Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
McCain on the Attack; Hurricane Dolly Targets Texas; More Charges Filed Against Polygamist Leader
Aired July 22, 2008 - 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: We begin with breaking news tonight: Barack Obama in the Middle East and John McCain taking shots at him back home. This could be a game changer.
Senator McCain says Obama doesn't understand the significance of the surge. Now he appears to have given critics reason to believe that he doesn't know one of the most basic facts about it, namely when it even began.
Here's what he told CBS' Katie Couric for an interview that aired tonight. He was responding to a question about Senator Obama, crediting the Sunni awakening in Anbar Province with improving conditions in Iraq, not just the surge.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CBS NEWS)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know how you respond to something that is such a false depiction of what actually happened. Colonel MacFarland, was contacted by one of the major Sunni sheiks. Because of the surge, we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others, and it began the Anbar awakening. I mean, that's just a matter of history, thanks to General Petraeus, our leadership, and the sacrifice of brave young Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: In other words, he's saying the surge made the Sunni awakening possible, except the timeline is wrong.
The surge was announced in January of 2007, with troops starting to arrive in early spring. Colonel Sean MacFarland, who McCain mentions, briefed reporters on the awakening back in September of 2006.
Here's what "The New York Times" said in April of 2007 -- quote -- "The turnabout began last September, when a federation of tribes in the Ramadi area came together as the Anbar Salvation Council to oppose the fundamentalist militants of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia."
And this from a recent history of Iraq in "Foreign Affairs" magazine: "The awakening began in Anbar Province more than a year before the surge and took off in the summer and fall of 2006 in Ramadi and elsewhere, long before extra U.S. forces started flowing into Iraq in February and March of 2007." We will have more on this shortly.
But, first, let's get you up to speed on the Obama trip, the backdrop for tonight's headline.
Here's CNN's Candy Crowley.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Barack Obama left Iraq as he went into it, convinced that a 16-month timetable for withdrawing U.S. combat troops is doable. Not everyone is on board, including someone who told him so, Obama's chopper companion, General David Petraeus, commander of coalition forces.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that his concern has to do with wanting to retain as much flexibility as possible.
CROWLEY: Obama says it's not a matter of ignoring military brass on the ground, but as commander in chief, he would be prepared to overrule it.
OBAMA: I'm factoring in their advice, but placing it in this broader strategic framework that -- that's required.
CROWLEY: In addition to resistance from Petraeus, Obama also admitted to some trepidation from tribal leaders he meant with in Sunni-controlled Anbar Province.
OBAMA: It is true that some of the tribal leaders, as well as the local governor in Anbar, expressed concerns about a potential precipitous drawdown of U.S. troops, which is why I haven't proposed a precipitous drawdown. What I have proposed is a steady, deliberate drawdown over the course of 16 months.
CROWLEY: Obama and his two fellow senators on the Iraq trip agreed that military and political progress has been made since the surge began. But Obama, hit repeatedly by McCain for opposing the surge, balked at calling it a success.
OBAMA: I believe that the situation in Iraq is more secure than it was a year and a half ago. I think that the definition of success depends on how you look at it.
CROWLEY: Obama's first post-Iraq news conference was held on a mountaintop against a backdrop of Amman, Jordan, where he met and dined with King Abdullah, as he will meet with Israeli, Palestinian and European leaders. It's a trip designed to shine up his foreign policy credibility back home, a presidential-style agenda, though Obama has to be careful not to act as though he's already President. This is tricky.
OBAMA: There are a range of factors that I have to take into account as a commander in chief, or a potential commander in chief. CROWLEY: Obama brushed aside questions about McCain's criticism of him, hoping that will make the trip seem less like a campaign and more like what his political advisers insist it is, a discussion of important issues.
Still, Obama has a campaign camera in tow. They are considering using footage that is shot here for future ads.
OBAMA: Thank you very much, everybody.
CROWLEY (on camera): From here, Barack Obama flew to Israel. It will be perhaps the trickiest stop on this journey. In the past, along the campaign trail, Obama has said things that worry both the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Candy Crowley, CNN, Amman, Jordan.
COOPER: Well, John McCain also today leveled just about the roughest shot you can at an opponent, in so many words, accusing Barack Obama of selling out the country for a few votes.
He's talking about the surge, of course, which Senator Obama opposed and recently said he would still oppose if he had the choice today.
The fight is beginning to take on epic and ugly dimensions.
The "Raw Politics" tonight from CNN's Ed Henry.
ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In this corner...
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are winning that war.
HENRY: ... Republican John McCain, eager to deliver a punch about how he backed the surge in Iraq and now feels vindicated.
MCCAIN: I had the courage and the judgment to say that I would rather lose a political campaign than lose a war. It seems to me that Senator Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign.
HENRY: In the same corner, a White House trying to avoid the brawl.
DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'm not here to speak for Senator Obama. And he can -- he had a press conference today. He can speak for himself. I'm just not going to do it.
HENRY: But, sometimes, Dana Perino can't resist delivering a bit of a jab, as the media focuses on relentlessly Democrat Barack Obama's trip to the Middle East and Europe.
PERINO: Senator McCain had been there multiple times in the past several years, and knows all of those leaders very well.
HENRY: In the other corner, a Democrat who is not backing down from his opposition to the surge or his insistence the next move should be a 16-month withdrawal of U.S. troops.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The message we heard from Iraqi leaders is that they're ready to do more, and they want to take more responsibility for their country.
HENRY (on camera): Now Obama has some cover from Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has voiced support for his redeployment plan, complicating matters for people here at the White House and in the McCain camp.
JOE KLEIN, COLUMNIST, "TIME": His problem is that he's in possession of a tactical truth. The fact is that he was right about the surge. But Obama is in possession of a larger strategic truth. He was right that this was the wrong war to fight, and it was a diversion from our real -- our real enemies, Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.
HENRY (voice-over): McCain is pushing back, in part with a new video on his Web site dubbed "Obama Love."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN AD)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): You're just too good to be true. Can't take my eyes off of you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: Tweaking the media's fascination with Obama's candidacy in general...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN AD)
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: I felt this thrill going up my leg.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: ... and this trip in particular.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN AD)
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: It's like the Rolling Stones tour coming to town.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: An effort to whip up conservatives. But McCain used to be a media darling himself. KLEIN: I'm old enough to remember when, you know, we were accused of being in the tank to McCain. And a lot of us were, because McCain, in 2000, was running a fresh, fascinating campaign.
HENRY: Since losing to George W. Bush in 2000, however, McCain has grown closer to the president, especially on the war in Iraq, enabling Obama to bill himself as the fresh candidate this time.
COOPER: Ed, in a moment, we are going to talk to you and Joe Klein and David Gergen about what appears to be a pretty big mistake by John McCain tonight, talking about the surge.
But how is he dealing on the trail today and in other days with the fact that Maliki now in Iraq seems to have pulled the rug out from under him on a timetable?
HENRY: Well, Anderson, McCain is trying to play it as basically, look, there have been gains from the surge, but we could lose them if we don't keep U.S. troops there longer.
The problem, obviously, the reason why this is an uphill climb for McCain is that a lot of the American people are saying, look, because of success from the surge, it's finally time to start bringing more U.S. troops home to basically finish the job. And McCain is dealing with the fact that public opinion is such that a majority of the American people are saying, it's time to bring them home -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. In a moment, we're going to have more with Ed Henry and, as I said, Joe Klein and David Gergen on this apparent gaffe by John McCain. We will talk about the significance of it.
Tell us what you think of trip Obama has taken and the McCain charges. As always, I'm blogging throughout the hour. You can join the conversation at our Web site, AC360.com.
We will have also a statement from the McCain campaign about his comments tonight to Katie Couric.
And later, breaking news, new charges against Warren Jeffs, this time involving the notorious ranch in Texas.
Also, we're tracking Hurricane Dolly, the second hurricane this season and the first one targeting the Texas Gulf Coast -- warnings up tonight from Brownsville to Corpus Christi.
We will have the latest -- ahead on 360.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CBS NEWS)
MCCAIN: I don't know how you respond to something that is such a false depiction of what actually happened. Colonel MacFarland, was contacted by one of the major Sunni sheiks. Because of the surge, we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others, and it began the Anbar awakening. I mean, that's just a matter of history, thanks to General Petraeus, our leadership, and the sacrifice of brave young Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: John McCain apparently confusing the Iraqi timeline. The surge began in early spring of 2007. The Sunni awakening started in early autumn of 2006.
Let's talk about the political repercussions, if any.
Ed Henry is at the White House. Also "TIME" magazine's Joe Klein, and CNN senior political analyst David Gergen joins us on the phone.
Joe, I don't like to play gotcha. You know, a word slip-up here and there, I usually tend to ignore. But how significant a mistake is this?
KLEIN: Well, I don't know how significant a mistake it is, although it does tend to reinforce my sense that John McCain kind of skims the surface of Iraq.
A year ago, in Baghdad, I asked General Petraeus, how did the Anbar awakening start? And he told me the story of Colonel MacFarland, who had been there six months before Petraeus ever showed up, and how he had to put a tank in the front yard of a Sunni sheik in order to protect him.
It was an absolutely memorable story. And Petraeus gave credit to where it was due, not to himself, not to the surge, but to the troops who had been there six months, a year before.
If John McCain ever asked David Petraeus how the Anbar awakening started, he would have known that it started well before the surge.
COOPER: David, David Gergen, given that this is a central attack that John McCain has against Barack Obama, how significant do you think this is?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Anderson, I do think it's a mistake, but I think the bigger mistake today was arguing, as you said earlier -- John McCain said twice today that he personally would rather lose a campaign than lose a war. And he said -- he has charged that Senator Obama would rather lose a war than a campaign. That's a very tough charge.
But, on this -- on this issue of the gaffe regarding the surge, it's -- when President Bush announced the surge, he acknowledged that there was an awakening among the Sunnis, that there was something going on that was very positive. And everyone since then has understood that what has worked in Iraq is the surge, but it's been with a confluence of other events. It's been the joining together of the surge with other events. Yes, the surge -- and John McCain, as a chief architect, deserves credit for that. But it's also true that it was a confluence.
But, Anderson, where I think this story is probably going to go is toward the issue of age. John McCain nearing his 72nd birthday coming this August, you know, in the last few days has confused the border of Iraq and the border of Afghanistan. Not long ago, he confused Somalia with Sudan.
And what you're going to do is find his critics arguing the age issue. And we have already -- already, on "LARRY KING" tonight, for example, there was an argument, a vigorous argument, about his age. So, I think that...
COOPER: But, David, just to play devil's advocate on this, given the 24-hour nature of these campaigns, it's natural that people would make mistakes if they're being video-recorded every minute of the day, no?
GERGEN: Absolutely. That's absolutely true. And Barack Obama has certainly made his share of mistakes.
And John McCain is given -- he likes to do these impromptu interviews. That's what made him -- as Joe Klein said, at one time, he was the darling of the press because he was so frank and candid, and certainly back in the 2000 campaign, and I think even in this Republican primary season.
But if you're asking -- what you're asking about the political significance of something like this, it goes to the question of how your opponents can use it, and what they can use it as is a way to plant doubts or plant questions in people's minds.
This is -- at one point, this age issue in the 1984 reelection of President Reagan became his biggest vulnerability, Reagan's biggest vulnerability. He went on to win a thumping reelection. And this is not to say that it will penalize John McCain for a long time. I don't think that's the case. But I do think a pattern would -- would allow his opponents to plant those seeds.
COOPER: Ed Henry, I know you know...
COOPER: Wait. Before we go to you, Joe, I just want to get -- I know, Ed Henry, you have got a statement, I think, from the McCain campaign about this.
HENRY: That's right, Anderson. To pick up on what David Gergen was saying, the McCain camp is saying, look, this is being pushed by Democrats, because they're trying to change the subject from the fact that Barack Obama will not admit that the surge has worked on the ground in Iraq.
Tucker Bounds, I just got off the phone with him, a McCain spokesman, saying -- quote -- "The surge strategy that was supported by John McCain and opposed by Barack Obama was responsible for the reduction in violence we have seen over the last year-and-a-half. If Barack Obama had had his way, the sheiks who started the awakening would have been murdered at the hands of al Qaeda, and U.S. forces would have already left Iraq in defeat" -- obviously, a continuation of what Joe was saying earlier today, some of the tough shots from the McCain camp.
But one last point is, the McCain camp is also pointing me to something Joe is talking about, what General Petraeus has said about the awakening. And the McCain camp is trying to show that this backs John McCain up.
But, in fact, what General Petraeus said in April of 2008 is -- quote -- "The first awakening, which, to be fair, took place -- it started before the surge, but then very much was enabled by the surge, because that enabled us to clear areas over time within Iraq."
So, essentially, General Petraeus is saying it's a little gray, that the awakening started before the surge, but then the surge, once it got into place in 2007, helped the awakening go further.
HENRY: John McCain didn't quite put it that way.
COOPER: And, Joe, that's a fair argument.
COOPER: That's a fair argument, Joe, that the fact that there were troops helped -- that there were a surplus of troops did help the Sunni tribes who wanted to awake.
KLEIN: It wasn't the surplus of troops. It was the fact that Petraeus really knew how to leverage this and move it into other parts of the country.
But, if you want to be absolutely precise about this, the Sunni awakening -- and David Petraeus is absolutely precise about it -- the Sunni awakening began earlier.
Now, to go to David's points, I think that these sort of gaffes aren't very serious. You know, the Iraq-Afghanistan -- Afghani border, everybody makes mistakes like that. Or at least people my age do. And Barack Obama has done it on the trail. What is far more serious is the way that McCain continues to characterize this war, in these stark terms. A year ago, he was saying that, if we left, al Qaeda would take over the entire country. Al Qaeda is a tiny Sunni sliver in a big Shiite country. That was never going to happen.
McCain has been overstating his case throughout, in part for effect. I suppose the question is, does he really believe this? But what he said today -- and David Gergen is absolutely right about this -- what he said about Barack Obama being willing to lose a war to win an election is the most scurrilous thing that I have heard a presidential candidate say in the nine elections I have covered.
Scurrilous things have been said before, but they're usually said by aides, and the fact -- or by spokespeople. And the fact that John McCain would choose to do this by himself is a very significant moment in this campaign.
COOPER: We're going to have to leave it there.
David Gergen, appreciate you calling in.
Ed Henry, for the statement, as well, thank you.
Straight ahead, Bill Bennett and James Carville weigh in on the Obama-McCain battle and why it has been such a tough week for John McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: McCain just seems frustrated. They seem angry. And they seem to be doing stupid things, in a time when Obama is having a very good week.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Bill Bennett as well.
Later, polygamist Warren Jeffs, already in prison, now facing even more charges -- breaking news on that tonight, "Crime and Punishment" ahead.
COOPER: Barack Obama arriving today in Amman, Jordan. He is spending tonight in Jerusalem. He will be touring Israel and the Palestinian territories tomorrow.
His trip so far is dominating the headlines, certainly not to the liking of the McCain forces, leaving Senator McCain facing paltry coverage and, as you saw before the break, trying to make the case that he was right on Iraq, and Senator Obama still doesn't get it. Joining me now in a "Strategy Session," CNN contributors James Carville, on the left, and Bill Bennett, on the right.
James, does John McCain get it, in that he's arguing about the past, about saying that he supported the surge, Barack Obama didn't, and, if it wasn't for the surge, none of the progress that's been made would have been made? Does he get it, or does Barack Obama get it?
CARVILLE: Well, I think, first of all, in terms of the week, I think Barack Obama is having his way this week. I mean, he's got a golden glow.
McCain seems to be frustrated. They have made a lot of mistakes this week. They put up a really bad TV ad that blew up in their face. They have had some bad visuals. And he seems kind of cranky, because Obama is having such a good trip.
And, you know, sometimes, in politics, when you're going bad, you have got to take a deep breath and just stop digging yourself in a hole. And I think that's something that Senator McCain and them are having to deal with right now.
COOPER: Bill, is he digging himself a hole by focusing on the past, or is that really the best -- his best argument right now, he supported the surge, Obama didn't?
BILL BENNETT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, I don't think so. It is the best argument.
Look, Obama has had a good week. You know, he shows up, the soldiers seem very glad to see him. They don't boo him. He sinks two three-pointers in a row, Anderson, you know.
COOPER: Not bad.
BENNETT: Pretty impressive.
BENNETT: And he gets this endorsement by Maliki.
Now, what McCain has to stress is -- is that Obama is there, and he's fortunate, lucky, that he's the beneficiary of policies which he opposed, but which were put into place. John McCain, George Bush, the fighting men and women on the ground made this surge happen.
The surge has resulted in a peaceful Iraq, which makes Obama's proposals more plausible, indeed plausible enough to get the support of Maliki. So, Obama looks good, there's no doubt about it, with this slap on the back. But what made him look good? What brought us to this point? And that was the surge, on which John McCain risked his political career.
COOPER: But James, he says, and, look, yes, the increase in troops helped, but he also says, it was the Sunni awakening.
COOPER: He also says, it was the decision by Shia militia groups to lay down their arms.
COOPER: Does he have a point there?
CARVILLE: Yes, I'm sure, sure he has a point, and I'm sure his entire point -- and his point may very well be correct, but he doesn't really need to argue the point.
McCain is certainly entitled to make his point. But McCain just seems frustrated. They seem angry. And they seem to be doing stupid things, in a time when Obama is having a very good week.
And McCain upped the ante on this trip. And, as a result of that, he's given Obama a glow thus far in the trip. Now, the trip's not over. Something bad could happen. I mean, I have been around politics too long to know what happened the last four days doesn't have much to do with the next four minutes.
BENNETT: Yes. Luck shifts. "Moby Dick" says the universal thump gets passed around. It's -- McCain's had a few thumps this week.
BENNETT: On your question, Anderson, yes, other things have happened, too, but how much of what else happened which has helped was brought about as a result of the surge, the inevitability of the American force overcoming al Qaeda?
And we have been hearing this argument from the Democrats in Washington that, you know, the political problems are still not being solved and not being addressed. Now the argument is, it was the political action and not the surge.
Good things have happened. I think the McCain campaign's frustration -- James is right in how he describes it -- is they thought they were setting a trap for Obama. And because of the success of the surge, some good luck, timing -- and, by the way, a lot of people think it's that old bane of liberals, Ahmad Chalabi, who has been advising Maliki on this to endorse Obama and pat him on the back. That's kind of interesting, too.
COOPER: Well, it is pretty stunning that...
CARVILLE: What an ingrate.
(LAUGHTER) COOPER: It is stunning that the week that Obama is there, not only does the Maliki government signal a shift; even the Bush White House seems to be moving more toward Obama's positions on a number of issues, on Iran, sending a negotiator there, although he wasn't there to negotiate, but his presence there certainly sent a symbol.
I mean, is that sort of undercutting McCain's argument right there?
BENNETT: Yes, I think it is.
I said earlier, as he goes to Israel, if he gets peace between Israel and the Palestinians, even I will vote for him.
BENNETT: I mean, this is a hell of a run. This is a hell of a run he's having.
I can't understand the Bush reaction. This was such a tough situation, a tough argument that was made by Bush and McCain that, you know, you cannot do this -- these meetings. And it looks as if there's been some about-face on it.
Now people ask, can John McCain distinguish his positions from George Bush? Here's one where he ought to jump in and say, I totally disagree with what the State Department is doing here.
COOPER: Well, also the question, James, isn't the question kind of, can John McCain distinguish his positions from Obama on Iraq at this point? I mean, there doesn't seem to be a huge amount -- there's not an ocean separating them, other than arguing over the past and the surge.
CARVILLE: You know, and I suspect that the voters are sitting there, saying, can we talk about the shoe clerks in this poker game?
And you're right. It's a little bit like splitting hairs when some guy says 16 months, and Maliki says this, and Bush says this, and we're negotiating, but we're not negotiating.
In the meantime, people's lives are really -- are really -- the quality of their lives is really deteriorating around them, at least in terms of economics. And it -- and I understand that Obama has to do this.
It seems like McCain could be using this opportunity to really get into what's happening in people's lives, as opposed to getting into these Talmudic discussions about, you know, timelines vs. horizons or something.
BENNETT: Well, but I think -- I think -- look, this is obviously John McCain's strong suit. This is his game. And he was pushing for the surge. Again, he put himself at political risk in doing that. The surge has been successful.
I think you make a great point there, Anderson, when you say that we will go when we have won, and it looks like you have almost won, and the other guy is saying, well, how about 16 months, those differences begin to look -- look quite small.
CARVILLE: The truth of the matter is, is that McCain's response to this trip has not been very effective at all.
BENNETT: Well, again, they thought they were putting him in a trap. And the shifting sands of Iraq, it's a little bit like putting a guy on the witness stand when you don't know exactly what the answer is going to be. And, again, I think here he was lucky.
You know, luck changes. James knows about luck. I used to. I don't anymore.
CARVILLE: I know -- I know something about bad luck.
BENNETT: Well, we all know about that.
CARVILLE: ... seven and out, but...
COOPER: All right. We will leave it there. It's been a fascinating week.
James Carville, Bill Bennett, thanks.
CARVILLE: Thank you.
COOPER: Up next, the latest on the path of Hurricane Dolly. Severe weather expert Chad Myers has new information from the National Hurricane Center about when this thing is going to make landfall.
And Gary Tuchman is live on South Padre Island, where the storm is expected to hit tomorrow morning.
Also ahead, dramatic 911 calls from the friend of a North Carolina mother made hours after Nancy Cooper disappeared. Could they help lead to her killer? Our "Crime and Punishment" report -- coming up.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Very big night of breaking stories. We turn to Hurricane Dolly, targeting the Texas coast. Warnings from Brownsville to Corpus Christi. The major concern, not just the wind but massive amounts of rain, as well. CNN severe weather expert Chad Myers is tracking the storm. He joins us now with the latest.
Chad, how does it look?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Anderson, and this storm is going to be slowing down. Not only will it be raining, but it will be pounding the coast for hours tomorrow and then driving itself up the Rio Grande. That is going to put down tremendous amounts of rain; 15 to 20 inches not out of the question as the storm continues to move to the west.
As it continues to move to the west, it will put down the rain in the mountains in Mexico and also into the -- kind of the hill country here of Texas. And all of that water will try to get into the Rio Grande, and it will spell a lot of flooding.
The only good news is there has been an exceptional drought in Texas. There's a lot of water, a lot of places for this water to go. It can soak in. But if it comes down too quickly, we all know that it just all runs off all too quickly.
Here's the storm right now. In about 30 minutes we're going to get the latest. I believe this storm is trying to get a better eye wall right now. It has had trouble all day trying to get an eye wall. It's tried. It's had a west side almost all day long, but it can't get an east side. It can't get these storms to wrap around and can't get everything going that it needs to really make a low pressure system even lower. That's the warm core of this storm.
So as long as it has some trouble, that's good news. It should not get too much more intense. But if this makes its way all the way around before it makes its way on shore by morning, this should be even a stronger storm than it is right now. Only 75 miles per hour, that's a minimal hurricane. But if you're on this barrier island, which is South Padre, you're going to be getting a pounding all night long.
COOPER: And Chad, any sense of, once it hits land, how quickly it will dissipate? I mean, you know, it's obviously going to slow down.
MYERS: It slows down, but the humidity and the moisture with this storm is just going to park itself here. And it's going to be raining for probably, I don't know -- maybe two days, two or three days, long enough to really breach some of these levees that are in the McAllen area, too, very dangerous area there. If you live anywhere along the levee system of the Rio Grande, you need to get out of the way at this point.
Well, see what happens, but the flood watches are already posted for parts of Texas and northern Mexico. COOPER: All right. Chad Myers, thanks. We'll check in with you again as we get a new bulletin, as you said, hopefully within this half hour.
It is not going to be a picnic on Padre Island. Those are the words of warning about Hurricane Dolly from the director of the National Hurricane Center. Chad echoed that a second ago.
About 1.5 million people are in the path of the storm along the Texas coast. South Padre Island is right in the bull's-eye. That's where 360's Gary Tuchman is tonight. He joins us live.
Gary, are they ready?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're ready, Anderson. And most people seem to have left. You're right; we're not planning any picnics right here on South Padre Island, because this is the middle of where Hurricane Dolly is supposed to arrive.
And they're not used to hurricanes here. They haven't been directly hit by a hurricane on South Padre Island, which is the southern-most tip of Texas on the beach, since 1980. That's Hurricane Allen. So 28 years have gone by since a hurricane directly hit here.
Three years ago, they were side-swiped by a hurricane. That was Hurricane Emily. It happened this week three years ago, one month before Hurricane Katrina had caused massive flooding.
And that is the big concern here on this island, the massive flooding that they're expecting all over the Rio Grande Valley, in cities like Harlingen and McAllen and Brownsville and here on South Padre Island.
We've heard this before, Anderson, in New Orleans. We talked about it for years now. But they're very concerned about the levees on the Rio Grande River, which is about 15 minutes away from here, and concern that, when this is all over, they're going to have immense problems.
Now, on this island, South Padre Island, there are only about 2,000 people who live here year round. But this time of year, this is the busiest time. Everyone hears about Spring Break. That's busy, too. But the summer is very busy: 200,000 people here. Most have evacuated.
And I just want to show you one thing. Everyone is boarded up except this place, the Blue Sky souvenir stand. There's so much glass and so much window, the owner says there's nothing he can do about it. He flies an American flag and hopes for the best -- Anderson.
COOPER: Well, let's hope. Gary, appreciate it. Thanks.
Up next, more breaking news. New criminal charges against self- proclaimed polygamist prophet Warren Jeffs. He's back in the news, new charges. Plus, does the "Dark Knight" have a dark side? "Batman" actor Christian Bale facing allegations he assaulted either his mom or his sister. He was arrested by police in London. The details, next.
COOPER: More breaking news tonight. Warren Jeffs, the jailed polygamist prophet, and five of his followers have been indicted by Texas, by a Texas grand jury. They've been investigating the sect following the raid on its compound in West Texas.
CNN's David Mattingly has more on these late-breaking developments -- David.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a grand jury behind closed doors in West Texas tonight coming out with some very public indictments. Warren Jeffs, the jailed leader of the polygamist FLDS sect, is now wanted in Texas for the alleged sexual assault of a child. Four other FLDS men are also indicted for allegedly assaulting girls under the age of 17. And a fifth follower is indicted on three counts of allegedly failing to report child abuse.
The Texas attorney general will not release the names of the men they are looking for but says he will do so once they are apprehended.
This has all been building since that massive raid on the Yearning for Zion ranch in West Texas back in April. Child welfare officials took more than 400 women and children into custody, alleging that girls as young as 13 or 14 were being married to adult and sometimes middle-aged men.
Everyone was sent home, however, after the state appeals court said officials didn't have the evidence they needed to keep the children from their parents.
Now, apparently, a grand jury believes there's enough evidence to arrest Warren Jeffs and his followers -- some of his followers. We know that back in May, DNA samples were taken from Jeffs as part of an investigation into allegations he had spiritually married several underage girls, one as young as 12 years old.
This new charge against Jeffs is the first against him in Texas. He's currently in jail in Arizona, waiting trial for charges there. Last November, Jeffs was sentenced to two consecutive terms of five years to life in Utah after being convicted of being an accomplice to rape in connection with a marriage he performed in 2001, that involving a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin -- Anderson.
COOPER: So is anyone from the FLDS talking about this tonight? Because, you know, a couple weeks ago when all this was happening, folks on that West Texas ranch suddenly, you know, became very media friendly.
MATTINGLY: Well, the attorney who speaks for this sect tonight says it's still too early. He doesn't really know what to say about these new indictments. I've tried to reach out to some of the contacts I've had within that compound. Haven't been able to reach anyone tonight.
But remember, Anderson, everyone believes that Warren Jeffs is -- at that sect, believes that he was wrongfully prosecuted, wrongfully arrested, wrongfully imprisoned. And they believe that their legal problems are the result of religious persecution. These indictments unlikely are going to change that.
COOPER: Yes, certainly not. David Mattingly, appreciate the update. Thanks.
Still to come tonight, we're awaiting for another update on Hurricane Dolly, on the move in the Gulf of Mexico, headed for the Texas-Mexico border.
First, though, Erica Hill joins us with a "360 News Bulletin" -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, terror in the streets of Jerusalem just hours before Barack Obama's arrival. A 22-year-old Palestinian crashed a backhoe into cars and buses, flipping some over, smashing windows. Five people were injured before he was shot and killed.
Now this is the second attack using construction equipment in a month. In that first attack, three people were killed.
In London, Batman busted. Christian Bale, who stars in "The Dark Knight," is accused of assaulting his mother and sister at a hotel Sunday night. His publicist says Bale has not been charged and denies those allegations.
And in Colombia, seating collapses. Look at this, all around. It's a makeshift bullfighting ring. About a dozen people were injured. Amazing it wasn't more people, actually. The bulls, though, running around during all of this, as the makeshift ring of seats there collapses.
HILL: A bit of chaos.
COOPER: That was unbelievable.
All right. Up next, shocking new details about the death of a 21-year-old black man, tasered to death by a white police officer. Did racism play a role? Will the coroner's just-released report lead to criminal charges? Should it? We're "Keeping Them Honest."
Plus, new developments in the murder of a young mother and new questions about the state of Nancy Cooper's marriage. We'll tell you what a friend said, and you'll hear the 911 calls, a friend calling 911 about her disappearance, when 360 continues.
COOPER: A story that could become the next Jena Six has taken a stunning turn. Tonight, we have new information about the final minutes of Baron Pikes' life. The 21-year-old died six months ago after a Louisiana cop tasered him nine times. Pikes was African- American, the officer was white.
Until now we only had the police officer's side of the story, but the coroner has just released his report, and it paints a much different picture of that deadly afternoon.
Drew Griffin of CNN's special investigations unit is "Keeping Them Honest."
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Winnfield, Louisiana, is just a 45-minute drive from the small down of Jena, where nooses in a tree sparked racial outrage last year over black and white justice in this small Louisiana town. Now Winnfield could be a new racial flashpoint.
Attorney Carol Powell-Lexing says police racism led to a murder.
(on camera) Do you think this is a cover-up or...?
CAROL POWELL-LEXING, FAMILY ATTORNEY: No doubt, no doubt. Nothing but a cover-up.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Six months ago, a 21-year-old black man named Baron Pikes, a cousin of one of the Jena Six, Mychal Bell, died in police custody at the Winnfield Police Department. How it happened has officially remained a secret, until now.
Coroner Ralph Williams has just released his findings. A white officer armed with a taser, he says, violated every Winnfield police procedure on taser use, ultimately killing a black man in handcuffs.
(on camera) What does a man down on the ground handcuffed getting repeatedly shocked?
DR. RANDOLPH WILLIAMS, WINN PARISH CORONER: Well, it's a homicide.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): For months, police have said Pikes may have been on drugs, may have fought with police, may have somehow caused his own death. The coroner says none of it is true.
(on camera) He wasn't on PCP?
WILLIAMS: No, he was not.
GRIFFIN: He had no crack in his system?
WILLIAMS: No, he didn't. No, he did not.
GRIFFIN: Was he healthy (ph), then?
WILLIAMS: Yes. GRIFFIN (voice-over): He weighed 247 pounds. And, according to the coroner, he was having trouble following police orders to get up. So Officer Scott Nugent pulled out his taser, like this one, and fired.
WILLIAMS: The first shot was fired at 1:37 p.m. And you have six shots fired by 1:40, OK? In three minutes, or less than three minutes, actually.
GRIFFIN: That was only the beginning. He was loaded into a patrol car and taken to police headquarters.
(on camera) According to the coroner, when they got here to the police station, Baron Pikes now, in the back seat, handcuffed, already tasered six times, wouldn't, or couldn't get out of the back seat fast enough for Officer Nugent. So Nugent tasered him again.
Shot No. 7 is what they call a dry stun, the taser placed directly onto Baron Pikes right interior chest and fired. And still, it wasn't over.
WILLIAMS: After he got the dry stun to the chest, he was thrown out of the car on the concrete and then electroshocked two more times.
GRIFFIN: Pikes' family has hired Attorney Carol Powell-Lexing, who says race played a role in Pikes' death.
POWELL-LEXING: It is very important to stay vigilant regarding these type of cases on the injustice that's perpetrated on the disadvantage.
LIEUTENANT CHARLES CURRY, WINNFIELD POLICE DEPARTMENT: I don't see where race caused this death. I don't see where race caused this situation to start with.
GRIFFIN: Lieutenant Charles Curry is trying his best to diffuse racial tension, but he can't explain why a black, handcuffed suspect was tasered so many times by a white officer. The city council has fired Nugent. He's appealing. His attorney tells CNN the officer followed procedure.
PHILLIP TERRELL, SCOTT NUGENT ATTORNEY: He tried to untangle his arms out of his handcuffs, tried to pull him to the ground, repeatedly fell to the ground. The only thing he could have done other than just say, "OK, we're going to let you go," is either beat him or tase him. He did the right thing.
GRIFFIN: Any day now the district attorney here will decide if Officer Nugent did the right thing or if the death of Baron Pikes was a crime.
Drew Griffin, CNN, Winnfield, Louisiana.
COOPER: And we'll continue to follow. A quick program note: CNN's "Black in America" series debuts tomorrow at 9 p.m. Eastern. Over two nights, Soledad O'Brien takes a hard look at the myths, the facts, the stereotypes and the realities of being black in America. Wednesday, the focus is on black women and family, and Thursday on black men.
Police in North Carolina today released a recording of a 911 call made by a friend of Nancy Cooper, reporting her missing. Just ahead, what else she told police. Could it help them find Nancy Cooper's killer? That's next on 360.
COOPER: Newly-released 911 tapes may offer new clues on the murder of Nancy Cooper, the North Carolina mother of two small children didn't show up for a meeting with her friend. As the tapes reveal, she felt there was reason to worry.
In tonight's "Crime & Punishment" report, here's 360's Erica Hill.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her name is Nancy Cooper.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what is her address?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her husband and her are living together, but they're in the middle of a divorce. And he is -- hold on.
HILL (voice-over): Shaken and upset, Nancy Cooper's friend calls 911 to report her missing, hours after she failed to show at the caller's home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: According to her husband when I called this morning at about 9, he said that she had left this morning for a run, early, he believed with her friend, Carrie. But apparently, she's still not returned, and the situation is just a little bit -- she -- she should've been here.
Reporter: The woman had already called area hospitals, thinking maybe her friend had an accident on that early morning jog. But Nancy Cooper wouldn't be found for another two days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd like to report a body I found. I was out walking my dog.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn't go down to the body?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I could see it. It wasn't that far away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think she's behind any help?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I think she's dead. I didn't see her move. My dog was down there sniffing, and I didn't see any movement. HILL: Police say 34-year-old Nancy Cooper was murdered, but they won't say how. No suspects have been named.
The couple's two young children are now with their mother's family. A judge awarded them temporary custody, saying Cooper was unstable and posed a threat to his children. Bradley Cooper says he and his wife were having marital problems, but Cooper's attorney maintains his client had nothing to do with his wife's disappearance.
SETH BLUM, BRADLEY COOPER'S ATTORNEY: He has been very, very clear with the police. He did not kill his wife.
HILL: Police say Cooper has been cooperating. So now Nancy Cooper's twin sister and family wait. And remember a life taken too soon.
KHRISTA LISTER, NANCY COOPER'S TWIN SISTER: I have a bond with Nancy that no one in the world has. All I have to do to remember her is just look in the mirror.
HILL: Now, while Kerry (ph) police have not said, Anderson, how she died, they have not named a suspect, what they have said that's interesting is that they do not believe this crime was random.
COOPER: Such a sad story.
In south Texas, a long night ahead as they brace for Hurricane Dolly. The coastline could take a serious beating. We'll have the latest just ahead.
COOPER: Time now for our "Beat 360" winners. Tonight's picture, three customers checking on the process of their fish pedicure treatment at a nail salon in Virginia. Apparently, fish pedicures are the latest rage. I don't...
HILL: I don't know that I'm going to try one.
COOPER: It's -- I just find it -- apparently, the fish serve as pumice stones, and when they're done there are no more calluses. I find it kind of...
HILL: They eat your dead skin. Let's just lay it out there.
COOPER: You really have to spell it out like that?
HILL: I did. I did.
COOPER: Isn't this cruel and unusual for the fish, frankly?
HILL: I haven't asked the fish, but maybe we should.
COOPER: Anyway, our staff -- have you ever heard of this? HILL: No, I haven't.
COOPER: All right. Our staff winner tonight is Erica Hill.
HILL: Thank you.
COOPER: A clever caption: "Sure it works, but it's no Ped Egg." There you go.
Our viewer winner is Mike from Syracuse, New York. His caption: "If you think this is weird, wait until you see how they do the perms." Ba-dum-bah. There you go.
HILL: I could see that you're impressed with my Ped Egg comment.
COOPER: I know. I liked the Ped Egg comment.
HILL: I would like to update you on the fact that I believe, as the "Beat 360" tally stands, it's Anderson one last week.
HILL: Erica two.
COOPER: True. OK, you're far ahead.
HILL: Fired up there, Joey.
COOPER: But we all bow down to the greatness of Joey. A
All right. Congratulations, Mike, your "Beat 360" t-shirt is on the way. You can check out all the entries on our blog, AC360.com.
Coming up, still ahead, Hurricane Dolly churning toward the U.S.- Mexico border, bringing heavy rains and the threat of flooding. When and where is it going to make landfall? The latest forecast just ahead.
Plus, John McCain coming down hard on Barack Obama over Iraq. We'll have the latest from the campaign trial, tonight.
COOPER: We begin with breaking news tonight. Dolly is now a hurricane and gathering force. We'll have the new advisory from the hurricane center on where it's headed and when.
Also tonight, face-off. Barack Obama in the Middle East talking about peace and the surge. John McCain at home taking a tough shot at Obama, saying Obama would rather win the election than win in Iraq.
And what many Democrats will no doubt jump on tomorrow, McCain tonight saying Obama has the timeline of the surge all wrong. But does, in fact, McCain have it all wrong?