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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Earthquake Strikes U.S. East Coast; Fight for Libya Continues; Opposition Fighters Storm Gadhafi Compound; Sexual Assault Charges Dropped against Former IMF Chief
Aired August 23, 2011 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
It is 10:00 p.m. here on the East Coast of the U.S., two big stories for us tonight, at home, the quake and a possible Category 3 or even 4 hurricane heading toward the Eastern Seaboard; in Libya, of course, major new developments.
Moammar Gadhafi is speaking out tonight, though he hasn't been seen since this video was taken two months ago. According to Reuters, a local Tripoli radio station broadcast what they said was a taped message from the dictator. In it, he vowed martyrdom or victory. He said the retreat from his compound was, in his words, a tactical move. His spokesman, Mussa Ibrahim, promising to turn Libya into volcanoes, lava and fire. Those are his words.
He also claims that tribes loyal Gadhafi are making their way toward Tripoli to liberate the city, though that claim has been made before. And at the Gadhafi compound as the sun went down, there was new fighting, loyalist gunmen trying to take it back from the opposition who had captured it today.
Sara Sidner, our Sara Sidner, was there when it all happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on, Sarah!
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're having to run out of the compound now, we see gunfire coming from outside of the compound, and it's getting a, it's getting too close, so we're leaving. We're not going to go all into the compound, exactly, now from the outside of the compound, firing towards us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's go!
SIDNER: Yes, go ahead. Just got gunfire incoming over our head.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tracer behind me.
SIDNER: We are seeing all of these tracers, hitting the water tank, hitting the area, so we've got to go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That was Sara Sidner outside Gadhafi's compound this evening.
Contrast that with scenes from earlier today, as fighters poured in firing shots in celebration, climbing the statues, carrying out boxes of guns and ammunition. Now, some went room to room searching for Gadhafi. Of course, they found no trace of him. They did manage to shut off a key escape route, however, taking the airport, possibly paving the way for the transitional leaders to fly in from Benghazi.
A military spokesman telling Al-Jazeera that such a move could take place on Thursday. That is assuming, assuming continued that continued progress -- they have continued progress bringing Tripoli under control.
Now, opposition forces say they have driven the majority of government forces back to Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte. That, however, remains to be seen.
In a moment, we will have much more on that and the hunt for Gadhafi and who may replace him.
Also, CNN's Matthew Chance, he, his crew and other reporters right now trapped inside a hotel in Tripoli, not far from where Sara Sidner was earlier at Gadhafi's compound, being kept there by Gadhafi loyalists who are armed and in the lobby and patrolling the hotel. The situation is growing more tense by the minute, all of that ahead, but first a quick wrap-up of what was a truly memorable day.
COOPER (voice-over): In the streets of Tripoli today, cries of victory, barely audible over the nonstop rattle of celebratory gunfire. Opposition forces fighting ferociously this morning with remnants of the government army still defending Moammar Gadhafi's compound. After a siege lasting for hours, the opposition forces break through.
SIDNER: This is an historic day. Psychologically speaking this is an important day, especially for the rebels who Gadhafi said would never be able to break his spirit, would never be able to take the city. But they have taken Bab al-Aziziya, Gadhafi's compound and you can see now some of the press coming out, so clearly they had it. Clearly they have taken this over and clearly there is extreme excitement here in Tripoli.
COOPER: Gadhafi's compound is not only his official residence but a symbol of his regime and defiance to the west. Opposition fighters searched the compound room by room, knocking down walls, confiscating valuable weapons, ammunition and even personal documents and medical records of Gadhafi and his family.
But the one thing they want most is nowhere to be found. Moammar Gadhafi has vanished, and with control of the palace, insurgents say they control 85 percent of the city. Today's victory, however, took a turn as residents began looting the come pointed and celebratory gunfire turned into chaos. SIDNER: That's the eastern, the first part of the eastern gate. There are large blast holes in that gate. The sun is setting in this area just behind us, so it's starting to become darker. Over here, you're seeing these are cars that belong to the Gadhafi regime. They are sitting on them. They are blowing out rounds on top of them, that are obvious way of security, close security.
I'm going to try not to get hit by any of those rounds and then if you go just over here, you see the people streaming through the main gate. Now, that's all the way into the compound. So, you see streaming into the main gate of the compound, a lot of smoke coming from the compound.
You see these huge walls, these were supposed to be protective walls. This also gives you a sense of the power of the Gadhafi regime. This honestly is the nicest part of the city. You're seeing these large, very nicely - let's pull back a little bit. Let's just pull back. I'm getting hit by some of the shells.
COOPER: Other parts of Tripoli continued to see fighting on the streets. Journalists held by government forces at the Rixos Hotel report explosions and gunfire. CNN's Matthew Chance is trapped there.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're pretty frightened to be honest, Michael. You know, we're all kind of like in this sort of silence that's come over us. We're upstairs, very hot in the hotel. We've all got our body armor on. We don't really know what to expect to the sense that we feel we've kind of been used. We're stuck here, not able to go out. We don't want to be here. We want to get out of here, but we're not being permitted to do that. And so, you know it's almost like a situation where we feel we're being kept here against our will.
But the government says they are taking care of us, Gadhafi loyalists say they are here to protect us, but it just doesn't feel like that up here sometimes.
COOPER: It's up clear how many Gadhafi loyalists remain in Tripoli, and despite of week of sweep victory by the opposition, it's also unclear if this is just the beginning of a prolonged urban battle.
COOPER: Well, it could go either way until the Gadhafi clan is rounded up, a new government is in place and people start figuring out how to live their lives again.
There have already been plenty of surprises tonight, tonight's radio message from Gadhafi and last night's sudden appearance by Saif Gadhafi, to name just two of them. There's every reason to expect more of the same in the hours and days ahead.
Now, as it unfolds, our people are right there in the middle of it, as you have been seeing, Sara Sidner, Matthew Chance. Arwa Damon is at Tripoli International Airport tonight on the phone from the Libyan capita. As well, Sara Sidner joins us.
So, Sara, I know your camera lights are causing people around you to shoot off their guns in celebration. But when your camera isn't on, is that the same scene?
SIDNER: Yes, actually it has been most of the day.
But this evening, it was quiet when the camera wasn't on, quiet as in there wasn't as much blasting into the air. People were just coming up and shaking our hands and handing us candy and trying to give us some paraphernalia with the rebel flag on it.
The minute the light goes on, then the blasts started going and people want to show their appreciation in that way by blasting into the air and show their excitement, really. But throughout the day, that was happening whether or not we were rolling, not rolling, standing there watching or whatever.
It was just complete and utter sort of jubilation and the sense that they can do kind of whatever want. And they want to show the world that Gadhafi and the regime is broken.
But what you were seeing in the square earlier has really cleared out, Anderson. And as I was trying to explain earlier, it's a kind of a creepy feeling riding through a city when there are no lights, there is no one on the roads, except for perhaps one or two checkpoints. They (INAUDIBLE) see into the car. We can barely see them standing at the checkpoint, very odd situation in a city that's the capital of a country as large as Libya.
COOPER: And obviously there's still parts of the city, and particularly the area where Matthew Chance is, which is frankly not far from where Sara is right now, that are still controlled in some manner. And we're not sure how many of these areas there are, but in some manner by pro-Gadhafi forces.
Arwa, how far is the airport where you are from the Green Square, what is now being called Martyrs Square? So how far are you from where Sara is? And what's the situation like where you are right now?
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're about 15 to 18 miles to the south here at the Tripoli International Airport.
And I have to say the response by the rebel fighters here has been much more muted than what Sara herself has been experiencing. And that is quite simply because they are still caught in the midst of a very intense battle. It was a battle that lasted for around nine hours today, Anderson, because they have not managed to secure the area to the east of the airport.
And there are two military bases located there. Now, they had been telling us just a short while ago, the rebel fighters have been telling us that they believe that some sort of VIP, someone whom Gadhafi loyalists want to protect, could possibly be in the farmlands to the east of this airport, quite simply because they said that the intensity of the fight that Gadhafi forces are putting up here has been unexpected.
COOPER: Sara, when you were inside Gadhafi's compound today when it was overtaken by the opposition, are people there -- do they still believe that Gadhafi is in Tripoli, or do they feel he's gone to Sirte or is he somewhere else? Do they have any idea?
SIDNER: They believe that he is in Tripoli. They believe he has gone underground, quite literally. They believe there are bunkers underground by the regime.
They believe (INAUDIBLE) would have gotten (INAUDIBLE) prepared something like that for a time like this. And so after hearing from him -- again, there's this general sense he's around here somewhere. Exactly where, nobody knows. He's a secretive person that wouldn't have given all that information out, except for to his closest allies and friends and family members. But there is a general sense they believe he is somewhere in the capital.
COOPER: Sara, how do you know where you can safely drive? And I use the term safely loosely. But how do you know where you can drive in Tripoli where you're not going to run into pro-Gadhafi forces?
SIDNER: We don't know, to be quite honest with you, Anderson.
We do know that we're not seeing large numbers of Gadhafi troops anywhere. We're hearing that from the rebels. It's not the large numbers that anybody is worried about. It is the snipers. It's the people that are sort of (INAUDIBLE) behind buildings that you can't see.
But it's a very sort of difficult and scary part of covering this, really, is not knowing if you go around a corner whether you're going to be face with someone who is a Gadhafi loyalist that is holding gun or a trained professional holding a gun.
It really is a matter of trying to edge your way through the city walking to see at the checkpoints if they're wearing rebel flags and that sort of thing. And really it's just hard. You're just hoping that you're in the right place at the right time.
COOPER: Arwa, the situation, you were witnessing a firefight at the Tripoli Airport. You were saying the fighters there thought it was more opposition than they had expected. Are pro-Gadhafi forces still in control of some areas near where you are?
DAMON: Yes, Anderson, they most definitely are. They are in control of the area to the east of my location, and they are also in control of the highway that goes straight from this airport all the way up to the Bab Al Aziziya complex.
They have only managed to move a few miles north of that. Now, that highway is also a strategic location for Gadhafi's forces for a multitude of reasons, but also because it contains two military installations on it. One is a major refueling center. The other is where they store their fuel that would basically provide fuel for the majority of the military vehicles that they have. So this entire location around where we are right now is not one that the Gadhafi forces are wont to be giving up easily, nor it is one that they are giving up easily. Just a short while ago, even though the gunfire had tapered off quite a bit, there was a Gadhafi forces vehicle that drove up to the complex, fired into it a few rounds, and then shortly thereafter there was something of a firefight that ensued.
And then the rebels drove in a bloodied car with a gunshot through the windshield. They said that they killed one soldier, wounded two others. And so most certainly there are chunks of this area that rebels are not yet in control of.
COOPER: Arwa Damon, stay safe tonight, Sara Sidner, as well.
As we mentioned at the top of the program, Matthew Chance is in a very tough spot tonight. He, his crew, and a number of other foreign correspondents are trapped inside the Rixos Hotel, which is not far from the Gadhafi compound, not far from where Sara Sidner just spoke to us, in what is now called Martyrs Square, formerly Green Square.
I spoke to Matthew in the 8:00 hour.
COOPER: What is the situation where you are inside that hotel?
CHANCE: Well, in terms of not much to report in terms of what is happening outside the perimeter outside of the hotel in the rest of Tripoli, I know you're speaking to Sara. I don't have any verification of what's going on from our very limited perspective here. We're still very much in the same kind of grim situation, which is that you know we're in a hotel. We're on the top floor of the hotel. We've corralled ourselves into the top floor.
Gadhafi's loyalists are still very much in control of this hotel and the immediate perimeter around it. Beyond that, I can't give you any good indication of what extent Gadhafi's forces, to what extent they have control over this area, but we are very close to Colonel Gadhafi's compound. Obviously, we were very close to the fighting that was going on, as the rebel wrestled control of that compound from the Gadhafi forces.
The concern we have now, Anderson is that, you know, we seem to be one of the few remaining patches of territory in Libya which is still controlled by Gadhafi's forces and so we're kind of very anxious about what might happen at this hotel in the hours ahead.
COOPER: Earlier we heard from you, and you said that the mood was grim, that you were al basic until this room, obviously very hot. You're all in your body armor. Do you have communication with the -- the Libyan forces which are inside the hotel? Not allowing you to leave?
CHANCE: Well, I mean I don't know if we can describe it as communication. But certainly, we have contact with them. You know, they are walking around the hotel, patrolling the lobby floor. They are in the basement as well.
Within the past few hours, a number of them have come up to the journalist floor as well and gone into some of the rooms which something we're a little concerned about. But in general, you know we don't have much communication with them, having said that, about two hours ago, leaning on the balcony, overlooking the interior courtyard of the hotel, and one of them shouted to me and said, you know I suppose you're happy now, aren't you journalists? And I asked him what he meant. And he said he was referring to that the rebels have made all of these gains and obviously taking control of Gadhafi's compound.
And so, you know, there is still that sort of little bit of hostility toward us, a little bit in which tense in which Gadhafi loyalists were dragged along in this conflict and regarded the international media being on the rebels side in this complex even though that's obviously that's not the case which is, we're trying to report that governance Gadhafi's side of things on this. But you know we're doing that and that you know very restricted circumstances. We've asked of course to get out of the hotel. We're not happy being here anymore for our own security. But that's not something that the authorities in control of this hotel are prepared to this point to let us do. We hope that will change soon.
COOPER: I heard you say earlier on the air you felt like had you been used. How so?
CHANCE: In lots of different ways, I suppose. Obviously, we're here so that the government thinks that you know feels that they have got the ears, the eyes of the international media, to put across their point of view and whenever they want.
And a good example of that last night, when Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, Colonel Gadhafi's oldest son, they knows he was reported to have been captured by the rebels as they advanced a day earlier, but made this surprise appearance in the lobby of the Rixos hotel as you just saw it. He wasn't the lobby at all. He was in the front door, in that car outside the hotel. I managed to speak to him. You may remember that.
And so, in that sense, we, you know we feel and they feel that we're valuable if you like at the moment, so we want to try and continue that. We will try to continue reflecting the government position as much as we can, Anderson.
COOPER: Matthew, have - you have - obviously, you have asked to leave, and what do they say? What is the reason for not letting you leave?
CHANCE: Well, we have confirmed over the past several you know minutes, past half hour there is a boat from Malta that stopped in a port in Libya, near Tripoli, and the Maltese government spokesperson, who I have been in contact with, has told us here that the space on that boat to take us all out to Malta and to safety obviously.
But the trouble is that, we've not managed to negotiate an exit from the hotel, and what the people here is say, the Gadhafi loyalist who's are controlling the hotel say, is that It's not safe for us to do that. They say that they are here for one reason only and that's to protect us.
And so at the moment, that means that we're not being permitted to move outside the hotel, even though we made the point that we believe it's our right to move outside the hotel if we choose to do that. That's not something they have agreed to yet.
COOPER: Have they indicated any knowledge, the men who are in the lobby, the loyalists, have they indicated knowledge of the fact that it seems like according to Sara Sidner, the area they control now is relatively small? Sara is very close by in green square, the Gadhafi compound obviously has fallen. So, it would seem that the areas that loyalists control have considerably shrunk in the last 24 hours.
CHANCE: Yes, I mean, we've certainly been hearing that as well. And I'm sure that, you know, the people down stairs in the hotel have been hearing the same reports. I mean, they will know what the reality is. They are not saying anything like that to us, though. They are potentially either in denial or denying it to us, saying everything is safe outside that the government is in control outside and that there are no more NATO warplanes flying in the sky outside, basically trying to give thus idea that the government is fully in control still. And so, even though that we know from our other sources and our other reporting that the Gadhafi compound has fallen to the rebels, and I have not heard anybody here sort of talk about that, acknowledge that fact.
Only that one instance which I mentioned to you earlier, where the loyalists shouted up to me, I suppose you're happy now aren't you journalists? And that was an indication that he was aware of what was going on outside and was a little bit you know angry with us for that, for that having happened -- Anderson.
COOPER: Matthew, we wish you and your crew well. Please stay as safe as you can.
COOPER: A very dicey situation for Matthew Chance and all those others trapped right now in the Rixos Hotel.
Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook. You can follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I will be tweeting tonight as well, if I can, throughout this live hour.
Up next, two experts here to talk about how to track down Gadhafi. They will also assess the opposition's performance so far.
Let's also check in with our own Isha Sesay -- Isha.
ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, new aftershocks tonight in the quake that took Virginia and the Washington, D.C., area completely by surprise and was felt as far north as Montreal. We have got all the details on that, plus a very big, very dangerous hurricane that's heading for the Eastern Seaboard -- when 360 continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: Yes, we're OK. Please don't shoot, sir.
We are in between two walls, so we're fine. But as people drive by in their trucks, they're so excited. And this is something that has become a bit of a problem in the city, as they blast these guns through the city. We don't know where they're going to land. And it is surrounded by a neighborhood.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Remarkable courage Sara Sidner and Matthew Chance and Arwa Damon are showing right now in Tripoli.
It is a very fluid situation.
Later came a bit of a backlash, including our breaking news, Moammar Gadhafi on the radio tonight vowing victory or death as a martyr. His spokesman, Mussa Ibrahim, promising to turn Libya into volcanoes, lava and fire. Those are his words said on the radio. That's a file tape.
He also claims that tribes loyal to Gadhafi are making their way toward Tripoli to liberate the city gradually from what he called gangs. Now, Separately, French wire services tonight are reporting that loyalists have fired a number of Scud missile from Sirte, which is Gadhafi's hometown, into the city of Misrata. You will remember that's the city that they besieged for many months.
Now, as for the dictator's whereabouts tonight, no one knows. Since opposition forces moved into Tripoli, there have been reports he fled to his hometown, even that he's left the country, a lot of conflicting information tonight. However, American officials tell CNN they do believe that he is still somewhere in Tripoli.
And last night during his surprise appearance, his son Saif essentially said the same thing, saying his father is alive and well. Now, the question then tonight is how to find him.
Joining me now is Daily Beast contributor Fadel Al-Ameen and retired Army Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt. He currently serves as executive vice president of defense contractor Advanced Technology Systems.
So, Fadel, you were in Libya recently. You spent a lot of time with the opposition. You say that people you have spoken with in Libya believe that Gadhafi hasn't been in Tripoli for quite some time. A lot of folks are telling Sara Sidner there on the ground they still think he is in Tripoli. So a lot of conflicting reports. How likely would he -- where would he go? Is Sirte a real possibility?
FADEL AL-AMEEN, DAILY BEAST: No, I don't think Sirte is.
It's very hard for him to get to Sirte, unless he got to Sirte quite some time ago, before the opposition stormed Tripoli, because now they control most of the roads east or west or even south. So I think my feeling is that he's out of Tripoli, because just think about it. Where will he be in Tripoli, I think, unless he's one of these -- two of the military compounds that they haven't got to yet.
But I think my feeling, that he's very close to one of the borders, either to the south or closer to the Algerian border.
COOPER: General Kimmitt, is there anything we can -- you served in Iraq. Is there anything we can learn about how Saddam Hussein hid from forces, from allied forces, and apply that to maybe the way Gadhafi is acting?
BRIGADIER GENERAL MARK KIMMITT (RET.), FORMER U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR PLANS AND STRATEGY: Well, if you look at what Saddam did, he clearly went back to his tribal roots. He clearly went back to his ancestral homeland.
And that really in the long run is all that Moammar Gadhafi has left, and that's his core support, his core family, his core tribe. Just as Saddam was found near his hometown, it could very well be that after a time, when Moammar is found, it will have some connection to his most closest relatives, his most closest associates.
COOPER: As you look, General Kimmitt, at the battle going on right now in Tripoli, and there are still battles going on we have seen around the airport. We have seen that loyalists forces are still in control of at least that hotel and the immediate area around it, although it doesn't seem like a very large area.
What do you make of the next 24 hours, the next 48 hours? How do you see this fight playing out in Tripoli?
KIMMITT: Well again, all we're seeing is what the media is showing us. But if it has a significant amount of correct information, it would look like this is sort of the dying gasps of the Gadhafi regime, as was said earlier, pockets of resistance, but it doesn't look like there are any great, large numbers of troops that are going to be coming to help him any time soon. So this is going to be finished up in the next couple of days.
COOPER: Fadel, do you agree with that?
AL-AMEEN: I do, I do, especially in Tripoli. I think it will be difficult. I think there will be some pockets maybe close to Sirte or some other areas, that they will have to -- they will fight in order to negotiate and get a good -- some kind of a deal.
And I think that that will be. They will be fighting for negotiation and for better conditions of surrender, not to overthrow or to push back the rebels. That's done. That's over. I think it's -- and my feeling is, I'm very fearful of the -- about the plight of the journalists that are in this hotel.
Those people who are controlling them, I don't think they have any command-and-control from -- from other parts of Gadhafi's -- or his command structure. I think they're acting on their own. They may use this as a shield or they may use them as a negotiating -- you know, as to negotiate a deal for them. But the sooner we can get them out, the better for everybody. We pray for their safety.
COOPER: General, Fidel raises a good point. I was in Mogadishu just a couple of weeks ago. And the Ugandan forces who were there, you know, kind of -- at one point had the al-Shabaab, the terrorist group there, kind of cornered but allowed them an escape route that they used to get out.
It doesn't seem like these people who are in the area of the hotel have an escape route. They generally seem like they are surrounded.
KIMMITT: Well, it's clear that any troops that believe they have no other options than to fight or die are going to do just that. It would be well-advised for the rebels to indicate to the remaining Gadhafi loyalists that there are other options, other than going down in -- in -- for martyrdom or to support the dictator Gadhafi. There have to be other options that have them, as was said by your guest, an ability to negotiate, an ability to see something other than a firing squad or death in a battle.
COOPER: Fidel al-Ameen, I appreciate you staying with us tonight. And General Kimmitt, as well, thank you very much for your expertise.
Up next tonight, for months, the people opposed to Moammar Gadhafi have been afraid to speak out. Remember before, really, the government there responded, we talked to people in Tripoli. Then for months there was silence.
Well, tonight you're going to hear from a woman who wants to us use her name. She shares with us what she has seen on the streets of Tripoli today and for the last many months.
And our breaking news story here at home, an earthquake hitting Virginia. Tremors felt all along the East Coast. Now a hurricane on the way, as well. We'll have both, the latest on both.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABDELHAKIM BALHAG, LIBYAN OPPOSITION LEADER (through translator): Now we ask our people in Tripoli that the -- that the main fight has been won. Has been won. And now we have to start another fight, is to gather the people and build the council.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Libyan opposition leader. Now, we wanted you to hear from the voice from one of the residents of Tripoli, people caught up in the fighting. Her name is Maram Wafa. Her Tripoli neighborhood was full of pro-Gadhafi fighters. But she is no longer afraid, she says. In fact, she wants us to use her name, because she wants the world to know how proud she is tonight to be a Libyan and to be on the cusp of a new day. Here's some of our conversation. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
COOPER: What's it like in Tripoli where you are right now?
MARAM WAFA, TRIPOLI RESIDENT (on phone): Well, right now everything is -- in my neighborhood everything is pretty calm for the time being. The neighborhood is completely secured. We have checkpoints put in place by all the free men of my neighborhood. But from the -- from my window I can see Bab al-Azizyah, where there are still conflicts going on. But nothing compared to what we experienced today.
COOPER: You say today was the worst day. Why?
WAFA: Well, it was the worst day, because it was the day he bombed us. I mean, we were heavily bombed. It was the first time he bombed us. My house got bombed. Thank God nothing happened to us.
COOPER: So your building -- your area was hit by rockets today from Gadhafi forces?
WAFA: Yes. Heavily -- heavily hit by rockets.
COOPER: You just listened to Gadhafi speaking on the radio. What did he say?
WAFA: From what I understood, is the first point is that he said that today the fact that he retreated from Bab al-Azizyah was a strategy that he put in place. And second of all, he said it's -- "the end of this whole situation will be either my death or victory."
COOPER: You've asked us to use your real name. Are you not scared anymore? Because for months nobody has talked to us from Tripoli, nobody has wanted us to use their real name. Has -- has fear gone for you?
WAFA: Definitely. Definitely gone. And I will explain you why people were not giving their names or even talking. It's because, for example, two streets away from my house, there was a van with a satellite dish on top of it that was just there to spy on conversations. So whenever they detect something that is against them, they just come and pick you up.
COOPER: So you say you have never been prouder than you are right now, than you are today?
COOPER: Why is that?
WAFA: Well, when you see that -- first of all, let's not forget that, if my figures are right, 70 or 75 percent of the Libyan population is a young population. This is the first point.
The second point is, when I see that all this youth which is my generation -- I'm 26 years old -- has put in place a movement such as this movement you've been witnessing for six months, and at the end being victorious against a man who has been ruling a country for 42 years, 43 years with this iron fist, I mean, how can you not be proud?
COOPER: Maram Wafa...
WAFA: They are just heroes.
COOPER: Maram Wafa, stay safe. Thank you. We'll talk to you again.
COOPER: Brave woman in Libya tonight.
Up next, here in America aftershocks. Tonight aftershocks following the rare magnitude 5.8 earthquake that happened on the East Coast. The same area could be hit by a powerful hurricane in just a couple of days. We'll have the latest from Chad Myers tonight.
And former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn off the hook. A New York judge today dismissed the sexual assault charges dismissed against him. Jeff Toobin weighs in.
COOPER: Well, reports of aftershocks in Virginia tonight after a 5.8 magnitude quake hit the northern part of the state this afternoon. Tremors were -- from the quake were felt in Washington, New York and North Carolina, even all the way in Toronto and Montreal. There were no reports of major injuries. There are reports of damage in a few counties in Virginia and elsewhere.
The East Coast also is on alert for another potential wallop from nature. Hurricane Irene is on its way. I spoke with meteorologist Chad Myers about it a short time ago.
COOPER: So Chad, Virginia is a place you don't normally associate with earthquakes. Is it an active quake zone?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: No, not at all. The map behind me shows the active quake zones, including the one in California, and all of that. But the earthquake was right there, in the middle of a little blue and green spot. Literally no threat, no risk of that. Although there have been a few earthquakes here, nothing like this. Nothing like 5.8 and nothing with aftershocks for a very long time.
The last earthquake that was even close to this was over 100 years ago in Virginia. Now, that's not saying that there weren't earthquakes 2,000 years ago that we don't know about, but certainly not an active zone.
COOPER: How widely felt was the quake?
MYERS: It was felt all the way from about Montreal was my farthest tweet that I got on it today back into Toronto, here and here, and then back down through Knoxville into Alabama. And that is because there's one big plate on the U.S., on the East Coast. Now, in California there are just a bunch of plates. The plates are all broken up into a million pieces. But when this shook right there in western Virginia, it's like the whole bell rung. The whole U.S., the whole eastern part of the U.S. rung all at one time.
Now, when you talk about the West Coast, if you break all this -- let's just take this. I'm going to make a bunch of lines here. Let's say there are all a bunch of faults here. If you shake this fault, this part right here in California, well, two miles down the road may not even feel it. And especially 100 miles down the road may not feel it. But when there aren't breaks, when there aren't faults, you felt it everywhere.
COOPER: And shortly after we went on the air, there was another aftershock which hit Richmond. What's the -- are there going to be more tremors? Do we know?
MYERS: That was a 4.2. It just happened. Now, the big one was the 5.8, and the biggest aftershock risk was probably about 4.8. So what you felt, it could be a little bit stronger, and then these are going to go down and in about three months they're going to gone. But there's going to be aftershocks for quite a long time.
COOPER: And Hurricane Irene, do we know where it's going to hit? I mean, right now officials are warning residents from, I think, from North Carolina northward to be prepared. How bad could it be?
MYERS: It could be quite a blow to the northeast. And you're thinking, wait, what were you talking about the Carolinas? Yes. Because this is going to go up the East Coast. Going to miss Florida. Now, there's going to be huge waves in Florida. There may be 20-foot waves. And those waves may come right onshore. They come right up on at A1-A. So there could be coastal flooding for sure.
But it's getting stronger. It's getting bigger right now. The storm will probably be back up to a Category 2 later tonight. And then for tomorrow into the Category 3. Driving right over the Turks and Caicos, Providence Sealis (Ph) in the next few hours going to go downhill. At least 100 mile-per-hour winds there.
Runs up the East Coast and slams into North Carolina or at least the Outer Banks.
MYERS: But look at that. It could actually hit D.C. or New York by Sunday afternoon with an 85-mile-per-hour sustained wind. Now, it could be as far east as Boston. But that's a big deal.
COOPER: That was Chad Myers. I talked to him a short time ago
Coming up tonight, former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn vindicated from charges that he sexually assaulted a hotel housekeeper. Going to tell you why the charges were dropped. But first Isha Sesay joins us with a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Isha.
ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the fund compensating residents and businesses for damages from last year's BP oil spill fund has paid out $5 billion of the 20 billion set aside. The group that now runs the BP claims process released a report today saying those in Florida have been paid the most so far, $2 billion.
A Florida appeals court ruled today that Casey Anthony must serve a year of probation after being convicted on check fraud charges and sentenced a year and a half ago. She must come out of hiding and report to a probation officer by this Friday. Anthony's been in seclusion since her acquittal last month on murder charges in the 2008 death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.
The family of Amy Winehouse said today no illegal substances were in the singer's system when she was found dead in her London apartment last month. Her family said tests conducted by authorities also found evidence of alcohol, but it isn't yet clear whether alcohol played a role in her death. Winehouse, who was known for battling drug addiction, was 27.
And CNN has obtained dramatic new video of a police officer being shot in the neck in El Cajon, California, near San Diego. First, we want to warn you the video is graphic.
Now, the officer grabs his neck during a gun fight. He runs, then falls to the ground when one of his colleagues -- as you see one of his colleagues drags him to safety. The officer, who had been responding to a domestic dispute Sunday, is thankfully now recovering...
SESAY: ... in the hospital, he's a very, very lucky man.
COOPER: Unbelievable. Such a hard job. Unbelievable
COOPER: Isha, thanks very much.
Coming up, "Crime & Punishment." Sexual assault charges dropped against former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Did the prosecutors go too far? We're going to have a live report with our legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.
COOPER: Well, tonight in "Crime & Punishment," sexual assault charges dropped against a powerful man, well-known not only in his native France but now, certainly, around the world.
This afternoon a New York judge dismissed the case against former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn after prosecutors cited questions about his accuser's credibility. Prosecutors say the accuser, a hotel housekeeper, lied about the specifics of just where she was following the alleged -- where she was, following the alleged incident back in may.
Now, they also say she lied about information on her tax forms in her application for asylum in the U.S. from her native country, which is Guinea.
Joining me now, senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
So how big a black eye is this for the prosecution?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's kind of paradoxical. Because they never should have indicted the case so quickly. I think they really rushed to judgment here. However, once they did that...
COOPER: Could they have kept him in the country without indicting him?
TOOBIN: Yes. There was a way of doing it. They could have granted him bail. If they kept him in prison the way they were trying to, they had to indict him. But they could have given him bail and then slowed the clock down.
But they were, I think, overconfident of their case. They went too quickly. And they paid a price.
Now, in fairness to the prosecutors, I think they behaved honorably. They investigated the case thoroughly. And, instead of, like the Duke lacrosse case, where they just plowed ahead in the face of bad evidence, they said, "Hey, look, this -- we can't -- we can't do this. We can't prove this case. So we've got to drop it." I mean, I think that's an honorable for prosecutors to behave. But better to do that before you charge...
COOPER: Right. Is this the end of the criminal case against him?
TOOBIN: Done. Over.
COOPER: Done. Could she -- she can still sue civilly?
TOOBIN: She has sued.
COOPER: Do you think that will go forward, though, now? It's a lot harder now that the criminal case has gone away.
TOOBIN: It is -- he has accepted service. The case has begun. But whether he will actually appear to defend the case, whether she could ever collect a judgment against him...
COOPER: He could just not show up?
TOOBIN: He could just not show up. Yes. I mean, he's a citizen of France.
COOPER: But if he's living here, he would have to show up, because he's been living in Washington.
TOOBIN: He's been living in Washington. These civil cases have a way of dragging on forever. I...
COOPER: And a guy like he has unlimited resources to allow it to drag on.
TOOBIN: Correct. And to get lawyers involved. It is a risk to him, some financial risk. But it is also perhaps something that will just turn into a legal morass that will never be resolved.
COOPER: Strauss-Kahn's lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, who's one of the top attorneys. You say he's the best.
TOOBIN: The best.
COOPER: He was just on "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT." I want to play some of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN BRAFMAN, STRAUSS-KAHN'S LAWYER: Do I think he is proud of this incident? No. Do I think he regrets this incident? I think he regrets this incident with all of his heart. And at the end of the day is he a perfect individual? No. But I don't think I've ever met anybody who is perfect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TOOBIN: Well, that's not much of an endorsement. But that's, I mean, I think accurate.
COOPER: If -- if -- you could make the argument that, look, OK, so this woman lied on tax returns, lied on her immigration forms. People who lie still can be sexually abused.
TOOBIN: Absolutely. And her lawyers are outraged that they've dropped the case.
But yesterday the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance, filed a 25-page document. And it really was an incredible thing. People can see it. It's up on the Web. I did a comment on CNN.com. I linked to it.
The catalog of lies, not just about her immigration but about her financial status, about her connections to people with criminal records, about the event -- the night of that event. The catalog of lies was so extensive that I was told by members of the D.A.'s office that experienced prosecutors said, "Look, we cannot put this woman on the witness stand. We cannot vouch for her as a government witness. So we have to drop the case."
I mean, think how lucky Dominique Strauss-Kahn is to behave so abominably, but he somehow picked a woman who was so disabled by her lying that she couldn't bring the case. But let's not pretend this was anything other than a really ugly incident by this powerful man. COOPER: Yes. Yes. Jeff Toobin, appreciate it. Thanks very much.
We'll be right back. More ahead.
COOPER: That's it for 360. Thanks for watching. Our coverage continues next with CNN International John Vause and our own Isha Sesay.