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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Air Strikes, Tracer Fire Continue in Libya; Nuclear Worries in Japan
Aired March 21, 2011 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Breaking news -- good evening, everyone -- on two fronts tonight.
Take a look, smoke earlier today pouring from Reactors Two and Three at the crippled plant, the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Workers evacuated, the damage to Unit Three appearing especially heavy, radiation levels now prompting the U.S. military to consider a mandatory evacuation of thousands of American troops and their families in Japan. Radioactive dust from these reactors now being detected at very, very low levels -- we want to point out -- in Seattle, Washington.
Despite substantial progress over the weekend this is far from over. We're going to have the latest details later this hour; also the latest on the tsunami aftermath, the dead and the missing now numbering more than 21,000.
And the body of a young American teacher has been found. We talked about her on this show last week, Taylor Anderson. Her parents had been searching for her. She's the first known American fatality from the tsunami -- more details later on her life and her love of Japan.
We begin, though, with the attack on Gadhafi forces in Libya, now entering day four, allied forces launching as many as 80 missions today; that is up from yesterday. Americans flying fewer than half of them; that is down from yesterday.
According to the mission commander, pro-Gadhafi forces are mounting little serious resistance nor is the opposition yet fully taking advantage of allied airstrikes on pro-Gadhafi positions. Reports, that while grateful for the air support, they're having trouble getting organized and have little or no command, control, or communication among themselves.
Here at home, there are some serious concerns about the goals of the mission, even the mission itself. Congressman Ron Paul is a leading critic and you're going to hear from him shortly.
But first I want to bring you up to speed on all that has happened since these attacks began.
COOPER (voice-over): Saturday, less than 48 hours after the U.N. Security Council votes to impose a no fly zone over Libya and with Gadhafi forces moving into Benghazi, the international coalition forces unleash phase one, so-called Operation: Odyssey Dawn.
In Paris, a last-minute meeting between American, European and Arab leaders focuses on how to protect Libya's citizens against Gadhafi. Meanwhile, French fighter jets take to the air.
After a round of surveillance, the attack begins, hammering Gadhafi forces and positions in Eastern Libya and around Tripoli. In Brazil, President Obama tries to explain the U.S. position.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The use of force is not our first choice, and it's not a choice that I make lightly. But we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy.
COOPER: On Saturday, more than 100 Tomahawk missiles are fired, pounding roughly 20 Libyan air and missile targets.
Sunday morning, Gadhafi, presumably in hiding, sends an audio-only message on Libyan state television, calling on the people of Islamic nations to stand with Libya, and promising the international coalition he's ready for a fight.
MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN LEADER (through translator): We promise you a long, drawn war and patience that has no limits.
COOPER: Coalition forces send their own message on Sunday, bombarding Gadhafi's compound in Tripoli. Libyan officials say no one was hurt, but brought Western journalists to survey the damage. The coalition says Gadhafi was not a target; a military command-and-control center stationed there was.
VICE ADMIRAL WILLIAM GORTNEY, DIRECTOR, U.S. JOINT STAFF: At this particular point, I can guarantee that he's not on a targeting list.
COOPER: Sunday, strikes continue with Tomahawk missiles and jets, significantly damaging Gadhafi's air defense sites and making way for an expanded no-fly zone.
GORTNEY: We now have the ability, capability to patrol the airspace over Libya and we are doing just that, shifting to a more consistent and persistent air presence.
COOPER: Today after a weekend of what the U.S. calls very effective strikes, Operation: Odyssey Dawn begins to shift into phase two, the patrolling of a no-fly zone.
OBAMA: There's going to be a transition taking place in which we have a range of coalition partners, the Europeans, members of the Arab League, who will then be participating in establishing a no-fly zone.
COOPER: Meantime, Gadhafi shows no signs of backing down. With new reports of Gadhafi forces attacking citizens in the town of Misurata, it's not yet clear a no-fly zone will be enough to stop the violence.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Well, protecting civilians is what the U.N. resolution mandates. It may have worked so far in the east of Libya and Benghazi, which is Libya's second largest city, which Gadhafi forces had begun moving into on Saturday.
But closer to Tripoli, in the city of Misurata, according to residents, civilians are still under attack.
I want to show you some new video -- we just showed it to you -- it claims to be taken today, claims to show an attack on civilians in Misurata. We should make it clear we have been unable to confirm when or where the video was taken or who is responsible for the explosion you're about to see.
COOPER: The video purportedly from Misurata. I spoke with one man in Misurata earlier tonight.
COOPER: So you're saying Gadhafi forces today were firing on civilians in the center of Misurata?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes.
When our civilians came to the center of Misurata, suddenly, they started -- they started from -- because there are snipers there. There're many snipers. We cannot even count them on the -- on the buildings. They started shooting -- shooting the people from everywhere.
COOPER: And you say -- and you went to the hospital. What did you see at the hospital?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw terrible things in the hospital. I saw people go on the floor of the hospital. There's no places anymore; there's no -- no -- no beds anymore for them. And, look, hospital is full. So a lot -- a lot of people is really suffering there.
COOPER: Are there still opposition forces, who are armed in Misurata who are fighting back? Or at this point, is nobody fighting back?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Yes, there's some people, a few people who have guns.
But for today, all who hurt today is civilians. Today, I saw, my eyes, four tanks. Our people say, ok, snipers, we can do deal with them. Just we need Americans, British, France, I need -- we need them to take out these tanks, these heavy equipment out from -- from Misurata. They are killing everyone here, a lot of children.
We -- we really in very, very shortage of medical and medicine, very shortage of food, water. (INAUDIBLE) of Misurata doesn't have electricity, starting from today. We need the help of United States and other guys.
COOPER: We'll make sure people hear your voice. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much for you, sir.
COOPER: Stay safe.
COOPER: Well, joining us now from Tripoli, Nic Robertson and in Benghazi, Arwa Damon.
Nic, we just heard that -- that voice from Misurata saying water is cut off; saying there was still shelling there. What do we know about the -- the international coalition's actions in the area of Misurata?
NIC ROBERTSON, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, CNN INTERNATIONAL: We know that they're -- they're hand put (ph) at the moment. General Carter Ham said that the no-fly zone isn't enforced there at the moment, which means it's not easy or that easy for coalition aircraft to work in that area.
But he also said it's very hard for the coalition to see what is opposition forces, what is government forces, because this is all taking place in an urban sort of environment. What we saw in Benghazi with all those tanks and the government army targeted outside of the city, it was easy to target, because it was on an open road.
But here, it's all in a built-up area. We just can't get there ourselves it's only two to three hours' drive. We have been asking for several weeks to be taken there. I asked again this evening to be taken there. The government officials won't allow us to get an independent view.
What we heard on state television today, though, is that the government says it now controls it. It calls the area purified. And it's telling people to come out on the streets and celebrate, because it's safe.
We just can't see ourselves and it's clear the coalition's picture is not that clear either -- Anderson.
COOPER: Arwa, from your vantage point -- you're in the opposition- controlled city of Benghazi, the second largest city in Libya -- have opposition forces in any way been able to take advantage of -- of now this -- this -- this coalition response, bombing targets in -- in -- in throughout -- throughout Libya? Have they been able to make advances? Are they organized enough to do that?
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, their organization is not exactly all that high, bearing in mind that this is an armed forces that is made up of civilians who really just started how to shoot their guns a few weeks ago.
But they have been able to capitalize on the fact that there are foreign fighter jets here pounding Gadhafi's military. After the military took a blow on Sunday, when at least eight bombs were dropped on it, according to an eyewitness, we saw around 70 damaged vehicles.
The opposition forces advanced shortly after those airstrikes took place, launching their own attacks against Gadhafi's forces, driving them back all the way to the city of Ajdabiya. They did try today to take back Ajdabiya. They have not yet succeeded.
But their approach to the city, the way that they're maneuvering on the battlefield seems to be much more logical. It seems as if they are at least now trying to militarily gain some experience. One source we spoke to on the military council here saying that another unit was trying to outflank Gadhafi's troops by circling around Ajdabiya to come up on them from behind; also to go and try to take back the city of Brega.
So it does seem as if they are most certainly trying to capitalize on this. And they have been galvanized because of these airstrikes. They do go forward much more confident now than they have been in the past -- Anderson.
COOPER: Nic, from your vantage point in Tripoli, have you been able to see the -- the impact, that -- that -- psychologically and physically, that -- that these coalition strikes have actually had on whether its Gadhafi's forces or -- or positions?
ROBERTSON: It doesn't seem, as far as we can see, that it's had a huge psychological impact.
At Gadhafi's compound here, soldiers had their -- more soldiers had their helmets on yesterday night, as opposed to the previous night when we were there. But it seems when I talk to government officials, they're still feeling pretty confident. They know that this is psychological pressure that's being applied to them. And they still see their way forward in this, and they still say that Gadhafi is not going to back down. He's certainly not going to back down at this stage.
COOPER: Nic, I've got to ask you about this report that was on Fox News that -- that -- that you and other Western journalists were basically used as human shields to block British jets from attacking Gadhafi's compound. Is that what happened?
ROBERTSON: I found that whole report outrageous and hypocritical. And I found it hypocritical for a very simple reason. Part of what Fox has said here is that they didn't go on the trip to the -- to the government compound not long after a bombing because they thought it was a propaganda trip.
Well, Fox sent a member of their team, a non-editorial, a non- technical member of the team, handed a camera by the correspondent and cameraman and told to go along on that trip.
And even when we were driving there on this bus, the people were free to get on and free to get off. There were about 40 journalists. And even he expressed surprise. I'm outraged because I expect lies and deceit from a dictatorship like you have here in Libya. That's -- that comes with the territory. But I don't expect to hear it from journalists. We went on to that compound pretty quickly. We were taken fairly quickly after we got through security to the building that had been hit. We had just enough time to film it 15 or 20 minutes, moved on to see Gadhafi's tent, his famous tent where he meets people, had five minutes there, whisked away from there.
And when we were leaving, I was literally pushed on the bus by government officials. So they didn't keep us hanging around there. They had no idea what the coalition was planning or when they were planning it, and there were about 150 to 200 civilians in this palace compound at the same time a few hundred yards away from where we were.
So I -- I find it outrageous and preposterous that somebody, a journalist, can consider -- a journalist who doesn't go out of his hotel very often, who didn't go there and see it for himself, can suggest that we were being used as human shields.
And we were in and we were out. And there were other civilians coming and going from that site. So I -- I'm, frankly, disappointed as well. We -- we shouldn't be even be having this discussion -- Anderson.
COOPER: Very briefly, that compound that was struck, is -- was there a military reason to strike it, other than its Gadhafi's compound? Because the U.S. is obviously saying they're not targeting Gadhafi, so is there a command-and-control structure there that we know about?
ROBERTSON: Well, we know very little of what's in, beyond that Gadhafi lives there. He meets VIPs there. He meets -- he met last week with the -- the Russian ambassador, the Chinese ambassador, the Indian ambassador, and they waited in this building that was targeted.
It is a sort of VIP protocol building; a couple of journalists who were there -- who were there last night as well said they waited there last week just a few days earlier to see Gadhafi. That's what we understood the building is used for. T that's what government officials said it was used for.
COOPER: Nic Robertson, I appreciate it. Stay safe. Arwa Damon as well.
Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook or you can follow me on Twitter at AndersonCooper. I'm also live tweeting tonight.
Up next, exactly what is the mission in Libya for the United States and its allies? And if it is just protecting civilians, can that really be accomplished without getting rid of Gadhafi.
Fouad Ajami, David Gergen, Jill Dougherty, and Congressman Ron Paul weigh in, in a moment.
Also tonight, even as Japanese authorities point to progress, there are troubling new danger signs from the crippled reactors. We will have all of that from Japan ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: Nic Robertson and producer Tommy Evans, whose voice you can hear, tonight in Tripoli, as anti-aircraft gunners swept the sky, apparently without hitting anything.
President Obama today said he's got no regrets about authorizing force against the Gadhafi regime.
But "Keeping Them Honest", have he and his team been sending missed -- mixed signals about their objectives? Senator Richard Lugar, ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, says he doesn't understand the mission, because as far as he can tell there is no mission and no guidelines for success.
His Democratic colleague Mark Begich agrees on the last part. And if you look at some of the statements coming out in the last few days, you may understand why some might be confused. On Thursday, Secretary of State Clinton said the administration's goal is getting rid of Gadhafi and helping the opposition.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: If you don't try to take him out, if you don't support the opposition, and he stays in power, we cannot predict what he will do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, three days later, though, Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen said his mission is narrower.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADMIRAL MIKE MULLEN, CHAIRMAN, JOINTS CHIEFS: The goals of this campaign right now again are limited and it isn't -- it isn't about seeing him go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Admiral Mullen on "Meet the Press."
And today, his mission commander, General Carter Ham, was asked whether allied forces were working with opposition forces on the ground. Here -- here is how he answered.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. CARTER HAM, COMMANDER, U.S. ARMY, U.S. AFRICA COMMAND: Our mission is to protect civilians from attack by the regime ground forces. Our mission is not to support any opposition forces.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So last week, Secretary of State, saying -- Clinton saying the opposition needs help and Gadhafi has to go. You've got the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the mission commander saying neither one is part of this mission.
Yet, as part of that mission, we've also seen cruise missiles targeting Gadhafi's own compound and heavy airstrikes on his forces that opposition fighters would like to take advantage of.
So what is it: a sharply limited mission in line with the U.N. mandate to protect civilians or a broader mission that ends with an opposition victory and the end of Gadhafi?
Today in Colombia, President Obama appeared to say, it's both.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Our military action is in support of an international mandate from the Security Council that specifically focuses on the humanitarian threat posed by Colonel Gadhafi to his people.
I also have stated that it is U.S. policy that Gadhafi needs to go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, if you want to talk about mixed signals, there's also the Arab League, 22 countries in the Middle East and North Africa which supported the U.N. resolution authorizing force. Then, over the weekend, it did a 180, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa saying his member countries wanted to see -- quote -- "civilians protect -- civilians' protection, not shelling more civilians."
Then today, he said the Arab League had -- quote -- "no conflict with the resolution".
Joining us now is foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty; she's in Paris covering the latest moves by U.S. allies. Also with us is senior political analyst David Gergen and Professor Fouad Ajami of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and the Hoover Institution.
Jill, I want to start with you and the Arab League. Where are they now on this? Because there does seem to be mixed signals coming from them.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, he did an about-face again and basically said that there is no conflict, that they support this. And there were other members of the Arab League who said the same thing, that they are still on the same page, but the question, Anderson, is, will they actually participate in a military sense?
Now, the French here in Paris today repeated what they said yesterday, which is there are four planes, they say, coming from the Qataris and they will be participating in a military sense with the French Air Force. But they're not giving a lot of details. We are not exactly sure where those planes are or when they would fly.
And then you also have the United Arab Emirates. Those are the two big ones. And the UAE is saying they're doing humanitarian work, but they are debating the question of whether they would participate military.
So it's still you know, a question. And it's very important, because after all, as you pointed out, it is the Arab League that really kind of started this by asking for help and asking for the no-fly zone.
COOPER: Fouad, is this hypocritical of the Arab League, I mean, one to -- to kind of say -- signal, ok, we support this and then to kind of backtrack? And the UAE, I mean, they're involved in this Gulf Protection Council, which is involved in Bahrain, along with the Saudis.
FOUAD AJAMI, PROFESSOR OF MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES, JOHNS HOPKINS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Remember, this is the classic textbook of the Arab League. It was amazing, anyway, that the Arab League said anything about Moammar Gadhafi. Remember, what is the Arab League?
COOPER: Gadhafi was part of the Arab League.
AJAMI: Absolutely. And look at the Arab League. The Arab League has regimes that themselves are embroiled in wars with their own populations. They don't want to come down on Gadhafi, they don't want to in many ways show that you can't repress your own people. The Syrians are in the Arab League. The Yemenis are in the Arab League. The Bahrainis are in the Arab League, on and on. The Algerians are in the Arab League.
So it's a wonder of wonders that the Arab League actually gave what we could construe as, what, a green light. Was it a yellow light? We could just see a flickering light. But that's the Arab League. And then you have a man at the center of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, who is running for president in Egypt. And he is the most cynical of men.
So, what you've seen is part of the Arab League modus operandi.
COOPER: David, there are some who've suggested online -- I think I read it maybe on Andrew Sullivan's blog -- who are suggesting that maybe the Arab League wanted us involved in --in Libya, so that we wouldn't be so critical of Saudi involvement in Bahrain or UAE involvement.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that seems hard to believe because the Arab League has asked us to intervene. And -- and the hypocrisy comes of course, when we intervene against Gadhafi, our enemy, but you have a green light to our friends to -- to in -- in a place like Bahrain or Yemen to crush the opposition.
So I cannot believe that's the -- the -- the motive of the Arab League. I -- I -- I don't think we know exactly, but what we do know is -- is they gave us a firm green light. They asked us to go in, they asked for a no- fly zone. And yesterday Moussa was in effect retreating from that. And today he manned up a little bit and walked back to where he is. The -- the issue for us, a lot -- a lot of us right now, Anderson, is not just the Arab League. What are the Western nations now going to do? What is the endgame of the United States? And are the French and the British going to be able to put it together, so we can hand off responsibility, so they stop squabbling with each other and can carry on the mission?
COOPER: Well, David, do you believe the mission is clear? Or do you believe --
COOPER: -- it was fundamentally conflicted?
GERGEN: Anderson, it's clear from your introduction that there were massive confusion over the -- over the weekend about what the objectives were, and conflicting signals coming out from the Obama administration. I think they did a better job today trying to clean that up between General Ham this morning and President Obama, I think they have made it clear that in general there is a two-track approach by the United States.
One is a humanitarian, using military might to intervene here and stop a slaughter and stop Gadhafi in his tracks. And the other track is a U.S. track to get him out of there through sanctions and non-military means.
But that still leaves a lot of room for vagueness. We don't know -- Fouad could talk about this better than I can, but we don't know whether Hillary was right, Hillary Clinton was right when she said, you ought to come in and help the rebels, or whether Ham was right today in saying, no, no, no, we're not going to help the rebels.
Those are big questions that are in the immediate future.
COOPER: Because Fouad, I mean, you could make the argument, I mean if you support this action and you say that your goal is to protect civilians, well, attacking the ground forces of -- of Gadhafi is -- is essential in order to protect civilians.
AJAMI: Well, look Anderson, all wars have intended consequences and unintended consequences.
The Obama administration has entered this kind of fog of war now. This is an engagement the President did not want. We know that. This war is an attempt to in a way save his reputation and his honor. And it is to that extent a very clear mission.
The Gadhafi forces were almost at the outskirts, within the gates practically of Benghazi. And Gadhafi made an error, if you will, which saved the people of Benghazi. He actually told the truth. He said he was going to come house to house, and he's going to find them in their closet and he's going to kill them and show them no mercy and no pity.
If you are the president of the United States facing this kind of brigand (ph), facing this kind of language, you have no choice, because Gadhafi left you no choice.
Now, do we do this to save the Libyans? Of course we are. That's a rescue. That's a humanitarian rescue. Will we take, if you will, the end of the Gadhafi regime? Of course we would, if -- if it just happened, if it was one of the unintended consequences of this war. We don't know what will happen.
Look at Saddam. He fought in 1991, and then he lived to fight another day and another day. He actually fought for 12 years before we came back to get him.
Now, this engagement we have will not get Moammar Gadhafi. He will be in his bunker. Something else will have to get him, his own people, the calamity of the war, the palace guard around him. That's really where the uncertainty is.
COOPER: Jill, I mean is it -- from U.S. officials are saying, look, we're not targeting Gadhafi. Is it sort of, "We're not targeting Gadhafi -- wink, wink, wink" -- because suddenly a cruise missile lands in his compound.
DOUGHERTY: Yes, I think it's not targeting Gadhafi yet, because the word they constantly use, Anderson, is sequencing.
So -- and as Hillary Clinton when she was here in Paris said, "Let's take it a step at a time." So what they do is they stop the killing; that's number one. Then they see what happens. And don't forget that a big part of the U.N. resolution deals with sanctions and other ways of squeezing economically and arms embargoes and stopping ships that might bring -- bringing in weapons, et cetera.
It's not just the air part of it.
DOUGHERTY: So what they're hoping is, you know, they watch, they do something, they watch, but, ultimately, they want him gone, and this could last for a while.
You know, we had a briefing here in Paris, and one of the French military who was briefing said, this could go on -- and he put it -- indefinitely. So nobody really knows how long this is going to last.
COOPER: We heard from -- David, I see you shaking your head. President Obama and the U.S. keep saying, we're talking days, not weeks, in terms of U.S. involvement.
GERGEN: Yes, well, we want to hand over responsibility as quickly as we can. I mean this is almost a hit and run by the United States in terms of a policy.
But, Anderson, I just don't think the President can sit here and have Gadhafi in power indefinitely. I think that would -- to have the country divided up, and in effect, East vs. West in a stalemate. I would have to think is unacceptable to the President and unacceptable to the United States.
COOPER: Fouad Ajami, appreciate it; David Gergen, as well; Jill Dougherty, as well.
Up next, a closer look at the military targets in Libya. John King's going to show us what's being targeted, who's doing the targeting.
Also, late word: welcome news about those four missing "New York Times" journalists.
And in Japan, yet another setback, another alarming event at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant: smoke coming from two different reactors. There has been good, positive news this weekend. We'll have more on that breaking news.
The U.S. military also considering possible mandatory evacuations at its largest naval base in Japan just south of Tokyo. We'll have all that ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Just to give you an example of how ancient some of the machinery the opposition fighters have been using, this here is a World War II Willys Jeep that they found at one of Gadhafi's army bases. They say that they piled into it right now with the mission of chasing down pro-Gadhafi elements who managed to escape into the farmlands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I actually just got an update from U.S. officials. According to them, 159 Tomahawks have been fired by U.S. and British forces, the majority of them by U.S. forces, since this whole operation began.
In Congress, there's harsh criticism of America's role in Libya coming from both sides of the political aisle. Among the critics is Republican Congressman Ron Paul, who says Libya is simply not the American people's fight, and that President Obama should have consulted Congress before getting involved. I spoke with the congressman earlier tonight.
COOPER: Congressman Paul, is the mission the United States is now involved with in Libya clear to you?
REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: No, I don't think it's clear to anybody, because the Congress hasn't even discussed it, so we certainly wouldn't know. But getting the authority from the U.N. to go into Libya for humanitarian reasons, it doesn't say very much. There's a lot of militarism going on there, and I don't know how much humanitarianism is going on.
COOPER: Well, there are those who say, I mean, well, look, Gadhafi was a threat to the region, that he was killing innocent civilians in towns throughout Libya. Why would you oppose the U.S. and allies trying to put a stop to that?
PAUL: Well, first, I don't think we have the authority to do it, the constitutional authority, and most of the time these things backfire. But if you want to challenge that assumption that you made, why was it that four or five years ago, we decided he was, you know, a reformed person, and we would start trading with him again after we knew he was a thug, and he's been a thug for 40-some years. So I would say it doesn't make a whole lot of sense, us shifting gears like this.
But my main argument is that we don't have the authority. And when we get involved, it generally very rarely does much good.
COOPER: How so? What do you mean it doesn't do much good?
PAUL: Well, when we go in for humanitarian reasons, supposedly, usually we're going in for other reasons. For instance, what we don't know this time is who the opposition really is.
There's pretty good evidence now coming out that there's probably some military people involved. Obviously, they have some weapons. That is the dissenters. So it might be an old-fashioned military coup that they've been able to capture some popular support for, and you might be, you know, getting rid of one dictator and bringing in another one for all we know.
I mean, the intent is good. I mean, it's -- everybody feels good about it and wants to help. But just like going into Iraq, you know, it was going to be a couple weeks, and -- and we were going to rid that country of Saddam Hussein. And the oil would pay all the bills, and look at the tragedy that came out of that. And that's far from settled over there.
We've been in Afghanistan 10 years, so what are we going to do? When are the troops going to go in? Most good military people say you cannot resolve that problem in Libya without ground troops. Otherwise, all it does is solidify the people against the people who are dropping bombs on them.
So I don't expect a whole lot of good to come from this. It should be settled internally. If the Arab League wants to get involved, they should be. They first encouraged us to do this in the U.N., and then they changed their mind. They had an emergency meeting yesterday and said, "We didn't expect you to do all this bombing. We thought you'd just make sure those airplanes weren't flying." So they're very upset with it, and they essentially withdrew support for this whole program.
COOPER: Beyond those who say there's a moral reason to go in. Some also point to, well, look, you know, a huge number of refugees leaving the country is going to destabilize Egypt. It's going to destabilize Tunisia. So there is some sort of a strategic interest in order to try to stop that. You don't buy it? PAUL: No. I mean, there may be, but I still don't think that puts the obligation on us. I think our policies, our foreign policies are destabilizing the world financial community, and it's going to destabilize this country. Because we spend a trillion dollars a year on our foreign policy to keep it going, and we're totally bankrupt. And here we're taking another -- another project on, probably spend another $200 million putting -- dropping bombs on -- on Libya.
So we're destabilizing the world, and if you think we're in there now to prevent the destabilization, I think the opposite will occur. I think for us to be now involved in another Muslim country doesn't sit well with most of the Muslims of the world.
COOPER: Had the United States sat by, though, wouldn't the United States be accused of siding with Gadhafi? And being attacked in the Muslim world for standing by and watching?
PAUL: Well, they might, but sometimes we have supported dictators like that. I mean, look how much money we gave -- gave to Egypt. I mean, $70 billion, and that was a dictatorship, too. So, yes, we do sometimes -- but the Arab -- the Muslims despise us for having so many puppet governments in the Middle East; whether it's Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and all these countries. And that's what they resent.
So I think the world is much more unstable, and we are in a much worse predicament, both internationally speaking and financially, because of this foreign policy. And I think it needs to stop. It would stop if we had people who cared about the constitution, because we just flat out don't have the authority to go around pretending that we can take care of everybody and police the world.
COOPER: Congressman Paul, I appreciate your time, thank you.
COOPER: Congressman Ron Paul. I spoke to him a short time ago.
A moment ago also, I said that President Obama spoke in Colombia; he spoke of course in Chile. He travels to El Salvador tomorrow.
Still ahead tonight breaking news in Japan: the death toll climbing higher tonight; new worries about the nuclear crisis.
Also, Isha Sesay is following some other stories for us -- Isha.
ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a medical marvel to tell you about. The first full face transplant performed right here in the United States. When we come back, I'll have all the details on this incredible medical feat and the 25-year-old patient. That story and much more, just ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT ((on camera): The carnage we're seeing is horrifying. As you know, the number of people on the missing list is very high.
One of the missing is in the back seat of this car. We see the body of a man who apparently drowned in the tsunami.
(voice-over): We saw firefighters combing wreckage, and we notified them so soldiers could remove the body.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The death toll in Japan is now more than 8,800 with nearly 13,000 people still missing.
Tonight: breaking news in the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, radiation levels now prompting the U.S. military to consider mandatory evacuation of thousands of American troops and their families from parts of Japan -- Yokosuka, Japan. It's home to America's largest naval base in the -- in that country.
Also tonight, radioactive dust from these reactors now being detected -- at very low levels, we should point out -- in Seattle, Washington.
After a weekend of progress, today a set back as smoke began spewing from the Number Two and Number Three reactors. The Number Three reactor has been a top priority because its fuel includes a small percentage of plutonium mixed with uranium. An official said the smoke was coming from the reactor's southeastern side, where the spent nuclear fuel pool is located.
Workers have been spraying tons of water on the reactors and the exposed spent fuel pools in order to try to cool them.
CNN contributor and international security analyst Jim Walsh joins me now; along with Michael Friedlander, a former senior operator at three nuclear power plants.
Michael, in terms of the latest developments, what is a positive development, what do you see as negative developments? The positive first?
MICHAEL FRIEDLANDER, FORMER SENIOR OPERATOR AT THREE NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS: Yes, good morning, Anderson. The fact that they've been able to get power into the power plant and get a distribution energized, clearly as we discussed last week that is a very positive development. And ultimately getting that power into the facility and into the necessary equipment, that's essential for getting us out of the woods on here.
Now, necessarily, as I've said before, this is over the next days and weeks, this is going to be two steps forward, one step back evolution. When the power plant shut down, all the systems went into their safety mode and so restoring those plant systems to the normal configuration is going to be a bit of a tricky evolution over the course of the next days.
COOPER: And Jim, we don't really know what this smoke was from -- whether in one case I think it was white smoke. The other was black smoke. Black smoke would indicate some sort of a fire. White smoke could be steam, you know, being released?
JIM WALSH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, Anderson, we don't know. That's a fundamental fact. You know, we had two fires earlier at the spent fuel pond where they keep nuclear waste at unit Number Four. So then we had a fire at Number Three, and then a fire at Number Two.
Now, remember at Two, Anderson, that's where they had been laying the electrical line and had hoped to get that electricity -- electricity into the plant so that they could go into the control room and start to look at dials, start to power up some equipment. Not the cooling pumps, but at least some of the equipment.
Now, we don't know what happened, but certainly one possibility is, in getting that electricity going and in trying to get it up and running, that might have sparked a fire, but we don't know. And most importantly, they probably don't know, and they need to figure that out.
COOPER: Michael, in terms of, we now hear there are heightened levels of radiation in food grown in the region. Some of that food is still being sent out to places like Tokyo and elsewhere in Japan. How concerned are you about that?
FRIEDLANDER: Well, Anderson, in my view, that is going to be the Number 1 issue over the weeks and years ahead of us. Because we know that radioactive contamination concentrates within the food chain and so, setting up the proper system that the international community has confidence in to monitor the distribution of food both in Japan and globally is going to be the key issue for us in the long term.
COOPER: Jim Walsh, appreciate your time.
Michael Friedlander, as well; Michael thank you.
COOPER: We've been reporting on young American teachers in Japan, whose families were desperate to get in touch with them. Gary Tuchman tracked down two of them last week: Jessica Besecker and Edward Corey Clemens are safe.
But tonight we have sad news about 24-year-old Taylor Anderson of Virginia. Her family sent word today that Taylor's body has been found.
Virginia's governor said Taylor is the first American reported to have been killed in the disaster. She had been teaching English for the last three years in Japan, in a town that the tsunami hit head on.
Gary Tuchman showed us the devastation in the town. The tsunami didn't reach the school where Taylor taught, but some of her fellow teachers said Taylor apparently tried to ride her bike home after the quake.
Her parents, Jean and Andy, last talked to their daughter two days before the earthquake and tsunami hit and told us that Taylor loved Japan, the people, the culture, the kids she taught.
Besides her parents, Taylor is survived by her younger sister and brother. Our sympathies and our prayers are with all of them tonight.
Still ahead: good news on the fate of those four detained "New York Times" journalists in Libya.
And a medical first for the United States: a Texas man making history, after receiving a full face transplant.
COOPER: All right. Let's check in with Isha Sesay and the "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Isha.
SESAY: Anderson, in Yemen, three top generals have declared their support for anti-government protesters after a bloody crackdown left dozens dead last week. Meantime, a senior U.S. official and a Yemeni official say talks are underway for a peaceful transition that allows President Ali Abdullah Saleh to stay for the rest of the year.
"The New York Times" says four of its journalists detained in Libya were released into the custody of Turkish diplomats today and are safe tonight in Tunisia. The journalists, shown here in the Libyan port city of Ras Lanuf, were captured six days ago while covering the conflict between government and rebel forces.
A Texas man shown here before he was severely burned by a high voltage power line has received the first full-face transplant in the U.S. The 25-year-old construction worker had the surgery at a Boston hospital where his doctors say he's doing well. He's only the second person in the world to receive a full face transplant.
That medical news, Anderson, hitting the Twitter-sphere in a flash -- come to think of it, what doesn't do that these days? The groundbreaking micro-blogging service turns five today. Twitter has picked up about 200 million users. There are about 1,600 tweets a second, Anderson. And aren't you grateful it gives you access to Charlie Sheen's mind whenever you want, Anderson?
COOPER: Yes, I'm sure he's grateful, too.
SESAY: That's winning.
COOPER: Isha thanks.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: That's it for 360. Thanks for watching.
Piers Morgan starts now.
I'll see you tomorrow.