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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Air France Bodies Found; North Korea Sentences U.S. Journalists; Palin's Party?
Aired June 8, 2009 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, the ocean starts giving up pieces and victims of Air France Flight 447. Right now, the U.S. Navy and the French navy are racing to search for answers to the crash itself -- the black box and other flight recorders still missing.
While that happens, airlines are scrambling to update their jets to eliminate a potential source of dangerous. We are live with all the latest.
Also ahead tonight: what two American journalists have in store after being sentenced to a dozen years hard labor in North Korea. Also, a rare look and chilling look at life inside the work camps, and new details of the diplomatic effort to save Laura Ling and Euna Lee.
And what is happening with Sarah Palin and the Republican Party? She is getting big attention at a gathering tonight, a big fund- raiser, upstaging the keynote speaker, even though she is not scheduled to say a word. Is she trying to remake the GOP into the party of "Good Old Palin"?
We begin with the latest on Air France 447 -- tonight, more bodies recovered, an iconic piece of the Airbus raised from the ocean, and the uniquely challenging search gearing up for the jet's two flight recorders. They could be in water four miles deep, beyond the reach of all but unmanned recovery craft, and beyond the earshot of anything but sonar normally used for hunting enemy subs.
Karl Penhaul is on an island off Brazil about 220 miles from the apparent crash site. He joins us now with more.
Karl, what's the latest?
KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, more bodies have been recovered, 24 bodies so far, according to the Brazilian authorities. They say more have been sighted and could be recovered in the next few hours.
But this -- there's -- there's also pieces of debris, very significant, large pieces of degree that have also been recovered, along with some of the passengers' luggage. But this search area is so big, it is so far from the mainland, and it is in water so deep, that the experts are saying that a full recovery is going to be very difficult, if not impossible.
COOPER: We're going to more with Karl Penhaul live from that island off Brazil, the latest on the search, and those pictures, as you saw there, of the tail section of the plane and probably the biggest piece of wreckage so far found. We will have all the latest on that a little bit later on in the program.
On next, though, to a story that is playing out largely behind the scenes tonight, the effort to free these two young men, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, two American journalists arrested by North Korean border guards, put on trial, and today, we learned, sentenced to 12 years hard labor, their sentence far harsher than expected, the conditions of their detention, as you will see shortly, likely to be brutal.
We are with Laura Ling and Euna Lee's families last week in California. Tonight, they are staying away from the cameras, so as not to upset a high-level, high-stakes diplomatic push to try bring these two women, the women they love, home.
LAURA LING, AMERICAN JOURNALIST: Five, six hours deep into the mountains.
COOPER (voice-over): A nightmare scenario after a sister's plea for mercy.
LISA LING, SISTER OF LAURA LING: They never meant to -- to cross into North Korea. And, if for some reason, they may have, then we are sorry. And we hope the North Korean government will -- will show mercy when they deliver a verdict and allow the girls to come home.
COOPER: The girls, Laura Ling and her fellow journalist, Euna Lee, it seems, won't be coming home any time soon, sentenced to 12 years of -- quote -- "reform through labor" in a North Korean prison.
A terse government statement said the pair had committed a grave crime against the North Korean nation. Today, shunning the spotlight after the news, the families, in a statement told, CNN, in part: "We're very concerned about their mental state and well-being. We remain hopeful that the governments of the United States and North Korea can come to an agreement that will result in the release of the girls."
President Obama was said to be -- quote -- "deeply concerned" and his administration urged restraint.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We're engaged in all possible ways, through every possible channel to secure their release, and we once again urge North Korea to grant their immediate release on humanitarian grounds.
COOPER: The verdict was handed down the day after the U.S. said it is considering adding North Korea back onto the list of countries that sponsor terrorism. The State Department insists, it recent verbal sparring with North Korea should be separate from Ling and Lee's captivity. But the family is worried the women might now be pawns in a U.S./North Korea showdown.
LISA LING: Right now, there is a nuclear standoff going on. And Laura and Euna are in the middle of it. And, so, what we are hoping is that our two countries keep these issues totally separate.
COOPER: Bill Richardson twice negotiated the release of Americans in North Korea as a special envoy while in Congress.
GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: Their rhetoric of the North Koreans on the two women has been muted. It hasn't been on the -- on the -- on the standoff on nuclear issues, of testing, but that is good news. There is not a charge of espionage. So, I see some positive, hopeful signs to getting them out.
COOPER: A silver lining, perhaps but little solace to families back home, who don't know when they will see their loved ones again.
We spent time with both families last week. Euna has a 4-year- old daughter named Hannah who doesn't understand where her mother is. Both families are left to sit and wait, clinging to the little communication they have had with the woman, like this single letter from Laura to her husband, Iain.
IAIN CLAYTON, HUSBAND OF LAURA LING: "The reality is that we really need the goodwill of the U.S. government to help -- help us return home. Otherwise, we may find ourselves here for -- for a very long time. Please, don't let them forget about us."
COOPER: "Please, don't let them forget about us."
They have been sentenced to 12 years hard labor. North Korea has, to put it bluntly, a horrible reputation for treating prisoners. Nobody yet knows where Laura and Euna may end up. But about 200,000 people, it's believed, most of them convicted of political offenses, are sent to live and die in camps like this one.
This is video from Japan's Fuji Television. It's said to be a North Korea's infamous Yodok prison camp, now, the inmates there apparently hauling human waste, sanitation probably -- practically nonexistent. The diet said to be starvation level, inmates there eating cabbage. As for meat, one survivor saying that catching a rat was cause for celebration.
In any case, most camps are in remote, desolate locations. The work is debilitating, a human rights advocate compared to compounds to concentration camps. The North Korean government, of course, denies it all, even denying the very existence of the camps.
More now on what it may take to keep Euna and Lauer out of those camps and get them out of North Korea.
"Digging Deeper" now with Mike Chinoy, former CNN Far East correspondent, one of the leading experts today on the North. He is also the author of "Meltdown: The Inside Story of the North Korean Nuclear Crisis."
He joins us now from Hong Kong.
Mike, thanks for being with us.
These two women sentenced to 12 years of what they call reform through labor. What kind of labor are they -- would they be forced to do?
MIKE CHINOY, AUTHOR, "MELTDOWN: THE INSIDE STORY OF THE NORTH KOREAN NUCLEAR CRISIS": Well, it is very unclear whether or not the women are ever going to end up in a camp like Yodok, the one that you referred to.
They seem, I think, much more likely to become pawns in a North Korean effort to try and extract some diplomatic concessions from the United States. Certainly, their treatment so far has been, by North Korean standards, pretty good. Our -- the impression is they have been -- were -- they have been held in a guest house in Pyongyang.
They have been allowed to receive visits a couple of times from the Swedish ambassador to North Korea, who represents American interests there. They have been allowed both to write and to telephone their families. So, I don't think they have been mistreated so far. And I think that is an encouraging signal that the North may be open to some kind of diplomatic resolution.
COOPER: And when you -- you had said before that you have seen relatively encouraging signs throughout the ordeal, those are the -- those are the signs that -- that give you hope?
I think the North -- a couple of other ones as well. The North Koreans could have charged them with espionage, which is both a more serious offense and one where the North would have put itself in a position to demand a formal apology from the U.S. government.
That was not the case. They were charged with lesser offenses, although the sentence is still very severe. But I think you have to understand that the internal politics in North Korea, there clearly are more hard-line elements pushing for a much tougher line towards the U.S., towards South Korea.
So, it may be that this long second is a sop to those forces. And now, having imposed the sentence, the possibility might exist for some kind of dialogue, if the two sides can figure out the terms under which they talk to each other on this case.
COOPER: Do we know about the -- the justice system -- I don't even know if that's the correct term -- in North Korea? I mean, there -- there's not an appeals process, like there was even in Iran for the journalist in Iran who was charged.
CHINOY: No, the North Korean system is an absolute totalitarian system. The state decides.
This court is considered to be -- that sentenced them is the highest. So, there is no appeal possible. But I don't think that -- I think this has to be seen as essentially a political act more than a criminal one. And the ultimate fate of these two women is going to depend on political and diplomatic factors.
I would be very surprised if these women do not remain in some kind of confinement in a guest house. I would be shocked if they were sent to one of these prison camps at this stage of the game. I think the question now really is what kind of terms, if any, are possible for the U.S. and North Korea to engage to try and work this issue out.
COOPER: Well, let's -- let's hope that's the situation. That would certainly be some consolation to the families.
Mike, stick around. We're going to continue this conversation in a moment.
If you are interested in seeing a map of the known prison camps in North Korea and many people -- and the many people that it's believed they hold, you can go to AC360.com during the commercial breaks. You will see it there. You can also, of course, right there join the live chat which is happening now. Weigh in on what you have just seen.
Coming up next, Mike and David Gergen and rest of our panel on why North Korea is so hard to deal with.
Also, reaction from a decorated gay service member to the Supreme Court today refusing to hear a challenge to the military's don't ask/don't tell policy. Dan Choi is a lieutenant. He's a West Point graduate, an Arab linguist. And President Obama is allowing him to be forced out of the military.
Sarah Palin, she was supposed to be the star of a big GOP fund- raiser tonight. Then she wasn't. Now she is there. She is still taking the spotlight from the one big name who could have his eye on the White House. Can she and Newt Gingrich get along? And what does it say about a party trying to get its act together?
Some high drama at a big-money fund-raiser -- ahead on 360.
COOPER: We are talking about two Americans, journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee now trapped inside perhaps the hard-line Cold War communist country on Earth, certainly the strangest and, these days, the most threatening -- the North testing one atomic device, numerous ballistic missiles in the last two weeks.
Additionally, there's some kind of succession process unfolding.
A lot of moving parts to this story, any one of which could derail the effort to free Laura and Euna.
Let's dig deeper now with Mike Chinoy. And we're also joined by senior political analyst David Gergen and Christine Ahn of the Korea Policy Institute.
David, you feel that the U.S., basically, separate from these -- these two journalists, is heading to some sort of, what, confrontation with North Korea?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think we are -- we're heading toward a possible showdown now.
It's been very interesting. This administration came in ready to talk. Or, they -- they said they would go to Pyongyang, that Hillary Clinton might go there. They appointed Steve Bosworth, this very distinguished former diplomat, as a special envoy to North Korea.
They can't -- they can't break the code. They can't get in. And they have been rebuffed by the North Koreans. But, more than that, the North Koreans have suddenly set off on this very mischievous, dangerous path, you know, sending -- blowing up a nuclear weapon and -- and doing missiles.
And the administration, strikingly now, has been sending off signals in the last few days, it is not going to play the game that the Clinton administration and the Bush administration played. I was there in the Clinton administration when we decided to essentially buy them off: If you will stop the nuclear program, we will give you -- we will give you oil, we will give you a nuclear power plant, we will give you food.
We tried that. It didn't work. It failed. The Bush administration came along and said, "We don't want to do that," and then they eventually did. It failed again.
This administration is saying, we are not going to bargain with these people anymore. We're going to get tough. We are going to crack down on this. We're not going to allow them -- they -- the administration has decided, apparently, that North Korea is intent on getting nuclear capacity, and they are going to try to stop it.
And, Anderson, it could lead to a confrontation. And it's going to be a very important signal to the Iranians about what a U.S. -- how the U.S. will handle a nuclear capacity in a dangerous country.
COOPER: Christine, for the family of these two journalists, though, that is probably the worst possible news that they could hear, that there's a confrontation coming, that these two, the -- I know for a fact the families are concerned that they're caught up in the middle of all this.
CHRISTINE AHN, SENIOR FELLOW, KOREA POLICY INSTITUTE: Mm-hmm. Absolutely.
And I think that what most Americans don't realize is that -- is that the United States and North Korea are still in a state of war. And, when I was in North Korea last summer, I was coming out. And you go through China, and then you get to Incheon and (INAUDIBLE), and when I got into the airports, all around the monitors were breaking news about the South Korean woman that had wandered -- wandered sort of into a protected zone.
And, despite repeated, you know, appeals to have her returned back to South Korean territory -- and, mind you, this is Mount Kumgang, which is a tourist site that was created jointly between the -- the South and North Koreans -- that, you know, she was shot and she was killed.
And I think it is really important for Americans to realize the kind of heightened state of alert that North Korea is under. And it is unfortunate that the journalists happened to be also on the border of North Korea and China at the time that just the key resolve military exercises just wrapped up between South Korea and the United States, where 26,000 U.S. and South Korean and other troops essentially simulate an attack, an invasion on North Korea.
COOPER: Mike, would it make sense for the U.S. to send an envoy over there? I mean, there had been some talk about Bill Richardson. He has gone over in the past, negotiated some releases.
CHINOY: Well, you have this very dangerous dynamic of confrontation that has been building.
It is partly because I think the North Koreans, at the end of -- by the end of the Bush administration came to the conclusion they really weren't getting what they bargained for in their dealings with the United States. And then you do have a succession process with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, who had a stroke last August, who is trying to lay -- lay the groundwork for his youngest son to succeed him.
And all of this, I think, has combined to make the North Koreans very, very tough. And that -- as -- as David pointed out, the Obama administration doesn't want to play the same games again.
But this case, if it can be defined as a humanitarian issue, separate from the bigger issues, there might be a possibility of sending someone.
The fact that the parent company that these women work for is run by Al Gore, who is a very senior figure, who could get on the phone to Barack Obama, if he needed to, might be appealing to the North Koreans. And I would assume that there have been back-channel discussions about whether somebody would go, and how, and what kind of -- what they would have to say or do to try to win their release.
These women are not useful to North Korea rotting in a gulag. They are useful as pawns to extract something from Washington.
COOPER: Christine, do we know how decisions are made in North Korea? I mean, who -- would it ultimately be Kim Jong Il who be deciding the fate of Laura and Euna?
AHN: I think that Mike Chinoy brought up a really great point. I don't know if it was Mike or somebody else on the show earlier.
But North Koreans is not a monolith state. I mean, there are hard-liners and there are more people that are more sort of toting a more liberal, you know, engagement line. And, so, I'm not sure how the process is being decided. But I agree with Mike that they are definitely -- North Korea will leverage, you know, the situation to -- as best as they can. And I think that the other point that is really important to recognize in all of this is that the U.S. and North Korea is at war.
And there are still 10 million families that are being divided. And, so, as a Korean-American that was really kind of hoping the Obama administration would come in -- and, despite the rhetoric, it is actually quite different from the reality.
I think that, you know, a lot of analysts will say, yes, that Clinton said before she went to Asia that she would consider a peace treaty, she would consider normalized relations, but the actual process of demanding that North Korea completely, verifiably, you know, disclose their nuclear -- nuclear weapons plan is, you know -- is -- it's the same old, same old.
And, so, what James Laney has pointed, who is the South -- the former ambassador to South Korea under the Clinton administration, he's -- he's made a very, very cogent point, which is, without a peace treaty, without some kind of mutualist trust between the two countries, we will never get beyond.
AHN: And I -- I think we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that we need to end the Korean War. We need to demilitarize Korea. We need to have a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. And we need to free these two women.
AHN: And the only way to do that is through direct negotiation and -- and -- and talks.
COOPER: David, is it in -- is it in the interests of the U.S. government to separate the issue of Laura and Euna from all the rest?
GERGEN: Absolutely. I think Mike is right, sending a special envoy, treating it as a humanitarian mission, trying to do it quickly, Anderson, so this -- the longer they stay there, the more they are going to get caught up in this bigger, complicated picture.
I think there's a very, very strong interest in getting Al Gore or Bill Richardson or Steve Bosworth to go over there pretty darn quickly, and see if you can't separate them out.
But I -- you know, what is so striking again here, Anderson, is when President Obama came back from the Middle East, we all thought his -- his agenda was going to be consumed by the greater Middle East. Suddenly, North Korea...
COOPER: Yes. That was last week. This is this week.
GERGEN: That was last week, exactly.
COOPER: Yes. Who knows what's next week?
David Gergen, Christine Ahn, thank you very much.
AHN: Thank you.
COOPER: Mike Chinoy -- great to have on the program, as well, Mike. Thanks.
Just ahead tonight: She told her family and friends she was carrying twins. Instead, you're going to learn how far, how deadly far, police say this woman went to hold a baby in her arms, even if it was the dying child of a murdered mom -- new details of a killing that may have begun with a fateful meeting on craigslist.
Also tonight, late new information on what may have brought down Air France 447 and what airlines right now are doing about it.
Later, the Army is giving him the boot because he said he is gay, even though what he does is vital to the nation's security. His take on today's don't ask/don't tell Supreme Court decision -- when 360 continues.
COOPER: Still ahead: more on Air France Flight 447, including some new questions about what have might the plane down. Was the jet going too slow, or even too fast?
First, though, Erica Hill joins us with a 360 news and business bulletin -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the Supreme Court puts the brakes on Chrysler's sell to Fiat today, following an emergency appeal over the weekend, although Justice Ginsburg did indicate that delay may be temporarily. Chrysler says it is crucial this sale go through before next Monday, or the automaker may have to liquidate.
An apparent craigslist connection to the murder of a pregnant woman in Oregon -- the victim's mother says daughter met her alleged killer through an ad on the Web site. She says the two women were supposed to exchange baby clothes.
But police say Heather Snively's body was found in the crawlspace of Korena Roberts's home. Snively's baby had been removed from her womb. The baby also died. Police say the murder suspect had lied and the old her family, including her boyfriend, she was pregnant and carrying twins.
A short-circuit or possibly overheating in an air conditioning system in an adjacent warehouse may be the cause of a fire that killed 44 children at a day care center in northern Mexico. The warehouse was reportedly being used by the state government.
Judge Sonia Sotomayor's first stumble, literally, as a Supreme Court nominee -- Sotomayor fell and broke her ankle this morning at New York's La Guardia Airport. After she was fitted with a cast, which you see there, and some crutches, off she went to Washington to make her planned visits to the senators, including a stop with Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, who signed that for her.
Lovely picture there.
And some serious headbanging at the Tony Awards last week. Check this out. Every time I see it, it gets more painful -- Poison front man Bret Michaels hit in the head by a set piece while performing walking back. He was performing with his band and the cast of "Rock of Ages."
He fractured his nose, had to get three stitches in his lip. Talk about every rose has its thorn.
COOPER: Yikes. Wow.
HILL: It ain't easy being a rock star.
COOPER: Yes. Have you watched his show, Bret Michaels'...
HILL: "Rock of Love"?
COOPER: ... "Rock of Love"? And I think now they're on a bus or something. It's like bus of love?
HILL: I haven't seen it.
HILL: But I fully admit -- and I'm sure this comes as a shock because of my spiked hair -- I loved Poison -- loved.
COOPER: Interesting. Did not know that.
HILL: And a little Motley Crue, for good measure.
COOPER: You might want to watch "Rock of Love," yes.
HILL: I don't know if I can go that far.
COOPER: Yes. It is painful.
COOPER: Still ahead: some new details about the final moments of Air France Flight 447 -- why the airline is replacing a key piece of equipment on all of its planes.
Plus, a big Republican fund-raiser tonight -- who is the star attraction and what does it say about the GOP? We have the "Raw Politics" on that tonight.
And former first lady Laura Bush's advice for Michelle Obama -- all that coming up.
COOPER: As we reporting at the top of the hour, there are late developments in the investigation of Air France 447.
Brazilian searchers have found a big chunk of the jetliner's tail section. And you can see it right there, clearly an Air France plane. It's the largest piece of debris recovered so far. It may contain important clues to what caused the crash, which happened eight days.
And investigators are going to try to determine if the tail section broke off in the air or impact. Now, the ocean is also giving up victims of the disaster. Eight more bodies were found today. Twenty-four people so far have been recovered in the last three days.
Karl Penhaul has the latest in this "360 Follow."
PENHAUL (voice-over): Brazilian military spotters mark new debris fields with flares to help recover the dead and the wreckage from Air France Flight 447.
They are using this island as a staging ground, working with navy ships more than 700 miles off the Brazilian mainland, searching an area the size of Nebraska. Way out there, Brazilian air force photos show navy divers are battling to retrieve wreckage of the Airbus 330 tail section.
"There are currents, winds and tides that drag off debris, bodies and what is left of the plane," he says.
Videos and photos taken by the Brazilian military show just how difficult and maybe impossible a full recovery will be. These Brazilian and French navy ships will be receiving U.S. naval equipment and be joined by a French nuclear submarine this week to help search for the plane's voice and data recorders, which may have sunk too deep for even the most sophisticated submarines to reach.
"We began an intense search for bodies and debris. And those actions are almost impossible to carry out this far from the mainland," he says.
The first bodies recovered are still making their way back to land for testing. Authorities hope they will provide clues as to what caused the jet to crash.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: That was Karl Penhaul reporting from Brazil.
As crash investigations go, this one is about as tough as they come. Now, the last communication received from Flight 447's pilot said they were heading into bad weather. But the Airbus A-330 is built to withstand severe storms. And, what's more, at least a dozen other planes passed through the same airspace around the same time, all of them safely.
So, what went wrong on this particular flight? Investigators are not ruling anything out, but they are beginning to focus on a possible problem with a crucial sensor that measures airspeed.
Tom Foreman has the latest on that.
Anderson, we know that, in the final minutes, computers on this jet sent 24 messages indicating multiple systems failures all over the plane and gave contradictory information about the plane's speed.
What we don't know is what that means, a catastrophic failure, foul play, or a scientific mystery. Those speed readings, for example, have raised questions about devices called pitot tubes, which can be found right here on either side of the fuselage up front. I want to take a closer look at what those are, so we have a sense of what we're talking about here. This is one of them right here. You've probably seen these on planes, even out flying.
There's an opening right up here that reads air pressure by calculating the speed of the plane against that air pressure. If it gets iced over, the readings can be wrong. Pitot tubes are heated, but at 35,000 feet, the temperature is 40 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. And a former official at the NTSB told me that, really, at that kind of altitude they really can become iced over anyway, despite the heating element.
Air France is changing out the Pitot tubes on their planes in the redesigned models, but they hadn't taken care of this plane yet.
Now, air speed matters, because that's really how you get around to controlling the plane. Want to bring up a model here and talk about this some. When this plane hit the storm, it was going about 500 miles an hour. So we'll write that right here.
When it hit the storm, typically, they would reduce the speed down to, say, 450 miles an hour. But the plane can actually stall out at about 300 miles an hour. So you can see the problem here.
If the pilot or the auto pilot system gets the wrong idea about the speed, they can slow down too much. Then aviation analysts say a 75-mile-an-hour gust of wind, for example, from this direction could make the plane stall and start tumbling down to earth.
Now, they should be able to get control again by pointing the nose down, gaining speed and then leveling out. But that's only if there hasn't been a catastrophic failure, part of the wing, part of the tail breaking off. That is unlikely. And we do know that 12 other jets flew through this giant storm front right here at around the same time and had no trouble. But all that does, really, is deepen the mystery -- Anderson.
COOPER: A mystery remains right now. Late word tonight that U.S. Air and Delta are upgrading the Pitot tubes on their planes. The same airspeed sensors Tom just told us about. And that Air France began replacing them back in April.
At least five ships and more than a dozen airplanes are taking part in the search for debris and for victims. You can go to AC360.com right now to see a photo gallery of the recovery efforts so far. And while you're there, share your thoughts in the live chat that's happening now.
Coming up next, though, Sarah Palin in -- is the center of attention tonight, even though she's not supposed to be in the spotlight. What's all the fuss over tonight's GOP fundraiser? Candy Crowley will tell us that.
Plus, the battle over "don't-ask, don't-tell" heats up, many asking why President Obama hasn't ended the policy he says he's against. We'll talk to Dan Choi, who's being forced out of the Army for being gay, now that the Supreme Court has rejected hearing the case.
And the little tiger who could. See who helped make sure this adorable white tiger cub survived against all odds. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin is turning heads at a big GOP fundraiser going on in Washington right now. She isn't the headliner. In fact, she isn't even speaking. The question is, then, why is she getting all the attention?
Candy Crowley has that in "Raw Politics."
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Guess who came to dinner? They both did. Former speaker, Newt Gingrich, keynote speaker, in defense of conservatism, on offense when it comes to the president.
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I am not a citizen of the world. And I think the entire concept is intellectual nonsense and stunningly dangerous.
CROWLEY: Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, star spectator.
GINGRICH: I also want to thank Governor Palin and Todd for coming tonight and for being part of this.
CROWLEY: She was supposed to be the keynoter. Earlier this year, her staff accepted on her behalf but later said they hadn't asked her, and Palin seemed uncertain. A staff snafu? Or indication of a split among the Palin image rehab team?
NANCY PFOTENHAUER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Either you take the spotlight that you've generated and you try to amplify it, or you decide it's better to pull back, let things go quiet, develop a record of strong accomplishment and then relaunch.
CROWLEY: Without the certainty of a Palin appearance, organizers asked the tried and true. Newt Gingrich said yes. He's not as electric or as new as Palin, but the former speaker's party roots run deep. He can still wow a room.
GINGRICH: They promised we would peak at 8 percent unemployment, and on Friday we were at 9.4 percent, which is not in their budget, which means their budget is already wrecked. Because we're going to have higher unemployment, greater government expenses and less revenue than they projected, because their plan has already failed.
CROWLEY: Nobody knew until a few hours ahead of time Palin would even come. The whole thing blew up last week, three months after Gingrich accepted.
Palin told organizers she was available to speak. So they issued another invitation to be a kind of surprise speaker. But that invite was rescinded last weekend. Team Palin says they were told organizers were afraid she would overshadow Gingrich.
PFOTENHAUER: It's a real shame that this has played out the way it has. I would have hoped that it could have played out the way normal people on the same team resolve differences. But it's clearly -- you've got a lot of egos involved.
CROWLEY: It was pretty messy in a party that could do with a lot less messy.
But all's well that ends well. Party officials say the evening haul is about $14.5 million. The Palins and the Gingriches walked across the stage, if not together, at least at the same time, and never was heard a disparaging word.
COOPER: Funky music, too, there. How relevant is Newt Gingrich right now in the Republican Party? Is he one of the party's leading voices?
CROWLEY: He is for this reason. Newt Gingrich has always been seen within the party and by many of his critics as a powerful intellectual voice, as someone with a lot of driving ideas, which he is very good at articulating.
So he is a leading voice. Does that mean they want him to run for president? Not necessarily. But before a party can be successful, they have to wrap themselves around some set of ideas. And Newt Gingrich definitely has a reputation as an idea man. COOPER: All right. Candy Crowley. Thanks very much, Candy.
A new twist in the legal battle over "don't-ask, don't-tell." The U.S. Supreme Court refusing to hear an appeal. What that means tonight for people like Lieutenant Dan Choi, a gay West Point graduate and Arab linguist, now facing dismissal. We'll talk to him, just ahead.
Also, comedian Stephen Colbert taking his act to Iraq and getting his head shaved by a real general. Did he realize those weren't fake clippers? Look at that. We'll be right back.
COOPER: The U.S. Supreme Court today refused to hear an appeal challenging the military's "don't-ask, don't-tell" policy which President Obama gas promised to repeal.
Lieutenant Dan Choi isn't part of the lawsuit involved in today's decision, but he is following it closely. Lieutenant Choi has a degree in Arabic language from West Point. He served in Iraq as a member of the Army National Guard.
After recently stating publicly that he was gay, he got word from the Army that it plans to discharge him. He's appealed that decision. The hearing is in just a few weeks. He joins me now.
Were you surprised by the Supreme Court's decision today?
LT. DAN CHOI, U.S. ARMY: Sure. I mean, extremely frustrated. Talking to the other soldiers that were part of the case, we have a lot in common. We're not going to give up. We're not going to just hide and slink away. We're going to keep fighting it. That's part of our training.
We know that there's our mission. Our mission is to fight for the right thing. And "don't-ask, don't-tell" needs to be repealed.
COOPER: But I mean, when -- when Barack Obama was elected president, were you -- you must have been optimistic. I mean, you'd heard his campaign promises about overturning "don't-ask, don't-tell." Now we are, you know, well over 100 days into this thing. Really, we haven't heard anything from the president on this. How depressing is it for you?
CHOI: Extremely disappointing. You know, we were taught as leaders that anything that happens or fails to happen within the limits of our responsibility, that falls on us.
So as far as our training and our experiences in the Army, one thing I learned was soldiers, they don't follow somebody because of their rank. They don't follow somebody because of shiny medals or anything. They follow someone because of courage, because they have the responsibility. They want to stand up to what their responsibilities are.
COOPER: Do you think the president is showing courage on this issue?
CHOI: I think he needs to do a lot more. All of our leaders, every single one of them, needs to remember that, at a time right now when we're at war, the No. 1 priority needs to be supporting our troops. We have to remember that "don't-ask, don't-tell" doesn't hurt the gay soldiers as much as it hurts the straight soldiers. Every unit that's ripped apart because of a soldier being fired for being too honest. Being honest to themselves. They're punished because of that.
So we have to remember to wake up and say, you know, we've got to realize that gay Americans and our destinies -- gay Americans and straight Americans, our destinies are tied at the hip. You know, we just need to wake up more (ph).
COOPER: It's interesting. There's a Gallup poll released today that says 69 percent of Americans now favor allowing openly gay members to serve in the military. That's up. And according to these new numbers, a majority of conservatives now favor it, as well, up 12 percent from 2004.
It seems like the public is moving on this issue faster than some of the politicians.
CHOI: Well, it has nothing to do with polls. Or one thing I've learned in my training was it has nothing to do with being popular. It has to do with doing the right thing. And we all know that discrimination and cutting out people that are capable in a time of war that shortchanges our soldiers. And it shortchanges our units.
With these 13,000 soldiers that have been kicked out. We don't look at those 13,000 and say that those are the victims. The victims are those 13,000 units that are less capable, and we're not supporting them.
COOPER: You knew when you joined. And we've got some notes from people saying, look, when you joined up, you knew the policy. You knew, you know, the government's policy. Why, then, go through it? Why go to West Point? Why put yourself through it?
CHOI: The reason is very simple. Gay soldiers, just like straight soldiers, just like black, white, men or women soldiers. They sign up because they want to serve something greater than themselves. They want to be a part of something, a mission that's greater than their own agenda.
COOPER: And to those who still say, "Look, it's not -- it's not -- it's not appropriate for military service," that it basically hurts unit cohesion.
CHOI: Well, that's a baseless argument. I think that unit cohesion is based on trust, and trust is based on honesty. Really, what you're doing is you're penalizing all the units, because soldiers are doing what they're trained. They're trained in the same values, the American values of living honestly, having courage, standing up and not hiding from your responsibilities. COOPER: What about your own hearing? What happens?
CHOI: This is something that beyond June 30. I don't even know any of the details about it. I just know that...
COOPER: Are you present at it?
CHOI: Yes. Yes. And so I'll have the opportunity to explain that I am still gay, and I am still a soldier. And all of the things that are written in the letter that said unit cohesion and morality and all those things are false.
In fact, when a soldier is honest, when they're actually able to have the confidence within their unit to talk about who they are, the unit gets stronger. The same thing with any organization, whether it be a church or a work place, a family. When we have the foundation of honesty, everything gets stronger.
COOPER: Got to leave it there. Lieutenant Choi, we'll continue to follow your story. Thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.
You can see -- you can read more about Lieutenant Choi's personal story on our Web site at AC360.com. Also, check out his post about his decision to come out and the obstacles he had to overcome.
Coming up next, former first lady Laura Bush speaking out and weighing in on the job Michelle Obama is doing as first lady. We'll hear her take and her advice for the new first lady.
Plus, surviving against all odds, a two-month-old tiger cub makes its adorable debut.
And two American journalists sentenced to 12 years hard labor in North Korea. What can the United States actually do about it? We'll tell you, coming up.
COOPER: Coming up, new hilarious lyrics to a classic '80s hit, literally. It's tonight's "Shot."
But first Erica Hill joins us with a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, President Obama has launched the next phase of his $787 billion economic stimulus program. The president pledging federal money for hundreds of public works projects. He says this plan will create or save 600,000 jobs this summer.
The man charged with murdering an abortion doctor in Kansas claims other doctors could be targeted across the country as long as the procedure is legal. Scott Roeder making his threat while talking to the Associated Press over the weekend.
The Justice Department is taking it and has ordered more protection at abortion clinics. Former first lady Laura Bush breaking her silence on the abortion -- on the Obama administration. Pardon me. On ABC's "Good Morning America," she called Sonia Sotomayor a, quote, "very interesting and good nominee" for the Supreme Court.
She also said current first lady Michelle Obama is doing great and offered this advice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: I hope she'll discover, and I think she has, that she really does have a podium and that people do watch her from all over the world. And she can be such a great example and is for women and for people everywhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: A 2-month-old white tiger cub making her debut at a German zoo. She is one of just four cubs to survive from the same litter. She was born prematurely. She weighed just 26 ounces, was abandoned by her mother. Sweet little (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
The baby tiger managed to survive, though, thanks to zoo keepers.
HILL: Very sweet.
HILL: Right now, anyway, of course. Later on, they get a little bigger. It's a different story.
And in a moment, two fashion statements from Stephen Colbert, both from his trip to Iraq, where he is. Before the trip right now -- before the trip, here he is on "Good Morning America."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIANE SAWYER, HOST, ABC'S "GOOD MORNING AMERICA": Are you a little worried that at least a large percentage of them will wish you were Jessica Simpson instead?
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, COMEDY CENTRAL'S "THE COLBERT REPORT": I am going to wear some short-shorts. I'm going to wear some Daisy Dukes, and I've been working on my gams. I'm willing to shave my legs just to make them happy.
All I hope is to make them laugh.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: And here he is in Iraq. Colbert is sporting a camouflage suit and tie as he brings "The Colbert Report" to U.S. troops in Iraq. Under orders from President Obama he also got a G.I. buzz cut from the top U.S. commander. Thankfully, we didn't see those Daisy Dukes. There you go, the new look. Here it is.
COOPER: Brought cheers from the crowd. That's cool.
HILL: Not bad.
COOPER: I like the camo suit, too.
HILL: The camo suit is fantastic.
COOPER: You know...
HILL: You may want to look into one of those.
COOPER: Yes. Well, you know, he was brave in getting that hair cut. But not as brave as you were for sporting this hair cut back in the day.
HILL: You know, Anderson, we all do things for fashion.
COOPER: You -- now this was when you were rocking out to, what, Poison was it?
HILL: Poison. But it's very important to clarify, as our senior producer, Charlie, who got very upset -- and now he's going to be mad at me because I said his name -- wanted to clarify that Poison and Motley Crue, of course, not one and the same. Certain people get upset if you put them in the same category. But look, I can tell you that at the time I was listening to Poison. There was a little Motley Crue in my tape -- in my tape player there.
COOPER: In your eight track?
HILL: It wasn't an eight track then. It was a full-on cassette.
COOPER: That was my day.
HILL: I mean, I had a total mixture of things.
HILL: Lita Ford.
COOPER: What was the first...
HILL: Bon Jovi.
COOPER: What was your first concert?
HILL: You know what? You asked me earlier, and I thought it was Janet Jackson, Rhythm Nation 1814, because I won tickets on the radio babysitting. But then I remember, I went to see Peter, Paul and Mary with my dad.
COOPER: Really? OK.
HILL: You can't define -- you can't put me in a box, Anderson Cooper.
COOPER: I'm telling you, yes.
HILL: There's so much more to me.
COOPER: You're full of surprises.
HILL: Full circle.
COOPER: Exactly. I can't remember if mine was Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five or Elvis Costello. Those were my two earliest concerts, I know. Anyway.
HILL: Oh, really?
COOPER: We digress.
HILL: Elvis Costello. You're so ahead of your time.
COOPER: Yes, it was "Armed Forces." Good album.
Back to our 360 winners, time for our "Beat 360." Shall we?
COOPER: Our challenge to viewers, a chance to come up with a caption better than the one we can come up with for a photo that we put on the blog every day. Actually, go to our Web site. Join the live chat. Let us know what your concert was.
Tonight, former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin changing into her walking shoes at an autism awareness walking fundraiser yesterday in Purchase, New York.
Staff winner tonight is Diana, who wrote, "Oh, you know, just some silly thing Bristol said to me about walking for a day in her shoes."
(SOUND EFFECT: GROANS)
COOPER: You know. I'm just reading it.
Our viewer winner is Bettyann from Nacogdoches, Texas. Her caption: "These shoes came from Target, my favorite shooting store."
(SOUND EFFECT: DRUM BEAT)
COOPER: Bettyann, your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way. Congratulations.
Still ahead, a music video you may remember from the '80s kind of gets a makeover. New lyrics that finally make sense. Sort of. It's "The Shot." Oh, Erica will like this one. Big hair.
Also, the latest in new diplomatic efforts to save two American journalists sentenced to 12 years in North Korea. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Erica, this is really your "Shot" tonight. Who used to like today. It is all about matching words to pictures, something we do on -- all the time on TV. But what if music videos took the same approach?
Well, you'd end up with literal videos. One of the best we've seen is Bonnie Tyler's 1983 ballad, "Total Eclipse of the Heart." Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Pan the room.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): Random use of candles, empty bottles, and cloth, and can you see me through this fan?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Slo-mo dove.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): Creepy doll, a window, and what looks like a bathroom. Then, a dim-lit shot of dangling balls.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Metaphor?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): Close-up of some candles and dramatically posing. Then, stock footage of a moon in the sky.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Bottle shot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): Messing up my close-up with a floating blue curtain. Now, let's see who's coming in from outside.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Double doors open.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): Why aren't I reacting in this shot?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Ringo Starr?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): Lined eyes.
HILL: They're fantastic. YouTube's literal version. My husband gets credit. He found it.
COOPER: And there's a multiple of these, yes?
HILL: Oh, yes. I mean, there's "We Built This City."
COOPER: "We Built This City"? Really?
HILL: Meat Loaf, "Anything for Love." There's "That Little Birdhouse in Your Soul."
I know. It's like you don't want it to stop, do you?
COOPER: Do we have a little Poison?
HILL: I'll look for it. Maybe tomorrow I'll bring that for you. Or a little Motley Crue.
COOPER: All right.
HILL: "Shout at the Devil."
COOPER: Oh, yes. There you go. Rock on, Erica Hill, rock on. There you go.
HILL: That's Erica Hill rocking on right there. Talk about a photo.
COOPER: I shouldn't make fun, because I had Flock of Seagulls hair.
HILL: Yes. Where is that picture, by the way?
COOPER: We don't have that picture.
HILL: Oh, really.
COOPER: You can see all the most recent "Shots" on our Web site, AC360.com.
Coming up at the top of the hour, some very serious stuff: the efforts underway to keep a pair of American journalists out of North Korea's notorious camp -- prison camp system.
That and a lot more when "360" continues.