Friday, December 28, 2007
The Karachi Limited
It has been an interesting 24 hours. After learning of Benazir Bhutto's assassination, we set out to make it to Pakistan for Friday night's program. It takes around 16 hours to get to Pakistan from New York, and those 16 hours have been critical to the story. Will Pakistanis around the country show their grief through violence, or will they quietly remember their hero and move towards polling in early January? We're just landed in Karachi so we'll step out and try to find out what happened while we were in the air.... and what might be next for this country.

Hope you can watch 360 tonight to find out.
-- Charlie Moore, 360 Senior Producer
Posted By CNN: 8:39 PM ET
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al Qaeda and Assassinations
Program note: Peter Bergen is in Pakistan and will be live with Anderson at 10p ET

The Pakistani government says that a Pakistan-based Taliban commander with links to al Qaeda is behind the Bhutto assassination. This would not be the first time that groups affiliated with al Qaeda have mounted, or attempted, assassinations against important political figures around the Muslim world.

The Jihad group, which would later morph into al Qaeda, was involved in the 1981 assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat following his peace deal two years earlier with Israel. The assassination did not bring about the creation of a hard line Islamist state as the assassins had hoped, and instead installed Hosni Mubarak as president who is still in power decades later and who has ruthlessly suppressed the Islamist militants in his country.

Al Qaeda's first act of international terrorism came in 1991 when an assassin was dispatched to Rome to kill the exiled King of Afghanistan, a threat to the terrorist group because he was a secular figure popular with ordinary Afghans. The assassin stabbed the aging monarch, but the king survived.

In the mid-90s Egyptian militants with ties to al Qaeda planned to kill Hosni Mubarak when he was visiting New York and also launched an assassination attempt against him on a trip to Ethiopia. Both plots were failures.

In 2001, two days before the 9/11 attacks, al Qaeda members disguised as TV reporters killed the Afghan commander Ahmad Shah Massoud with a television camera rigged with explosives. The death of Massoud could have been a devastating blow to the Northern Alliance group that he had formed to fight the Taliban, but as a result of the 9/11 attacks US Special Forces working with the Northern Alliance routed the Taliban in the winter of 2001.

Following calls for attacks against Gen. Pervez Musharraf by al Qaeda's number two, Ayman al Zawahiri, Pakistani militants mounted two suicide operations against Musharraf in December, 2003. He narrowly avoided being killed.

And now comes the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. The militants hope that this will create chaos in Pakistan in which they can thrive. But the outcome could be very different -- ordinary Pakistanis, who are by no means militant, might exert pressure on the Pakistani government to extirpate once and for all the extremist groups in their country.

-- Peter Bergen, 360 Terrorism Analyst
Posted By CNN: 8:23 PM ET
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On the Ground in Pakistan
360 program note: Anderson anchors live from Pakistan at 10p ET

"There's an eerie calm on the streets." That's one of the oldest cliches in the news business, but the stupid phrase kept running through my head as I drove through the empty streets of Karachi about an hour ago. Of course, there was an eerie calm. It was 3:30 in the morning. It's eerie at that hour just about anywhere.

"Stunned Karachi descends into anarchy." That's the headline in one of the local papers here. Anarchy may be a slight exaggeration, but it's been another difficult day. Burning tires in the streets, angry demonstrators milling around, throwing rocks. A lot of people have locked themselves inside their homes, shops are closed. There's a heavy police and military presence on the streets.

I've never been to Karachi before. It's one of those cities that has always fascinated me, though I must admit I find it unsettling. You get the feeling on the streets that anything could happen at any moment. Even in normal times this is a sprawling, chaotic city. It's where Daniel Pearl was kidnapped, of course, and security is always a concern on journalists minds here.

Tonight we're going to focus on the conflicting accounts of Bhutto's death. The government announced today she died when her head hit something inside her vehicle. Of course yesterday they said it was shrapnel, then bullets, so today's announcement hasn't really convinced anyone here of anything. We'll also look at the investigation into who attacked Bhutto. As for what happens next, no one knows, and anyone who says they do is mistaken. It's still dark out here, and no one can even predict what will happen in an hour or two when the first rays of light begin to break.

-- Anderson Cooper
Posted By CNN: 7:47 PM ET
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Christian Warriors in the U.S. Military?
--Reza Aslan, CNN Contributor

The e-mail left me speechless. It was a posting from military.com forwarded to me by the good folks at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (militaryreligiousfreedom.org). There were two photos side by side. On the left: a photo of a Hamas suicide bomber in the familiar pose of a rifle in one hand and a Quran in the other. On the right: a photo from Fort Jackson, showing basic trainees at Campus Crusade for Christ's "God's Basic Training" Bible studies. The soldiers wielded rifles in one hand and Bibles in the other.

The caption reads, "Notice any similarities?" LINK TO SEE PHOTOS

The photo of the Fort Jackson Army trainees originally appeared on a Campus Crusade website, along with photos of basic training battalion commander, Lt. Col. David Snodgrass, battalion chaplain, Maj. Scott Bullock-both posing in uniform-and Campus Crusade's military director, Frank Bussey.

When I asked Mikey Weinstein, the head of the MRFF, about the photos he told me that religious endorsements by military personnel in uniform violate military regulations. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

He showed me two Campus Crusade for Christ promotional videos -- one filmed at the U.S. Air Force Academy and another at Texas A&M. In the first one Scott Blom, the Academy's Campus Crusade director at the time, openly states, "Our purpose for Campus Crusade for Christ at the Air Force Academy is to make Jesus Christ the issue at the Air Force Academy and around the world... [the cadets] are government paid missionaries when they leave here."

The second video, "God and the Military," filmed in 1997, has been re-released for distribution by Campus Crusade. In it, Pastor Tommy Nelson, speaking before an audience of Texas A&M cadets and military officers, opens his presentation with this anecdote:

"I, a number of years ago, was speaking at the University of North Texas - it happens to be my alma mater, up in Denton, Texas - and I was speaking to an ROTC group up there, and when I stepped in I said, 'It's good to be speaking to all you men and women who are in the ministry,' and they all kind of looked at me, and I think they wondered if maybe I had found the wrong room, or if they were in the wrong room, and I assured them that I was speaking to men and women in the ministry, these that were going to be future officers."

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has been uncovering these kinds of blatant constitutional violations in the military for years. Weinstein told me that senior Bush administration intelligence officials who track Islamic websites and message boards told him that the fundamentalist Christian agenda surfacing in the U.S. military could lead to greater attacks against our soldiers. (Weinstein would not identify the intelligence officials he spoke with because they contacted him with the understanding they would not be named).

According to Weinstein, "The bottom line here is that the constitutionally mandated wall separating church and state in the technologically most lethal organization ever created by humankind, our U.S. Armed forces, is nothing but smoke and debris. This represents nothing short of a monumental internal national security threat to our country."

We should all be asking ourselves whether we want to send soldiers or "government paid missionaries" to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Once you know the answer to that question, I suggest you e-mail it to your Senator.
Posted By CNN: 3:55 PM ET
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Edwards Iowa Surprise
-- David Gergen, 360 Contributor

360 Program note: Anderson Cooper interviews John Edwards live at 10p ET

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto, potentially leading Pakistan to the brink of a civil war, would seemingly give a last-minute lift to candidates with experience in national security, especially Hillary Clinton and John McCain and, yes, Joe Biden. But Iowa may have its own dynamic heading toward the caucuses -- a good reason to keep your eye on John Edwards as he appears on AC 360 tonight.

Iowa polls show that Edwards, once the darling and then the candidate who faded, has been rising recently, now virtually deadlocked with Hillary and Barack Obama. More importantly, Edwards has practically lived in Iowa so that he has built up a veteran organization, may be ahead in rural areas, and is a strong second choice among potential caucus goers.

For Hillary Clinton, the nightmare of Iowa would be an Edwards surprise accompanied by a strong showing by Obama. She can probably afford to come in second in Iowa but to finish third would be highly dangerous. Howard Dean came in third last time out and he was on his way to the showers. So, even as we watch the Clinton-Obama duel, keep a close eye on Edwards.
Posted By CNN: 2:18 PM ET
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Morning Buzz
Morning Folks!! The buzz is a little late this morning...sorry about that. It was a long news day yesterday covering the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. And Bhutto's death seems to be dominating the headlines this morning, too. SO grab plenty of coffee, you may need a few extra cups to get through today's headlines.... ALSO, make sure you tune in tonight, Anderson will be LIVE from Pakistan!!!

Top Stories

Bhutto burial begins after violence
The funeral procession has begun for former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in her ancestral home of Garhi-Khuda Baksh , Pakistani media reported on Friday.

U.S. Brokered Bhutto's Return to Pakistan
For Benazir Bhutto, the decision to return to Pakistan was sealed during a telephone call from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice just a week before Bhutto flew home in October. The call culminated more than a year of secret diplomacy -- and came only when it became clear that the heir to Pakistan's most powerful political dynasty was the only one who could bail out Washington's key ally in the battle against terrorism.

Al Qaeda claims responsibility for Bhutto killing
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin Thursday citing an alleged claim of responsibility by al Qaeda for former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's assassination, a DHS official told CNN.

Musharraf Political Future
Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's death raises the specter of prolonged political conflict between Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, and the country’s opposition, according to Pakistani and American analysts. How he handles the next several days could determine whether nationwide antigovernment protests erupt.

'Gunshots rang out and she went down'
The photographer who took images of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto moments before her assassination Thursday told CNN he was "surprised" to see her rise through the sunroof of her vehicle to wave to supporters after delivering her speech.

Bin Laden to release Iraq message
Terror leader Osama bin Laden will release a new Internet message that focuses on Iraq, a terrorism monitoring group said Thursday.

Snow in Midwest
Winter weather could confound travelers again this holiday weekend. An early preview came Thursday as United Airlines canceled scores of flights for the fourth day in a row.


Raw Politics

Obama catches Clinton in N.H
Barack Obama has wiped out Hillary Rodham Clinton's once-commanding lead in New Hampshire and the two remain virtually tied with John Edwards in Iowa, as more and more voters get off the fence and decide whom to support, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg Poll has found.

Pocketbook worries outweigh voters' concerns over war in Iraq
Voters began to worry more about their pocketbooks over the last month -even more than about the war in Iraq. More than half the voters in an ongoing survey for The Associated Press and Yahoo! News now say the economy and health care are extremely important to them personally. They fear they will face unexpected medical expenses, their homes will lose value or mortgage and credit card payments will overwhelm them.

Clinton, Obama Seize on Killing
News of Benazir Bhutto's assassination came just hours before Sen. Barack Obama delivered what his campaign had billed as the "closing argument" in his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday, forcing his campaign to scramble to incorporate the Pakistani opposition leader into his message of change.

Under Attack, Drug Maker Turned to Giuliani for Help
In western Virginia, far from the limelight, United States Attorney John L. Brownlee found himself on the telephone last year with a political and legal superstar, Rudolph W. Giuliani.


Crime & Punishment

S.F. Zoo official overstated height of tiger enclosure's walls
The director of the San Francisco Zoo said Thursday that he had overstated the height of the sheer wall in the tiger grotto -- and that the tiger that killed a teenage visitor on Christmas Day may have been able to escape over the walls.

Police: Pair admits to Washington killings
Court documents detail six methodical killings that began on Christmas Eve when a woman and her boyfriend shot her parents at their rural home, dragged their bodies to a shed, then gunned down the woman's brother, his wife and their two young children.

Albuquerque Has Renewal of Attacks on Abortion
A rash of attacks on abortion and family planning clinics has struck Albuquerque this month, the first such violence there in nearly a decade.


Keepin' Them Honest

Indian Museum Director Spent Lavishly on Travel
The founding director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian spent more than $250,000 in institution funds over the past four years on first-class transportation and plush lodging in hotels around the world, including more than a dozen trips to Paris.

Congress Spends Millions on Junk Mail
U.S. House members spent $20.3 million in tax money last year to send constituents what's often the government equivalent of junk mail - meeting announcements, tips on car care and job interviews, surveys on public policy and just plain bragging.


What YOU will be Talking about TODAY

Priests brawl at Jesus' birthplace
Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests attacked each other with brooms and stones inside the Church of the Nativity as long-standing rivalries erupted in violence during holiday cleaning on Thursday.
Posted By CNN: 6:35 AM ET
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Thursday, December 27, 2007
On the Road: Pakistan
-- Peter Bergen, CNN Terrorism Analyst

We are at JFK airport on the way to Pakistan to report on the assassination of Benazir Bhutto who I first met in 1989 when she was Prime Minister. I was then a young associate producer for ABC News 20/20 and we interviewed her for a story on the legal status of women in Pakistan. She was beautiful and intelligent and had the air of someone who is rarely contradicted.

I met her again a decade later in 1999, first for tea at the Four Seasons hotel in Washington and then at the suburban house of one of her supporters in New Jersey. Then she was very much out in the political wilderness; two years into a self-imposed exile and bedeviled by corruption charges. Many felt her political career was over. I had the sense that official Washington was treating her as something of a pariah.

One story she told me then is relevant to what happened today in Pakistan: She said that a young Saudi militant named Osama bin Laden had bribed some politicians to vote against her in a no-confidence vote in Pakistan's Parliament in 1989. Al Qaeda has long despised the first woman prime minister of a Muslim country.

And then I met Bhutto for the final time at a dinner at the Mayflower hotel in Washington a couple of weeks before she returned to Pakistan in October of this year. She was in great spirits, enormously charming and dominated the conversation because of her intellect and infectious brio. I spoke with Asif, her husband, who agreed with me when I suggested that the imminent return to Pakistan of his wife was a moment of great triumph for her and her family. Asif agreed but he also warned, "You know there are also dangers in returning. We have agreed that I will remain out the country in case anything goes wrong." Today something went terribly wrong.

As we are about to get on our flight I can't help but think that we will arrive in a Pakistan made terribly somber by this tragedy, for this is Pakistan's Kennedy assassination.
Posted By CNN: 10:42 PM ET
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Did Hillary Clinton kill Benazir Bhutto?
-- Reza Aslan, AC360 Contributor

Did Hillary Clinton kill Benazir Bhutto? Not quite, though Barack Obama's right hand man thinks she may have had something to do with it.

"She was a strong supporter of the war in Iraq," David Axelrod said, speaking of Hillary "which we would submit, is one of the reasons why we were diverted from Afghanistan, Pakistan and al-Qaeda, who may have been players in this event today. So that's a judgment she'll have to defend."

It is certainly not unexpected that a presidential campaign would use Bhutto's assassination to score political points. Look for Rudy Giuliani to ratchet up his "Muslims are coming to kill your babies!" stump speech in the coming days.

But Axelrod's comments are not just distasteful. They're nonsensical. Exactly how were we diverted from Pakistan because of the war in Iraq? If it weren't for the Iraq war, and the larger war on terror, we would not give Pakistan a second's thought. The country would still be under US sanctions for its illegal nuclear program.

Perhaps Axelrod means to say that our presence in Iraq has elevated the terrorist threat in Pakistan, thereby forcing the US into an uncomfortably cozy relationship with -- and $10 billion in aid to -- the country’s military dictator, Pervez Musharraf, which he seems to have squandered on military equipment to maintain a police state rather than fight al-Qaeda elements in the country, thereby compelling the US to send in Bhutto under a power sharing agreement with Musharraf to salvage what's left of Pakistan's democracy, thus tainting her as an American stooge and leading to her assassination by the very same al-Qaeda elements that Musharraf has yet to do anything about.

Perhaps.

One thing is certain though. If things continue to spiral out of control in the wake of Bhutto's death, Obama might get his chance to fulfill a campaign promise to invade Pakistan were Pervez Musharraf to lose power in a coup.
Posted By CNN: 6:04 PM ET
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UN agrees on words of condemnation
--Richard Roth, Senior UN Correspondent

The final week of the year is usually quiet at the United Nations. But my 14 years covering the place has seen several world crises which have prompted emergency meetings.

Today it's Pakistan. I always listen closely as the President of the Security Council for the month of December wishes reporters a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year around December 18.

Then I tell the various ambassadors to be careful, don't jinx the world. It doesn't take long for tsunamis, Iraq crises, and nuclear showdowns to erupt.

Pakistan is not a major item on the Security Council agenda because so far trouble hasn't spread across borders.

But because terrorism is a big issue in the country and certainly also for the US, and others, it's a chance to condemn the assassination of Mrs. Bhutto and tell the 192 UN member countries to cooperate on terror.

By UN custom, the meeting of the UN Security Council was called quite rapidly. Ambassadors walked into a closed door meeting at noon, the U.S, France, and Italy led the call for the Council to issue a statement.

But even a statement following a violent act is not easy for 15 countries to quickly settle on. It can take one word to make diplomats squabble for hours, even days.

An ambassador will leave the room and telephone a higher ranking foreign affairs official in a world capital for instructions and to update on what another nation is demanding.

Sure enough, 90 minutes in, Pakistan, not on the Council, sent word it was not pleased with a few of the words.

A diplomat said Pakistan objected to condemning the act "in the strongest terms." The countries of the UN are very touchy with how the powerful Security Council responds to any action in its own borders.

As of 1:50 pm, ambassadors were reviewing the third draft. All 15 countries on the panel must agree before it becomes official.

US Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters "I knew Benazir Bhutto quite well. She is a friend of mine." The former US Ambassador to Afghanistan said "it's a great tragedy. She stood for moderation, for the rule of law, for democracy in her country."

He appeared shaken. Khalizad has seen his share of violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it was the most emotional I have seen him since he took up the UN post.

The Italian Ambassador Marcello Spatafora, current President of the Security Council said the Council must underline that the assassination is unacceptable.

The Security Council did come together and issue a statement this afteroon. Despite Pakistan's protest, it condemned in the "strongest possible terms the terrorist suicide attack by extremists."

It paid tribute to the late Mrs. Bhutto. The Council called on Pakistanis to exercise restraint and maintain stability in the country.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon echoed the sentiments of the Council saying he was shocked and outraged by the assassination. He termed it a very difficult situation for Pakistan.
Posted By CNN: 3:27 PM ET
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My Night with Benazir Bhutto
-- Jack Gray, 360 Associate Producer

When Benazir Bhutto traveled to Boston for a speaking engagement in the spring of 2005, I knew immediately that I wanted to book her for the nightly news program that I produced. She had not been in the headlines for some time, but to me she was still a big "get," as we say in journalism, especially for a local program.

I submitted my interview request through an intermediary and was thrilled when I heard back that she had agreed to do it. I would need to provide transportation for her, I was told. It was not an unusual request for most guests, though I was a bit surprised that a former head of state -- especially one as controversial as Bhutto -- wouldn't be traveling in her own secure convoy.

Nevertheless, I called the limo company we used and booked the biggest SUV they had, figuring she would be traveling with a large entourage. She was staying at the Hilton or the Sheraton in downtown Boston -- I forget which. The show was live so I was very worried about her showing up on time. A producer always prefers to have a way to contact a guest directly in case of emergency, but I was told, "Benazir Bhutto does not carry a cell phone." Maybe it was because explosives can be detonated remotely via cell phone or perhaps she simply didn't want to give out her number -- I didn't ask.

A colleague asked me, only half joking I think, about whether I was going to hire security guards to be at the television station. No, I said, I think we're all right. After all, this was during the time when Bhutto was living in relatively peaceful exile in Dubai and London.

On the appointed night, she arrived -- much to my relief -- on time. To say Benazir Bhutto had presence would be an understatement. The famous face, those piercing eyes, the flowing gown and traditional head scarf -- she was a combination of gravitas, international panache and feminine beauty unlike any I had ever seen in person.

To my utter surprise she had no bodyguards with her, only one personal aide. I explained to her the format of the program and the topics that we hoped to cover. I hung on her every word. For a young journalist with ambitions of covering important world figures and events, her charisma and accent were intoxicating.

Hardly a diva, all she asked for was a cup of tea and access to a room in which she could touch up her hair and make-up. Later she would ask me one more question -- where could she buy a DVD for her children? They really wanted to see Jim Carrey's movie, "Lemony Snicket's 'A Series of Unfortunate Events.'" Benazir Bhutto, just your average mom. I think I recommended she go to Best Buy. I wonder if she ever did.

As for the actual interview, it went off without a hitch. It was everything I had hoped it'd be --compelling, substantive and relevant. She made it clear that returning to Pakistan, despite the dangers she may face, was a top priority. When it was over, I escorted her from the studio to the front of the building, thanked her and said goodbye. With that, Benazir Bhutto climbed back into the rented SUV and disappeared into the dark New England night.
Posted By CNN: 2:13 PM ET
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Covering the assassination, one step at a time
--Anderson Cooper

When a story like the Bhutto assassination breaks everyone stops whatever they are doing and gets to a phone as quickly as possible.

I was on vacation but am now heading back into New York. I've spent the last couple of hours discussing with my team what our coverage plans are for tonight, whether we can get visas to get into Pakistan, what flights leave and when.

It's always a point of discussion, you want to be on the air tonight for "360", but at the same time you want to try to get there as quickly as possible. I will be on air tonight, and I guess we'll figure it out after that.

The last two years something has always happened around this time. Two years ago there was the tsunami, last year the day after New Year's there was the Sago Mine tragedy.

Last night when I went to bed I thought to myself, "looks like this year nothing bad will happen."
Posted By CNN: 12:00 PM ET
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Pakistan and our next President
--David Gergen, 360 Contributor

The brutal assassination of Benazir Bhutto will come as a shock but not a surprise to many leaders of U.S. national security. They have quietly worried about just this outcome since she returned to Pakistan a few months ago.

In fact, they have been deeply worried about Pakistan for a long time. A retired U.S. four-star general this past summer told a small gathering that I attended that he was concerned about Iraq but he was much more concerned about Pakistan.

What can the U.S. do? The Bush administration has it devilishly hard. Musharraf has apparently misdirected billions of our anti-terrorism dollars; he declared martial law against the fervent wishes of Condi Rice; he has allowed Islamic terrorists, probably Osama, too much of a free hand on the Afghan border; and now there will be well-justified suspicions that he failed to give Mrs. Bhutto adequate protection.

All of which is to say that Pakistan, like an immense number of other problems, will be awaiting our next president. Progress in Iraq has lulled us into a false sense in this campaign that domestic challenges outweigh those overseas. They don't.

Both will demand extraordinary leadership in the Oval Office. It would be great to have someone who is nice, likeable and yes, authentic, the qualities which everyone is talking about in Iowa. But at the end of the day, we also need someone who has the knowledge, judgment and inner steel to take on very tough times.
Posted By CNN: 11:49 AM ET
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Assassination, technology, and memories
--John King, Senior National Correspondent

I was on the set of American Morning to talk presidential politics as the horrific pictures started coming in from Pakistan.

It is remarkable how technology has changed our business. While an anchor sat inches away dealing with the breaking news, I was able to email officials at the White House, State Department and Crawford, Texas to get early word of what the Bush administration knew, and how it would react.

Questions about the security instability in Pakistan turned my memory back more than seven years, shortly after President Musharraf took power in a military coup.

I was covering the White House in March, 2000, when President Clinton made a controversial decision to go meet with Musharraf, and urge him to get back on a path to democracy.

As we waited at the airport for the President to land in Islamabad, a small jet with air force markings landed, and they rolled out the red carpet.

Off came Secret Service agents, and others in business suits. President Clinton, apparently, had arrived.

But then, a small, unmarked white jet swooped out of the sky. The first plane, that we thought as the President's, was a decoy; the unmarked jet was Air Force One, the designation given to any airplane carrying the President of the United States.

So worried were US officials about security that there also were more than a half dozen limousines. They pulled between two giant aircraft, and the president jumped into one. Then it was off to the meeting with Musharraf, under the most extraordinary presidential security arrangements I had ever seen.
Posted By CNN: 10:18 AM ET
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Bhutto assassination could hurt US in Pakistan
--Nic Robertson, Senior International Correspondent

Today's assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is a blow for democracy in Pakistan and seems likely to cement the military's grip on power for the near future.

It will likely raise very serious concerns for the Bush administration that had been working behind the scenes since last summer to encourage Benazir Bhutto to end her exile, return to Pakistan, and seek political compromise with President Musharaff.

With Bhutto now dead, and Musharaff having shocked and disappointed US diplomats and State Department officials with his recent state of emergency, it seems the US has few reliable partners left.

The immediate future for Pakistanis seems undoubtedly one of high uncertainty with suspicion for Bhutto's death variously falling on President Musharaff, the country's intelligence services, and radical Islamists.

Any hope of having free and fair parliamentary elections, as scheduled for next month, appear to have been crushed.
Posted By CNN: 10:06 AM ET
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Morning Buzz
Good Morning...Grab your coffee!!! There are new details in the SF tiger attack and it is only ONE week until the first votes are cast in the Iowa Caucus, let the games begin.....

Top Stories

Investigation continues into fatal tiger attack at S.F. zoo
Police are treating the San Francisco Zoo as a crime scene today, one day after a 350-pound tiger escaped and attacked three visitors from San Jose, killing a 17-year-old boy before hunting down and seriously injuring two of his friends.

Trail of blood apparently led escaped tiger to victims
San Francisco police are investigating the possibility that one of the victims in the fatal tiger mauling on Christmas Day climbed over a waist-high fence and then dangled a leg or other body part over the edge of a moat that kept the big cat away from the public, sources close to the investigation said Wednesday.

Crash survivor's mother: 'Miraculous'
The sole survivor of a plane crash that killed two Americans and a Panamanian pilot was awake and talking Wednesday, a doctor said.

Calif. woman mauled to death
A pack of pit bulls surrounded a woman and mauled her to death, authorities said Wednesday.

2 arrested in deaths of 6 in rural Wash.
A postal worker worried about an absent colleague came across a horrific scene: six people, likely three generations of the same family, shot to death on their rural property.

U.S. Troops kill 11 in Mahdi Army
U.S. military forces killed 11 members of a Mahdi Army splinter group southeast of Baghdad early Thursday, American officials said. The raids were the deadliest against breakaway members of the militia in months.

Afghanistan Expels two
Two senior political officers working for the European Union and the United Nations assistance mission in Afghanistan will leave the country as ordered by the Afghan government after discussions on Wednesday failed to resolve a dispute over whether the two had held talks with the Taliban, according to a United Nations spokesman.


Raw Politics

Bush tops 'most admired' poll
President Bush and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton again top Gallup's annual lists of "most admired" men and women, the polling firm said Wednesday.

Authenticity is the word for Republican hopefuls
Grasping a freshly killed pheasant and hoisting a shotgun over his shoulder, Mike Huckabee on Wednesday invited reporters to witness what has become one of the standard motifs of Republican presidential politics: the candidate out hunting, like a regular guy.But the undertone was clear: Huckabee was casting himself as an authentic sportsman, unlike chief rival Mitt Romney, who last spring had claimed to be an avid hunter before admitting that he had preyed mostly on "small varmints" -- and infrequently at that.

Candidates get shots off in Iowa
With eight days to go until the Iowa caucuses, Hillary Clinton and Mike Huckabee brought out the big guns. But only Huckabee shot anything.

For McCain, It Could Be State of Resurgence
A jet carrying Sen. John McCain of Arizona touched down Wednesday evening on Iowa's western border, marking a remarkable comeback for the veteran politician and opening another intriguing narrative in the wide-open Republican field.


Crime & Punishment

U.S. police fatalities spike in 2007
A record number of fatal traffic incidents and a double-digit spike in shooting deaths led to one of the deadliest years for law enforcement officers in more than a decade.

New York homicide rate on pace for record low
New York City is on course to mark the fewest homicides since records have been kept, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly announced Wednesday.


Keepin' Them Honest

Bush signs $555B spending bill
President Bush on Wednesday signed a $555 billion bill that funds the Iraq war well into next year and keeps government agencies running through September. Bush had deep reservations about special "earmark" spending in the bill, but signed it into law nevertheless.


AC360 folo (updates of AC360 reports)

Neb. gunman had previous suicide attempt
The teen gunman who fatally shot eight people in a mall earlier this month tried to kill himself by swallowing about 30 pills nearly two years earlier, according to court records released Wednesday.


What YOU will be Talking about Today

Hilton gives fortune to charity (not Paris)
The Hilton family patriarch, Barron Hilton, will pass on the $1.2 billion windfall from the sale of Hilton Hotels Corporation - not to his famous progeny, but to his family's philanthropic foundation, Fortune has learned.


New Jersey requires H.I.V test
An H.I.V. test is about to become as routine as an ultrasound for pregnant women in New Jersey.

Posted By CNN: 6:05 AM ET
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Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Christmas in Iraq
--Gary Tuchman, CNN Correspondent

U.S. troops just spent their fifth Christmas in Iraq since the war began in 2003. .
But it's easy to forget the troops have actually now been there for 18 consecutive Christmases.

The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the event that kicked off two wars and the no fly zones, occurred in August 1990. It has been so long since American troops have been in the Persian Gulf region in large numbers, that today's 18 year old American GI would have been an infant when this all began.

A gallon of gas averaged $1.16 in 1990; the population of the United States was 20 percent less than today; the Berlin Wall had just come down a few months before. For the United States, what's going on in Iraq is not just a war. It has become an era.
Posted By CNN: 12:59 PM ET
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Welcoming McCain Back in the Mix
--David Gergen, Former Presidential Advisor & CNN Sr Political Analyst

As a commentator, I am neutral about who ought to be our next president, but I must confess to a certain amount of happiness in seeing John McCain climb back into the competition.

Over the Christmas holiday, I had occasion to read portions of two of the books he has written with his confidante Mark Salter: "Character is Destiny" and
"Why Courage Matters."

Both of them tell stories of his heroes, Teddy Roosevelt to Winston Churchill, Sojourner Truth to Aung San Suu Kyi. But one of the stories I liked best was about his own dad, who commanded all of U.S. forces in the Pacific during the Vietnam War. When the President tried to shorten the war by bombing Hanoi, it was the duty of Admiral McCain to order B-52s to drop bombs over Hanoi, knowing that his own son was being held captive near their targets. "He prayed on his knees every day for my safe return.. But his conscience required him to do his duty..."

By his own admission, John McCain is far from perfect; he writes movingly of past struggles with honesty. Through sheer will, he works every day to improve his character and become more like his dad. His chances of winning the GOP nomination are now very slim -- Romney, Huckabee and Giuliani all have much better chances. But to have someone of McCain's character back in the mix lifts the quality of the campaign.
Posted By CNN: 12:22 PM ET
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Tiger Attack
--Randi Kaye, 360 Correspondent

I was working Christmas when we got the breaking news about the tiger escape at the San Francisco Zoo.

As I reported it on the air, I thought about that big cat, which by that time had been shot and killed.

Made me wonder, as I have many times before, about zoos and whether or not they do damage to the psyche of a great big beautiful beast like a tiger.

How many times have you gone to zoos and watched these animals pace back and forth in their cages? It's the same thing with gorillas. I find it painful to watch. It's just not natural.

This is not the first time something like this has happened. The AP's list of recent attacks is below. Would that tiger have behaved differently if he had been allowed to live in his own natural environment.

What do you think?

Recent attacks at US Zoos
Source: The Associated Press


Dec. 25, 2007: A Siberian tiger named Tatiana escapes from its enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo, killing one man and mauling two others, before being shot dead.

Feb. 24, 2007: A 140-pound jaguar named Jorge fatally mauls a zookeeper at the Denver Zoo before being fatally shot. Zoo officials said later that zookeeper Ashlee Pfaff had violated the rules by opening the door to the animal's cage.

Dec. 22, 2006: Tatiana reaches through her cage's iron bars and mauls a female zookeeper during a public feeding at the San Francisco Zoo.

Dec. 22, 2006: The National Zoo in Washington is briefly shut down after a clouded leopard bolts from a wire-mesh enclosure. It is found snoozing just outside the exhibit 30 minutes later.

Sept. 10, 2005: Three chimpanzees from Zoo Nebraska are shot and killed after they escape from their enclosure and could not be captured. A padlock on the cage was not completely closed after being cleaned, officials at the zoo in Royal, Neb., said.

March 3, 2005: Two chimpanzees at the Animal Ranch wildlife sanctuary near Bakersfield, Calif., attack a man and his wife, maiming the man, before being shot to death.

July 13, 2004: A state wildlife officer fatally shoots a 600 pound tiger that escaped from the property of former Tarzan actor Steve Sipek in Loxahatchee, Fla.

March 18, 2004: A 340-pound gorilla named Jabari breaks out of its enclosure at the Wilds of Africa exhibit at the Dallas Zoo and goes on a 40-minute rampage through a forest, snatching up a toddler with his teeth and attacking three other people before being shot to death by officers.

Oct. 3, 2003: Illusionist Roy Horn is severely mauled by a tiger during the Siegfried & Roy nightly show at The Mirage casino in Las Vegas, biting him in the neck and dragging him off stage.

Sept. 28, 2003: A 300-pound gorilla named Little Joe escapes from its enclosure at Boston's Franklin Park Zoo, attacking a 2-year-old girl and a teen-age zoo employee, before being tranquilized. It was the second time in two months that the animal escaped.




Posted By CNN: 10:03 AM ET
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Morning Buzz
Morning Folks!!! I hope everyone had a great holiday!!! Grab your coffee or some egg nog, it is morning buzz time!!! Here is a quick look at this morning's headlines....

Top Stories

Tiger kills 1, injures 2 at zoo
A tiger escaped from its enclosure in the San Francisco Zoo on Christmas Day, mauled one man to death and left two others seriously injured. The tiger was shot and killed by police after it charged officers.

Plane crash...teen survives
The bodies of two Americans and a Panamanian pilot -- who were among four people missing after their plane disappeared in a mountainous area of Panama -- were found Christmas Day, officials in the country said.

Illegal Immigration slowing down?
Lorenzo Martinez, an illegal immigrant who has lived in Los Angeles for six years, has a message for his kin in Mexico's Hidalgo state: Stay put.

Ruptured Pipeline
A ruptured gasoline pipeline exploded in flames, killing at least 34 people near Nigeria's main city of Lagos as they tried to scoop fuel from the gushing leak, police said Wednesday.

Air Assault
Turkish warplanes hit eight suspected Kurdish rebel hideouts in northern Iraq on Wednesday, the third cross-border air assault in 10 days, Turkey's military said.

Indonesian landslides
Soldiers, police and volunteers dug for survivors of landslides that killed as many as 78 people Wednesday in western Indonesia, including dozens who were celebrating the cleanup of a mud-covered home, a rescue official said.

Shiite Contest Sharpens In Iraq
Posted at the door of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's office recently, a flier denounced the arrests of his followers. Up and down the barricaded street, soldiers and policemen loyal to his Shiite rivals stood sentry, some in tan armored personnel carriers, questioning anyone they suspected of links to the populist cleric.

Holiday Spending Growth at 5 -Year Low
A surge in spending over the weekend may not have been enough to rescue Target, Sears Holdings and Macy's from the slowest holiday spending season in five years.


Raw Politics

Many Iowa conservatives still undecided
Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee would seem to be the answer to their prayers, yet for many Christian conservatives in Iowa, he has not closed the deal for the Republican caucuses.

Campaign in Homestretch
Say good-bye to peace on earth, and goodwill among men: Christmas is over, and the presidential campaign has hit the homestretch. With just over a week to go until the Iowa caucuses, most of the candidates are spending the day in the Hawkeye State, with a few notable exceptions.

Hillary's Resume as First Lady
As first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton jaw-boned the authoritarian president of Uzbekistan to leave his car and shake hands with people. She argued with the Czech prime minister about democracy. She cajoled Roman Catholic and Protestant women to talk to one another in Northern Ireland. She traveled to 79 countries in total, little of it leisure; one meeting with mutilated Rwandan refugees so unsettled her that she threw up afterward.


Crime & Punishment

Student Failed to Arrive Home for Christmas
Matthew J. Wilson never made it home for Christmas. His disappearance adds to the roll of young people reported missing-12,657 active cases of 18- to 20-year-olds in 2006, according to the Justice Department.


Woman's whereabouts a mystery
Nearly two months after Stacy Peterson was last seen, the investigation into her disappearance and suspicions surrounding her husband have produced many intriguing questions. But few answers.


Keepin' Them Honest

Clemens Will Talk to Reporters
The lead attorney for Roger Clemens said Tuesday night that he and other attorneys working for his firm have begun their own investigation into allegations that link Clemens to the use of steroids and human growth hormone.

Boston's $14.8B Big Dig finally complete
When the clock runs out on 2007, Boston will quietly mark the end of one of the most tumultuous eras in the city's history: The Big Dig, the nation's most complex and costliest highway project, will officially come to an end.


AC360 folo (updates on stories covered by AC360)

Report: New Orleans pop. nears 300,000
Despite slow progress in rebuilding some neighborhoods, New Orleans' population is nearing 300,000, or about 65% of its pre-Hurricane Katrina size, according to a new report.


What YOU Will be talking about TODAY

Merry Christmas from the great beyond
Even in death, Chet Fitch is a card.Fitch, known for his sense of humor, died in October at age 88 but gave his friends and family a start recently: Christmas cards began arriving -- written in his hand with a return address of "Heaven."

White House Christmas
It's hard to imagine a tough guy from Texas shopping for a pocketbook, but President Bush gave his wife a new purse and a silver tray for Christmas, according to an aide to First Lady Laura Bush.

Kin battle over daughter's life support
Sixteen-year-old Javona Peters sat up in bed at Montefiore Medical Center the morning of Oct. 17, smiling and chatting, ready for her operation.
Posted By CNN: 6:20 AM ET
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Monday, December 24, 2007
Morning Buzz
Good Morning!! It is Monday, sorry the "buzz" is so late today, but I did NOT have enough coffee. Ac360 is pre-empted tonight for a Sanjay Gupta special, so enjoy this incredible story!! And a very Merry Christmas to those who celebrate the holiday!!!

10p PREMIERE, Impact Your World: Rescuing Yussif

Born in Baghdad only seven months before the start of the war in Iraq, Youssif knew only a world of unpredictable violence. And yet, his family described him as happy and energetic. All that changed in January when three masked assailants doused Youssif in gasoline, set him on fire and left a scarred and sullen boy. CNN Correspondent Arwa Damon's story about Youssif, moved millions of CNN viewers and CNN.com users and sparked a worldwide outpouring of generosity to get medical help for the five-year-old boy.

Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports on Youssif's journey from the violent and uncertain streets of Baghdad to a burn center in southern California in the network's first Impact Your World special, Rescuing Youssif.
Posted By CNN: 10:02 AM ET
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ABOUT THE BLOG
A behind the scenes look at "Anderson Cooper 360°" and the stories it covers, written by Anderson Cooper and the show's correspondents and producers.



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