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East Coast Prepares for Hurricane; Gadhafi Forces Continue Fighting; What Will Happen to Gadhafi's Weapons?; East Coast Braces for Hurricane Irene; Suspect was Beneficiary of Missing Woman's Accidental Death Policy

Aired August 24, 2011 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. It's 10:00 p.m. here on the East Coast. And again tonight, we have two big breaking stories.

One of course is Hurricane Irene, now officially a major storm. The view here from space, it is huge, Category 3 and getting stronger this hour. Now pointed straight at the Carolinas and threatening the entire northeastern seaboard. We'll have a lot of details about that tonight.

The other breaking story, of course Libya and the hunt for Gadhafi. The opposition has already got his cap. This guy took it out of his palace. Now they want that head that goes with it and they are willing to pay $2.5 million for the dictator, dead or alive, they say. One of his sons still at large is sending e-mails to our Nic Robertson. Nic just got another one a few minutes ago and he joins us shortly.

In the meantime, heavy fighting today in Tripoli. Take a look.

Running street battles all day, this video is from the capital's eastern neighborhoods not far from the airport. The field in opposition hands, but still taking heavy shelling from the loyalist fighters nearby, some of it just within the last hour or two, the two sides has exchanged artillery throughout the day. Opposition commanders have been trying to direct fire to minimize civilian casualties but it hasn't been easy because Gadhafi forces are so intertwined amongst the local population. Our Arwa Damon is there. We will talk to her.

In southern Tripoli, similar disdain for civilian lives reports all day of loyalist gunmen out in the streets taking pot shots at people. Now, to the east, new video of the damage those loyalist fighters are leaving behind as they retreat. These are the oil facilities in Brega still burning nearly a week after they fled. Before they did, they fired shells into the tank, causing this inferno right there.

And on the road from Zawiyah into Tripoli, some group presumably loyalist, kidnapping four Italian journalists, we don't know the details. Thirty three others, including CNN's Matthew Chance, went free today after that harrowing ordeal, held at gun point by loyalist thugs who did not know Gadhafi was gone. Here's how it played out.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They're negotiating for this crisis, this terrible experience that we've been through. We managed to speak to the guys who have been charge with looking after this hotel. They're people who have (INAUDIBLE) the Gadhafi regime to -- you know, to not let the journalists leave. That they're carrying the orders out even thought the whole world for them has changed. Hopefully, now we're going to get in those cars and trying to (INAUDIBLE) take us (INAUDIBLE).

CHANCE: Bye. Bye, BBC.



CHANCE: Good luck.


CHANCE: Bye, guys. Good luck.

At one point, a Kalashnikov assault rifle was thrown across the room into the kitchen, and the restaurant area. And the whole situation changed. All the guards there, the two guards were in the lobby of the hotel. Gadhafi loyalists right up until the end. Right up until beyond the end, you could say. And they basically came over to us, and they said, look, you know, we're not going to stop you from leaving anymore. All we have to do then is arrange some kind of transport back to the hotel. Thankfully, (INAUDIBLE). They came up with four cars. They were taking civilian vehicles. As we speak we're making our way to a safe location elsewhere in the city.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's not talking to camera. She's not doing it.



CHANCE: That was grace. She was there for all of us, all of the journalists there. It was crucial. She was doing much of the negotiation with the Gadhafi gunmen downstairs in the lobby. She was taking it on her shoulders to do it. It was remarkable. What an amazing producer, to produce us out of this horrific place. I don't think we'd al be here now. Literally, she was that good. I don't think we'd be here now, if it's for her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was just all of us talking to each other, finding a coping mechanism for being in there, you know trying sometimes to just crash jokes and make the best of you know the worst scenarios one could be in.

CHANCE: What's the plan?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are going to Green Square now. Dan is there. And so is Sara. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Matthew is here now. Yes.

CHANCE: Hi Sara, how are you?


CHANCE: I couldn't hear anything you were doing but I heard every time I got you on the air, there were massive gunshots going on.

SIDNER: We were worried that you were thinking that that was firing between Gadhafi forces and the rebels, and really it was just celebratory, and I was thinking my God, Matthew is probably thinks there is a fierce battle right outside his hotel and it wasn't that way.

CHANCE: It's difficult to know what was going on where we were. We were sort of belly down in a dark basement for about three days.

SIDNER: How many people was it? Was it 35 people?

CHANCE: Thirty six I think the last head count.

SIDNER: Everybody's out? All people are out?


SIDNER: They are going to want to see you on air, let's - I think they're getting ready to talk to someone, so I'm sure they are going to want to see you on the air.


SIDNER: Yes. Yes.


COOPER: Behind the scenes look of how it ended. Matthew chance joins us now. Matthew it is so nice to see you out of that hotel. So many people here and all around the world were concerned about all that you who were trapped in that hotel. As you look back on it now, what was the most difficult moment? And I know you can speak more freely now. What was the most difficult moment?

CHANCE: Well, first of all, we're really grateful, all of us, all the journalists, me, Jomana and the crew and all the other journalists that were trapped inside the Rixos Hotel, being held there against our will. Grateful for all the support we've been getting, you know on twitter, on various other messages that have come to us. It's been absolutely fantastic. It really means a lot to us.

And it's difficult, Anderson, to say which was the worst time. I think it was probably, because there were so many of them. We were lying on our bellies at one point. You know, hoping the shells that were coming into the compound weren't going to hit us. And there were snipers firing into the hotel at various points during the fight. Basically we were kept there against our will. But you know I think the worst time is when we realized quite early on in the situation, we found ourselves in, that, you know, we had lost control of the situation. That, you know, all these scenarios started playing out in our heads.

We started getting paranoid, that we could be used as human shields if Gadhafi's remnants of his army decided to use the hotel to make their last stand. Maybe we were going to be taken prisoner properly. Maybe we were going to be executed. We didn't know. All of these things were ticking through our heads. And it was when we realized this could was, this could end really badly for us, and when that sank in to us, I think that was sort of the turning point. And it was early on in this situation. And from them we were kind of really focused on you know working out solutions, working out answers to various scenarios, what we would do if such- and-such happened. And you know it was a very traumatic time throughout that period. But it's difficult to pinpoint what exact moment which was the worst.

COOPER: We were very careful on this program, but I think everybody at CNN, and many other networks, not to use the word hostage. Not to say that you were being held hostage. Now that it is over, looking back on it, at the time, were you being held hostage?

CHANCE: You know we certainly felt like we were. We certainly had had our right to leave taken away from us. We weren't being permitted to leave. And in that sense, we were being held in captivity against our will. We felt like hostages. We felt like victims. We felt you know in a lot of danger. And, you know, it was also very frustrating, because we were so cut off from the outside world and from Tripoli that we didn't even know what was going on outside the walls of the hotel. You know, in terms of what news developments were happening. And it was very difficult for us to get communications out, as you know. So we couldn't even do our work which is, you know, which is what we were all there to do.

So it was immensely frustrating. And yes I think there was a sense in which we al felt that we were hostages. But we're still a little puzzled on what there is, but we're a little bit puzzled as to why we were being held hostage in that way, why we weren't being permitted to leave. And that's still a bit of a mystery to us.

COOPER: Well, in this kind of situation, you know better than anybody, people do not act rationally and things happen that are not rational. But nevertheless, they happen and people suffer because of it. It was fascinating to see your producer negotiating that shot of her negotiating, you saying she played an instrumental role in getting everybody out. What sort of discussions was she having with these gunmen who were controlling the hotel?

CHANCE: Well, Jomana is a very persuasive person. She's able to - she's an Arab. She's from Jordan. And she speaks fantastic English, she speaks fantastic Arabic. And she's able to connect with people in the Arab world, because she speaks the language, because she is an Arab herself.

And she was able to persuade eventually the gunmen who were in the lobby of the hotel, the Gadhafi loyalists who were preventing us from leaving, she was able to, you know, persuade them that the situation outside the gates at the hotel were - had changed. That the world had essentially changed for Libya outside of the gates of the hotel.

I think Jomana was instrumental, looking back on our sort of ordeal over the past five or six days in the Rixos Hotel, she was instrumental in getting those gunmen to make that sort of transformation between, from being these people who were kind of following the orders of Colonel Gadhafi for 42 years, that man's been a dictator of this country, everything he says is law, that transformation into people who realized that that was no longer the case, that he's no longer in power, that it didn't matter that they ordered them to keep us in the hotel because he was no longer in many ways no longer relevant in Libya.

And once that transformation happened, the whole situation changed. The guards literally, you know, they gave us their weapons and said we don't want them anymore and apologized to us and said, you can go free now.

So, Jomana was great in achieving that. We all worked towards that goal. But Jomana along with the other Arabic speakers amongst there my colleagues in the Rixos Hotel, all played a part in achieving that really positive outcome.

COOPER: And very briefly, do you know what has happened to those gunmen now? I mean, you said they gave up their weapons to you. Have they just tried to kind of disappear?

CHANCE: Well, I hope so. I mean, certainly one or two of them were, I think, in the end very good people. They were following orders. This was their jobs. They were just doing what they were told to do and they weren't very aggressive to us. There were much more others who were aggressive and much more hostile. So I said now, I certainly hope they have managed to kind of melted away and sort of reinvented themselves into what is essentially a new Libya, Anderson.

COOPER: Matthew Chance, again, so remarkable and so great to see you. Thank you very much, Matthew. Stay safe. Be careful there.

Let us know what you think on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I will try to tweet throughout this hour.

Up next, the battle for the airport is still going on as we speak, one of our correspondents Arwa Damon right in the middle of it. We're going to check in live. Also more on the $2. 5 million question, where is Moammar Gadhafi? A bounty put on his head dead or alive. Let's talk more about that new bounty and any new clues to his whereabouts.

First, let's check in with Isha Sesay -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, stunning news, breaking news out of Silicon Valley. Steve Jobs, the co-founder and CEO of apple is stepping down. He's been on medical leave recently. And a lesson for the board, he says, "I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as apple's CEO, I would be the first to let you know." Unfortunately that day has come.

More on this, and other stories tonight, when 360 continues.



ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Gadhafi forces stationed to the east. And they have for quite some time now, the last few days, trying to gain control of this airport. They have --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you need to take cover, do it.

DAMON: No, I think that's going as far as I can tell. So I think we're pretty, we're pretty OK where we are right now. That is rebel fighters shooting out of the airport complex. Now, what they're trying to do is push these Gadhafi fighters back. they have entrenched themselves in these villages along the eastern part of the airport.


COOPER: That was Arwa Damon just this morning in the middle of the battle to hold on to Tripoli's International Airport.

Now, as you saw the top, the opposition took it yesterday. They control it now but still fighting, they're still fighting to keep it. they have been exchanging artillery and gunfire all day with new shelling reported just within the last hour or so, a big problem, loyalist forces are fighting from popular areas as we mentioned earlier, returning fire obviously then it puts civilians at risk.

Arwa Damon has been there though it all. She joins us now.

Arwa, you've been in the thick of it all day. What is the latest there? Is the opposition still struggling to keep a hold of the airport?

DAMON: Well, Anderson, the incoming artillery, the incoming ground rocket fire was just so intense, that we actually had to move our live position inside. The rounds were coming too frequently, and too close. At one point they did manage to hit it with one of the aircraft on the tarmacs. It went up in flames. There was an explosion. There were heavy exchanges of machine gunfire. It was relentless.

And it intensified throughout the night. It's only just short of a slightly calmed down in the last hour or so. And the senior commanders here believe that the reason why there's been such an effort by Gadhafi forces to try to retake control over this airport is because he believes that Gadhafi loyalists are trying to clear a route for Gadhafi and his family members to somehow escape.

The rebels do not control the area to the east of the airport. There are two military bases located there. It is populated with Gadhafi loyalists, we are being told, nor did the rebel control the chunk of highway that runs south from Tripoli to the airport complex here, Anderson.

COOPER: Now, is the fighting there strictly between the opposition forces, the opposition and forces loyal to Gadhafi, or is NATO involved as well or the ground rocket batteries in two civilian areas for NATO to actually take out?

DAMON: Yes, we've been hearing the NATO jets overhead pretty much ever since we got here a few days ago. But when it comes to what was happening today, we were hearing the jets overhead then as well. But the opposition fighters were telling us that the NATO jets were unable to fire on these particular locations, because these Gadhafi forces are literally using these villages for cover, and there are great concerns about civilian casualties. But it's so frustrating for the rebels who are based here, because they're so bogged down in trying to protect the airport, that they haven't been able, they say, to get out there, go after the Gadhafi loyalists more importantly, trying to go after Gadhafi himself.

COOPER: Arwa, just one other quick question. If there's a no-fly zone, which there is, you're saying some senior commanders believe maybe they're trying to fight, to retake the airport so that Gadhafi or family members could get out by aircraft. But if there's a no-fly zone, wouldn't NATO jets be able to shoot down any aircraft that took off from there?

DAMON: Well, it's not necessarily so that they could actually retake the airport and then fly one of the planes that's located here. It's more so that they can clear a land escape route for them. They're speculating that Gadhafi would be trying to either go to the central south or swing up to his hometown Sirte, located just to the east.

COOPER: All right Arwa, I also want to bring in -- Arwa, please stay with us, but I also want to bring in from the "New York Times"' John Burns, who spent a lot of time in Libya reported from there a lot of time.

John, you think there's a good chance that Gadhafi may have been at the Rixos Hotel where the journalists, Matthew Chance and other were held. Why do you think that?

JOHN BURNS, LONDON BUREAU CHIEF, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, first of all, let's say something clearly here about Gadhafi. We're dealing with a man who is delusional, who has been in the estimate of a number of people who have met him in the last 20 years, bordering on the edge of insanity. I personally was kicked out of Libya few weeks ago for using the word wacko in a piece about Gadhafi's behavior.

So trying to project what he might do or where he may be is extremely difficult. The best we can say is this is an extremely quirky character that might do anything. But if you ask me to bet, we know now that he's very unlikely to be in the Rixos. That was a possibility until the last guards keeping those journalists there in effective in place and handed over their weapons. That makes it highly unlikely that he would be in any subterranean complex there, close to the family's ties aren't at that hotel. His son, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, was actually the one who caused that hotel to be built, completed 18 months ago. I would say, look at Gadhafi, what's he saying. He's saying in effect, I hate to draw the analogy, because in scope and scale and murderousness, there's no comparison, but Gadhafi shared one characteristic in common with Adolph Hitler, who died in his own bunker by his own hand, which is that he identifies himself with the Libyan people. He is utterly resistant to any idea there could be any separation of those two entities, he is Libya. And he has said repeatedly that it is the duty of the people, something Hitler also said, in effect to die for him. My guess is, that in his delusional state, hard as it is to project what he might do, he would be most likely to stay somewhere in that subterranean complex that is beneath and fans out from his command complex. But frankly, who knows.

COOPER: Arwa, if Gadhafi did want to escape Tripoli, and you talked about a possible land route near the airport, what are his options?

DAMON: Well, he most certainly would have to obviously be heavily reliant on the network of loyalists that would already be in place. And also currently have to navigate his way to make sure that he's not crossing through rebel-controlled territory. And that being said, that is why rebel commanders also think that it is highly likely that he wants to go through the areas to the east of this location because the rebels do not have control over it.

And actually the rebel fighters were telling us that last night they believed they spotted a convoy that had an armored Mercedes in it. They believe that Gadhafi could have been traveling in that kind of convoy. But again, he would have to be incredibly reliant on very, very loyal individuals to try to make his way through this country, because the rebels control a good amount of land here. They don't control all of it but again, it would have to be a carefully to plan and orchestrated operation.

COOPER: John, how important do you believe Gadhafi being caught and captured and either killed or brought to trial is? I mean both logistically but also symbolically how important is it?

BURNS: I think it's symbolically essential and in fact, practically essential as well. And this rebellion has been about one thing, and that is getting rid of Moammar Gadhafi. Until he is gone, dead or alive, captured, that problem will not be solved. There will be the possibility, though, I think it's remote, of the kind of fight back Saddam mounted from his underground, ultimately literally underground position near Tikrit in 2003.

That analogy can be very quickly overdrawn, because Saddam, after all, had a call on a very large group of his in the Iraqi population, many Sunni, particularly Sunni militants in what became very quickly a sectarian conflict.

Gadhafi, in my experience, does have, of course, the support of a fanatical entourage. But he had lost the support of the vast majority of the people of Libya, including Tripoli, including many of those people who had been closest to him for the last 40 years, including one very senior official who defected the other day, himself used the worked delusional, referring to the Gadhafi he has known in recent years.

So I don't think Gadhafi really has that kind of support to call upon. And that's another reason why I think he would stick in Libya. Give the man credit, if you can call it that, for one thing. He has a gigantic pride, a gigantic sense of his own accomplishment and importance. He's not, I think, going to put himself in a position readily where he can be accused of going out with a whimper rather than a bang, where his pride could be so low as to hide himself in the trunk of an automobile.

And as for the fly-out option, I think that's absolutely impossible, because what country's going to take him. There's the shoot down possibility. It would be anybody who supported him in that. Flying out of Libya would be in effect doing something illegal under international law since he's indicted by the international criminal court.

Now, I think it's altogether likely he will make what will pass for some kind of martyr's stand. I think it would be more likely in the end that we'll end up with a Moammar Gadhafi killed than captured.

COOPER: All right, John Burns, I appreciate you joining us, thank you. And our Arwa Damon, stay safe, please.

Coming up, Saadi Gadhafi, one of the three sons who said to be in opposition custody is apparently at large. He sent an e-mail to CNN's Nic Robertson talking about a sea of blood. Well, Nic just got another e-mail from him. We're talking about just literally a short time, right before we went on air. We will talk to Nic after the break about what Saadi Gadhafi I allegedly saying to Nic in these e- mails.

Also ahead, the U.S. bracing for Hurricane Irene, the entire East Coast being told to get ready, including New York, Philadelphia and Boston, cities that don't often see the eye of the storm. We will take on a few of the rare times a hurricane has hit the northeast and we will also look at the latest track for this storm.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Reporter: I am concerned just as a person being here. I am concerned about the residents. Because with all of this gunfire, even if it's celebratory, this gunfire, these bullets and these cannons and these mortars, they have to fall somewhere. And this is not a large open-spaced area. This is an urban setting.

And we're starting to see residents come out. And they're literally walking around with bowls on their head made of steel, hoping not to get hit with anything.


COOPER: Sara Sidner doing remarkable work on the last several days from Tripoli. One of Moammar Gadhafi's sons says he wants to negotiate a ceasefire to save Tripoli from a sea of blood. That's from an e-mail that Saadi Gadhafi wrote to CNN international correspondent Nic Robertson. We're going to talk to Nic in just a moment. He just got another e mail from Saadi, who's one of the three Gadhafi sons that the opposition said it had captured over the weekend. It seems he's now out at large. How that happened we don't know. Same goes for Saif Gadhafi showed up outside that hotel in Tripoli Monday night. The opposition says the third son Mohammad also escaped. Nic Robertson joins us live in Libya with more on his exchange with Saadi Gadhafi. Nic, what is he saying in these e-mails?

ROBERTSON: it started off I sent him e-mails asking him can you talk? I want to talk to you, and I was kind of surprised hearing that he'd been captured to get an answer back. And he said, look, I want to negotiate a ceasefire in Tripoli, a city of 2 million people. He said, I don't want this to turn into Somalia. I want this to be -- I don't want there to be seas of blood here in the coming days. And I want to help in these negotiations. He said he has reached out to Washington, has reached out to NATO. And this is -- and he want help in doing, this Anderson.

COOPER: And now he's just sent you another e-mail. What does that say?

ROBERTSON: Well, there have been reports this afternoon that in Tripoli he was about to be captured. Rebel forces had gone into one of the big hotels in the center of the city, the Corinthia, to try to hunt him down. And I said -- I sent a message saying, so what happened? And his reply was, they didn't get here in time. Or they didn't get there in time.

I don't know if he's telling me straight up that he was there and they just missed him or he's just playing around. But clearly this is a guy the rebels said they had. They're still looking for him. He's still on the loose. And in a way he's cocking his nose at them, if you will. But he's -- it's not clear if he's trying to negotiate on what terms. He won't tell me the terms. And it doesn't seem to me at least that he can negotiate from a position of strength. He's on the run. But he says government forces still will, and there's a potential for more bloodshed.

COOPER: How do you know or are you confident that this is, in fact, from him, that these e-mails are in fact from him?

ROBERTSON: When I was in Tripoli earlier this year, I was there for about six weeks, the end of February, the beginning of the NATO bombing through March and early April. And over that period I got to meet and talk with Saadi Gadhafi on a number of occasions. That's how I came to have his e-mail address.

The response that I had, the language that he's used, to me it seems very clearly that it's him. That perhaps the spelling errors, the grammatical use of language, the sentence structure, those things are exactly the same way that he would speak. Of course it could be somebody very clever mimicking him. But it was me that reached out to him on his e-mail address. And the indication to me, I haven't seen anything contrary to believe it isn't him, Anderson.

COOPER: It's fascinating because again, now yet another example where we've heard from opposition forces that this guy's in custody, and then yet again like these now three of Gadhafi's sons, that is clearly not the case, if it ever was the case. Was he a player in his father's regime? And would he have the power to negotiate something?

ROBERTSON: You know, he was -- he was the person who was perhaps within the regime more behind the release of Eman Al-Obeidy, that woman who was raped and got into the hotel with a journalists and then was beaten and dragged off and locked up again. And we got to talk to her after she was released.

He was, I'm reliably informed, involved in her release. He told us at the time that he wanted to help. He seemed to have something of a humanitarian streak. But I don't know if he was just doing that for our benefit or if that's really the way he was. Certainly the rebels believe that he's been responsible for many, many deaths and part of an abusive regime.

He was one of his father's sons. And the family held the power. If you were a Gadhafi here then you had power and authority and influence and money, which he did. He had all of those things. Could he overrule his brothers? It seemed to me from our conversations as the war got going proper it was the family sticking together. And he was basically told to be quiet, sit on the sidelines and let Saif run the show -- Anderson.

COOPER: Nic Robertson, appreciate it. Thanks for the reporting. Keep us updated on any more e-mails.

A fascinating turn of events. And of course, Nic mentioned Eman al- Obeidy. Should point out, she has now made it safely to the United States where she is now living.

Turning now to a major concern that we haven't heard much about, which is WMD. Gadhafi did have them. NATO has started talking about how to secure Libya's supply of mustard gas so it doesn't fall into the wrong hands.

Joining me now, national security contributor Fran Townsend. She is a member of the CIA external advisory committee. In May of 2010 Fran visited high-ranking Libyan officials at the Libyan government's invitation. Also with us tonight, retired Major General "Spider" Marks.

Joe Marks, first of all, mustard gas, what is it and how deadly is it?

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Well, it is deadly. And the issue really is that he has well over, I think, the specific amount now is about 25,000 pounds of this stuff. I don't know for sure.

Last count inventory before it was starting to be reduced and rendered safe, he had close to 23 tons of this stuff. So the fact is he also has precursors for sarin gas. He's got yellow cake and low-enriched uranium. All of these facilities, sadly, are not being addressed in a very, very visible way, which needs to be job one at this point, Anderson. This transition is all about ensuring that this stuff doesn't end up in the wrong hands. And it doesn't seem to be getting the discussion and the emphasis that it needs to have.

COOPER: Fran, a lot of people probably roll their eyes when they hear WMD, because this is a loaded term from what happened in Iraq. But it's not just Scuds and mustard gas. It's also, you know, shoulder- fired missiles.

MARKS: That's right.

COOPER: Which I remember in the wake of Afghanistan back in the 80s when the CIA was handing these out to Mujahideen, for years the CIA methodically tried to track down every single one of these things and get them back because of their potential lethality. The idea of a lot of surface-to-air missiles floating around in Libya, that to me is incredibly scary about where these could end up.

FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean, as you point out, Anderson, there had been for years this what we call a buyback program, trying to buy, actually, them back, the ones that were out there.

Those programs were, you know, closed down over time. This is the sort of thing, though, especially when you think of the shoulder-fired missiles, we expect we probably would have seen them. You know, NATO has flown well over 750 air sorties. And you would expect that if they were in Gadhafi's forces' hands, and they had the ability to use them, that they would have done it by now. We would have at least seen -- we've seen two Scuds fired off.

COOPER: You don't think they do have...

TOWNSEND: It's not clear to me how much of that stuff is left. I mean, look, during the Bush administration they handed over the nuclear weapons program. But there's a lot of this stuff out there. Things like the mustard gas were of less concern not because, as Spider Marks rightly points out, this is a deadly weapon.

The fact is, the way it was secure, where it was, how far it was, the circumstances of it, and there are intelligence and military methods in order to surveil and do reconnaissance to monitor those depots. But there was less concern over that. Of course, you didn't anticipate complete chaos.

COOPER: General, I guess there's really only two ways you can go about this. You can either put people on the ground to secure these locations. In the interim you can observe them from whatever capability -- intelligence capabilities we have. But there's also intelligence gathering that needs to be done.

Do we know, is that being done? Is the National Transitional Council, I mean, are they on board with trying to track this stuff down quickly? MARKS: Anderson, you just laid out what needs to take place. As I've stated earlier, I'm the guy who was responsible for tracking WMD in Iraq. And let me tell you how that turned out. Only because we didn't have sufficient folks on the ground, individuals of very robust human intelligence network that was surveying and going over to each one of those facilities that we knew about. We certainly had national technical means where we could do it from standoff, but that didn't turn out very well. You needed to knock on the door, open the door, walk in the facility and start to inventory the stuff.

And the second most important thing is that we knew that list was only as good as the very first interrogation we were going to conduct. You start to round up the senior people in Gadhafi's regime, you interrogate those boys, and you start to determine what truth looks like in terms of these weapon systems.

COOPER: And it's essential to do that quickly now, before they can get out to the borders, they dissipate, they disappear.

TOWNSEND: That's right. These Gadhafi forces that seem to have melted away, you know, when you look at Gadhafi's compound being entered yesterday, those are the people who would have known where those stores are. The most senior people like Sunusi, who's still at large, Saif Islam, they know where these are. And they have the ability to have their forces go and get those weapons if there aren't people securing it, as Spider points out. And so this is why you're hearing today a lot of concern out of both NATO and the U.S. administration.

COOPER: Right. Fran Townsend, appreciate it.

General Marks, thank you very much.

Up next, Hurricane Irene. The latest on this major storm taking aim at the U.S., when it may make landfall, how strong it is right now, how strong it could get, where it may go.

Also we're going to look at the damage that past hurricanes have done in New York and points north.

Also in "Crime & Punishment" tonight, a new twist in the disappearance of that American woman in Aruba, Robyn Gardner. A big insurance policy. And guess who was the beneficiary of it? We'll explain ahead.


COOPER: Breaking news tonight. The entire East Coast is being warned to get ready for Hurricane Irene. The two big questions right now are where will it hit and how strong will it be when it does hit?

Right now it's a Category 3 with winds up to 120 miles an hour. There you see the track. Come this weekend it could threaten everywhere from the Carolinas to the northeast. We can't be more precise at this moment than that. People in the Carolinas, of course, are pretty used to this by now, but it's been decades since the northeast took a direct hit from a hurricane. In a moment we're going to talk to Chad Myers about what we can expect and when we can expect it.

But first, let's take a look at what happens when a hurricane makes a rare stop in the northeast.


COOPER (voice-over): You're watching pictures of the last major hurricane to hit the northeast coast exactly 20 years ago. This is Hurricane Bob back in August of 1991.

The eye of the storm passed over Rhode Island before making landfall as a strong Category 2 with winds of 115 miles per hour. Bob was blamed for over $1 billion in damage and 18 storm-related deaths.

Just two months later, Hurricane Grace also threatened as a Category 2 storm before being absorbed by an unusual weather system that led to the Halloween nor'easter of 1991, later called the perfect storm.

This storm lashed the East Coast of the United States with pounding waves and coastal flooding, causing significant damage in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and New Jersey. Nine people were killed in the storm which produced 100-foot waves equivalent to a 10- story building. It inspired the novel by author Sebastian Younger which later became a movie.

And then there's the so-called storm of the century. Hurricane Gloria in September of 1985 recorded winds of up to 150 miles per hour. Gloria made landfall as a powerful Category 3 storm in the Outer Banks of North Carolina before rapidly moving up the East Coast, making a second landfall on Long Island, then another in Connecticut, causing significant damage up and down the East Coast and eight storm-related deaths.

Hurricanes in the northeast are rare, but as Hurricane Irene approaches meteorologists warn it could turn northward, threatening much of the East Coast with another potentially dangerous storm.


COOPER: All right. Let's get latest now on Hurricane Irene. Meteorologist Chad Myers joins us live from Atlanta.

Chad, what is the latest? Where is it headed? Do we know when it's going to hit?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is headed right over the Bahamas right now. And in fact, it will be very close to Nassau, just a little bit east of there, by about 8 p.m. tonight. And it will eventually kind of turn up to the northeast.

The turn is what we're waiting for. It's that big turn; it's that right turn. And without the right turn, it slams right into the Carolinas. But it has been forecast for about ten days now for this to make that turn.

And we're watching a little bit of the more toward -- just a little bit of a -- just a little bit of a movement to the north here in the past I would say hour and a half. And that is probably the turn that we're waiting for.

This is still going to be a Category 4 hurricane off the coast of Florida; 135 miles per hour over the Bahamas. Waves are still going to be enormous. And the coastal flooding will still be great. We'll probably lose homes in some of these areas just through erosion itself.

And then we move away from Florida and into a very close brush, if not right on land. Maybe Moorhead City in Cape Hatteras all the way back over to here in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

And this is where it gets very scary. This is where it gets very Bob- like. Hurricane Bob-like, where this thing could be anywhere as a Category 2, 100-mile-per-hour storm. On the left side of this cone, it could be all the way to Wilkes-Barre-Scranton. It could be right over New York City.

And if it's on the right side, it's a complete gutterball and it's a miss. This would be the best case for everybody, obviously. It may hit Nova Scotia or maybe even Iceland from there.

But if you found the middle, the middle's right there through Providence, Rhode Island as a Category 2 storm eventually making its way even into Atlantic Canada. How do we get this cone? Well, we get the cone by running all the computer models. We call them spaghetti models because it kind of looks like fettuccini or something here. Right through North Carolina. Most of the models, left and right. Half of them, I would say, say, out to sea; half of them onshore. So 50-50 shot of probably a landfall there.

And then you look at this. And this even gets scarier as we get closer and closer. Earlier today we had a bunch of models out in the ocean. This latest model run has not had very many in the ocean, if any at all. There's Boston. There's the cape. There's New York city, and there's the potential for 100-mile-per-hour storm in any one of these cities.

COOPER: Wow. Obviously we're going to be tracking this thing very closely over the next couple of days. Chad, appreciate it.

Next, assessing the damage from yesterday's East Coast earthquake, the Washington Monument taking a serious hit. Details on that.

Plus a new and possibly key development in the case of the American woman, Robyn Gardner, who vanished in Aruba a few weeks ago.

Also the Willie Wonka of computers is stepping down. Why Steve Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: "Crime & Punishment" tonight, a new twist in the disappearance in Aruba of 35-year-old American Robyn Gardner. CNN's Martin Savidge has learned from the country's solicitor general that the man who traveled with Gardner to Aruba, who met her online and was with her the day she disappeared and claims that she was in the water, is the beneficiary of her $1.5 million accidental death policy, a policy he himself took out. Gary Giordano is his name. He's seen with Gardner in this photo, which was released today. The picture was taken August 2. That's the day Giordano told investigators that Gardner disappeared while snorkeling with him.

He's being held by police in Aruba as a suspect in the case. Martin Savidge joins me now from Atlanta with the latest.

Martin, we've reported that Robyn Gardner and Gary Giordano each took out insurance policies for $1.5 million before their trip. So he is definitely the beneficiary of her policy?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, yes. This is the first time that authorities have come out and absolutely admitted that information.

It was about a week ago that I got a hold of the statement that Gary Giordano told authorities. And one of the things they asked him very quickly was about these insurance policies. And he admitted they had the insurance policies, two, $1.5 million each. And they said, "Well, who's the beneficiary?" He said, "Well, you know, in my case the beneficiary is my mother." But what was left out of that statement was, well, then who's going to benefit, say, if Robyn Gardner turns up missing or dead?

Well, today the authorities said, you know what? It's Gary Giordano, which now you understand, to the authorities this is huge. This is the motive that they believe is behind all of what has taken place here. They say if anybody was going to make money on this, it's Gary Giordano.

The question I had was, well, she would have had to have signed and named him as the beneficiary. Could they tell us, was it perhaps a forged signature, or do you think she signed this off willingly? The authorities wouldn't comment, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. It raises a whole heck of a lot of questions. These photos that have been released, where are they from? I mean, do we know who took them? How'd they come to be?

SAVIDGE: These are pretty interesting photos. These are, of course, photos that are taken at the Rum Reef Bar and Grill. This is where they were having their meal. And you are watching as Gary and Robyn walk away. And this, by the way, is the last time we will see Robyn Gardner.

And I asked the authorities -- first of all they're releasing them because they hope that people on the island will see these, see them in the clothes they were wearing and that this will have more eyewitnesses come forward and tell them how they may have seen this couple later.

But I said, well, who took these pictures. I mean, who takes pictures of people walking away? The authorities said, actually, it was a worker at the bar whose daughter has tattoos. Noticed the tattoos that Robyn Gardner has, which are quite prolific, and decided to take photos as she walked away. It sounds a bit bizarre, but those are the photographs, and they're out there now. And that is, as I say, we watch Robyn walk away to a fate as yet unknown.

COOPER: And just very briefly, they're still searching for Robyn Gardner?

SAVIDGE: Yes, they are. And in fact, they are looking on land, even though Gary Giordano had said that it was at sea where she was lost on a snorkeling accident. They had a very extensive search of the southern part of that island that lasted six hours and found nothing.

COOPER: Well, so sad. Martin Savidge. Martin, thanks very much.

We'll be right back with the latest in the resignation of Apple CEO Steve Jobs.