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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Turning Point in Iraq?; Arnold Schwarzenegger Denies Clemency For Stanley 'Tookie' Williams

Aired December 12, 2005 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And thanks very much, everyone, for joining us.
We are live in Baghdad. We are going to be in Iraq all week.

Thousands here have died. Millions more will vote this week.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Security lockdown in Iraq before historic elections this weeks, international borers closed, curfews in place, thousands of U.S. and Iraqi security forces on guard, as early voting begins -- tonight, is the country ready for democracy?

Emergency room flash point -- Anderson takes you inside one of Baghdad's busiest and bloodiest trauma centers. The overwhelmed staff braces for the worst case, while it hopes elections might reduce violence.

And, in five hours, Stanley Tookie Williams is set to be executed in California. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger denied clemency. Live from San Quentin, 360 has the latest on the battle to save him.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360: "Turning Point in Iraq?"

Reporting live from Baghdad, Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: And welcome to this special edition of 360. We are live in Baghdad in what is going to be a remarkable week, a historic week, in fact.

Today is the 1,000th day since the war began, 1,000 days. It is hard to believe. And, on Thursday, this country will vote in parliamentary elections, historic elections -- a lot to cover in this hour ahead.

But, first, let's get you up to date on what's happening at this moment.

In Iraq today, President -- well, talking about Iraq today, President Bush said he believes 30,000 Iraqis have been killed since the war -- 30,000. White House spokesman Scott McClellan says the number is based on media reports, not on any official government estimate.

And new allegations of prisoner abuse in Iraq -- a Human Rights Ministry inspection team reports signs of mistreatment at a second detention facility, including overcrowding. One source told CNN, detainees are tortured and beaten with cables.

Elsewhere tonight, in San Francisco, clemency denied for Stanley Tookie Williams. The founder of the Crips gang is scheduled to be executed in five hours. Just 30 minutes ago, the Supreme Court refused to block the execution. We will have much more on this story ahead.

And another powerful earthquake hit Pakistan and Afghanistan today. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries after the preliminary magnitude-6.7 quake. Just two months ago, of course, a major quake in the region killed an estimated 73,000 people.

We begin, of course, with the seismic activity here in Iraq, a very different sort of seismic activity, the possibility that, when the tremors die down, there will be a functioning democracy in Iraq. It has a long way to go, to be sure, and there's a long road ahead, as the president said today in a speech, not just because the violence and the ethnic tensions, but because democracy is never easy; it is never an easy thing to start.

It is what is happening this week, though, parliamentary elections. And history has already begun to be made.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): Though the election isn't officially set to take place until Thursday, thousands of Iraqis cast their ballots today. Those too sick to make it to the polls, prisoners who had not yet been charged with crimes and the soldiers whose job it will be to protect voters come Election Day, put down their thumbprints and cast their votes.

Iraqis are choosing their first permanent assembly since the fall of Saddam Hussein and, by extension, the person who will become prime minister. The stakes are high. And it's likely voter turnout will be as well.

Choices are bewildering, 7,000 candidates for more than 200 political parties competing for 275 assembly seats. (AUDIO GAP) politicians seem to have pulled ahead of the pack, however, all former schoolmates from Baghdad College, now competing for their country's top job.

The first is Iyad Allawi, a 60-year-old neurosurgeon-turned- politician who already serves as Iraq's interim prime minister and favors a secular Iraqi government. Allawi was a member of Saddam's Baath Party until the '70s. Then he worked feverishly while in exile to overthrow Saddam.

Another contender, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, the country's former finance minister. The 63-year-old leader of the United Iraqi Alliance spent more than 30 years living in exile in France. He favors a democracy in which Islamic law would play a prominent role.

And the final front-runner, a name familiar to Americans, Ahmad Chalabi. The 61-year-old deputy prime minister was once a friend of the Bush administration and the Pentagon. He fell out of favor when his reports on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and Saddam's ties to al Qaeda were discredited.

Apart from their alma mater, all three men share one thing in common: They're all Shia Muslims. That, of course, presents a problem for the Sunni minority.

KEN POLLACK, DIRECTOR, SABAN CENTER: The Sunnis may calculate that, you know, in fact, it doesn't pay for them to participate in elections, because, even when they participate, they don't wind up in power.

COOPER: In the end, the idea is to form a coalition, allowing the parties and the people of Iraq to find some common ground. Even President Bush, however, who has a lot riding on this election, admits now the road ahead may not be smooth.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This week, elections won't be perfect. And a successful vote is not the end of the process. Iraqis still have more difficult work ahead. And our coalition and the new Iraqi government will face many challenges.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, of course, as Ken Pollack alluded to, whether or not people are willing to -- to come out and vote, whether these votes are successful or not, will really depend and will really hinge on whether or not people are able to see themselves as Iraqis first, and -- and Sunni or Shia or Kurds second.

We already know, of course, that they see the situation here in Iraq very differently, depending on what affiliation they have. A recent "TIME" magazine/ABC News poll says 73 percent of people in the Kurdish north say that life is better since the war. In the Shia south, the numbers drop to 59 percent. And, in Sunni central Iraq, only one in four think life is better.

Well, with much more now on the state of the insurgency, we are joined by CNN's chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour.

It is a fascinating week.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It really is a fascinating week.

And those numbers that you have just reported here, these poll numbers, really have it all in a nutshell. This is all about, obviously, is not only Iraq going to go towards a functioning democracy, but, most importantly, is this election, this new milestone, going to tamp down the insurgency? And when you see that the minority Sunnis, who already feel like they have been disaffected, alienated outside the process, feel that things have not gotten much better for them, that's why this election is so incredibly important.

We talked to some Sunnis. We know that they are going to participate, unlike what they did this time last year.

COOPER: Right, the last time.

AMANPOUR: Yes.

And we know that, frankly, there's bound to be a huge turnout. The question is, what do the various different factions what?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR (voice-over): The Iraqi army is voting first. And it will be protecting the polls when the public pass ballots on Thursday.

And, again, the big question is what will the Sunnis do, the minority who had supported and benefited from Saddam Hussein's regime. The Bush administration notes Sunni turnout in October's referendum on a proposed constitution, but it doesn't say they overwhelmingly rejected it. This time, the administration hopes that Sunni turnout could help turn things around.

In Baghdad, Sunnis, like Shias and Kurds, tell us that they will go to the polls.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course I will -- going to vote.

While Sunnis rejected the referendum and boycotted last January's elections for a transitional government, people like Munjad al-Nayib (ph) now say they must have a voice in a parliament that, so far, has been dominated by their rivals, the Shias.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I want to make some balance, actually.

AMANPOUR (on camera): Political posters are plastered all over the walls and even on the concrete security barriers. According to a new poll, three quarters of Iraqis say they believe this election will produce a stable government and that they expect improvement over the next year.

But, by far, their biggest concern is security in the country and the growing divide between Sunni and Shiites.

(voice-over): For instance, that "TIME" magazine poll of 1,700 Iraqis says only 29 percent of Sunnis think things are getting better, and many are afraid of a recent spate of sectarian killing by Shiite militias.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not always come in the -- in the -- in the TV. But we know it. We heard about it. They are killing people. AMANPOUR: Munjad (ph) and his wife, Amira (ph), despair of the Sunni insurgency, too. The Pentagon says a staggering 26,000 Iraqis have been killed and wounded in the last two years alone.

"Democracy, is this chaos and killing?" asks Amira (ph). "Is this the democracy Bush promised us?"

And what about the promise to rebuild Iraq? Electricity remains below pre-war levels. Oil production has fallen. And reconstruction money is running out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When Saddam gone, everyone say that's OK. This is the life, and they can -- will bring us a new future. And here we are, two years.

AMANPOUR: So, as they prepare to vote for the first permanent post-Saddam government, Iraqis, like the al-Nayib (ph) family, resort to what they know best.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very hard, actually, to imagine what will happen. But we hope and we pray.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: Like they always do here, they always say, we hope and we pray for the best.

It is human nature, obviously, to hope for the best. And they have done at every one of the milestones. But because of the deep worry that this constitution enables, basically, explicitly, the possibility of autonomous zones and the country breaking off, presumably with a -- with a central government, the Sunnis are still extremely afraid of civil war.

COOPER: CNN's Nic Robertson is also up in Ramadi. He is embedded with some U.S. troops there.

Let's check in with him, join him in -- bring him into the conversation.

Nic, what are you seeing up there in Ramadi?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Ramadi is one of those Sunni areas.

It is one of the most dangerous places for U.S. troops. It's also the city in the country where the turnout in the elections in the last -- last two elections this year has been the lowest. It's hoped here that Sunnis will get involved and that they will turn out. They didn't -- only 2 percent turned out in the last election.

What happened here yesterday was said to be quite a groundbreaking move to help bring the Sunnis here into Iraq's army. They're not particularly involved at the moment. The U.S. top general came to town. He brought Iraq's defense minister. They sat and listened to the Sunnis of the province tell them that they wanted a Sunni army for a Sunni province to work in this province and not leave it.

And the Iraqi minister of defense shot them down quite -- quite bluntly and told them that was not going to be possible. But it does still seem that the Sunnis here say they will get out and vote. The people we have talked to say the insurgents here, who are still quite a force, threaten people. They tell them, if you go out and vote, you will die -- Anderson.

COOPER: And, Christiane, I mean, that really is a remarkable change, that you have Sunnis now joining the process.

I mean, a year ago, they -- they categorically refused...

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: And I believe they think that they miscalculated.

I mean, a year ago, they sat it out and they saw things, in fact, not improve for themselves. Now they know that this process, at least for the moment, is on the way, and they need to be part of it, if they hope to affect it, if they hope to get rights for themselves and have themselves represented.

I think one of the fascinating things that seems to be going on is that the Americans and others here who are shepherding this process are trying to find a wedge between what they call the nationalist insurgents...

COOPER: Right.

AMANPOUR: ... which are the Iraqis, and the violent jihadi insurgencies, who are the foreigners, the al Qaeda-types, the Zarqawi types.

COOPER: And there are some reports -- and -- and, Nic, I don't know how seriously the U.S. troops you are with have been taking these reports -- but that sort of the more naturalist insurgents have been telling the -- the Zarqawi insurgents -- the terrorists -- not to attack on -- on Election Day, not to interrupt the electoral process.

Are you hearing that up in Ramadi?

ROBERTSON: That -- that's exactly the assessment here, that -- we have been talking to the religious -- some of the very significant religious leaders here. And that's the message that they have been saying as well, that they're willing and the tribal leaders here are willing to bring along those nationalists.

These meetings that occurred yesterday had some of Saddam Hussein's very senior generals at those meetings. They count among those nationalist elements. And that is. It's a divide and conquer, if you will. And that was part of the process that was happening yesterday, bring along with the good elements, if you will, among the Sunnis by -- by trying to incorporate them into the political process and get them in -- get them back into the army, and isolate those foreign fighters, those extreme jihadists that are known to be inside this area -- Anderson.

COOPER: And -- and, yet, last week, Christiane, we were reminded of just how violent and quickly things change, when...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Prime Minister Allawi went to a mosque and literally had to -- to run for his life, according to him.

AMANPOUR: Had to withdraw, exactly.

COOPER: And where we have the video -- I mean, what -- what is -- what is happening there? Why did that happen?

AMANPOUR: Well, it -- it is so factionalized.

And Nic just touched on it. The Sunni defense minister -- he is a Sunni -- came to Ramadi. And they asked there, in the Sunni heartland, for more Sunnis in the police and -- and army. And he said no.

This factionalism, though, is massive. If you talk to the Americans now, they're quite concerned that most of the people in the Iraqi army are Sunnis and Kurds.

COOPER: Right.

AMANPOUR: And this is implicitly factionalization. And this, remember, is their exit strategy. They have got to get this security situation right.

COOPER: And we are going to be looking at that a lot tonight and also in the week ahead. We will hear from Christiane a lot more in the week ahead, as well as Nic Robertson, and all our correspondents around Iraq and throughout the region.

Christiane, thanks. We will talk to you later.

And, Nic Robertson, thanks as well.

Far from Iraq, a fierce racial fight involving Arabs enters a second day -- still to come on 360, violence erupts in a hot spot for tourists. What caused it and how bad is it? We will have the latest and show you the tape.

Plus, the final hours for street gang founder Stanley Tookie Williams. We are going to go live to San Quentin Prison, where he is scheduled to be executed in a matter of hours.

Across America and around the world, you are watching 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back. We are live in Baghdad.

Today, in Philadelphia, considered by many the birthplace, of course, of American democracy, President Bush likened the struggles here in Iraq to those that had plagued the United States in its early years. The president's address today was the third of four speeches which are designed to bolster support for the war in Iraq and to lay out what he called his strategy for victory.

It is a strategy that has not apparently yet won the confidence of most Americans. A new CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll released just minutes ago shows that 58 percent of Americans still believe the president does not have a plan that will achieve victory.

Yet, in the very same poll, more promising numbers for Mr. Bush: 63 percent of those polled say Iraq has made real progress toward democratic government in the past two years. No doubt the White House is going to see the particular numbers as a sign the president's speeches highlighting the progress in Iraq are working.

CNN White House correspondent Dana Bash has more on the president's address today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For 38 minutes, the president mixed optimism with realism, casting the Iraqi elections as a first, but critical step that could allow some U.S. troops to come home.

At what appeared to be the end, a sip of water and a surprise.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I thought I might answer some questions.

QUESTION: I would like to know why you and others in your administration invoke 9/11 as justification for the invasion of Iraq.

BUSH: Yes.

QUESTION: ...when no respected journalist or other Middle Eastern experts confirm that such a link existed?

BASH: To that, an unapologetic president said the attacks taught him to ignore no threats.

BUSH: And I made a tough decision. And knowing what I know today, I would make the decision again.

BASH: This was the third of four speeches designed to boost support for the war and for the president. A new CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll shows the president's approval rating is now 42 percent, up four points since last month. And how he's handling in Iraq in particular is up slightly as well, from 35 percent last month to 39 percent now.

Taking questions was a new twist, an answer to critics, even within his own party, who say Mr. Bush can appear arrogant, insulated and unwilling to face tough questions about the war. Asked about Iraqi deaths, Mr. Bush cited what aides later called an unofficial number.

BUSH: I would say 30,000, more or less, have died as a result of the initial incursion and the ongoing violence against Iraqis.

BASH: Unsolicited, he added the U.S. casualty figure he is criticized for avoiding.

BUSH: We have lost about 2,140 of our own troops in Iraq.

BASH: The speech was an attempt at a delicate balance between raising expectations and predicting Iraqi elections will be recorded as a Middle East turning point, but, at the same time, trying to lower them.

BUSH: This week, elections won't be perfect, and a successful vote is not the end of the process.

BASH: Mr. Bush acknowledged, the major concern in this week's election is Sunni reaction. And though the administration pushed hard for greater Sunni participation, disappointment in the results could cause a backlash where support for the insurgency runs highest.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: And on that 30,000 figure the president used when asked how many Iraqis have been killed throughout the war, it appeared that it was an official estimate, because the president gave it so quickly in what White House aides insist was an unscripted Q&A session with the people who were there listening to the speech -- speech.

But Bush officials scrambled to clarify, saying that the president did not actually get that from official briefings, that it is not an official number. Actually, he got it from reading newspapers from media reports. And, actually, Bush officials pointed us to a Web site, to Iraqbodycount.net, which also does cite about 27,000 to 30,000 Iraqis killed.

They also say that the Brookings Institution, a think tank here in Washington, has also estimated that figure -- Anderson.

COOPER: How -- how often does the president actually take unscripted questions from citizens?

BASH: Well, the word that's coming to mind is never, actually.

(LAUGHTER)

BASH: You know, with the president -- just even thinking about spending -- the beginning of this year, the president was going around the country trying to sell Social Security. You remember that. And he gave these -- had these Oprah-style town hall meetings.

Those were all preset, pre-orchestrated, a setup with the questions and answers he took. He knew exactly what was coming. And that has been, as I mentioned, a major criticism, especially lately, from even within his own party, about the fact that that is part of his problem on Iraq and on a host of issues, that he looks like he's in the bubble, as -- as -- as it were.

And one official said to me tonight, when I asked, you know, why are you actually doing this, why did you take those questions, he sort of joked, but wasn't really joking, said, it was our attempt to show that he's bursting out of his bubble -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, bursting out of the bubble.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Dana Bash, thanks.

As expected, many Democrats spoke out against the president's speech today. Most don't like the way the administration is handling the war, but they can't seem to all agree on exactly how to change the situation here in Iraq.

Congressional correspondent Joe Johns takes a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Top Democrats charge that the president's speech was vague at a time that calls for clarity.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: The president today made a wishy- washy statement.

JOHNS: But the Democrats aren't exactly crystal clear either. They're split between two wings -- in one corner, John Murtha, the decorated Vietnam vet who says the U.S. should pull back to the periphery and launch surgical strikes. Murtha gave a speech today, warning that, as long as the troops stay where they are, the U.S. will be vulnerable if there's a threat in another theater of war.

REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: We can't sustain the deployment we have. If something happens in Korea, if something happens in Iran, we -- we couldn't deploy and stay over there for any length of time, because we don't have the troops.

JOHNS: In the other corner, former Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman, who says his party needs to lay off bashing the president on Iraq.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: It's time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be a commander in chief for three more critical years, and that, in matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril.

JOHNS: That didn't sit well with many Democrats, the majority of the party, somewhere between Lieberman and Murtha. Though they refused to lash out at Lieberman, some did suggest he's gone, in just a few years, from one of the party's standard-bearers to the status of lone ranger on foreign policy.

The top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee basically said Democrats can't afford to shut up.

LEVIN: I think it is our highest duty to state what we believe will contribute to the security of the United States. And if we think the president's proposals and his approach does not contribute to our security, I believe it is our responsibility to speak out.

JOHNS: But, just to be clear, Murtha has not gotten much better treatment. Many Democrats praise him for speaking out and then turn right around and say they don't agree with him.

SEN. JACK REED (D), RHODE ISLAND: A fixed deadline would not, I think, be in the best interests of the United States.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: As the midterm election year approaches, Democrats are beginning to deny that they're all over the place on Iraq. In fact, some are arguing that the unifying theme is that it's time for a change in Iraq.

They also say the fact that this debate is even going on shows how much ground the administration has lost since the war began -- Anderson.

COOPER: Hmm. Time for a change, but they don't seem to be on the same page exactly about what that change is.

Joe Johns, appreciate it. Thank you.

Much more ahead from Iraq.

But, first, Erica Hill from Headline News joins us with some of the stories we are following tonight.

Hey, Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson.

A second night of racial violence in Sydney, Australia -- once again, cars and store windows have been targeted. Over the past two days, more than 25 rioters have been arrested, more than 35 people injured. All of this started on Sunday night at a beach when a mob of white men attacked people believed to be Arab immigrants after hearing reports that two lifeguards had been assaulted by youths of Lebanese descent.

Young Arabs then retaliated, fighting the police and smashing cars. We are going to bring you more on the violence coming up a little later in the show.

Meantime, on Capitol Hill, defending that new scissors policy set to take effect on airplanes in 10 days, the head of the Transportation Security Administration says, some small tools no longer pose a threat to airlines and that the screeners need to spend their time looking for items that pose more of a danger, things like bombs.

But flight attendant unions and some members of Congress say the small tools could be deadly in the hands of terrorists.

Nationwide, with more obese Americans and fewer kicking the smoking habit, health improvements pretty have much stalled since the 1990s. That's the finding from a report by the American Public Health Association and United Health Foundation. Researchers say about 23 percent of Americans are now considered obese. That's more than double the number in 1990.

And, in Kingfisher, Oklahoma, natural gas geysers erupting -- Residents there have been told to be extra careful with matches, because the gas is gas and, therefore, flammable. Also, they're told not to drink their water -- get this -- if it smells like gas. Hmm. Officials still not sure what caused the geysers, and they're trying to find the source, -- Anderson.

COOPER: Erica Hill, thanks very much. See you in about half-an- hour.

Just hours from death -- the execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams. A lot of Hollywood celebrities are saying the ex-gang leader is a changed man, but it may be too little, too late. We are going to a live report from San Quentin.

And inside a Baghdad emergency room, where doctors save lives every day -- but you might be surprised to see how primitive their equipment still is.

From America and around the world, you are watching 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Facing the insurgency on the front lines -- we will take you inside a Baghdad emergency room, live from Baghdad, next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: All this week on 360, we are going to be traveling throughout Iraq, trying to get a sense on how much the things here really have changed, how much progress really has been made. In a moment, we'll take you inside a Baghdad emergency room for one side of the conflict. That's coming up on 360.

But first, let's go back to New York and Heidi Collins for some news on the Tookie Williams case -- Heidi?

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, thanks a lot.

A developing story, as you probably know. A bit less than an hour ago, the Supreme Court refused to stay the execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams. The former gang leader's claim of redemption has gained national attention. But now, his final appeal is over.

You're looking at a live shot there outside San Quentin. And in a little more than four hours from now, Williams will be put to death inside California's San Quentin Prison. CNN's Ted Rowlands is live outside there right now. Ted, as we said, just a few hours from now, what is the scene outside? About how many people have gathered?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the crowd outside the east gate here continues to grow, Heidi. A few hundred have arrived, and more are expected in the hours leading up to the scheduled execution of Tookie Williams.

You mentioned the Supreme Court. His lawyers, Williams' lawyers, are still hoping that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will have a change of heart and issue a pardon here, but that is not likely.

Stanley "Tookie" Williams was found guilty by a jury in 1981 and sent to death row for murders that he, according to the jury, committed in 1979.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROWLANDS (voice-over): A jury found Stanley Williams killed 26- year-old Albert Owens, a convenience store clerk, by shooting him in the back with a shotgun in a back room after stealing $120 from a 7- Eleven. A witness testified Williams later laughed about the crime.

Williams was also convicted of murdering a couple and their daughter less than two weeks later during a robbery of their family- owned hotel. He got less than $100.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 41-year-old daughter literally had the left side of her head and face blown off. These were extremely brutal crimes committed against people simply were defenseless.

ROWLANDS: Prosecutors described the evidence, including ballistics and witness statements, against Williams as truly overwhelming. But Williams' supporters question that evidence, and Williams maintains his innocence. His lawyers say that may have worked against him in his bid for clemency.

PETER FLEMING, JR., TOOKIE WILLIAMS ATTORNEY: When I first met Stanley, I said, "If you did this, you should confess to it, because it will help." And he said, "If my innocence will cost me my life, so be it."

ROWLANDS: Fleming says Williams stands by that statement today. Williams does admit to a life of violent crime as a cofounder of the notorious Crips street gang, but he says he's never killed anyone and regrets his past.

STANLEY "TOOKIE" WILLIAMS, CONVICTED MURDERER ON DEATH ROW: And I believe that they should not hold my past against me.

ROWLANDS: For more than 10 years, supporters say Williams has used his influence as a former gang leader to try to persuade children to stay out of trouble, writing or co-writing nine children's books, taping video messages, and brokering gang truces.

SNOOP DOGG, RAP ARTIST: It's not just a publicity stunt.

ROWLANDS: Rap star Snoop Dogg, actor-comedian Jamie Foxx, and other supporters say Stanley Williams is a life worth saving.

LORA OWENS, STEPMOTHER OF ALBERT OWENS: I do not believe Tookie has changed.

ROWLANDS: But others, including the stepmother of Albert Owens, the murdered convenience store clerk, say Williams should die for his crimes.

OWENS: I believe Albert deserves justice. And for that justice, Tookie Williams was convicted in a court of law and he was given the sentence of death. I believe Albert deserves the justice of that sentence being carried out.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROWLANDS: And Ms. Owens says she plans on attending the execution later this evening at 12:01. Stanley Williams has been moved to a cell right next to the execution chamber. He will spend the remainder of his life in that area, unless Governor Schwarzenegger grants clemency, which people out here are hoping he will do, hoping he'll have a change of heart. But, Heidi, it is very unlikely.

COLLINS: All right, Ted Rowlands, thank you for that. And we, of course, will be following this story throughout the night here on ANDERSON COOPER 360.

Next now on 360, a return visit to the place that most honestly shows what life and death are like in Iraq, Yarmouk, Baghdad's busiest hospital.

And among all the very many who died in New Orleans are some who were killed. How will investigators ever solve those crimes when all the clues have been washed away? 360 investigates.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: All this week here in Iraq, we're trying to get a sense of how much progress really has been made on the ground, whether what we're being told by politicians, Republicans and Democrats, in America really is true. We wanted to see it for ourselves. We wanted to feel the story ourselves, and that's why we came here all week.

The sad truth is that you can't really spend a lot time walking around the streets of Baghdad talking to people; the security situation just won't allow it. One way to find out what really is happening here is to go where people have been most affected by what's happening, and that means going to Baghdad's busiest hospital.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. HASSANEIN ABDUL AMIR, IRAQI DOCTOR: This is another case of bullet injury. COOPER (voice-over): Follow Dr. Hassanein Abdul Amir on his daily rounds in Baghdad's Yarmouk hospital, and you quickly get a snapshot of life in Iraq.

AMIR: This case of bullet injury, of Iraqi army commanders.

COOPER: Every day, Dr. Hassanein sees traffic accidents and sick children, but more often than not the wounds are made by man, bombs and bullets, soldiers and civilians.

AMIR: He's suffered from a liver injury, chest injury, and abdominal injury. And we save his life.

COOPER: This man was shot five times by kidnappers, this woman by an unknown gunman. Her son was killed in the attack, but the doctors haven't told her yet.

AMIR: Now we do surgical intervention for suturing of her wound on the face.

COOPER: In the crowded corridors of Yarmouk, there is an endless stream of blood and bitterness.

(on-screen): I visited Yarmouk Hospital several times in the last year and a half and what's shocking, besides the daily barrage of bullet injuries and shrapnel wounds that you see, is how little things inside the hospital have changed, how little things inside the hospital have improved.

(voice-over): When I first came here a year and a half ago, this is what I saw: unsanitary conditions, ancient equipment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the only microscope here.

COOPER (on-screen): This is the only microscope?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only microscope here.

COOPER (voice-over): Back then, the coalition authorities said they'd deliver 30,000 tons of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies throughout Iraq and increase spending on health care by nearly $1 billion. But doctors complained then they saw little of it trickling down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Me, I respect the USA and I love the USA, because the most well-off country in the world, but they do nothing for us.

COOPER: A year and a half later, Dr. Marwan Mustafa el-Mathadani (ph) will tell you some new hospital buildings have been completed but the equipment inside is largely the same.

DR. JAMAL TAHA, IRAQI SURGEON: The microscope still the same from the '80s, not the '90s.

COOPER (on-screen): Have you seen any progress? TAHA: Well, progress is very slow, progress is very slow. And I told you just the buildings, believe me, just the buildings. We don't have (INAUDIBLE)

COOPER (voice-over): What else is more or less the same? The numbers of wounded they treat every day. This was what I saw in the E.R. last January, days before interim elections.

(on-screen): The E.R. at Yarmouk Hospital in Baghdad is the busiest in this city. Already it's 1:00 p.m. and they've had five people brought in from a car bomb this morning. One of them has died. This man has just brought in with a leg wound.

(voice-over): Today, the E.R. seems just as crowded.

AMIR: It is difficult situation (INAUDIBLE) die in front of you and there is no facility. And you can't do nothing. It's a very difficult situation.

COOPER: Today, however, there was something different: Election officials brought ballots so those wounded by car bombs and bullets could cast an early vote in Thursday's historic parliamentary elections. The pictures were poignant, offering a glimmer of hope in a place where that is hard to hold on to.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, a new day is literally dawning here. It is just past 6:00. It is already Tuesday in Iraq. Officially, the war in this country is in its 1,000th day.

We're going to report on that in the week ahead on the readiness of Iraqi troops. We're going to go out on patrol with Iraqi forces in the days ahead and also with U.S. forces, as well, on the ground.

And we're going to show you the difficulties that American troops face on the ground here on patrol, dealing with IEDs every day. We'll give you a very up-close look at that and also the difficulties some American troops are having when they return home. That's tomorrow on 360.

You can also read my blog all this week on Iraq, get more perspective on the travels here, 24/7, logging on to CNN.com/360.

They may be hard to spot, but some positive things are happening here. There is progress on the ground, small steps that might just some day add up to lasting progress from Iraq. Good news ahead.

And Katrina may not have been the only killer during and after the storm. A number of mysterious deaths in New Orleans as the waters rose. But in the aftermath, can forensic scientists even find the clues? A hurricane whodunit, next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back. No one knows exactly why New Orleans proved so vulnerable to Katrina. It's likely there was fraud. We know there was incompetence. But just today, the Army Corps of Engineers began cutting into one of the levee walls that failed looking for more clues.

But do we know that failure led to many deaths by drowning and exposure? Likely. Almost 1,100 people in and around New Orleans died. Yet a few of those may, in fact, have been victims not of Katrina but of crime, not that it's easy to prove. CNN's Ed Lavandera investigates.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For weeks, forensic scientists have been using the tools of the trade to explain how hundreds of New Orleans-area residents died in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you have to do a little detective work, as you delve deeper into what we're looking at.

LAVANDERA: But 21 of those deaths are still a mystery. A closer look shows that some of the victims may have been murdered. Some bodies were found with gunshot wounds, stab markings, and crushing blows to the head. But the New Orleans coroner, Dr. Frank Minyard, says an arsenal of forensic lab tools hasn't been able to prove these victims are crime victims.

DR. FRANK MINYARD, CORONER, NEW ORLEANS PARISH: All of the modern "CSI" techniques, if you will, you know, even "CSI" is going to have a hard time with this. It's just impossible to do anything really out of this world, so to speak, on these people because they're so badly decomposed.

LAVANDERA (on-screen): Figuring out which of these 21 cases is a crime is just part of the challenge. After that, investigators have to figure out how to prosecute. And the worry is that these possible crime scenes were washed away by Hurricane Katrina.

(voice-over): And with them, the telling clues that experts, like Dr. Minyard, need to determine if someone was murdered.

MINYARD: I mean, the blood splatter on the wall is a big help for us in a house, telling about what happened. And there's no wall. There's no blood splatter. There's nothing.

LAVANDERA: The New Orleans district attorney says at least four of the 21 mysterious deaths are murders. Right now, prosecutors are working out of a building that used to be a bar, waiting for the investigative details. But Eddie Jordan says some of these cases may never be solved.

EDDIE JORDAN, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: If you don't have a clue as to whether the person died as a result of a killing, a homicide, and you don't have any information about witnesses or any physical evidence to support a claim that a particular individual committed that crime, then there really is no case.

MINYARD: Look, people get away with murder all the time. You don't need Katrina to help them. Quite a few of these cases are going to end up as circuses in court because it's going to be very difficult to pin down 100 percent anything about any of these cases.

LAVANDERA: Even with such sophisticated crime investigating techniques, finding truth and justice in the remains of a disaster is proving to be an elusive search.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAVANDERA: Now, 14 of those 21 mysterious cases that scientists are dealing with were found to have gunshot wounds. But just because of that, it does not mean that, at this point, investigators believe that a homicide occurred.

They say that, in those cases, there could have been suicide, it could have been a mercy killing, perhaps a murder-suicide. A lot of different scenarios that they just don't know and haven't able to weed through or figure out because of the chaos that ensued here in the days after Hurricane Katrina.

But prosecutors here say they fully expect if any of these cases do go to trial that defense attorneys will be using that chaos to their advantage --Anderson?

COOPER: Yes, certainly hard cases to prove in court. Ed Lavandera, thanks.

Down under, a very different crime scene. Race riots in the suburbs. Young men and women going on a rampage. They're attacking Muslims. We'll have the latest and the latest video.

And from Iraq, a stunning new development. Why the insurgents are now warning Al Qaeda to step back. From Baghdad and around the world, this is 360.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): She was the first lady of the election night that lasted 36 days. And the Sunshine State was in the spotlight. As Florida's secretary of state, Katherine Harris ended the 2000 vote recount.

REP. KATHERINE HARRIS (R), FLORIDA: I hereby declare Governor George W. Bush the winner of Florida's 25 electoral votes.

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Many thousands of votes that were cast on Election Day have not yet been counted at all.

M. O'BRIEN: Her decision was challenged and overturned by the State Supreme Court, but later upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Throughout the election debacle, Harris endured ridicule about everything from her right-leaning politics to her hair and makeup. HARRIS: I think they had to learn that I really wasn't Cruella DeVille. I think that was a learning curve.

M. O'BRIEN: Harris is now in her second term as a U.S. congresswoman representing Florida's 13th District. She keeps a bronze statue of the famous Florida ballot in her office on Capitol Hill, complete with pregnant and dangling chads.

HARRIS: Number one, it's in my office, so that people don't feel awkward about bringing it up. It's sort of kind of takes the edge away.

M. O'BRIEN: She has written a book called "Center of the Storm," about her experiences during election 2000.

HARRIS: It was a remarkable experience. I learned a great deal.

M. O'BRIEN: Harris makes her home in Sarasota, Florida, with her husband and step-daughter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Coming up later on 360, we'll have more on the progress being made in Iraq.

But first, more on the rioting that we showed you a few moments ago, not in Baghdad or even Fallujah. To Sydney, Australia, we go.

Reporting for us tonight, ITV's Keir Simmons.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEIR SIMMONS, REPORTER, ITV NEWS (voice-over): Viciously set upon, a young woman is attacked by a racist white mob. The police officer attempts to protect a Lebanese man by bundling him away, spraying mace into the eyes of rioters. This is the ugly underbelly of Australia, far removed from the tourist images of beaches and surfing. Young Australians shout racist slogans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're not welcome. This is our land. Get the hell out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what our grandfathers fought for, to protect this so we can enjoy it. We don't need these Lebanese or whoever they are to take it away from us.

(APPLAUSE)

SIMMONS: Here, a mob are trying to break into a surfing club. The police rescue the people hiding inside; the terrified group are of Middle Eastern appearance. They're attacked with bottles as they retreat.

The violence follows reports that two life guards have been attacked by Lebanese men. Rumors combined with long-standing tensions, causing a racist riot that's left the Australian prime minister having to defend his country's culture.

JOHN HOWARD, PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: I do not accept that there is underlying racism in this country.

SIMMONS: Still, these pictures will not help Australia persuade the world that its people have broken away from past prejudices.

Keir Simmons, ITV News.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Just shocking images out of Australia. Let's go back to New York and Heidi Collins -- Heidi?

COLLINS: Thanks, Anderson.

"On the Radar" tonight, the elections there and here. Iraqis living in America go to the polls tomorrow. Voting takes place in Mclean, Virginia, just outside of Washington, also in Detroit, Nashville and suburbs of San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. We'll be there getting their take on this historic week.

Back in Iraq, Anderson heads to an American military base for read on morale there and a look at how men and women trained to win wars are spending their time trying to keep the peace.

And how ready are Iraqis to do just that? How strong is the thin blue line in Baghdad? Christiane Amanpour trains with Iraqi cops.

And back at home, troops fighting to overcome the nightmare of post-traumatic stress. In the news tomorrow, "On the Radar" tonight.

Just ahead now, a question that often goes unasked about Iraq: So what's going right? Later, evidence that even good things come at a cost, remembering the fallen.

Also, Tookie Williams' last minutes. What will they look like? This is 360.

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