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Libya Heading to War?; President Obama Calls for Gadhafi to Step Down

Aired March 3, 2011 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.

Tonight: President Obama says it is time for Moammar Gadhafi to go. The U.S. military has now joined efforts to evacuate refugees from the overcrowded border with Tunisia. But Gadhafi is hanging on, using the same weapons he has for the last four decades: terror and lies for his own people, terror, new reports have kidnappings in Tripoli, people suspected in taking part in demonstrations or talking to the media taken from their homes, disappeared. As for the other weapon, lies. As always, we're "Keeping Them Honest."

Today, Libyan authorities showed off what they say was a massive shipment of pills they intercepted. They say al Qaeda was trying to snuggle in 37 million painkillers to alter the minds of young people, so they would join the fight against Gadhafi. Remember, this has been Gadhafi's claim from the beginning, the most bizarre, perhaps, of all his claims.

I asked a top government Gadhafi spokesman about that claim on the program last night. And as you will notice, he's clearly not interested in answering specific questions about this pill-popping theory.


COOPER: The claim I find hardest to understand is this claim that Libya's youth are being given hallucinatory pills and then brainwashed to attack. Again, Gadhafi said it was Americans doing this first. Now he says bin Laden. What drugs are being used, specifically, what hallucinatory pills?

MUSA IBRAHIM, LIBYAN GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN: Actually, the leader did not specifically accuse the United States of America. He really said that al Qaeda, very highly trained individuals, who now look more secular than the dwellers of the caves in Afghanistan. They were trainers...


COOPER: I'm asking you what pills, what hallucinatory pills?


IBRAHIM: ... young people to join them against -- we did indeed capture young people using those pills to...


COOPER: What pills? No, I'm asking.


COOPER: Are you talking about methamphetamine? Are you talking about ecstasy? Are you talking about LSD? Are you talking -- what are you talking about?


COOPER: Well, he couldn't answer that question last night.

Now, today, suddenly, a few hours after that interview, the big drug bust by Libyan authorities and the drug they claim is being used is tramadol. The problem is, tramadol is not a hallucinogenic drug. It's a moderate to severe painkiller used in hospitals. The two most common side effects, by the way, are drowsiness and constipation.

If this is what the Libyan government was hoping would make its case, they need to find a new prescription.

Last night, when I continued to press Gadhafi's spokesman on what drugs his boss was talking about, here's what he said.


IBRAHIM: I'm not an expert. We are really now dealing with the matter from all sides. Let me just...


COOPER: But, wait, sir. No, let me just go on. I have got to ask this, because you are basing your entire argument -- your leader is basing the entire -- his entire explanation -- he says this every time -- on these hallucinatory pills.

It seems to defy logic. You're saying that a small band of terrorists have been able to manufacture, import, distribute large quantities, huge quantities of hallucinatory pills across vast areas hundreds miles apart to various cities, and then been able to continually drug tens of thousands of Libyan young people, so that they will fight? Does that make any sense to you at all?

IBRAHIM: No, this is not the story. Anderson, this is not the story we are putting forward. This is one element of the story.


COOPER: All right. So he's saying it's just one element. He went on to say that I was sensationalizing things, focusing on one minor point his leader had mentioned as part of a much larger explanation. The truth, however, is that completely unproved theory of Gadhafi's is the one he and his son put forward all the time. Take a look.


MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN LEADER (through translator): Kids, 16 or 17 years old, they give them pills at night. They put hallucinatory pills in their drinks, their milk, their coffee, their Nescafe, and they then tell them after they have taken the pills and say, come on, go, attack.

SAIF AL-ISLAM GADHAFI, SON OF MOAMMAR GADHAFI (through translator): There were many units that we have uncovered, Libyans, Arabs, using drugs.

M. GADHAFI (through translator): These people have been drugged.

Children who have been drugged.

S. GADHAFI (through translator): Some of them were on drugs.

M. GADHAFI (through translator): They are on hallucinogenic drugs.

They are giving them those pills. They are given pills. Take the pills, those pills, the pills, those hallucination pills. Those who offer pills to your children, arrest them.


COOPER: Those are just some of the mentions of these pills.

What makes Gadhafi's al Qaeda pill-popping theory even harder to understand and even more impossible to believe is that it contradicts the other argument he and his government spokesman and his son make: that Gadhafi has made Libya a bastion against al Qaeda.


IBRAHIM: Libya is the only country free of al Qaeda in the region.


COOPER: All right. Well, if that's true, then how can you claim that al Qaeda has been smuggling in all these pills, distributing them, infiltrating all these coffee shops, and continually drugging all these people? How can you claim that if you believe this Gadhafi spokesman?


IBRAHIM: Libya is the only country free of al Qaeda in the region.


COOPER: So, to sum up, Gadhafi and his son and his spokesman want you to believe that al Qaeda, which does not exist in Libya, is maintaining a major drug smuggling operation and at the same time recruiting and running a massive army of unknowing, stoned kids who are killing troops and policemen while rampaging and tripping on pills that don't actually make you trip or rampage.

If that's not a logic-defying lie, I don't know what it is. The Libyan leader and his spokesman also continue to claim the government doesn't target civilians. Pictures show otherwise.

This is people video from last Friday in Tripoli, people leaving a mosque unarmed, heading to join other protesters and being fired upon. Another video, protesters in a funeral march being fired upon. And here is an airstrike yesterday in the desert outside Brega, the only target within miles, about 250 people, Libyans, heading to Brega to defend it from attack.

Our own Ben Wedeman was with them.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are outside the town of Brega, where this ongoing battle is happening, and we watched this Libyan air force plane flew overhead. I can tell you exactly what the target was. It was us. It was us and the people all around us, which was, I would say, about 250 individuals, most of them volunteer fighters getting ready to move ahead forward into Brega to engage the Libyan forces.

So I guess, yes, we were the target, nothing else.


COOPER: Again, some of the people were armed and belonged to anti-government forces. The government claims they are al Qaeda operatives and that they're only targeting ammunition dumps. There were no ammunition dumps where that bomb fell, only people.

And Ben Wedeman says there may have been hard-core Islamists in the midst in Benghazi, but the vast majority are Libyan civilians, untrained and poorly equipped.

A bit later in the program, you're going to hear from a Libyan doctor in another town held by anti-Gadhafi Libyans, a doctor who has seen dozens of dead and wounded and says there are -- they are just young people who want freedom.

First, I want to get the latest from our Nic Robertson in Tripoli. Also with him is MARIE COLVIN of "The Sunday Times" in London.

Nic, tomorrow, or a few hours from now in Tripoli is going to be Friday prayers. And after that last Friday, we saw what happened. People were called to come out and protest after Friday prayers. They did that. Shots were fired and people were killed. And we have seen multiple videos of that.

Is there an anticipation that people will actually come out on the streets in a few hours and protest?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I talked to a man earlier this week who said he has been involved in some of the Gadhafi protests here. And he said this Friday, today, they planned to gather in the mosques after the noontime prayers.

And this will be the safest way, he said, that they can protest. He said he hoped there would be women there as well, because he believed that the government wouldn't shoot on women.

But this -- this he said had now become the only way for them to voice their grievances with the government, because if they go out on the streets, they will get run off the streets. So I think we can (AUDIO GAP) perhaps see similar scenes that we have seen in Tripoli tonight, a real tightening of security around the city, heavy armor ringing the city on the (AUDIO GAP) soldiers with bayonets on their weapons. The government, it seems, is bracing itself for whatever may come, Anderson.

COOPER: Marie, I spoke with someone from the Libyan opposition earlier. I asked him what he expected from any protests tomorrow. I just want to play that for our viewers.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was in the protest of the 20, 21st. And we went to the Green Square, which we called (INAUDIBLE) square. And we were attacked by Gadhafi's battalions with live ammunition. They killed people.

I spent with some people, including my sons, the night in hiding in the old town of Tripoli. And the viciousness the Gadhafi regime is using against unarmed people would scare anybody. I think, in some areas, people will go out. Maybe they're not going to go to the Green Square. But they will go out. And it's not going to stop. People lost their sons. So many people were killed, and blood brings blood.


COOPER: Blood brings blood.

Marie, do you think tomorrow is going to be a big test or a few hours is going to be a big test?

MARIE COLVIN, "THE SUNDAY TIMES": I think it's a big test in several ways.

When I spoke to Gadhafi earlier this week, a bit like what you were saying about the drug-addled youths, he said there was no army in Libya and there had been no protesters. Well, we know there are both.

People are much more frightened this time, because Gadhafi's army or security forces, they are opening fire on protesters. The protesters from last week who I have spoken to are scared. They are going to gather in the mosques. They are probably going to try to march on Green Square, but there could be an overwhelming show of force, because Gadhafi knows they're going to try to do this as well.

COOPER: Marie, I was just talking to Fouad Ajami before I went on air. He said he felt that in listening to Gadhafi's speech yesterday, that Gadhafi seemed different in a way. I have heard you say he seemed more focused to you yesterday. And you have talked to him a lot over the years.

COLVIN: Well, it's hard to -- when you listen to Gadhafi, it's hard to say he's focused at all.

But he has his own coherency within his own mental universe. He spoke to the points he (AUDIO GAP) both to Libyans and to the international world. Libyan streets, Tripoli streets empty (AUDIO GAP) home to listen to them on television. And they could hear that this man plans to stay.

So, I started hearing the wall of fear has descended again on Tripoli. People who were speaking openly to me a week ago have now stopped speaking. And I think the way that Gadhafi ended his speech put a chill through everyone. He (AUDIO GAP) addressing the leaders of the world, he said, you will be serving (AUDIO GAP) president, and you will retire, and I will still be leader of the revolution. He means to try to scare them.

COOPER: Nic, I talked to somebody today who was talking about people disappearing, people being taken from their homes and actually security forces there looking for people who they had videotaped at last Friday's prayers. Have you heard those reports? Have you been able to confirm any of that?

ROBERTSON: No, we don't have any specific confirmation of that, just anecdotal information from the gentleman who told me about the protest plans for today and a couple of other people I have talked to on the streets here who have approached us because they know we're international journalists, and they really hope we can get their story out and their message out.

And in some ways, they feel emboldened by the fact that we're here and we're doing that. They have been very, very afraid to speak to us because they're aware there are often government officials close to us. They're aware people are watching us and who we're talking to. I'm in communication by the phone and other means here with some other people who share those views. They have pretty much closed down on me, too.

So the fear is real, and it's palpable. I fell painful and sorry (AUDIO GAP) gentleman I was talking to on the street, because I could see in his eyes that he was shaking and I could tell that he wanted to say these things. And I almost felt that I shouldn't be standing there talking to him and listening. I thought, no, it's my duty. And he wants to do it; he wants to get this message out.

So, it's a very, very real fear. COOPER: Marie, I know last time we talked, you said you kind of have it a little bit easier sometimes than Nic, because you don't have a camera with you. You're able to kind of go around perhaps a little bit more freely than Nic is, who is probably watched pretty closely.

Have you heard those reports about people being taken from their homes, of people disappearing? And just a second ago when you said the fear here has kind of, you know, resurged, what do you attribute that to?

COLVIN: Well, I attribute it to, A., Gadhafi's speech, where he was more (AUDIO GAP) in Libyan terms, and the fact that he simply is still there.

When I arrived in Tripoli, it felt -- it was palpable. It just felt like he's going to go, he's going to leave after 42 years, where we're going to be free of this man, of this oppression. He's still here. The capital has sort of returned to normal. That worries people.

And, also, just bodies have come back. There's -- there's funerals. There's raids at night. I have talked to people and seen doors are smashed (AUDIO GAP). For all the -- he's kind of doing both, in that he also said young people can have free loans, put out the carrot. But, at night, it's the stick. And he's doing it in tandem.

People are having their doors broken down and they're being dragged off. No one knows are they going to an army, are they going to a police prison? It's a very, very -- it's a city of fear. And the nervousness and quiet on the streets, no one knows what will happen. There is a real determination (AUDIO GAP) can do it. There's not been the spark. And, again, I think, tellingly, there's no leadership.

COOPER: It does seem, Nic, if anything is to change in Tripoli, it's going to have to come -- I mean, it seems, if what you're saying is true and Gadhafi seems to have -- be more secure perhaps in his position in Tripoli in the last day or so, then whatever change is going to come may have to come from outside in terms of a force from Benghazi or elsewhere, and that seems, given their lack of organization, difficult to imagine at this stage.


It seems the government sort of has the upper hand in close to Tripoli at least sort of organizing people. We were driving back from the border today and the government took us to the border to see the situation there. As we drove back, we were mobbed for about 60 kilometers, I guess 40 miles or so, of people driving, coming out, waving, chanting for Gadhafi (AUDIO GAP) at traffic intersections, people literally standing in the front of our buses, stopping us moving.

And I sort of -- I said to one of the government officials with us, I said, you know, you talk about al Qaeda giving out drugs to people. These people are going so crazy here on the roads, I mean, literally crazy in front of us. Somebody is giving them pills.

And the official said back to me, jokingly, but I think this shows us underneath what even government officials think, he said, yes, they have been given happy pills. Of course, he was joking. But I think this shows a certain realization in (AUDIO GAP) regime here that they know change is coming, that they know things aren't right.

So, although perhaps there's not going to be the opposition rebels marching on the capital any time soon, there's a lot of sympathetic (AUDIO GAP) in this city. And when the tide turns, I think we may see it turn. But, again, there are some very fanatical supporters out there, too, which is why the assessment is there is a (AUDIO GAP) bloody fight as well.

COOPER: Just very briefly, Nic, was that a rally you just happened across or are you in a convoy that the government is kind of bringing you, and was that something that was planned? I mean, how do they know you are going to be driving down that road?

ROBERTSON: It was a road to the border, so we went down it, and there was one road back. So they knew we were coming back. And the police worked to slow us down, to actually physically block (AUDIO GAP) road. And then the crowds got in and blocked us.

And then the government officials made sure we stopped and opened the doors to some of the vehicles to encourage to get (AUDIO GAP) film it. And the whole thing just gets completely out of hand very quickly, very, very wild, raucous crowd. They were driving so dangerously down the road, children in the back of pickups, kids hanging out the windows of cars 100 miles an hour next to us.

We had a 50-seater coach, some smaller buses. And they were going 100 miles an hour down the side of us on the (AUDIO GAP) of the road with oncoming traffic, just crazy scenes.

So, that's the mentality that any opposition will be up against. And that's the mentality of the situation, very...


COOPER: And, Marie, I'm way over time, but I'm interested in this, because the spokesmen of the government keeps saying and Saif keeps saying, well, anybody can come and look around and they're free to see whatever they want to see. Is that the case for you?

COLVIN: I think, you know, as I said last week, I can move a bit more easily, because the scene Nic is describing, that happens on a smaller scale any time you pull out a camera in Tripoli. It's almost feverish. I have got to show -- I'm not sure it's so much real love for Gadhafi, as he would say, but it's just, if I'm going to be on camera, I better show that I really, really care about him, because they might come and think I'm not fervent enough in my support of him.

We in theory can go anywhere. Actually, if you try to go somewhere they don't want you to go, it's made clear. I had some colleagues try to go to the home of Megrahi, the man who was convicted in the Lockerbie -- the downing of the Lockerbie jet and was then released back here with cancer. He's still alive. They tried to go to his house, and they were imprisoned for several hours.

One of them had a pillowcase over his head. So you can go anywhere, but what happens after you go there is up for grabs. That said, I don't see how Libya can return to what it was before. This population has tasted something that they really want. And you just have that duality, that feeling, that real fear, but, also, gosh, we almost -- we love this freedom, those moments they had to actually being able to say something, to be able to not have somebody looking over their shoulder that might -- that person who might make them (AUDIO GAP)

COOPER: Right.

COLVIN: I don't think you can put that back in the box.

COOPER: Marie Colvin, Nic Robertson, thank you both. And stay safe. Be careful.

Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook or follow me on Twitter right at AndersonCooper. I will be tweeting. I will be actually live tweeting throughout this hour during commercial breaks.

Up next: President Obama weighs in.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Colonel Gadhafi needs to step down from power and leave. That is good for his country. It is good for his people. It's the right thing to do.


COOPER: Right thing to do. But what are his options if Gadhafi clings to power? A panel joins us, including a former U.S. ambassador with deep experience in the Arab world and Professor Fouad Ajami.

And later, who is the Libyan opposition and what do they want? They're starting to organize. Tonight, a possible leader is surfacing. The latest on that.


COOPER: Well, after days of seeming to say as little as possible about the crisis, and letting his secretaries of state and defense take the lead, President Obama today laid down his bottom line.


OBAMA: Colonel Gadhafi needs to step down from power and leave. That is good for his country. It is good for his people. It's the right thing to do. Those around him have to understand that violence that they perpetrate against innocent civilians will be monitored and they will be held accountable for it


COOPER: The president also authorized airlifts to transport Egyptian refugees trying to flee Libya and said he wants to make sure America has full capacity to act if needed to head off a humanitarian crisis. Some critics would say the crisis is already here. Supporters say the president has very few good options where Libya is concerned.

Let's talk about it with foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty, Christopher Hill, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and currently dean of the School of International Studies at the University of Denver, and professor Fouad Ajami of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and the Hoover Institution.

Jill, the administration insisting all options are on the table. Clearly, though, from what Gates has said, Secretary Gates, and Hillary Clinton have said, there doesn't seem to be any appetite right now for implementing a no-fly zone.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so that raising the issue, what is the effect of this kind of limbo of not using it yet and maybe never, who knows?

On the one hand, it could give Moammar Gadhafi the idea that he has basically carte blanche within the borders of his country to do whatever he wants. Now, it could also -- let's say he carries out repressions from the air. That could certainly turn people against him within his country.

But then it also could undermine the belief that those people have that the West and outside intervention could ever come, that they would -- that the West, in other words, would follow through. So it's a problem.

COOPER: Fouad, what do you make of Secretary Gates and Clinton?


What's he's saying -- in fact, he doesn't even name Libya as a country. He says a third country. He's talking about the wars in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq. Now, we know that Secretary Gates opposed both wars. So, the message he's putting out is the, look, this is a very difficult operation.

It would -- I think I'm using his words directly -- this would be a big operation in a big country.


COOPER: Right. He said it's not just instituting a no-fly zone. It's, you have to take out anti-aircraft batteries on the ground.

AJAMI: That's right. And he has insisted and he's also put the word through word General, the head of CENTCOM, that this is a war, if you will. If you want to enforce a no-fly zone, you are engaged in a war. So the stakes have escalated.

And then you have Secretary Clinton, who is pouring cold water on these poor people in Benghazi. She says -- and I think I have her words -- has said, there's a lot of uncertainty about the motives and opportunism of people who claim to be leaders right now.

If people are fighting for their freedom and you're second- guessing them and you're calling them opportunists, that's not exactly the right message to send.

COOPER: Ambassador Hill, what do you make of the message that is being sent?

CHRISTOPHER HILL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: Well, first of all, I think it was very significant that the president got up and said very clearly that Gadhafi is well passed his shelf life and has got to go.

So I think the U.S. has a very clear policy, that we want to see the guy gone. Now, the second question is, how do you do it? And of course a lot of people want to see him move into a no-fly zone, but I think the president has appropriately, first of all, laid out the policy, we want him gone, secondly is working on humanitarian issues.

And, thirdly -- and I suspect there's a lot of this going on right now, is a diplomatic strategy to work with allies, to work with the Russians, to work with other stakeholders in this and see what can be done to get that policy implemented, that is, get the guy gone.

COOPER: Fouad?

AJAMI: I don't know what Ambassador Hill, who is an accomplished diplomat, means by stakeholders. I mean, we're going to work the Russians?

The Russians have said a no-fly zone is superfluous, they are not really ready to commit to us. You have even some of -- you have a key country like Turkey in the neighborhood that's dubious about any intervention against Moammar Gadhafi.

I think his -- the ambassador is right. The president is testing the waters, and he's going to respond. And I think the response of the president is going to be related to the catastrophe that would unfold in Benghazi. If this thing gets worse on the ground for the Libyans, I think then the president may have to do things he really don't want to do all along.

COOPER: What about that, Ambassador Hill? If Gadhafi starts using the air force more aggressively against those forces on the road outside Benghazi or even in Benghazi, or goes to wipe out the forces who are badly armed, does that change the dynamic for the administration?

HILL: Well, I suspect it could. And, I mean, one of the big questions you have to look at is, is this a long-term scenario? Is this something that's going to go on and on months, years? So, that's kind of one response. You've got to look at whether Gadhafi has somehow stabilized himself.

Or is this kind of a short-term thing, that if we kind of press the thing that somehow Gadhafi can be pushed over? I think it's very important, though, for the administration to work with countries like Russia. After all, the administration does not want to take actions without -- actions that are not supported in a U.N. Security Council resolution.

So obviously they have got to do some work with the Russians. Now, at the end of the day, they may not bring them along. But, at a certain point, no one can argue that the administration hasn't tried to work this diplomatically. So I think it's very important to lay out this diplomatic track and I think that's what the president started today.

COOPER: And, Jill, besides I guess the no-fly zone, are there other viable options for the administration as far as they see?

DOUGHERTY: Well, it depends on how you define viable. But one of course would be to arm the rebels, arm the opposition.

You could also give them anti-aircraft capability. You know, Anderson, we're back to that same issue, which is Gates and Clinton still say it's unclear who the opposition are, what are their aims, and what's their competency. So that I think is the essential thing. They don't know totally what the rebels really want. Or at least they say they aren't.


COOPER: And we're hearing information that in a few hours, the group in Benghazi that set themselves up may try to make an announcement about kind of organizing to I guess address some of these concerns made that Clinton...


AJAMI: Well, look, if we don't want to intervene, if we don't want to help them, we will raise the bar.

There is a national council in Benghazi -- 30 prominent Libyan lead it. And we know what they're about, the former justice ministers, lawyers, professors, et cetera. To the extent that this country has a professional class, this is the professional class. What do they want? Freedom from this man, freedom from this tyrant.

And the problem with this kind of stalemate is, remember the Stockholm syndrome, the Stockholm syndrome. Gadhafi has been the jailer of these people for a long time. If he suggests to them that no help is on the way, that no cavalry is coming to the rescue, that they're fighting alone, that the Arabs can't help them, and of course the Americans are not coming, and the Europeans are played by Gadhafi to perfect, at some point...

COOPER: Marie Colvin in Tripoli earlier in the program was saying that's how a lot of people in Tripoli were interpreting Gadhafi's message yesterday, that -- that -- that it put a chill through them.


AJAMI: Absolutely.

We were talking before we got on air. I -- I listened to the speech. I read the speech and listened to it and you could see the message. The message is, "You folks have rebelled and you are alone. It's you and I, the people of Libya." And if we -- if we maintain this, if this holds, I am very, very worried about the prospects of this successful revolt in Libya.

COOPER: Ambassador Hill, do you think the experience in Iraq has made any type of intervention tougher to sell?

HILL: Well, I think to be sure, we went into Iraq with a very, very dubious understanding of the situation on the ground. And so I think there is some concern about whether refugee reports are entirely accurate in a sort of macro sense, whether any grade type reports are accurate. And I think that does go back to Iraq.

But I think what the president is trying to do, a little deliberate here, to try to build diplomatic support and see where we can go with this.

And I think it would be highly problematic if he just jumped into something and had all the Europeans opposing them and had the Russians and others opposing him. I don't think that's sustainable, and I'm not sure it would really achieve the objectives.

You know, if Gadhafi had spent half as much time caring about his people as he does holding onto power, we wouldn't be in this situation. But this is someone who's absolutely tenacious in wanting to hold onto power. And so we've got to respect that and figure out how to deal with it. The policy's clear: we want the guy gone.

COOPER: Final thoughts?

AJAMI: Lyndon Johnson once said, "Don't tell a man to go to hell unless you intend to send him there." If we want to send Gadhafi to hell, we have to have a coherent strategy, and thus far we really don't.

We're playing for time. I mean, it's understandable. We want to see how this thing unfolds. But I fear that the Libyans are alone. People have not embraced the revolt. They haven't accepted the legitimacy and the meaning of it.

Fouad Ajami, Jill Dougherty, Ambassador Christopher Hill, thank you very much. Interesting discussion. Still ahead, inside Misurata, where opposition forces control much of the city's center but not the outskirts. You're going to hear from a doctor in that town who paints a very different picture.

Plus, as Jill Dougherty mentioned, who are the Libyans that want Gadhafi to go? Opposition is starting to take key steps as they organize their ranks. A look at that ahead.


COOPER: U.S. military aircraft and French charter jets have joined the effort to help evacuate tens of thousands of people trying to get out of Libya, many of them foreign workers. Here's what Becky Anderson found at the border with Tunisia today.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they may have got some food, but as you can see, very few people have got any accommodation.

There's been 100,000 people over this border since February the 20th. They've got some 20,000 here, and as far as the eye can see, the U.N. has set up tented accommodations further down the road, but these guys really have got very little at this point, and they are still getting, they say, some 10,000 a day coming through.


COOPER: All together, some 180,000 refugees have crossed into Tunisia and Egypt from Libya. The U.N. is saying the situation is quickly nearing a crisis.

Meantime, the bloodshed inside Libya continues. Tonight, the city of Misurata sits on the coast between Tripoli and Sirte, Moammar Gadhafi's hometown. While opposition forces control the center of Misurata, militias loyal to Gadhafi control parts of the outskirts and are preventing medical supplies from getting in.

Earlier, I talked to a doctor in Misurata. It's not safe for him to use his name, but he wanted to tell us what he was seeing and dealing with.


COOPER: How many people have you treated since this began? How many dead have you seen, how many wounded in Misurata?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now in our city, Misurata, we treated more than 300 injured shooted in the head and the chest, as well as decapitated. And around 40 persons were martyred.

COOPER: You're saying they were shot with large-caliber weapons? You've also heard that people are being kidnapped in Misurata?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes. We heard about kidnapped persons. They are very young persons, even under 18. They kidnapped them just to take them somewhere more than 90 persons were shooted in the head and chest, and the murdered persons shooted in the head and chest, as well, decapitated patients and patients without parts, you know.

COOPER: You're saying they were shot with large-caliber weapons?


COOPER: You've also heard that people are being kidnapped in Misurata.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes. We heard about kidnapped persons. They are very young persons, even under 18. They kidnapped them just to take them to somewhere. They are kidnapping anybody they can -- they can.

COOPER: Let me ask you. Saif Gadhafi, Moammar Gadhafi's son, says that in Misurata, the problem is that the city is being held hostage by 40 to 50 armed gunmen and that, essentially, the population of Misurata, nearly half a million people, are essentially being held hostage by groups like al Qaeda. When you hear that...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, never. These persons, they don't know what is al Qaeda. They are young. They are university students and teachers, and they don't know what's al Qaeda. Just they hear about these things from the TV. It's something really silly. Never have we seen anybody with al Qaeda or with anything.

COOPER: So your city is not being held hostage by gunmen?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Normal -- normal persons, university students, they protest against what's happening -- what's happening in Benghazi. Just they wanted to stop the bloody crime in Benghazi.

COOPER: Let me ask you this: can your city hold on if Gadhafi forces attack in great number? Can Misurata hold on? Can it repel the attack?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we are trying. We are doing now. We are holding our city. We are trying to protect our city, all of them, with our resources which we have, and the solidarity of everybody.

We are -- we are doing our job in the hospital and trying to treat everybody. This morning, they shoot at our ambulances. One of them exploded, and the other one just shooted, and hopefully, we can save our personnel. Many time they shoot at our doctors. Even in the first days some patients shooted in the ambulances.

COOPER: One of the claims that Gadhafi and his son keep making is that al Qaeda or groups have handed out hallucinogenic pills.


COOPER: And now today they are claiming that the pills -- that they've intercepted a shipment and that it's a pill called Tramadol, which is a painkiller. Does that make sense to you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Something is very silly, you know. This is a joke between all the persons here.

COOPER: It's a joke?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don't know what's Tramadol. Even Tramadol, it's not available. Never. It's not available. The hospital, even in special hands in the doctors, you know, who specializes in pain management, nobody, they don't know.

COOPER: So you haven't seen any young people being drugged by al Qaeda or by anybody else? Young people on hallucinogenic pills?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never. I can guaranty this, not 100 percent, thousand hundred percent. Believe me, never.

COOPER: Doctor, continue your work and stay safe. Thank you for talking to us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Thanks indeed.


COOPER: A doctor in the town of Misurata.

So who is the opposition in Libya? Forces on the ground say they're willing to die for the cause. They're young, enthusiastic. There's certainly a lack of structure, it seems.

That could be changing with the expected announcement of a new national council, including military and political branches. We'll explain that ahead.


COOPER: Well, a lot of people have been asking, just who is the opposition in Libya? And it's a complicated question in a country divided into about 140 tribes, further subdivided into clans.

On the ground, in battles, the opposition is young, enthusiastic. That's what we've seen, certainly, in Benghazi and Misurata. Here's what one man told Ben Wedeman today in Brega.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "We'll live free, we'll die free. We'll die as martyrs," says Shedi (ph). "We'll fight to the last bullet, to our last drop of flood, and God willing, victory will be ours."


COOPER: The opposition, the question of what a future Libyan government could look like, is very much a work in progress. There are some key steps we've heard in the works.

We're hearing that the members of a transitional national council could be named as soon as tomorrow, representing people from all over Libya.

Joining us live from Benghazi, senior national correspondent Ben Wedeman, and in Washington, joining us again is Fadel al-Ameen, a journalist and Middle East, North Africa expert. He's worked with the U.S. State Department. He says Gadhafi labeled him an enemy of the state as part of the Libyan opposition years ago, and he's written about it for the, where he is a contributor.

Ben, first of all from you, and I know we woke you up early in Benghazi, so I appreciate that you've had a long day of reporting already. How -- who is the opposition from what you can see? And how organized are they on the ground?

WEDEMAN: Well, actually, we're no longer in Benghazi, Anderson. The opposition, it depends on where you are.

For instance in Benghazi, in the courthouse, which is the nerve center for the opposition, you see an amazing array of people. You see lawyers, judges, human rights activists, businessmen who have all sort of come together to try to organize the new Libya.

But what you're seeing increasingly is also old -- figures from the old regime, from the Gadhafi regime: the former justice minister, the former interior minister. People from the security services who have defected.

And there's a palpable tension between the people who previously had nothing to do with politics, who just stayed in their careers, in their fields, and these people from the Gadhafi regime. There's some real tensions between them, some real distrust.

In the field, when you're talking to the guys with the guns, the fighters, an odd collection of people. A lot of people who have been in the military before, a lot of Libyans who have come back. I met a man from Norway who has dual citizenship, who's joined the fight, because he feels it's his duty to come back.

So the opposition is a real hodgepodge of people who it's hard to see at this point how they're all going to get along in a single government. But they're certainly making an effort.

COOPER: Fadel, I want to read you what Hillary Clinton said. She said, "I think it's important to recognize that there's a great deal of uncertainty" -- I'm sorry, I'm reading on my BlackBerry -- "about the motives, the opportunism, if you will, of people who are claiming to be leaders right now."

You're hearing from your sources in Libya that tomorrow a transitional national council is going to be named. What does that mean?

FADEL AL-AMEEN, JOURNALIST: I think what it means is they already agreed on who should be the head of the -- of this transitional -- national transitional council and who is the person who is going to be assisting him. These are two names. We have the Abu Jamin (ph). He is the former justice minister. And the second person is (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and he's the second man.

And tomorrow they try to name some of them, because the total number of this -- of this council is around 30 people. Ten of them are going to -- are from Tripoli. They will not be mentioned, because due to their -- for their security and safety, because they are in that region. And the rest are from Benghazi, I believe, and the rest are from the other parts of the country.

COOPER: So what about this tension that Ben was talking about between, you know, folks who haven't been involved in the government at all, and these people who were very close to Gadhafi for many, many years and seemed fine with whatever he did, now all of a sudden switching sides. How does that tension get resolved?

AL-AMEEN: I think they try to get along. I think it's very important -- the sources I talked to, the people I talked to, some of them are advising the council, feel that everybody should be included. Everything should be inclusive, because all these figures, regardless if they came late or early, or they started, all of them they have to find a way to get together to form this council and to form a new representative government that is a transitional. I mean, this is a council; it's not a government. But it's a step toward future government in Libya where once it's all liberated.

So there is a tension. Some as Ben said, that they just feel that who came late and they have some blood on their hands. Some are concerned about that. But the people that you mentioned, including the former justice minister, he's been somebody who is very well respected for a while in Libya.

COOPER: Ben, in terms of the possibility of a force from Benghazi moving and ultimately reaching Tripoli some 600 or so, I think, miles away, you've been out there. You've seen them in the field. How likely is that?

WEDEMAN: It's unlikely, although it's not altogether impossible. First of all, as you mentioned, it's a very long way from this place from the east to the west.

And second of all, logistically, they're just not that well enough organized to push that far ahead. Even for the United States Army, to move 1,000 kilometers is a huge logistical feat. For the Libyan irregulars that we have here, that would be almost harder.

You do have a lot of enthusiasm. You do have the desire to do it. But what we're seeing is that the effort, for instance, to defend Brega was very much a case of people hearing on their cell phones, on the radio, seeing on TV that the town was under attack. They get their friends together and whatever weapons they can find. They jump into a pickup truck or a car and they just drive down the road. And then attack where they can attack.

What is clear on the front lines, however, what we saw today, was there does seem to be a command and control structure emerging. There do seem to be members, former members of the Libyan army who are -- who understand exactly how you organize a group of men to launch an attack, how to get them together, how to communicate, how to move them, how to feed them, which of course is critical.

So going all the way to Tripoli, that's going to be something of a feat. Moving down the road 10, 20, 40, 50, 60 kilometers, that's very likely at this point -- Anderson.

COOPER: Ben Wedeman, stay safe. Fadel Al-Ameen, appreciate it. Thank you for joining us.

A lot more happening around the country and the world, including new hope for the family of a retired FBI agent who disappeared in Iran four years ago.

Plus, the miracle puppy who was euthanized, declared dead, and came back to life. Incredible details, next.


COOPER: Let's get the latest on some of the other stories we're following. Isha Sesay has a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the U.S. government says there is new evidence that former FBI agent Robert Levinson is alive and being held in Southwest Asia. Levinson disappeared during a business trip to Iran's Kish (ph) Island in 2007. A senior diplomatic official said a fresh round of discussions between the U.S. and Iran is underway.

German authorities say the man accused in yesterday's deadly shooting of two American troops in Frankfurt was a recently radicalized Muslim who was apparently influenced by radical Islam Web sites. Officials say the 21-year-old suspect claims to have acted alone.

In Wisconsin, police are searching for the owner of dozens of rounds of live ammunition found today outside the state capital building.

Meantime, a judge has ruled that demonstrators may no longer sleep inside the Capitol, where they've been camping out for three weeks to protest a controversial budget repair bill.

U.S. stocks had their best day in three months, fueled by a strong unemployment claims report and a modest drop in energy prices. The Dow added 191 points.

And Anderson, meet Wally, a.k.a. Miracle Dog. The miracle is Wally and his litter mates were left outside an Oklahoma animal shelter where they were euthanized, then put in a Dumpster. But as you can see, 3-month-old Wally is obviously a survivor.


We should -- we should just point out the Wisconsin story, we call it a budget repair bill. Certainly, the folks who are protesting say this has nothing to do with the budget. They say this is about union busting and trying to destroy collective bargaining rights. SESAY: Absolutely. Important point.

COOPER: Isha, have a great night. I'll see you tomorrow.

A lot more ahead at the top of the hour, starting with Libya's campaign of terror and lies. The fear is growing as Tripoli's Gadhafi tries to tighten his grip.

And demonstrations may take place in a few hours. Details ahead.