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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
McCain Economic Adviser Under Fire; Freed American Hostages Speak Out
Aired July 10, 2008 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, after six straight months of job losses, tanking auto sales, and millions behind in their mortgages, John McCain's top man on the economy has an answer: Stop whining. America, he says, is turning into a nation of whiners. And the recession, well, it's all in your head. So, how is Senator McCain handling the damage? We will talk about that tonight.
Also tonight, was Jesse Jackson talking trash when he said Barack Obama is talking down to African-Americans about personal responsibility? We will look at that as well.
And then later, a CNN exclusive, three Americans back home after years held hostage in Colombia. They are speaking out. Hear what got them through it all.
And using the building blocks of life to free the Ramsey family from years of suspicion in JonBenet's death. Well, now John Ramsey wants every violent criminal in America tested, in the hopes of catching her killer -- "Crime and Punishment" tonight.
We begin, though, with John McCain doing damage control, fast and furious, backing away from a trusted adviser, a man he's known for decades.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't agree with senator Gramm. Phil Gramm does not speak for me. I speak for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Now, Gramm is Phil Gramm, his campaign co-chair and chief economic adviser.
Well, today, "The Washington Times" published his views on the economy and posted the interview on their Web site.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHIL GRAMM, MCCAIN CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER: This is a mental recession. You just hear this constant whining, complaining about the loss of our competitiveness, America in decline. We have never been more dominant. We have never had more natural advantages than we have today. We have sort of become a nation of whiners.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And it didn't take long for Barack Obama to pounce.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want all of you to know that America already has one Dr. Phil.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: We don't need another one when it comes to the economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And that left John McCain, who was, ironically, in Michigan, telling voters he feels their pain, on the defensive. When someone asked if he was still considering Gramm for secretary of treasury, here's how he answered.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: I think Senator Gramm would be in serious consideration for ambassador to Belarus, although I'm not sure the citizens of Minsk would welcome that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Well, as for Gramm, late today, he told CNN's Dana Bash that he stands by his remarks and says he was talking about whining leaders, not whining voters.
So, as for Senator McCain's claim that Gramm does not speak for him, well, Gramm spent part of the day at "The Wall Street Journal" speaking for Senator McCain.
Joining us now for a "Strategy Session" on all of this, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, GOP strategist and CNN contributor Ed Rollins, and CNN contributor and Democratic superdelegate Robert Zimmerman.
Welcome to everybody.
David, all week, McCain has been focusing on the economy, trying to connect with voters on the issue. How much does this undermine his efforts?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, if you look at the campaigns overall, yesterday, Jesse Jackson made a major contribution to the Barack Obama campaign. And today it was the McCain campaign's turn to make a couple of contributions. This was one of them.
And it's -- Senator Gramm is a major surrogate for John McCain, longtime friends, widely rumored to be the next treasury secretary if John McCain were elected.
And, of course, John McCain didn't say this, and he didn't mean to have him say it. But it's one of those kind of things that Barack Obama has faced this problem, too. Your surrogates can get you more trouble sometimes than the candidate itself. Does it go away soon? Yes.
But what it also did today for Senator Obama, it covered up a couple of things on his own campaign that he didn't want to be leading the program tonight, Michelle Obama out today talking about these rebates don't amount to much, $600. Well, you just go out there and spend that on a pair of earrings.
Well, you know, a lot of people don't buy $600 earrings. So, this story smothered those kinds of things. And I think this was a real gift to Barack Obama.
BROWN: Ed, David made this point, that McCain has long relied on Gramm for his expertise. He frequently mentions that Gramm has endorsed his economic policies. How does McCain effectively distance himself?
ED ROLLINS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, I want to remind people that Phil Gramm ran for president in 1996. With $100 million, he was the first one to drop out. He came in fifth in New Hampshire. He didn't have a great appeal at that point in time.
The bigger problem that John McCain has...
BROWN: But that's more of a political appeal. On the economy, though, he's always had a pretty good reputation in Republican circles, right?
ROLLINS: Except there's a real conflict. There's a supply-side group, led by Jack Kemp and others, that obviously John McCain has some of that. And then there's the Phil Gramm, which is the austerity, balance the budget, whatever the -- whatever...
ROLLINS: And they're in conflict. You can't take tax cuts, you can't make enough budget cuts to balance the budget. And I think, to a certain extent, that's a lot of the conflict.
The important thing, as David knows so, and Robert knows from his side, is that you put surrogates out there, you give them talking points. You don't let me be free. John McCain was very truthful today when he said, I speak for my campaign.
Well, the truth of the matter is, he needs to speak for his campaign and not have these surrogates off the sheets.
BROWN: And, Robert, the McCain camp is e-mailing reporters a YouTube clip of McCain denouncing Gramm's comments. It's not every day that you get something like that, them talking about one of their own advisers.
BROWN: How do you assess their damage control?
ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: It's also important historically to note that John McCain was in fact the national co- chair when Phil Gramm ran for president. That's how far back they go, how close they are.
But I think what's important here to understand, strategically, is that, while the Democrats have to meet the national security strategic test, Republicans, in particular John McCain, has got to meet the test that shows he can connect with people and their suffering in this really dreadful economy that we're facing and this very severe economic plight we're in.
And, in fact, when his top economic adviser makes those obnoxious comments, one of his closest aides, Carly Fiorina, makes the comment that outsourcing really should be defined as right-sourcing regarding sending jobs overseas.
ZIMMERMAN: And then John McCain, on a CNN debate back in January, said that we're better off under this economy, despite all the warning signs earlier this year.
It shows that he's not connecting. And it's not just his surrogates that are the problem. It's the fact that he's demonstrating personally that he's not connecting.
BROWN: All right, guys, stand by, because we want to move on to another issue.
If John McCain was caught today between loyalty to a trusted adviser and the voters he had insulted, it wasn't the only such problem. He's also dealing with a political side effect, if you will, of Viagra. And, no, it's not what you're thinking. But it does involve another close adviser, former CEO Carly Fiorina, and millions of women voters.
CNN's Joe Johns now with the "Raw Politics."
JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Straight Talk Express started sputtering a little when a reporter asked John McCain whether it was fair that many insurance companies that don't cover birth control pills for women do cover Viagra for men.
MCCAIN: I certainly do not want to discuss that issue.
QUESTION: I think you voted against...
MCCAIN: I don't know what I have...
QUESTION: You voted against coverage of birth control, forcing the health care companies to cover birth control in the past. Is that still your position?
MCCAIN: I will look at my voting record on it, but I have -- I don't recall the vote right now, but I will be glad to look at it and get back to you.
JOHNS: What triggered that uncomfortable exchange? Comments from McCain's campaign co-chairwoman, Carly Fiorina, the high-profile CEO, who is helping McCain win over women voters.
Earlier this week, Fiorina blasted insurance companies, saying: "There are many health insurance plans that will cover Viagra, but won't cover birth control medication. Those women would like a choice."
McCain later faced a grilling about Fiorina's charge.
QUESTION: I guess her statement was that it was unfair that health insurance companies cover Viagra, but not birth control. Do you have an opinion on that?
MCCAIN: I don't know enough about it to give you an informed answer, because I don't recall the vote. I have cast thousands of votes in the Senate, but I will respond to (INAUDIBLE)
QUESTION: It's a delicate issue.
JOHNS: For the record, in 2003, McCain voted no on legislation requiring insurance coverage of birth control. His campaign says contraception is a personal matter, best left up to individuals, not government.
Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.
BROWN: Back now with our panel, David Gergen, Ed Rollins, and Robert Zimmerman.
David, McCain couldn't have looked more uncomfortable, frankly, wishing that question would have just gone away. What did you make of his response?
GERGEN: It's another gift to Barack Obama on two levels. One is on the substance of it.
There's a good argument for why some men should be covered for Viagra, especially, say, men who suffer from impotence because of diabetes. But there's an even more compelling argument why women should have coverage for birth control. And, on that argument, I think that it's a loser for John McCain.
But the second thing, Campbell, is that the way he responded, saying, you know, I really haven't thought about the issue, suggests a man -- and I feel sympathetic to him, but I also sense that, with a lot of voters, especially women, it will look like -- it looks like a man who is out of touch with their daily concerns, the very thing we were just talking about on the economy.
And people -- voters want a president who is in touch with their concerns and the way -- what they face in life. And you will remember it was only a few weeks ago he really didn't spend any time on computers, didn't really understand a P.C.
Well, he's a very -- a man of great virtue, a man of heroic status, but when he appears out of touch with things, I think it's clearly a drag on his campaign.
BROWN: And that may be the real issue here, Ed, is it was an uncomfortable moment, clearly, but the fact that he didn't treat it as a legitimate question, to a lot of women, it's going to be cause for concern.
ROLLINS: That was probably as uncomfortable a piece as I have seen in my 40 years of politics. And I have watched...
BROWN: That bad, huh?
ROLLINS: That's about the fourth time I watch it. And every time I watch it, I just -- I sort of suffer for him, because I -- and part again -- once again, is, you have got these surrogates who are out there who shouldn't be out there giving their opinions.
The bottom line is, they're out there carrying his record, defending his record, talking about his agenda. And nobody cares what Carly thinks about this particular issue. If she wants to go run for governor in California in two years, she can spout that. And the same way Phil Gramm.
Phil Gramm is not doing interviews because people want to hear his opinion on the economy. He's supposed to be a surrogate. And it's very important they get back to that. But the bottom line is, John McCain has got to know his own record and he has got to know what he wants to say.
They have fixed the campaign a little bit, but the candidate ultimately is what matters.
BROWN: Robert? ZIMMERMAN: Well, if it's any consolation to my Republican friends, I'm sure we Democrats will give them some material in the next -- during the course of this campaign.
BROWN: Without a doubt.
ZIMMERMAN: So, don't be discouraged.
But the point here is, watching John McCain spin -- you can see his -- you could hear the wheels spinning in his head when he was confronted with that question. In fact, they should have given out Dramamine to go with the answer.
The point simply here is that John McCain missed a moment where he just could show -- just speak to the issue of fairness and speak to disaffected women. That was supposed to be a target of his campaign strategically. These women are looking at both candidates and making very important decisions.
And, clearly, he showed he was not prepared to be the maverick he wants to portray himself as.
BROWN: All right, we have got to end it there. But to Robert, to Ed, and to David, many thanks, guys.
BROWN: Coming up next; Jesse Jackson got it started with his rude and crude talk. and he says Barack Obama is talking down to black Americans about being good parents and raising good kids. We wanted to know, do blacks think the man who could be the president is talking down to them, or is Jackson's ego getting in the way here? We will have some answers ahead.
Also tonight, remarkable stories of survival from the Americans held hostage in the Colombian jungle. You will only see it here. They only talked to CNN.
Then later, the science that cleared JonBenet's family, see how it works, how her dad wants it used to catch her killer. We have got that and more -- tonight on 360.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We need families to raise our children. We need fathers to recognize that responsibility doesn't just end at conception.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Barack Obama in church on Father's Day talking to black men. The question, was he talking down to them? Well, Jesse Jackson said he was just before an open microphone also caught him threatening to castrate Obama. Talk about Chicago politics.
Well, tonight, though, we are primarily talking about talking and whether Jesse Jackson just talked himself off of the national stage.
The "Raw Politics" from 360's Randi Kaye.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Call it a changing of the guard.
REV. MARKEL HUTCHINS, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: We are tired of the politics of the past and looking forward to a better and brighter future that is -- that is not divided by generation, but that merges generations together.
KAYE: Atlanta Reverend Markel Hutchins, who like Jesse Jackson is a community activist, calls him one of his mentors, but says it's time for Jackson to step aside.
HUTCHINS: I think genuine leadership understands when your time has come and when you have reached the pinnacle of your career. And I believe real leaders know when to get out of the way.
KAYE (on camera): Tension between the black leaders who emerged 40 years ago, like Jackson and those emerging today, says Hutchins, is growing, the result of how the two generations view America.
(voice-over): Democratic strategist Donna Brazile also sees a generational shift. She says the old guard was more divisive and focused on breaking down barriers. The new guard stands for hope and unity.
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: When Reverend Jackson announced his historic candidacy in 1984, he said, our time has come. And now today, Barack Obama's time has clearly come, and not a moment too soon.
KAYE: Brazile says the old guard deserves respect. After all, they made it possible for the new guard to have a seat at the table. But don't expect today's leaders to speak in the same voice.
BRAZILE: Obama represents a new generation of leaders in this country, including Jesse Jackson Jr., who are prepared to look at new ideas and new solutions to solve old chronic problems, but do it in a way that brings us together and brings the country together, not picking at old wounds, but rather healing those wounds and healing those divides so that we can all make progress together.
KAYE: Brazile was disappointed when Reverend Jackson, unaware he was being recorded, said this.
JACKSON; See, Barack been talking down to black people on this faith based -- I want cut his (EXPLETIVE DELETED) off.
KAYE: Jackson was referring to comments like this.
OBAMA: Too many fathers are also missing. Too many fathers are MIA. Too many fathers are AWOL, missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities. They're acting like boys, instead of men.
KAYE: Reverend Hutchins says Obama is not talking down.
HUTCHINS: And what I think that Obama is doing is talking up to African-Americans, not talking down. Leadership really understands. Leadership, like Obama's, really understands that, in order to talk up to people, you have got to lift them up.
KAYE: He blames Jackson's comments on ego.
HUTCHINS: We cannot deny the fact that ego certainly does play a role in these kinds of situations. Many in the generation of leadership that emerged during the 1950s and '60s feel offended and threatened that perhaps a Barack Obama or a Markel Hutchins did not have to come through the ranks the way that they did.
KAYE: Threatened or not, Hutchins says they must no longer stand in the way of the new guard building on their foundation.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
BROWN: Digging deeper now with CNN contributor Amy Holmes, also Michael Eric Dyson, the author of "Debating Race," and Farai Chideya, host of "News and Notes" and National Public Radio.
Michael, do you see any truth at all in what Reverend Jackson says? Do you think Barack Obama talks down to African-Americans?
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: No, I think it's beyond Barack Obama and Jesse Jackson. Jesse Jackson has been an extraordinary and legendary figure for lo these 40 years.
Barack Obama, who I vigorously support, is an amazing candidate for the candidacy of the president of United States of America. But I think what Jesse Jackson was referring to is speaking about the tone and tenor of the comments directed toward African-American people.
Senator Obama, in his desire to reach out to the broader society, must necessarily speak about the broad encompassing issues. But when he chooses to go specific and particular, then obviously he's being race specific.
At that level, then, we have to say we have to apply the same litmus test to white citizens as we do the black citizens, even respecting their differences. So, I think that what Reverend Jesse Jackson was saying, talk about social responsibility and personal responsibility, because it's both/and, not either/or.
BROWN: Amy, Ron Walters, a University of Maryland professor, argues Obama might be taking the black community for granted, because of its desire to see a black president elected. Do you think that Obama needs to change the way he speaks to and about African- Americans?
AMY HOLMES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I think that the way that he's speaking to and about African-Americans is working. Just look at the enormous percentages he's been racking up among African-American voters.
And, in the beginning of his campaign, as we all know that there was some doubt, there was some hesitation on the part of black voters, but Barack Obama went out there and he worked for their vote. He proved he could win and he was able to rally that support.
But I think what's interesting here also about the Jesse Jackson flap is, he's sort of -- he's talked his way back onto the stage. We hadn't heard a lot from him because of Barack Obama's like enormous stardom this past year. But he's also starting a new conversation I think that's been so long overdue, something we have really been looking towards, and that is this generational shift, new tactics, new strategies for trying to deal with some of these intractable problems in the urban black community.
BROWN: Farai, you interviewed Reverend Jackson yesterday. Did you get a sense of what he wants from Senator Obama, what he wants Obama to do for the African-American community?
FARAI CHIDEYA, HOST, "NEWS & NOTES": Well, what he told us -- and understand that, when we spoke to him, it was when wire stories were starting to say, oh, he said something really bad, but no one really knew exactly, except the folks at FOX, what he had said.
He basically told us that he wants there to be a focus on accountability by government and social structures, and not just talking about what black men should do.
There's a perception among some African-Americans that this was a Sister Souljah moment for Barack Obama. I'm speaking about Barack Obama's speech in the church, that when he talked about, you know, being good fathers, it was putting responsibility on, you know, black men. And there's nothing wrong with that. But why point that out, instead of pointing out what America needs to do for black folks?
And I think that that debate is not just a generational debate. It's an intercultural debate. It's a class debate that has gone on long within the black community and exists within each generation. And, so, I think Reverend Jackson was saying, OK, look, you know, focus on what the government should do or what society should do.
CHIDEYA: But I also think, you know, there's obviously the ego question.
All right, we're going to have more with our panel next. I do want to dig deeper into the possibility that this could actually be a political plus for Senator Obama. Also tonight, the freed American hostages speaking out for the first time about what get them through years of captivity. It is a CNN exclusive.
And how JonBenet Ramsey's dad wants to use the science that cleared him to catch his daughter's killer. Could it work? Is it legal? We will talk about that with Jeffrey Toobin -- when 360 continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: See, Barack been talking down to black people on this faith based -- I want cut his (EXPLETIVE DELETED) off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: We have been talking about what Jesse Jackson said about Barack Obama when he thought the mike wasn't on.
Well, first, his allegations that Senator Obama is talking down to African-Americans, now the political implications.
For that, we're back with our panel, digging deeper with Amy Holmes, Michael Eric Dyson, and Farai Chideya.
Amy, you know, the overwhelming response among political columnists, who said Jesse Jackson did Obama a favor by criticizing him -- Andrew Sullivan, for example, called it an electoral gift. Others -- and we heard Farai mention this -- say it was his Sister Souljah moment.
Does this help Obama, do you think, ultimately in this election?
HOLMES: I think it does, Campbell.
We talked about it last night, that Barack -- this gives Barack Obama an opportunity to move away from grievance-based politics that so many Americans have frankly gotten really burnt out on. And a lot of those independent voters, white voters, those voters in the Appalachian regions that Barack Obama really needs, they need to trust that Barack Obama can be an honest arbiter, that he can be there speaking honestly, truthfully, and maybe delivering some tough love there about some of these really deep, difficult racial problems that bedevil our society.
BROWN: Michael, a political correspondent for "The Washington Post" wrote that, "Jackson has certainly diminished himself, and given the fact that he attacked the first African-American to lead a major party into a general election, likely hurt himself in particular within the black community."
How relevant is Jesse Jackson today. Does Obama's nomination signify a changing of the guard?
DYSON: Not at all.
Barack Obama is, as Amy has said, a star who has ascended with meteoric intensity. But that doesn't diminish the contribution of Jesse Jackson, who has been out there giving light and casting brilliance upon the pathways that Mr. Obama himself has pursued, and certainly has been able to conjure in the American imagination the best route to not only racial redemption, but to the moral reconstruction of America.
So, Jesse Jackson ain't going to lose a job if Barack Obama becomes a president. Barack Obama is a presidential candidate. He is a politician. He is a brilliant and supremely and superbly gifted politician. Jesse Jackson is a prophet speaking difficult truths to America.
But look at -- look at the Barack Obama case, as Ms. Holmes and I and Ms. Chideya have spoken about it. When Barack Obama spoke honestly about the grievances of white Americans, he was taken to task. When he spoke about the grievances of African-American people, he was applauded.
So, we know that you get brownie points in America for looking at the grievances and the vulnerabilities of those who are victimized by social oppressions or, in this case, economic downturns.
To talk about black men's responsibility, absolutely necessary. We must do that.
DYSON: At the same time, we have to talk about the structures that permit them to exercise their responsibility in reasonable fashion. I don't think it's an either/or.
DYSON: It's a both/and.
BROWN: Farai, this isn't the first time that Jackson has openly criticized Obama for not doing enough for the black community. I mean, what role, if any, do you think Jesse Jackson sees for himself in the Obama campaign?
CHIDEYA: Well, when we spoke to him for our show, we asked him, and he said -- I said, will you campaign with him? He's like, if he wants me to.
And I think that, right now, probably, the chances of that happening, fairly small. He says he remains a supporter.
But there really is -- you know, when we talk about the generational shift, you know, the NAACP Convention starts this weekend, goes through next week. Senators McCain and Obama are going to that. And when we spoke with NAACP board chair Julian Bond at one point, we said, should younger people be passed the baton of leadership or have to snatch it? And he said, unabashedly, snatch it. And, so, I think that's a challenge. There's a gauntlet that is being thrown down. And now maybe people are snatching it.
Well, OK, guys, we have to end it there.
But, Amy Holmes, Michael Eric Dyson, and Farai Chideya, many thanks. Appreciate it.
BROWN: Coming up next: Karl Rove is ordered to appear before Congress, but he didn't show up today. Will his snub land him in court for contempt? What's his defense?
Also, the first interview with the three American contractors rescued from Colombian rebels last week. They are back with their families, after more than five years as hostages. And, tonight, they are talking about what kept them alive. It is a moving interview that had everybody in our newsroom transfixed today -- all of that ahead on 360.
BROWN: Tonight, you are going to hear from the three American contractors held hostage in Colombia. It is their first interview since their dramatic rescue last week. And it is has been an emotional time, as you'll hear coming up in just a moment.
But first, right now, Randi Kaye joins us again with a "360 Bulletin."
KAYE: Hi, there, Campbell.
Former White House adviser Karl Rove ignored a subpoena ordering him to testify before Congress today. The House Justice Committee wants to question him about allegations of political pressure in the firing of several U.S. attorneys. Rove's lawyer says he's immune from that subpoena. The committee says Rove broke the law.
In Atlanta, a judge ordered the murder trial of Brian Nichols to be moved farther from the scene of the 2005 crime. This as the defendant pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Nichols is accused of killing three people at the Atlanta courthouse, where jury selection in his trial began today.
And Christie Brinkley's bitter divorce trial now over. The former supermodel gets custody of the two children and -- get this -- 18 properties in the Hamptons. Peter Cook gets just over $2 million, plus parenting time -- Campbell.
BROWN: Randi, thanks.
And now to that interview that had everybody in our newsroom talking today: the first interview with the American contractors held hostage in Colombia for more than five years. Freed hostage Marc Gonsalves actually found a way to make his own chess set in the middle of the jungle. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARC GONSALVES, FORMER HOSTAGE: This is the chess board and here are the pieces that...
ROBIN MEADE, CNN HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: How did you make the pieces?
GONSALVES: I was able to carve with a broken piece of a machete.
MEADE: You carved chess pieces...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: We're going to have more of that exclusive interview just ahead. You will also hear from Keith Stansell, who met his 5-year-old twin sons for the very first time last week. He was taken hostage before they were even born. That is next on 360.
BROWN: That is what it looks like to learn you are no longer a hostage. Smiles, hugs, tears of joy. That video shows 15 former hostages moments after learning they were finally free. They had been held for more than five years in Colombia's jungles by FARC rebels.
Well, last week, Colombia's military pulled off a daring rescue mission that didn't involve a single gunshot, just lots of deception. Three of the people they freed were American contractors: Keith Stansell, Marc Gonsalves, and Thomas Howes.
Robin Meade of Headline News scored the first interview with them. Keith Stansell missed the birth of his twin sons while he was held captive. And that's where we pick up with Robin's exclusive interview.
KEITH STANSELL, FORMER HOSTAGE: I have two little boys, 5-year- old twins.
ROBIN MEADE, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: And you never met them?
STANSELL: I'm sorry. It's a -- this is happy. This is a good thing for me.
THOMAS HOWES, FORMER HOSTAGE: The camp boss told us about the fact that they just thought he had one -- one little boy?
STANSELL: I thought one had died.
HOWES: He didn't even think about getting the photo. He said he saw the photo.
STANSELL: I've got two boys I've never seen. You know, these two guys helped me through it. I knew the mother of my children was pregnant with twins and then he said, "I just saw, you had one baby." It's the sort of thing where, in a cave.
But this is just a deep breath of happiness. I'll tell you here. I feel these two little guys on the radio sending me messages, you know, on the AM radio station on Sunday nights, and we get to know it. And you know, Marc and I chained together, literally. Like you listen to your families and you're -- you know, you are a family.
And I walked in here and the first time, it's about 40 minutes. I walked in here with the general. Here you got big general, ex- Special Forces guy. He was more nervous than I was, because he was just worried how this is going to go with the kids.
I opened the door. Now, imagine you've got these two children, to me which is -- and they just -- I hear, "Papa, Papa. Papa." And it just hit me, it was like I never had been gone. And that's credit to their mother.
It's -- there's an intensity level to it. When they first told us, like we were talking, "Hey, you're only going to see your family for 40 minutes," there is a reason for it. Forty minutes is overload. And so I did the 40 minutes. They took me out. A few hours later, you come back. These people here know how to manage this.
GONSALVES: This is the chess board, and here are the pieces that...
MEADE: How did you make the pieces?
GONSALVES: I was able to carve with a broken piece of a machete.
MEADE: So how often did this keep your mind sharp and pass the day?
GONSALVES: That's the point that I wanted to make, was that this chess set here must have gotten, wouldn't you say, hundreds of hours of use between -- between all the hostages. We -- it was a way for us to stop thinking about the cruel situation that we were in.
GONSALVES: And to think about something else and to exercise our minds.
MEADE: It looks great. It's incredible.
STANSELL: We would sit chained, thanks to this guy right here, something. He just woke up one morning and said he's got to do something. It was eight months, or something.
GONSALVES: Yes. STANSELL: Three months. Three months he spent carving this, just non-stop. And we might get hit, the camp, and we moved. And Marc rolled his chess set people. And we'd sit there in the morning, wearing chains. We're sitting Indian-style on a piece of plastic, just playing chess.
And when you're doing that, you're free. Your mind is engaged. You are not a prisoner. And that's -- that's the game. That's the victory. And they don't even know it. They could come look at us playing it, but we're not there. We're somewhere else when we're doing that.
BROWN: And that's not all these courageous men told Robin. You can watch all of their exclusive interview tomorrow on "MORNING EXPRESS" with Robin Meade at 6 a.m. Eastern on Headline News.
Up next, the breakthrough that cleared JonBenet Ramsey's family and could help police finally find her killer. We've got new details.
Plus, new information about a bizarre story we told you about a few weeks ago involving human feet washing up on shore. That's when 360 continues.
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LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": You resigned because?
STEVE THOMAS, FORMER BOULDER, COLORADO, POLICE DETECTIVE: Because I felt that Patsy was involved in this death, in this tragedy, and I felt that it had become such a debacle and it was going nowhere. Out of frustration, I left the case and police work.
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BROWN: That was eight years ago on "LARRY KING LIVE" when former police detective Steve Thomas confronted John and Patsy Ramsey, suggesting JonBenet Ramsey's mother may have killed her daughter. Both parents were under a cloud of suspicion until this week, when DNA evidence cleared the family.
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JOHN RAMSEY, FATHER OF JONBENET RAMSEY: It's hard for people to accept, I think, that someone could come into a home and murder a child from their bed. And we were perhaps an answer. Sadly, there's 2,000 children murdered in our country every year, and for some reason ours became a very, very public event.
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BROWN: It has taken 12 years to exonerate John, his late wife Patsy and JonBenet's brother, Burke. We know authorities have isolated the genetic profile of the killer, and they got it from a major new breakthrough in forensic science. What is it, how does it work? Tonight, we want to show you by taking you inside the lab.
With tonight's "Crime & Punishment" report, here's CNN's Brian Todd.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a cold case more than 11 years old, a dramatic turn. JonBenet Ramsey's family is cleared of her murder by prosecutors who tapped into a new world of DNA testing.
This office park in Wharton, Virginia, may seem an unlikely setting, but this is where the evidence finally turned in the Ramseys' favor. The labs of Bode Technology, where prosecutors from Boulder, Colorado, came for what's called touch evidence DNA testing. How is it different from traditional body fluid DNA tests?
ANGELA WILLIAMSON, DNA ANALYST, BODE TECHNOLOGY: Touch samples is something you can't see. You can't look at an item and say there's touch evidence. It's not a blood stain. It's not a seminal stain. It's an area where you think that person may have been grabbed.
TODD: DNA analyst Angela Williamson handled the Ramsey case. She can't show us the long johns belonging to JonBenet Ramsey they tested here, but she takes us through the process with a pair of shorts.
(on camera) This is essentially where the analysis process began. Say I'm the perpetrator and I grabbed this piece of clothing, pulled down or pulled any other direction, and then left it.
Angela, you're going to tell me how you take the sample from this particular piece of clothing, a skin sample.
WILLIAMSON: So once we know that information, we would mark the area where we think that you have made contact. In this case, I'd mark quite a large area like this, and I would include the inside. Then you just get your scalpel blade and take a fine layer of shavings from the top surface.
TODD (voice-over): The shavings from my skin cells are placed in a small vial. For hard surfaces, swabs are used. Next step, extraction, using machines like this centrifuge to remove dyes, dirt, bacteria from the skin sell DNA sample.
WILLIAMSON: That one takes about two hours. We have one that takes almost two days.
TODD: Next, the samples are copied, amplified. Extraneous DNA is cleaned out in these hoods with UV rays. Then they can get a profile.
In the Ramsey case...
WILLIAMSON: The DNA profile that we obtained is attributed to an unknown male. There is a XY chromosome.
TODD: One important part of this: touch evidence is used at the state and local levels on cases, but federal agents tell us there are certain types of touch evidence they don't use, because the technology's not been perfected yet. This is when there are only minute amounts of skin-cell DNA available and you could get a false positive.
Brian Todd, CNN, Lorton, Virginia.
BROWN: Touch DNA is an important new tool in solving crimes, but the science may actually be the easy part. DNA samples aren't taken from every criminal or every arrest. Why not?
Joining us for answers is CNN senior legal analyst Jeff Toobin.
Jeff, we just saw in Brian Todd's piece that, you know, investigators now have a complete DNA profile of this person they believe to be the killer. But ultimately is it going to help them catch this person?
JEFF TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you need to test that sample against known collected samples. But there are not really that many samples on file.
The FBI has 55 million fingerprints. They take fingerprints from everybody.
TOOBIN: I gave it when I was an assistant U.S. attorney. Anyone who gets a summer job in the government has to give fingerprints. But the CODUS DNA database only has about 5 million names in it. So the odds of getting a cold hit just running the profile through the data base is much lower, because there are just so fewer people in the database.
BROWN: But have cold hits been known to happen?
TOOBIN: They have, because the people who are in the database are convicted criminals. They tend to be repeat offenders. So they don't turn up in these cases.
BROWN: JonBenet's father, John Ramsey, said yesterday that he wants a law that would require police when they make a felony arrest to put that DNA into a national database. Something that might happen?
TOOBIN: It's a very good idea. So far the law has been much more restrictive when you can take DNA from people. You can take fingerprints from people all the time. But DNA, they have said -- the courts have said it's a more personal intrusion. It tells you more about a person than a fingerprint. So we're not going to let mere suspects be tested. The other point is simply money. There are lots of DNA samples sitting in police lockers that haven't been tested, rape kits, just because there's no money to do it.
BROWN: Right. Now, the Ramseys, after being under this cloud of suspicion for I don't know how many years now...
BROWN: Twelve years.
TOOBIN: Can you imagine, 12 years?
BROWN: They've been cleared. They've been apologized to. But do they have any recourse here in what happened?
TOOBIN: They have sued successfully, gotten settlements from various news media outlets who have written and said terrible things about them.
TOOBIN: But in terms of the government, I don't think they have any remedy. Because they weren't arrested, they weren't charged with anything. There was no proceedings entered against them. So they can't bring a case for false arrest. Those cases are very hard to win anyway.
But since there was nothing but the D.A. at the time saying they were under the umbrella of suspicion, which was simply true, they were. Frankly, you can't blame the police for looking into them. They were present in the house.
TOOBIN: Unfortunately, most children who die, die at the hands of their parents or family members. So it wasn't irrational to look into them. But I don't think they have any case against anybody.
BROWN: Jeff, you covered this from the beginning. Do you think this case will ever get solved?
TOOBIN: You know, I don't. I wish it were the case. Because at this point it's really just got to be a cold hit. They've undoubtedly run the names through the database once. I just think it's going to remain a mystery.
BROWN: Jeff Toobin for us tonight, as always, thanks.
Coming up next, the campaign road trip. We sent one of our producers cross country to ask people why this election is important to them. The results, shocking, inspiring, and you better believe entertaining. America unfiltered when 360 continues.
BROWN: Tonight, you have the power to cover the presidential race. It's with the iReport film festival. The concept is pretty simple. If you're involved in a campaign: volunteering, organizing, just attending rallies even, get a camera. Make a short documentary film. This is all about your experience and your creativity.
For more information, check out our Web page, AC360.com. For some ideas, we dispatched 360 producer Chuck Hadad, who had nine days to cover the country, asking people what's important to them in the election. And here's a sample from his road trip.
CHUCK HADAD, CNN PRODUCER (voice-over): I stop in Ft. Knox, Kentucky. In a country at war, I want to hear what our troops think.
Unfortunately, military policy will not allow these gentlemen to publicly take a stand on a candidate or on the war itself.
(on camera) Why is this election so important to you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This election is important to myself.
Hadad (voice-over): And my superior interviewing skills can't break through their training.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not another question out of you. Get down and give me 10. Go. Down, up, down, up.
Hadad: I think I'm starting to crack this drill sergeant.
In a military town, everybody is affected by war. This maid at my hotel says most of her family and friends are in the military, many currently in Iraq.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody is so tired of the war that they're just looking for someone to get them out. Whether you're a Republican, Democrat, independent, whatever. I think everybody is tired of it.
Hadad: Most military people she knows are leaning towards Obama for his promises on Iraq.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This If he brings them home, if he can bring them home, then get him in there, 110 percent. But if it's just something he's saying to get in there, it's going to crush a lot of people.
Hadad: Next stop, Nashville, to talk American politics with fans of America's pastime.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This Cold beer. On the house.
Hadad: The crowd is fun, politically engaged and about split between Obama, McCain and undecided. But I meet two people that rattle me a bit.
(on camera) You've been a Democrat your entire voting life, and now you're going to vote for a Republican. What is it that's making this huge switch for you after how many years of voting?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I don't like the candidate. I think he's a Muslim.
HADAD: For the record, Obama is a Christian.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go.
HADAD: She told me to talk to her friend Tony, who is very into politics.
TONY SLAY DEN, BASEBALL FAN: I say I'm an old southern boy. And I just don't know if I can see a black man making a change. The only black man I've ever seen with change had a cup in his hand.
HADAD: Whoa! Did he just say that?
SLAYDEN: The only black man I've ever seen with change has had a cup in his hand.
Hadad: Well, it's a big country.
BROWN: Wow. That's a portion of Chuck's film. And you can see the rest of part I of the iReport film festival site. Part II will be up tomorrow. Go to AC360.com and click on the link. If you want to submit a film, you have until October 12 to enter.
Once again, Randi Kaye joins us with the "360 News and Business Bulletin -- Randi.
KAYE: Hello again. A 360 follow on the missing foot mystery in British Colombia. Turns out two of the five that washed ashore belonged to the same person, a man. Authorities say it's an important break but admit they are still nowhere near solving the mystery. Police are combing through more than 200 missing person files trying to narrow things down.
Oil prices are back up again, rising over $5 since yesterday. That's more than 4 percent. Another round of Iranian missile testing apparently making investors jittery.
And long lines for the new iPhone. Apple rolls out the new model tomorrow in the states and around the word. This is the line in Sidney, Australia, but you can find them tonight just about anywhere those sleek little phones are sold.
I don't know, I can never wait in line like that for something like that.
BROWN: Too impatient.
BROWN: All right, Randi, "The Shot" is next. Animal tricks, can your pet open the mail? This bunny can.
And at the top of the hour, more tough talk, this time from the McCain campaign. That would be John McCain. A top adviser calls Americans whiners, reaction and McCain's response. That's coming up ahead.
BROWN: So Randi, it is time now for "The Shot." And we found this on wiseleak.com. It's both cute and functional. A pet rabbit doubling as a letter opener. Although if you look closely, I think the bunny is a little more interested in eating the mail than actually getting it.
KAYE: No kidding.
BROWN: I don't see him dropping, though. He's not swallowing that.
As with laughing babies, dancing animals, and singing nerds, this proves that the Internet wasn't created for communicating with one another. The purpose is to show us weird stuff.
KAYE: This is really fast, though. You notice?
BROWN: Do you think you can teach your cat that?
KAYE: I don't think so. I'm still trying to get my cat to use the toilet.
BROWN: Good luck. All right, you can see all the most recent shots on AC360.com.
And coming up at the top of the hour, John McCain doing damage control after his top economic adviser said we are becoming a nation of whiners. And that we're only in a mental recession.
Also, Barack Obama, is he talking down to African-Americans? Jesse Jackson thought so. We are checking the facts, next on 360.