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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Iranian Government Escalates Crackdown; Iranian Women Rising Up; South Carolina Governor Takes a Hike

Aired June 23, 2009 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: new evidence Iran's government is tightening its grip, new reports the opposition leader, Mir Hossein Mousavi, now lives in a virtual prison surrounded by government forces round the clock, new evidence protesters are changing their tactics to adapt, tough new talk from President Obama, and the leading role Iranian women are playing in the uprising.

Also, South Carolina's governor takes a hike, literally, leaving his wife, kids in -- and the rest of the state, frankly -- in the dark. What in the ever-loving Appalachian Trail is going on? We have got some late new answers for you tonight.

And why did the turtle cross the road? You will want to know because your tax dollars are paying to help. We're "Keeping Them Honest," lawmakers, and that -- lawmakers, that is, rather, not the turtles.

First up, though, tonight, in Iran, new video, images of a protest movement that appears to be changing. No big rally today, police and paramilitary forces, many on motorcycles, harassing groups of people, breaking up gatherings before they reach critical mass.

We are getting new video, as well, of the brutality over the weekend. It seems like this one, apparently indiscriminate sidewalk beatings, the aim, again, apparently to terrorize. Fast-forward to today, the government expelling British diplomats, election officials not budging on the results, state TV reporting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be sworn in some time between July 26 and the 19th of August.

President Obama today not taking sides, but taking his most forceful stand yet.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have made it clear that the United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran and is not interfering with Iran's affairs.

But we must also bear witness to the courage and the dignity of the Iranian people and to a remarkable opening within Iranian society. And we deplore the violence against innocent civilians anywhere that it takes place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: As you will see shortly, Mr. Obama today deflecting calls from Republicans, especially neocons, to do something more about the crisis.

A lot to cover tonight. We are starting with Ivan Watson, who has been monitoring everything coming out of Iran for us -- Ivan.

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Campbell, I'm coming to you from CNN headquarters, because there is a near complete media blockade for foreign media in Iran.

Our sources on the ground in Iran, however, are telling us that it seems some of the momentum has died for those street protesters, those demonstrations, unprecedented over the course of the past week, in part because of the bloody and sometimes deadly crackdown that has been under way.

And let's take a look at some footage of how the police have been operating. We believe this has been taking place today in Tehran. You see some people try to congregate. They chant, "Allahu akbar," "God is great." And then the security forces come in on their motorcycles, and they make everybody run.

And we have been talking about some of the very disturbing images of that deadly use of force that has been used against the demonstrators particularly on Saturday.

Let's take a look at this, people gathering around the headquarters of a pro-government militia and then being gunned down like this. And we have seen numerous issues of these bloody tactics that have been used against these demonstrators, and really striking a blow against the opposition movement.

Here, we can see another image of a man -- just in a moment, we should be seeing an image of a man kneeling on the ground, weeping, his hands in somebody's blood.

Now, I have spoken with some of these demonstrators, Campbell. And they say they are dejected. They feel like they do not have a leader right now to take them forward -- Campbell.

BROWN: And, Ivan, to that point, have we heard anything from opposition leader Mousavi himself?

WATSON: No, we haven't seen him, really, since last week. That is his last public appearance. He was the second-place -- according to the official tally, the second-place candidate in those contested June 12 elections, Campbell.

And one man, a prominent Iranian activist and cinematographer in Paris, he spoke to journalists. And he told them this week that Mir Hossein Mousavi is isolated, and he's being closely watched by Iranian secret police.

BROWN: And, Ivan, finally, give us the latest on the official challenges to the election.

WATSON: Well, they seem to be decreasing. One hard-line candidate, one of three who lodged protests -- he's former commander of the Revolutionary Guard, Mohsen Rezaie, he announced that he is withdrawing his complaints, more than 600 complaints about the election since June 12.

Another candidate standing strong, Mehdi Karrubi publishing an open letter accusing the state television network of spreading lies about his supporters and also accusing the incumbent president, the winner of this presidential election, his supporters, of being -- quote -- "fanatic and Taliban-like" -- Campbell.

BROWN: All right, Ivan, thank you very much -- Ivan Watson for us tonight.

President Obama said the whole world is watching, in part, sadly, because of a woman named Neda shot dead over the weekend, but also because of women like this one, who endures a blow from a police baton, then gets right back up again, not to run, but to give the guy another piece of her mind.

These stories have become legion, and Neda's story a modern-day legend.

More on the women rising up right now from Candy Crowley.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The death of JFK, the moon landing, Tiananmen Square, sometimes, a single picture tells the story of a span in history.

Now the grainy cell phone pictures of the death of Neda Soltan -- will her story burn itself into history? Certainly, it can not be ignored in the present.

OBAMA: It's heartbreaking. It's -- it's heartbreaking. And I think that anybody who sees it knows that there's something fundamentally unjust about that.

CROWLEY: Author Azar Nafisi, herself a warrior for the rights of Iranian women, believes Neda will be part of history, even as history is part of her.

AZAR NAFISI, AUTHOR, "READING LOLITA IN TEHRAN": We are not just looking to the West when we ask for freedom of choice. We are looking to our own mothers and grandmothers and great grandmothers. We are looking to our past. Neda is the voice of Iran's present, Iran's future, and Iran's past.

CROWLEY: Emerging pictures of Neda in earlier days stand starkly against the brutality of her death, underscoring the risk, putting a face to a movement dominated by Iranian women, still demanding a voice, being heard, being seen.

OBAMA: we've seen courageous women stand up to the brutality and threats, and we've experienced the searing image of a woman bleeding to death on the streets. While this loss is raw and extraordinarily painful, we also know this: those who stand up for justice are always on the right side of history.

CROWLEY: That so many women are a part of this history surprises much of the world. Those who know Iran say women have been at the forefront of the struggle for freedom for decades.

NAFISI: Iranian weapon have been wearing their weapons of mass destruction, which is showing a little bit of hair, their lipstick openly -- but not through violent protest -- openly defying the regime and disobeying the laws.

CROWLEY: They are on the streets again now, some protesting in prohibited clothing, looking for the right to have their say in everything from their government to their wardrobe. In the early '80s, Nafisi protested a government mandate that women be veiled. She lost her job as a professor at the University of Tehran.

Iran has been slow to change. Maybe it won't come now, but she knows it is coming, just as Neda wanted.

NAFISI: Iranian women are the canaries in the mine. You want to know the direction this country is going, look at its women.

CROWLEY: And the world is looking.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Watching this, it reminds you it is both a tribute to and a tragedy for Iranian women, the lesson they are learning these days.

As one 19-year-old girl told us on the phone yesterday, when they hit you once, you lose your fear of getting hit again.

"Digging Deeper" with us right now is Fareed Zakaria, host of "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS," also -- you met her in Candy's piece -- Azar Nafisi, author of "Reading Lolita in Tehran," with us as well.

Fareed, these -- the images of this young woman, Neda's horrific death, have had such -- seemingly, this galvanizing effect across Iran. What is it about? Explain it.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN WORLD AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think it is about two things. The first is, it shows you the brutality of the regime, the fact that the regime has these Basij, much feared in Iran, a paramilitary force, seemingly not part of the normal organs of the state, not part of the normal rule of law, and that they can go on a rampage like this.

But I think the bigger issue is the one that Azar was -- was -- was pointing out. Iranian women have historically been very modern, and they suffered the indignity of this 30 years of reactionary rule. They are now beginning to -- to bear witness, to protest, and to take the lead. The -- the videos that I saw where the women were urging the men to go and protest, you know, to go and defy the Basij, to go and defy the police, I think this will be heard not just in Iran, but around the Muslim world, because so much of the ideology of Islamic fundamentalism, the kind of the -- mullahs, rule by the mullahs, is about imprisoning women, in a sense.

And, so, the fact that the women are finally fighting is surely going to have resonance around the Islamic world.

BROWN: Azar, to -- to Fareed's point, you know, we are seeing these women of all ages from all walks of life take to the streets.

Is there a connection between what is going on now and -- and a women's-rights movement that has just been building over the past several years?

NAFISI: Oh, definitely, Campbell.

At the beginning of last century, Iranian women carried guns under their veils in order to help the revolutionaries who brought about the constitutional -- the first modern revolution in the Middle East.

In Iran, and at the beginning of the Islamic Revolution, hundreds of thousands of Iranian women came into the streets against the repressive laws against women, saying, freedom is neither Eastern. Freedom is neither Eastern nor Western. Freedom is global.

And, since then, Iranian women have realized that you cannot just protest politically, that you have to go through arduous day-to-day struggle to unite the Iranian women.

And as Shirin Ebadi, the Nobel laureate for 2000 -- 2003 -- said, the fight against the repressive system should strike at the laws. That is the most fundamental law. And -- and that is what the Iranian women have been doing. They have been fighting on the streets, coming, defying the mandatory laws regarding clothing.

But they have also been working for the most impoverished and traditional women, defending their rights. And, so, now we see Iranian women, young and old, traditional and modern, side by side, fight -- fighting for the same rights.

BROWN: Fareed and Azar, stay with me. We are going to continue this conversation. We're just going to take a quick break.

You can weigh in as well, the live chat up and running right now at AC360.com.

A bit later, President Obama ratcheting up the rhetoric. We're going to show you the very fine lines he is walking internationally, here at home as well.

And, speaking of home, South Carolina's governor on his way back home from the woods -- we're going to tell you what we are learning about his sudden and strange desire to just take a hike -- tonight on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: New video tonight, scenes there you're seeing of men and women protesting on the campus of Tehran University, the crowd chanting, "God is great," and calling for support from the university administration.

We are talking specifically tonight about the role of women in the Iranian uprising. They are galvanized by the killing of Neda Soltan, empowered by a demographic tidal wave. You see women on the front lines, women urging others on, older women providing refuge in the -- their homes nearby.

Yesterday, we heard from a remarkable 19-year-old. We mentioned her earlier. We are protecting her identity. But, for everything else, she is on her own. She told us she expects the revolution to succeed, in part because she and so many others are no longer afraid.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED IRANIAN FEMALE: I think I'm a little braver now, because, when someone gets hit once, the second time, I think, doesn't matter. For me, it is like this. Because when one hits me -- I say hit, I have been hit so many times. And, this time, it doesn't matter. I just want to help my brothers and my sisters.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Back now. We are "Digging Deeper" with Fareed Zakaria and Azar Nafisi.

Fareed, more than 60 percent of the university students in Iran are -- are women, as many as 70 percent of the country now under the age of 30. And -- and, during the Islamic Revolution, we remember those images of young men in beards. Are young women now, I guess, the vanguards of this?

ZAKARIA: You know, you have got to remember, what -- what those statistics mean is that most of Iran has no memory of the shah, of the -- the oppressive regime that was overturned.

There was a certain romantic -- romanticism about the Islamic Revolution in Iran. It was going to be more honest, less corrupt, less repressive. Of course, it didn't turn out to be any of that.

But this youth cohort, the vast majority of Iranians have only seen the repression of this regime. And, so, they don't -- they don't regard it in a way of saying, well, at least it was better than the shah.

No. For them, this has been pretty awful. And, so, I think what you're beginning to see is something that is likely to last. The -- the demonstrations can be disrupted. The police can make sure that people don't go out and protest. People are rational, if they feel like they are going to be killed. But the feelings in people's hearts and minds will not go away, because there's a very deep sense of injustice. And I think that is why President Obama keeps using the word injustice. I would love to hear whether Azar agree. In Iran, in Bushehr, in general, there is a very strong sense that the state should not be unjust.

BROWN: Azar, talk about that, and -- and also tell us about what these women are fighting for, I mean, what conditions are really like for women under the current regime.

NAFISI: Well, you know, Campbell, I completely agree with Fareed, especially when he talks about justice.

After all, one of the most vibrant symbols of Iranian women and Iranian society is, in fact, Shirin Ebadi, who, after she accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, she said: I am a Muslim, and I am a Muslim woman, and I believe in human rights.

And -- and she went to the heart of the matter of what Fareed was talking about. As I mentioned, the first targets, the first victims of the Islamic Republic were women. The first thing this regime did before changing any of the laws, or having a new parliament, or a new constitution, was change the family protection law, which protected women at home and abroad.

They changed the age of marriage from 18 to 9. They brought the punishment of stoning to death for what they called prostitution adultery. They encouraged polygamy. They defrocked women judges, Shirin Ebadi, because they said women are too weak to judge.

And Iranian women, who before had been ministers, members of parliament, pilots, active in all walks of life, could not accept this injustice. When they came into the streets fighting against the shah, they wanted political rights. They wanted more freedoms, and not less. And this is the foundation upon which young girls like Neda are building the future of not themselves, but also of Iran.

BROWN: Fareed, before we go, I do want to mention, obviously, the repression of journalists has -- has been a big part of the story. And a "Newsweek" reporter in particular was taken by security officers from his home. He has not been heard from since.

Give us your sense of what may be going on with him, what you know, and, I guess, what happens to this opposition movement, if they continue to suppress the information that is getting out and what is happening with journalists.

ZAKARIA: It is very troubling, Campbell, because this -- this journalist, Maziar Bahari, has been "Newsweek"'s correspondent in Iran for 10 years. He has worked under the Ahmadinejad regime, under the Khatami regime. He is an accredited journalist under Iranian law.

And he was picked up, inexplicably, with no charges, no due process. And what is puzzling is, Iran has a system. They have laws. And this would be an interesting test. Are they going to actually adhere to their own laws, or are they going to now throw everything out and -- and just go on some kind of a -- a series of purges?

I think this is -- this is the Islamic Republic's moment of truth, in a sense. Are they going to try and deal with these issues in an orderly fashion...

BROWN: Right.

ZAKARIA: ... and try and resolve these issues politically, talk to the opposition leaders, Mousavi or Rafsanjani, all these people, or are we going to watch some kind of Stalinist crackdown and purge?

They probably could do that. I mean, they have the guns.

BROWN: Right.

ZAKARIA: They have the oil money.

But, ultimately, that is surely going to be a sign of weakness and eventual collapse.

BROWN: Fareed Zakaria for us, of course, here in New York, and Azar Nafisi, really appreciate your time, your input, and perspective on this. Many thanks.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: When we come back, more on Iran. President Obama's comments today, did he say enough to quiet his critics?

Also, investigators narrowing their focus in Washington with regard to the subway crash that killed nine people -- what the wreckage is already telling them.

Also tonight, South Carolina's wayward governor, he is due back tonight, but from where, doing what, and, if not alone, with whom?

And, then, later, where there is a presidential grilling, there is smoke -- what Mr. Obama told reporters about his cigarette habit when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: In South Carolina, the governor is no longer missing, but the rumor are flying. And the plot, as they say, is thickening. Why did he take a sudden hike and go off the grid? The latest just ahead.

First, Erica Hill joining us with a 360 news and business bulletin.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, Campbell, there is late word tonight President Obama has decided to send a U.S. ambassador back to Syria. It's a dramatic sign of reconciliation between the two countries. A senior administration official says the decision is not in any way related to the election crisis in Iran. Mr. Obama is expected to announce the decision some time this week. Investigators looking into yesterday's deadly crash of two Washington, D.C., Metro transit trains focusing on two key questions, one, why a computerized system failed to stop one train from plowing into another which was stopped ahead of it, and, two, why that moving train kept going, even though its emergency brake button was pushed down. Nine people died. More than 70 were injured.

The Swedish ambassador to North Korea allowed to visit imprisoned America journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee today, that is welcome news for families of the two when, who were sentenced to 12 years hard labor in North Korea.

They issued this statement -- quote -- "The families of Laura Ling and Euna Lee are grateful to the North Korean government for allowing the Swedish ambassador to visit Laura and Euna. We continue to appeal for their release on humanitarian grounds."

Existing home sales up 2.4 percent last month, as prices dropped nearly 17 percent from a year earlier. And analysts say the combination of those lower prices, low mortgage rates and an $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers helping to fuel sales.

And Ed McMahon being remembered by his many fans and friends with deep affection tonight. Johnny Carson's longtime sidekick and straight man died early this morning in Los Angeles. He was 86, Campbell.

BROWN: All right. Erica, thanks very much.

And just ahead: an eyewitness account from the streets of Iran -- two Iranian American women just back from Tehran tell us what is really going on down on the streets.

Plus, President Obama sharpening his tone and his words on Iran today, but was his message tough enough for his critics?

Also, your tax dollars hard at work building a tunnel for turtles. Nothing against turtles, but are we being taken for a ride? We are "Keeping Them Honest."

Plus, a Chicago cop caught on tape beating up a female bartender half his size, he was sentenced today. Wait until you see what he is facing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Over the last week, virtually all of the eyewitness accounts we have been seeing of the crackdown in Iran have come from Twitter, Facebook, and other sites on the Internet.

Tonight, though, we have a firsthand account delivered in person on camera at a U.S. airport. CNN talked with two Iranian-American women returning from Tehran. They don't want to be identified, but they had a lot to say. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are cracking down on old, young, every class of people. It's -- people are dying. And if you hear otherwise, do not believe it. We have seen instances of people being beaten to death.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: The woman in the wheelchair says she broke her ankle and a thumb at a demonstration. She says motorcyclists from the regime began cracking down on the crowd. People began running, and she was trampled.

At President Obama's news conference today, Iran was very much front and center. As we reporting earlier, Mr. Obama mourned the killing of the protesters, but also sharpened his message to Iran's government.

Tom Foreman right now with the "Raw Politics."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(SHOUTING)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just as the street battles have changed by the hour, right from the beginning, the president's tone was also changed to a decidedly harder line against the Iranian government.

OBAMA: The United States and the international community have been appalled and outraged by the threats, the beatings and imprisonments of the last few days. I strongly condemn these unjust actions.

If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect those rights and heed the will of its own people. It must govern through consent and not coercion.

FOREMAN: The president has taken heat from conservatives for saying too little to encourage the Iranian opposition. And he was hit squarely on that front.

QUESTION: What took you so long to say those words?

OBAMA: Well, I don't -- I don't think that's accurate.

Right after the election, I said that we had profound concerns about the nature of the election, but that it was not up to us to determine what the outcome was.

FOREMAN: In Iran, some are accusing the United States and its allies of doing too much, spurring on the protests. The president says, that's absurd.

OBAMA: This tired of strategy of using old tensions to scapegoat other countries won't work anymore in Iran. FOREMAN: But that is as far as he will go, despite appeals for help, such as more economic sanctions from Iranians on the Internet and on the streets. He insists they alone must sort out this matter.

(on camera) Independent reporting is till banned there, so how Iranians will sort out it remains murky. Eyewitnesses say the government crackdown continues, and preparations are underway for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's second inauguration.

(voice-over) The White House posted the president's comments online in Farsi, a clear outreach to dissidents. But asked what consequences might follow if those dissidents continue to be repressed, President Obama would not bite.

OBAMA: But I think, Chuck, that we don't know yet how this thing is going to play out. I know everybody here is on a 24-hour news cycle. I'm not.

FOREMAN: So for the protestors, it appears hope for outside help and time to overturn the disputed election may both be running out.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: For the protesters demanding change in Iran, the stakes could not be higher. Some have already paid with their lives. Their bloodshed making President Obama's response that much more complicated.

So let's talk strategy right now with political contributor Hillary Rosen and Dylan Glenn, a former member of the National Economic Council and former deputy chief of staff to Georgia Governor Sonny Purdue.

Welcome, guys. Dylan, let me start with you on this. I don't have to tell you, the president has been criticized by some Republicans, probably including yourself, for not being tough enough. Did his words today do enough for you to satisfy you?

DYLAN GLENN, FORMER MEMBER, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: Campbell, I think it's not about words. It's really, in my opinion, about action. It's about using the bully pulpit but as well as sort of using the power of the presidency to encourage our allies to be firm and to make a statement about the fact that we care about bedrock values, such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of people, of women to have human dignity and that we're going to speak out about the atrocities that are perpetrated against that. Not just...

BROWN: He is speaking out. I mean, be specific about action. Because realistically, what are his options?

GLENN: I think his options are to be proactive with respect to our allies, whether that takes the form of galvanizing people at the U.N. or speaking with his counterparts around the world. I think it's more than just saying we're going to wait and see. That's not what the United States is about.

We're about leadership, particularly as it relates to -- to free people who want human dignity, who want to be respected, want to have the rights that we enjoy here at home.

BROWN: Hillary, does he need to do more?

HILLARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I don't think he's done nothing. He has done some significant things. He talked about the rule of law. He talked about the need for the sovereign state of Iran to settle this dispute.

But look, we just heard a report where people have said that sometimes the United States speaking too much can inflame the Guardian Council, can inflame authorities. He is walking a very tightrope.

I just think kind of comments like that are just about political expediency. Criticizing the president because of what's going on inside Iran and him taking a cautious look at it just is a huge mistake.

BROWN: And how does this play out, Dylan? I mean, after all is said -- after all is said and done, the Iranian regime remains in power, let's say. You know, most people, I think, believe it is what's likely going to happen here. Ahmadinejad remains president.

What do you want him to do then? Are conservatives going to pressure him to call the government illegitimate? Or...

GLENN: Campbell, I don't think this, again, is conservatives versus liberals or Democrats versus Republicans. I think we are talking about issues across the pond, we are united.

Republicans have been trying to urge the president to be more -- assert himself more in this process because there's so much at stake. How it plays out, who knows? But I think that how it does play out has great ramifications with respect to the Middle East, has great ramifications with respect to our safety in terms of nuclear proliferation.

And so I think that there is a reason to be engaged here. It's not just Republicans trying to criticize the president. I think they're urging the president to be engaged.

ROSEN: It makes no sense. What you just said makes no sense. Because in essence, the biggest threat that the United States faces from Iran is the nuclear threat.

GLENN: Yes.

ROSEN: And so the more engaged the United States gets in an internal political dispute, the more at risk the nuclear option is.

And so there is just no analysis right now that says that there is a clear path to addressing either one of those issues. And until there's a clear path, the president is doing exactly the right thing by keeping his -- those options open.

GLENN: A clear path, Hillary, might be leaning on the U.N. and providing some leadership in the U.N. to actually have sanctions that have teeth. I think that's a clear path.

I think it's a clear path to say, at the very least, we're going to have a unified statement from the United Nations, our allies in the United Nations. I mean, I think there are ways for the president to lead here which don't denote meddling in Iran's internal politics. And I don't agree with you that there is no middle ground there.

BROWN: All right. A debate that will certainly be continuing in the days to come as we watch this play out. Thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.

CNN is, of course, going to be following events in Iran live throughout the night and into the morning. You won't see more coverage of Iran on any other network. So stay with us.

Should President Obama take an even tougher stand on Iran, though? We want to hear your thoughts on this. Join the live chat. It's happening right now at AC360.com.

And coming up next, the mystery of the missing governor. Where in the world is Mark Sanford? He is telling one story, and his wife, it seems, is telling another.

And is President Obama really calling it quits? His candid statements on his smoking habit and whether he's done with cigarettes when 360 continues.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: The strange case of that missing governor may be over tonight. But as you'll see, the mystery is actually growing deeper.

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford vanished last Thursday. Well, yesterday his office saying he wasn't hiding -- says he wasn't hiding; he was hiking. Where did he go? Why didn't he tell his wife?

We caught up with the state's first lady today, and her comments only add to the intrigue. Let's get the very latest from David Mattingly.

He joins us live from Columbia, South Carolina -- David.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Intrigue is right, Campbell. Every time we ask a question, there is another question mark that comes up in this case.

We came here to the Columbia airport, hoping to see the governor coming back to South Carolina tonight. We didn't find the governor, but we did find his car or rather the vehicle that belongs to state law enforcement that he drove away in last Thursday after he told his staff that he was going to be gone for a few days and that he would be very hard to reach. We were directed to this location in the parking lot here at the airport by a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation. And when we got here, we found the vehicle but what was more interesting, was what we found inside.

In the passenger seat there is a large canvas bag. You can't really see it in here right now, because it is night and there is tinting on the windows. But I'll tell you, there is a canvas bag in the passenger seat with shorts and running shoes. And in the back seat there is a sleeping bag.

When we called the governor's spokesman, I wanted to know what he made of this discovery. When he said his boss was going hiking on the Appalachian trail. All he would say is as far as I know the governor is at the Appalachian Trail. All he would say is, "As far as I know the governor is at the Appalachian Trail."

That was earlier this evening. No word since then about the governor's arrival, if he is back here in the state. He is supposed to be back on the job tomorrow, Campbell.

BROWN: Well, David, has anybody actually heard from the governor?

MATTINGLY: He did call his office today and spoke to his chief of staff. We heard that from his staff today. He said he was taken aback by all the attention his absence has been getting so he was cutting his trip short and he is going to be back on the job tomorrow.

But when I heard that, I wanted to find out what his wife said. Earlier, on Monday, she said that she wasn't worried about her husband and that she hasn't heard from him. I wanted to know, have you heard from your husband today? We were at the beach house outside Charleston as she drove up. I had time for one question.

This is what she told me. I asked her, "Have you heard from your husband?

She said, "I am being a mom today. I have not heard from my husband. I am taking care of my children" -- Campbell.

BROWN: And David, someone else who hasn't heard from the governor is South Carolina's No. 2 executive, Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer, which raises the question, if the governor is out of touch, who exactly is in charge?

MATTINGLY: He's making that point quite a bit right now, trying to drive it home. Because it says -- he says it's one thing if the governor does not contact him if he's not around, but it's another thing for the governor's own staff not to know where he is or not to hear from him for five days. Here's what he had to say to us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he doesn't communicate with me there's no real harm there, as long as his staff can get in touch with him. The real rub with most people is if he can't be contacted what do you do? What is the chain of command?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: Just another few questions that keep coming up from this case. The governor is supposed to be back on the job. That is what his staff is telling us tonight, that he will be back tomorrow, cutting his trip short and maybe we will hear some answers to the many questions that have popped up -- Campbell.

BROWN: Very strange. David Mattingly for us tonight. David, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

David's search for answers is a wild story by itself. And you can read about his behind-the-scenes journey at AC360.com.

Next, following the money. Why are turtles getting your tax dollars? Lawmakers on Capitol Hill gave approval. We' re Keeping Them Honest.

Talk about an all-star. This girl was shocked to find 56 tattoos on her face. Well, now she's telling a different story.

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BROWN: President Obama says his $787 billion stimulus package is working. Well, maybe he should talk to some big-city mayors. They say they are being shortchanged by the White House, complaining that most of the cash is going to places where people are few and far between. Their frustration brings us to tonight's "Keeping Them Honest" report.

As you'll see, some of the money is being used to build a tunnel for turtles. Really. Abbie Boudreau has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Why did the turtle cross the road? To get to the other side. But it's no joke, because it turns out turtles can't seem to help themselves.

Decades ago humans built this highway through Lake Jackson near Tallahassee, Florida, but turtles are hardwired to use the entire lake, not just part of it. And that's why they cross the road.

MATT ARESCO, LAKE JACKSON ECOPASSAGE ALLIANCE: There were days when I would find 200 turtles attempting to cross. And I would put them in containers like this, carry them across, let them go, come back to the other side, fill up containers again.

BOUDREAU: On this one-mile stretch alone, biologist Matt Aresco says he counted nearly 9,000 dead turtles over three years. He's been trying to get the turtles to take a safer route across: an old tunnel under the highway.

(on camera) All the alligators and the turtles and all of the wildlife can go through this culvert and head straight to the other pond.

(voice-over) But getting the turtles to use it, with a system of makeshift fences Aresco built himself, has been hit-or-miss. The solution: spend $3.4 million stimulus dollars to build new concrete walls and tunnels to funnel the turtles under the highway.

Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma put the turtle crossing on his new list of the 100 worst stimulus projects.

SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: We haven't made priorities. They are wasteful projects. And most of us don't want to steal future from our grandkids to be able to do something that's really stupid right now.

BOUDREAU: But the turtle tunnel backers say it's a matter of public safety.

CLIFF THAELL, LEON COUNTY COMMISSIONER: You've got 30- and 40- pound box turtles as big as a manhole cover crossing this highway. Now, if Senator Coburn were to drive his car, his SUV speeding down Highway 27 at 60 miles an hour tonight and met one of those fellows, he'd have an unpleasant encounter.

BOUDREAU: But "Keeping Them Honest," isn't the stimulus supposed to be all about creating jobs, not saving turtles?

(on camera) How many jobs will it bring?

THAELL: Dozens.

BOUDREAU: Dozens.

(voice-over) millions of dollars for dozens of jobs. And a new question: how did the turtles cross the road? Answer: with your money.

Abbie Boudreau, CNN, Tallahassee, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Taxpayer money for a turtle tunnel. Interesting.

You can read about other strange and controversial stimulus projects at AC360.com.

A quick program note right now. Tomorrow on 360, Randi Kaye is on the trail of a lying dog, we are not talking metaphorically. We are talking about a canine at the center of a brazen and bizarre fraud that may have put dozens of innocent people behind bars. Here's a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Before there was DNA evidence this man, Bill Dillon, was convicted of murder and spent 27 years in prison. The star witness against him: this dog, who was renowned for his truly extraordinary sense of smell.

BILL DILLON, FALSELY IMPRISONED FOR 27 YEARS: He says the dog can track underwater. He says the dog can get on top of the water in a boat and smell down below the water.

KAYE (on camera): The dog's owner testified at Dillon's trial that the dog tracked the scent from the killer's T-shirt down this beach, which is near the crime scene, all the way to these steps, where the killer made his escape.

The dog then supposedly connected that scent to Bill Dillon by signaling at a piece of paper that Dillon had touched. The dog's owner also claimed the dog tracked Bill Dillon to a room inside the courthouse.

(voice-over) It was amazing. Because of the big dog's legendary sense of smell, he helped get convictions in possibly dozens of cases. But there was one big problem: it was all a fraud.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: And you can watch Randi's full report tomorrow on 360.

Next, some shocking video. A police officer caught on tape beating up a bartender. The cop was sentenced today, but is his punishment harsh enough?

And the president's bad habit. Obama opens up about whether or not he is still smoking.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: She claimed she fell asleep as someone tattooed 56 stars on her face. How does that happen? We're going to give you two different possibilities in tonight's "Shot." It's coming up.

First, though, Erica Hill joining us again with a "360 Bulletin."

Campbell, new evidence leading federal agriculture officials to suspect that the swine flu first emerged in pigs in Asia before people transmitted it to North America. That, of course, is contrary to the common assumption that it started with pigs on Mexican farms.

Scientists, though, do say they still need much more evidence.

No prison time for a Chicago police officer caught on tape badly beating, essentially pummeling a female bartender. It's tough to forget this video. Officer Anthony Abbate got two years' probation instead. He is currently on suspension from his job. The boss, though, apparently wants him fired.

President Obama says he is 95 percent cured of his addiction to nicotine. During a news conference today, Mr. Obama's smoking getting plenty of attention.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: Look, I've said before that, as a former smoker, I constantly struggle with it. Have I fallen off the wagon sometimes? Yes. The -- am I daily smoker, a constant smoker? No.

I don't do it in front of my kids. I don't do it in front of my family. And, you know, I would say that I am 95 percent cured but there are times where -- there are times where I mess up.

And I mean, I've said this before. I get this question about once every month or so. And, you know, I don't know what to tell you other than the fact that, you know, like folks who go to A.A., you know, once you've gone down this path then you, you know, it's something you continually struggle with, which is precisely why the legislation we signed was so important. Because what we don't want is kids going down that path in the first place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: A little TV, it turns out, may not be so bad for your kids. Nine-year-old Grayson Wynne got separated from his family this weekend in the northern Utah woods.

Well, lucky for him, he'd seen a few episodes of the Discovery Channel's "Man Versus Wild," where he learned to leave clues behind to help the others find him. So Grayson says that's why he tore up his yellow raincoat, tied the pieces to trees, clueing in searchers who found him the next day.

He was missing for 18 hours.

You know, I guess, Campbell, you and I would have learned how to do that from, oh, I don't know, Hansel and Gretel.

BROWN: Yes. Erica Hill for us. Exactly.

Erica Hill for us, of course.

Erica, "The Shot" is next. The truth about these tattoos. The girl who says she was sleeping when they were put on her face is telling a new story, apparently.

At the top of the hour, outrage and anger also over President Obama as he lashes out at Iran over the violent unrest. There are more calls for protests. We are following the latest details from Washington and Tehran ahead on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: For tonight's "Shot," the truth about the tattoo girl. Erica, share the surprising news with our friends.

HILL: Yes, Campbell, we've discussed this for a little while. Turns out that Belgian teenager who made headlines around the world after emerging from a tattoo parlor with 56 stars on her face. She's now setting the record straight. Initially, she said she'd only asked for three stars, of course, and then she fell asleep and then woke up with 56 stars. Well, today she admitted it was all a lie. According to reports, the girl said she wanted all along to have those 56 tattoos on her face. She asked for them. She got them.

Why the deception, you ask? Turns out Dad was furious when he saw the new edition. I guess this also debunks the other theory that we had that maybe she was not asleep but "asleep."

BROWN: Drunk. Passed out.

HILL: How drunk was she? Apparently not.

BROWN: Why 56? Lucky number? I mean...

HILL: I don't know. I'll look it up for you, though.

BROWN: So many unanswered questions.

HILL: The question is why not 56? I mean, if you're going for one, you might as well just do half your face.

BROWN: Absolutely. It's such a good look.

All right. Erica, thanks.

You can see all the most recent "Shots" on our Web site, AC360.com.

Coming up at the top of the hour, serious stuff. The latest from Iran, where the government crackdown is tightening and the protesters are trying to regroup.