Let him show his face whenever he wants, because, the more he opens his mouth, he's -- the more he's going to sink himself.

KAYE: Depending on which way this thing goes, Drew Peterson could be documenting his last taste of freedom.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So, we wanted to try to figure out why he's behaving like that -- up next, my conversation with a close friend of Drew Peterson's. He saw him just a few hours ago. Hear what Drew told him about the blue barrel, his marriage to Stacy, and more.

Also ahead, a college student who was living a double life as an Internet porn star disappears. Was she murdered? New information in the case is coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Drew Peterson says he did not kill his wife Stacy. He believes she ran off with another man. But police and Stacy's family don't believe him. Others do. Among them, is his friend Steve Carcerano, who was with Peterson when they found Peterson's third wife, Kathleen, dead in her bathtub. That was ruled an accidental drowning. That case is being reopened.

Steve Carcerano joins us now. Drew, thanks for being with us.

STEVE CARCERANO, FRIEND OF DREW PETERSON: Thank you.

COOPER: You're just coming, actually, from a meeting with Drew. Did he talk about reports that his stepbrother helped him remove a large container from his house, that he believes may have had Stacy's body inside? That's what the press is saying now.

CARCERANO: Yes, the press is saying that -- I actually met with Mark Fuhrman earlier today. And one of the questions Mark asked me was when I do talk to Drew, ask him directly if he or anybody else with him ever moved a blue container or a blue barrel in the back of his Dinali (ph).

And Drew looked at me and said, "I didn't. I didn't have anybody help me do it. Not me, not anybody else or not even a Cat in the Hat." And that was his exact answer to me.

COOPER: This guy who was saying this to me, Thomas Morphy, what did Drew say about him, he's Drew's stepbrother?

CARCERANO: He's Drew's stepbrother. I guess he has a history of some alcohol abuse and some drugs. He's tried to commit suicide a couple of times. I don't know the individual. I never met the man, never heard of him until the "Chicago Tribune" report came out.

COOPER: What do you make of Drew's appearances? I mean, he's made some public appearances. He's talked to the media several times. It's raised some eyebrows by the way he's acted. Is that fair?

CARCERANO: That's the way Drew is. That's the way he always is. He's kind of a jokester. And some of the media -- you know, when he comes out to get his mail, he -- you know, like he told me, if he smiles, then they think he's making a mockery of this whole thing. If he, you know, sheds a tear, then they're saying he's faking it. So he kind of can't win in that situation.

COOPER: Have you seen him -- individually in your conversations, does he seem upset? CARCERANO: You know, he said the other day when he was at my house and my wife and I were in the room with him. And he said that he wishes that Stacy would just come out and show her face to the media to end this whole circus, is what his reaction was.

COOPER: Do you believe Drew?

CARCERANO: I do believe him. I mean, you know, I want to see hard evidence. There's circumstantial evidence right now. I'm standing behind what he said. He told me that she left for, you know, another man. So I have no reason not to believe him.

I do understand all this information has been coming up over the last couple days and, you know, I still have to believe him until I see the hard evidence.

COOPER: What was Stacy like?

CARCERANO: Stacy, you know, from what I've known of Stacy, always a happy girl. I mean, I would see them roller-blading in the neighborhood together. The neighbors down in your section, you know, nobody's going to believe that they were unhappy.

And I even talked to her at the end of September. She drove her motorcycle down the street where I lived, stopped and we talked. And it seemed like the happy Stacy I've always known.

COOPER: If everything was so good, it's very strange that, publicly -- and, you know, it's hard to read too much, I guess, into public presentation, but, you know, he's joking with the cameras. He's kind of carrying around a camera of his own. He's sticking his face in people's cameras. And kind of, you know -- it seems like he's kind of having fun with all this.

CARCERANO: I think he's trying to taunt the media right back at them by the camera. They've been out at his house, you know, 3:45 in the morning. They usually leave at about 11 p.m. at night. And all the, you know, cameras and lights around the house. I mean, his children can't even come out of the house. They can't play in the backyard, now that it's cold.

You know, but it's just -- it's been an absolute circus around that neighborhood right now.

COOPER: Steve Carcerano, appreciate you joining us. Thanks, Steve.

CARCERANO: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Well, she was gang-raped, and she was punished, sentenced to 200 lashes and jail time. When we heard about the story we were shocked. You probably will be too, when you hear the rest of the story.

Plus, did NFL star Sean Taylor fear for his life? New revelations from a childhood friend, tonight on 360. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Turning once again to crime and punishment. This time both the crime and the punishment are extraordinary.

The story begins with a photo. A teenaged girl in Saudi Arabia had met a boy on the Internet. She e-mailed him a photo of herself. Nothing indiscreet, by Western standards. But the girl didn't conceal her face with traditional head garments, and under her country's strict Muslim laws, that is forbidden.

So time passed. The young woman got married and then panicked. She feared her new husband would learn about the immodest photo, so she arranged to get it back.

Keep in mind that, in Saudi Arabia, women have virtually no freedom. They can't work, study or even travel without their male guardian's permission. The rest of the story now from Paula Newton.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The new bride met her Internet friend for the first time in his car. She demanded the photo when, out of nowhere, seven men surrounded the car. She was gang-raped at knife-point.

A Human Rights Watch investigator who must keep her identity secret interviewed the young victim and quotes her "the fifth and sixth ones were the most abusive. After the seventh one, I couldn't feel my body anymore. Then all seven came back and raped me again."

In court, Saudi judges believed the young woman. All seven attackers were found guilty and got two to nine years in prison.

(on camera) But the court didn't stop there. The senior judge accused her of being an adulterous wife for being with a man who was not her relative. For her crime: 90 lashes. And when she tried to appeal, the sentence was actually increased to 200 lashes and six months in jail.

(voice-over) As for the lawyer who defended her, the court suspended his license to practice law after he talked to the media. But in an exclusive interview with CNN, he says he is now suing the Saudi Ministry of Justice for defaming his client. He hopes the case will be a turning point for Saudi justice.

ABDEL RAHMAN AL-LAHEM, RAPE VICTIM'S LAWYER (through translator): We want to highlight the rape crimes in Saudi Arabia and the way they are handled and sentenced in court. This is a new era for all of us.

NEWTON: Well maybe. In a recent debate on Arab TV, a former Saudi judge argues the victim's punishment served to defend her husband's honor and, in his words, the cleanliness of his bed. He argues...

SHEIKH ABDEL MUHSIN EKEBAN, FORMER SAUDI JUDGE (through translator): Would anyone allow someone to spoil their marital bed? This action coming from a married woman dishonors her marriage, when a woman meets up with an unrelated male in secret. What is she going to do with him? Will she be performing an act of chastity with him?

NEWTON: That, while at the same time there was outrage, disbelief around the world. And, in a surprising turn, Saudi foreign minister Saud al-Faisal cast doubt on the verdict, saying, "Such bad court rulings happen everywhere, even in the United States. The process is ongoing. The sentence is being reviewed through judicial process."

This Saudi scholar says this case may finally trigger judicial reform.

MAI YAMANI, SAUDI POLITICAL ANALYST: They have tried to embellish their image internationally as moderate Islamic state. And cases like this, the exposure, the negative publicity, will make them rethink.

NEWTON: So the story began with an impulsive photo, and now it ends with a snapshot of Saudi justice.

Paula Newton, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Gang-raped and she gets 200 lashes.

Digging deeper on this, as you just heard, the case has sparked outrage around the world. I talked to author and filmmaker Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who was raised by fundamentalist Muslims but is now a vocal critic of Islam. She's also a target of death threats because of a film she made called "Submission."

Her co-producer on the film, a relative of the artist Vincent Van Gogh, named Theo Van Gogh, was murdered.

We had a lot to talk about, starting with what it's really like to be a woman in Saudi Arabia.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: For women in Saudi Arabia, what is life like, the reality of life, not just for this young woman but for all women there?

AYAAN HIRSI ALI, AUTHOR, "INFIDEL": For all women, the reality is stay in the house unless you have a pressing need to go outside. If you have a pressing need to go out, you must wear the veil.

If you marry, your husband can say three times "I divorce you," and you're divorced. The other way around is not possible.

The problem of child brides in Saudi Arabia is as common as drinking espresso coffee in Italy. It is because the Prophet Mohammed married a 9-year-old girl. Every man in Saudi Arabia feels that he can marry a minor or he can marry off his daughter who is underaged.

You will be stoned, flogged if you commit or even make the impression that you may have committed adultery. It is not nice being a woman in Saudi Arabia.

COOPER: You made the film "Submission" with Theo Van Gogh. He was murdered on the street by a man, stabbed to death on the street. Your life has been threatened. You are under around the clock protection in the location where you're in now, which we're not saying your location for your own protection.

Do you still feel that your life is in danger every day?

ALI: Yes, my life is in danger. Every day my life is in danger from threats by individuals who believe that by killing me they will go to paradise.

And I think that, if there are more and more Muslim men and women who stand up and who say, "We don't want this happening in the name of our religion," that I will have a chance of leading a life with no bodyguards and with no threats.

And that's the amazing thing. We see Muslims taking to the streets in large numbers when there are cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed drawn or when a Koran is flushed down the toilet.

But when human rights are being violated, as in being flogged, jailed, killed, we don't see anybody. Why is the Muslim world silent today?

COOPER: We are always told that Islam is a religion of peace. The word itself means peace. Do you believe that?

ALI: Well, it depends on how you define peace. If you define peace as flogging a victim of rape with 200 stripes because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time, then maybe it's peace. But that's not how we in the west or anyone who believes in the universal rights -- universal declaration of human rights believes to be peace.

We see bombs thrown in the name of Islam. We see people being killed. We see women subjugated. Is that peace?

We have -- for communication and for dialogue to be proper dialogue, we have to speak the same language. And in the west, when we say peace, we mean something totally different from developing a bomb to eradicate Israel or, from flogging a poor young woman, a 19- year-old with 200 lashes of the whip. And that's -- that's a state sentence.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: I should point out for her very frank talk, Ayaan Hirsi Ali has round-the-clock protection every day of her life.

Now, here's Kiran Chetry with what's coming up 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 Barack Obama in Clinton country. It's his first trip to the world- famous Apollo Theater as a presidential candidate. So how will he do? And can he win over skeptical African-Americans, many of whom say they support Hillary Clinton?

That's tomorrow, beginning at 6 a.m. Eastern.

Anderson, back to you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: All right. Up next, a major break in the case of a missing college student who led a secret life as an Internet porn star.

Also ahead, who needs a dog when your best friend is a 20-foot python? That's right. This kid is definitely braver than I am, and you'll see why in our "Shot of the Day," coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Just ahead, the "Shot of the Day," a very brave kid. Take a look at this picture there. Doesn't he realize that is a snake?

Anyway, Erica Hill joins us with a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, police in Kansas say they have found a body that appears to be that of a missing college student who led a secret life as an Internet porn star. Eighteen- year-old Emily Sander was last seen on Friday leaving a bar with a man who is now the focus of a nationwide manhunt.

A childhood friend of murdered NFL star Sean Taylor says the Redskins quarterback was scared every day of his life for the past few years, because he thought former friends might want to hurt him. Antrel Rolle is also in the NFL and played football with Taylor at the University of Miami.

Taylor's girlfriend, though, says he was just a homebody with no troubles.

The price tag for new homes fell 13 percent in October, compared to last year. That's the worst drop since 1970. And help fuelling it, a record 191,000 completed new homes that haven't been sold.

In New Orleans, though, it's a different type of housing crunch. By Friday, FEMA plans to shut down 13 trailer parks set up for Hurricane Katrina victims. The agency says the goal is to get residents into more stable permanent housing, and it's offering rental assistance.

Advocates, though, fear that some might have trouble finding a place to live, due to the area's housing shortage, Anderson.

COOPER: It's hard to believe two years after this thing -- more than two years now, some people are still living in trailers.

HILL: Yes, it blows my mind.

COOPER: Yes. It's hard to find apartments there, certainly.

You know what I don't get about the Sean Taylor case, though? If his girlfriend's right and he was just a homebody and has no troubles...

HILL: Yes.

COOPER: ... how come he had a machete under his bed?

HILL: We have all wondered that, too. We talk about it all the time here on my show. We were wondering, a machete. Why you would keep a machete for protection?

COOPER: Yes.

HILL: It seems like an odd choice.

COOPER: All right. Time for "The Shot of the Day." An odd choice for a young man here in Cambodia. The little boy here...

HILL: What?

COOPER: ... loves to sleep with his 20-foot long pet python.

HILL: It sounds like an elephant.

COOPER: Yes, well, those are our special effects, for some reason. They've lived together most of their lives. This boy is 7 years old, apparently. And look, he can actually just lay on the snake, and it moves alone along. He can ride it.

HILL: That's the way to get about town if you don't feel like walking.

COOPER: He says he thinks of the snake as a sister.

HILL: OK, well, you know, to each their own. Most kids sleep with teddy bears, but that's cool.

Speaking of snakes, though, I know that when you were in Cambodia, I believe it was filming some things for "Planet in Peril."

COOPER: Right.

HILL: You had your own encounter with a snake. There it is. Remember this one? Yes.

COOPER: Yes.

HILL: Yes, you're a real snake lover, aren't you?

COOPER: You know...

HILL: Man's best friend, snake?

COOPER: Yes. Yes. I -- I did not like that snake. I used to collect snakes when I was a little kid, and I liked them.

HILL: Did you really?

COOPER: Yes, but now they just creep me out.

HILL: They totally creep me out. Did you collect bugs, too? I don't do bugs, either.

COOPER: I definitely -- I never did bugs, but see my snake, my little pet garter snake, would eat fish. But look, I'm totally -- I could not be a bigger wimp.

HILL: Oh, please. You totally held it together. Yes.

COOPER: That snake was going for my jugular. It was going for my jugular. The video doesn't tell the full story.

HILL: Yes, and that one, by the way, really looks like it could hurt you, compared to the 7-year-old's pet sister there.

COOPER: I'll get you, Erica Hill.

HILL: Keep trying, my friend.

COOPER: We want you to send us your "Shot" ideas. If you see some amazing videos or some snakes going for my jugular, tell us about it: CNN.com/360.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: It was that close to my jugular.

Tomorrow, Christiane Amanpour is going to be borrowing our time slot for a CNN special investigation on life in Russia under Vladimir Putin.

President Putin is riding a wave of popularity, heading into next week's election. A growing number of youth groups are turning out to support him. But Christiane discovers that these young Russians are not just pro-Putin; they are very anti-American.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MAXIM MISHCHENKO, YOUNG RUSSIAN PROTESTOR (through translator): You will never succeed in making a revolution in this country. You will never succeed in imposing America's government here.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): America's government? What is this Maxim Mishchenko talking about?

MISHCHENKO: We came here to show the U.S. embassy that this is how things look to us. This is how America screams and squeals.

AMANPOUR: He's the leader of one of the youth groups, called Rossia Molodaya, Young Russia.

(on camera) We saw you outside the American embassy at a demonstration carrying a pig. Why so bitter?

MISCHCHENKO (through translator): These piglets symbolize Russians who look for directions from the United States. These people don't understand that their political positions will pollute their own backyard.

AMANPOUR: So you think any opposition here, like Garry Kasparov, has to be an American agent?

MISCHCHENKO (through translator): Kasparov is an honorary Russian citizen. He loves that country, not this country. Such people should take no part in Russian politics.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Where does Maxim get these ideas? From President Putin himself. At a pre-election rally, he called the opposition jackals.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA: Unfortunately, there are some in this country who scavenge outside the gates of foreign embassies.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Christiane's special on the dark side of Putin's Russia, tomorrow night at 10 p.m. Eastern. It's called "Czar Putin," and it's a story you need to know about.

Interesting, though, to hear that guy talking about the evil influence of U.S. culture on Russia, while he was singing a rap song. Rap comes from the United States. I don't know.

Up next, they didn't hold back on last night's debate on anything. They talked about immigration, Iraq. So now what? The next step in the race for the White House, coming up on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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