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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
U.S. and French Navy Continue to Look for Air France 447 Recorders; American Journalists Sentenced to Hard Labor in North Korea; Sarah Palin's Presence at GOP Fundraiser Upstages Keynote Speaker; Supreme Court Refuses to Hear "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Appeal; Stephen Colbert Brings His Show to U.S. Troops in Iraq
Aired June 8, 2009 - 23:00 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 danger. 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 a chilling look at life inside the work camps and new details of the diplomatic effort to save Laura Ling and Euna Lee.
And what's happening with Sarah Palin and the Republican Party? She's getting big attention at a gathering tonight, a big fundraiser, upstaging the keynote speaker even though she's 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 Air Bus raised from the ocean and a 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 there's also pieces of debris, very significant large pieces of debris that have also been recovered along with some of the passengers' luggage.
But this search area is so big, it's 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 have more with Karl Penhaul live from that island off Brazil with the latest on the search and those pictures as you saw there the tail section of the plane, probably the biggest piece of wreckage so far found.
We'll have all the latest on that a little later on the program.
On next, though, to a story that is playing out largely behind the scenes tonight: the effort to free these two young women, 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'll see shortly, likely to be brutal. We were 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 to bring these two women -- the women they love home.
LISA LING, SISTER OF LAURA LING: Five, six hours deep into the mountains.
COOPER (voice-over): A nightmare scenario after her sister's plea for mercy.
LING: They never meant to cross into North Korea. And if for some reason they may have, then we are sorry. And we hope that North Korean government 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 were 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 CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We are 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's considering adding North Korea back onto the list of countries that sponsor terrorism.
The State Department insists its 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.
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 standoff of 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'll 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've had with the women like this single letter from Laura to her husband Iain.
IAIN CLAYTON, LAURA LING'S HUSBAND: "The reality is that we really need the goodwill of the U.S. government to help us return home; otherwise we may find ourselves here for a very long time. Please don't let them forget about us."
COOPER: "Please don't let them forget about us." They've 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 a video from Japan's Fuji Television. It's said to be of North Korea's infamous Yodok prison camp. Now, the inmates there apparently hauling human waste, sanitation practically non-existence. 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, human rights advocate comparing the compounds to concentration camps. 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 Laura 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 Korea 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 would they be forced to do?
MIKE CHINOY, AUTHOR, "MELTDOWN": Well, it's 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. The impression is that they've been held in a guest house in Pyongyang. They've been allowed to receive visits a couple of times from the Swedish Ambassador to North Korea who represents American interests there. They've 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 had said before that you'd seen relatively encouraging signs throughout the ordeal. Those are the signs that give you hope?
CHINOY: Yes. I think the North Korea -- a couple of other ones as well. The North Koreans could have charged them with espionage which is both the 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 the internal politics in North Korea there clearly are more hard line elements pushing for a much tougher line toward the U.S., towards South Korea.
So it maybe that this long sentence is a sop to those forces and now having imposed the sentence, the possibility might exist for a 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 much about the justice system -- I don't even know if that's correct term -- in North Korea? I mean, there's not an appeals process like there was even in Iran for the journalist in Iran who was charged.
CHINOY: Well, 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: All right, let's hope that's the situation. That would certainly be some consolation to families.
Mike, stick around. And 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 believe they hold you can go to AC360.com during the commercial breaks. You'll see it there.
You can also of course write there, join the live chat which is happening now. Weigh in on what you've just seen.
Coming up next, Mike and David Gergen and the rest of our panel on why North Korea is so hard to deal with.
Also, a reaction from a decorated gay service member to the Supreme Court today refusing to hear challenge to the military's "Don't-Ask, Don't-Tell" policy. Dan Choi is a Lieutenant and 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 fundraiser then 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 the big money fundraiser ahead on "360."
COOPER: We're talking tonight about two Americans, journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee, now trapped inside perhaps the last hard-line Cold War Communist country on earth; certainly the strangest and these days the most threatening. The North testing one atomic device and numerous ballistic missiles in the last two weeks; additionally, there's some kind of secession 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 Christian Ahn of the Korea Policy Institute.
David, you feel that the U.S. basically -- separate from these two journalists -- is heading to some sort of, what, confrontation with North Korea?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think we are heading toward a possible showdown now. It's been very interesting. This administration came in ready to talk. They said they would go to Pyongyang and Hillary Clinton might go there. They appointed Steve Bosworth, this very distinguished former diplomat, as a special envoy to North Korea.
And they can't break the code. They can't get in. And they've been rebuffed by the North Koreans. But more than that, the North Koreans have suddenly set off on this very mischievous dangerous path, suddenly blowing up a nuclear weapon and doing missiles.
And the administration strikingly now has been sending off signals in the last few days. It's 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 essentially to buy them off. "If you'll stop the nuclear program we'll give you oil, and we'll give you a nuclear power plant, we'll 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're not going to go bargain with these people anymore. We're going to get tough. We're 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're 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 how the U.S. will handle a nuclear capacity in a dangerous country.
COOPER: Christine, for the family of these two journalist though, that is probably the worst possible news that they could hear; that there is a confrontation coming. That these two -- and I know for a fact the family is concerned that they are caught up in the middle of all this.
CHRISTINE AHN, KOREA POLICY INSTITUTE: Absolutely. And I think that what most Americans don't realize 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 Inchon and (INAUDIBLE).
And when I got into the airports all around the monitors were breaking news about the South Korean woman that had wandered into a sort of a protected zone. And despite repeated, you know, appeals to have her returned back to South Korean territory, and mind you this is a Mount Kumgang which is a tourist site that was created jointly between the South and North Koreans that she was shot and she was killed.
And I think it's really important for Americans to realize the kind of heightened state of alert that North Korea is under. And it's 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 had just wrapped-up between South Korea and the United States where 26,000 U.S. and South Korean and other troops essentially simulates 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 been some talk about Bill Richardson and he's gone over in the past negotiated some releases?
CHINOY: Well, you have this very dangerous dynamic of confrontation that's been building. It's 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 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 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 some back channel discussions about whether somebody would go and how and what kind of -- what they would have to say or do to try and win their release. These women are not useful to North Korea rotting in a gulag. They're 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 will 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 Korea is not a monolith state. I mean, there are hardliners and there are more people that are more sort of toting a more liberal 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 as best as they can.
And I think that the other point that's 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's actually quite different from the reality.
I think that, you know, a lot of analysts will say, yes, that Clinton has said before she went to Asia that she would consider a peace treaty and she would consider a normalized relations. But the actual process of demanding that North Korea completely verifiably disclose their nuclear weapons plan is, you know, is the same old, same old.
And so what James Laney has pointed out who is the former ambassador to South Korea under the Clinton administration, 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'll never get beyond.
AHN: And 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. And the only way to do that is through direct negotiation and talks.
COOPER: David, is it in the interest of the U.S. government to separate the issue of Laura and Euna from all the rest?
GERGEN: Absolutely. I think Mike is right. They're sending a special envoy, treat it as a humanitarian mission; trying to do it quickly, Anderson. The longer they stay there the more that they are going to get caught up in this bigger, complicated picture.
I think there is 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 -- what is so striking again here, Anderson, is when President Obama came back from the Middle East we all thought 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 and who knows what's next week.
David Gergen and Christine Ahn, thank you very much. And Mike Chinoy great to have you on the program as well. Mike thanks.
COOPER: 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 though 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's 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.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Still have more on Air France Flight 447, including some new questions about what might have brought 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 put the brakes on Chrysler's sale to Fiat today following an emergency appeal over the weekend, although Justice Ginsburg did indicate that delay maybe temporary. Chrysler says it is crucial this sale goes 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, her daughter met her alleged killer through on ad on the Web site. She has -- the two woman was supposed to exchange baby clothes. But police say Heather Snively's body was found in a crawl space at 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 told 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 daycare center in Northern Mexico. The warehouse was reportedly being used by the state government.
Judge Sonia Sotomayor's first stumble literally, as the Supreme Court nominee. Sotomayor fell and broke her ankle this morning at New York's LaGuardia 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 head banging at the Tony Awards last night; check this out -- every time I see it, it gets more painful Poison front man Brent Michaels hit in the head by a set piece. While performing walking back -- here's the performer with his band and a 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 isn't easy to being a rock star.
COOPER: Yes, have you watched his show by the way?
HILL: Rock of Love?
COOPER: Rock of Love and I think now they are on a bus or something it's like "Bus of Love."
HILL: I haven't seen it.
HILL: But I totally admit and I'm sure this comes as a shock because of my spiked hair, I loved Poison; loved.
COOPER: Interesting, I did not know that.
HILL: Yes, and a little Motley Crue.
COOPER: You might like "Rock of Love."
HILL: I don't know if I can go that far.
COOPER: Yes, it's painful.
Still ahead, some new details about the final moments of Air France Flight 447 and why the airline is replacing a key piece of equipment on all of its planes.
Plus, big Republican fundraiser tonight, and 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 reported at the top of the hour, there are late developments in the investigation of Air France Flight 447. Brazilian searchers have found a big chunk of the jet-liner's tail section -- you could see it right there -- clearly an Air France place. It's the largest piece of debris recovered so far. It may contain important clues to what caused the crash which happened eight days ago. And investigators are going to try to determine if the tail section broke off in the air or on impact.
Now, the ocean is also giving out victims of the disaster. Eight more bodies were found today; 24 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 marked 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 Air Bus 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.
COOPER: That was Karl Penhaul reporting from Brazil.
As crash investigations go this one is about as tough as they come. 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 air space around the same town, all of them safely.
What went wrong on this particular flight? Investigators aren't ruling anything out but they're beginning to focus on a possible problem with a crucial sensor that measures air speed.
Tom Foreman has the latest on that.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 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 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 are talking about here. This is one of them right here. You have probably seen these on planes when you've been out flying.
There is 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. 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 to redesign models, but they hadn't taken care of this plane yet. Air speed matters because that is really how you get around to controlling the plane.
I want to bring up a model and talk about this one. 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 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 pilots or the autopilot 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 leveling out. But that is 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 around the same time and had no trouble. All that does really is deepen the mystery -- Anderson.
COOPER: And a mystery it remains right now.
Late word tonight that U.S. Air and Delta are upgrading the pitot tubes on their airplanes, the same air speed 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 their recovery efforts. And while you're there, share your thoughts on a live chat that's happening now.
Coming up next, Sarah Palin is the center of attention tonight even though she is not supposed to be in the spotlight. What is 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 a policy he says he's against. We'll talk to Dan Choi who is being forced out of the army for being gay on the day the Supreme Court has rejected hearing the case.
And the little tiger that could. See who helped make sure this adorable white tiger cub survived against all odds. Look at that.
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 the "Raw Politics."
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL 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 HOUSE SPEAKER: I am not a citizen of the world. 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 have generated and you try to amplify it. Or you decide it is better to kind of pull back, let things go quiet, develop a record of strong accomplishment and then re-launch.
CROWLEY: Without the certainty of a Palin appearance organizers asked the tried and true. Newt Gingrich said yes. He's not as electric or 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 are 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 that 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 the governor 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 is 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 messy in a party that could do with a lot less messy. All is 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.
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 for Lieutenant Dan Choi, a gay West Point graduate, an 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? We'll 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 has 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. His hearing is in just weeks. He joins me now.
Were you surprised by the Supreme Court's decision today?
LT. DAN CHOI, ARMY NATIONAL GUARD: Sure. I'm extremely frustrated. Talking to the other soldiers who are part of the case, we have a lot in common. We are not going to give up. We are not going to just hide and slink away.
We are going to keep fighting it. That is part of our training. We know that there's a mission. Our mission is to fight for the right thing. "Don't-ask, don't-tell" needs to be repealed.
COOPER: When Barack Obama was elected president, you must have been optimistic. You heard his campaign promises about overturning "don't- ask, don't-tell." Now we are well over 100 days into this thing, we haven't heard anything from the president on this. How depressing is it for you?
CHOI: Extremely disappointing. We were taught as leaders that anything that happens or fails to happen within the limits of our responsibility that falls on us. 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 somebody 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, need to remember that at a time right now when we are at war, the number one 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 is ripped apart because of a soldier being fired for being too honest -- being honest to themselves -- they are punished because of that.
So we have to remember -- we have to wake up and say we have to realize that gay Americans and straight Americans, our destinies are tied at the hip. We just need to realize that.
COOPER: It is interesting, there is a Gallup poll released today that says 69 percent of Americans now favor allowing openly gay men and women to serve in the military. That is 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 the politicians.
CHOI: It has nothing to do with polls. One thing I have learned in my training, it has nothing to do with being popular. It has everything to do with doing the right thing. 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. When there's 13,000 soldiers that have been kicked out. We don't look at those as those 13,000 and say that those are the victims. The victims are those 13,000 units that are less capable and we are not supporting them.
COOPER: You knew when you joined -- we have some people saying, look, "You joined up and 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, women or men soldiers, they sign up 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 is not appropriate for military service. Basically it hurts unit cohesion.
CHOI: 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 are trained. They are 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 something that's beyond June 30th. I don't really even know any of the details about it. I just know that...
COOPER: Are you present at it?
CHOI: Yes. Yes.
COOPER: You are.
CHOI: I will 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 completely false.
In fact, when a soldier is honest, when they are 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 a foundation of honesty, everything gets stronger.
COOPER: We're going to leave it there. Lieutenant Choi we will 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 of 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. That's tonight's "Shot."
But first, Erica Hill joins us for the "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.
HILL: Anderson, President Obama has launched the next phase of his $787 billion economic stimulus program. The president pledging federal money for hundreds of public work projects; he says this plan will create or save 600,000 jobs this summer.
The man charged with murdering an abortion provider 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 Obama administration on ABC's "Good Morning America." She called Sonia Sotomayor, quote, "a 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)
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 26 ounces and was abandoned by her mother.
The baby tiger managed to survive, though, thanks to zookeepers.
HILL: Very sweet.
HILL: Right now, anyway, of course. Later on they get a little bigger, it's a different story.
In a moment, two fashion statements from Steven Colbert both from his trip to Iraq where he is -- before the trip, though, here he is on "Good Morning America."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you a little worried that at least a large percentage of them will wish you were Jessica Simpson instead? STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: I am going to wear some short shorts. I'm going to wear some daisy dukes. I've been working on my gams. I'm willing to shave my legs to make them happy. All I hope is to make them laugh.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
And here he is in Iraq. Colbert 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 GI 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, I think
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. You may want to look into one of those.
COOPER: He was brave in getting the haircut but not as brave as you were for sporting this haircut back in the day.
HILL: You know, Anderson, we all do things for fashion.
COOPER: This is where 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 really mad at me because I said his name -- wanted to clarify that Poison and Motley Crue, of course, not one in the same. Certain people are going to be 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 player there.
COOPER: In your eight track?
HILL: It wasn't an eight track then, it was a full-on cassette.
COOPER: Yes, they made those in my day.
HILL: I had a total mixture of things. Rita Ford, 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 baby sitting, but then I remember I went to see Peter, Paul and Mary with my dad.
COOPER: Really? OK. There you go.
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: 360, full circle.
COOPER: Exactly. I can't remember if mine was Grandmaster Flash and Furious Five or Elvis Costello. Those were my earliest concerts.
Anyway, we digress.
HILL: Elvis Costello, you're so ahead of your time.
COOPER: Yes, it was "Armed Forces," it was a good album.
Back to our 360 winner; time for our "Beat 360," shall we. Our daily 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's picture, former vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin changing into her walking shoes at an Autism Awareness Walk and fundraiser yesterday in Purchase, New York.
The staff winner tonight is Diana who wrote: "You know, just some silly thing Bristol said to me about walking for a day in her shoes."
COOPER: I know. It wasn't an attempt, I was just reading it.
Viewer winner is Bettyann from Nacogdoches, Texas. Her caption: "These shoes came from target, my favorite shooting store." Bettyann, your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way. Congratulations.
Still ahead, a music video you may remember from the '80s. It kind of gets a makeover; new lyrics that finally make sense, sort of. It's "The Shot." Erica will like this one -- big hair.
COOPER: Erica, this is really your "Shot" tonight. You selected it. It's all about matching words to pictures, something we do all the time on TV. But what if music videos took the same approach? 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: Pan the room. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Random use of candles, empty bottles and sauce and can you see me through this fan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Slow-mo dove.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Creepy doll, a window and what looks like a bathroom, then a dim-lit shot of dangling balls.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Metaphor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look up at some candles and dramatically posing, then stock footage of a moon in the sky.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bottle shot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Messing up my close-up with a floating blue curtain, now let's see who's coming in from outside.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Double doors, open.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why aren't I reacting in this shot?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ringo Starr? Lined eyes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Guess I should be acting but I'm not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: They're fantastic. YouTube's literal version; my husband gets credit. He found it.
COOPER: And there's a multiple of this, yes?
HILL: Oh, yes. I mean, there's "We Built This City."
COOPER: "We Built This City" is a good one.
HILL: Meatloaf, "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; "Shout at the Devil."
COOPER: Oh, yes. There you go. Rock on, Erica Hill, rock on. There you go.
HILL: That's an 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's that picture, by the way?
COOPER: We don't have that picture. HILL: Oh, really.
COOPER: You can all the most recent shots on our Web site at ac360.com.
Hey, that does it for 360. Thanks for watching.
"LARRY KING" starts now.
I'll see you tomorrow night.