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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Kids in the Crossfire; Congressman Rangel Under Fire; More Troops to Afghanistan?; Letterman Sex Scandal

Aired October 7, 2009 - 23:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: We're in Chicago tonight. A city in crisis, kids are dying, shot, beaten, murdered in these streets. The videotaped beating of Derrion Albert, an honor student, brought Washington big wigs here today. But is anyone really paying enough attention to what's happening to our kids? We're "Keeping them Honest" tonight.

Also tonight, "Raw Politics" more allegations of Capitol Hill corruption: Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel, a powerful politician allegedly hid income and didn't pay all his taxes for years. The Democrats said they wanted to clean house on corruption, so how come it's taking so long for them to investigate one of their own?

And in "Crime and Punishment" tonight, David Letterman accused of creating a toxic and hostile work environment; women's groups today slamming the late show host after he admitted to having office affairs. Has Letterman survived unscathed or is there more to come on the scandal?

We begin though first here in Chicago, this is ground zero for the violence that is taking the lives of too many of this city's kids. By now you've seen this videotape, 16-year-old honor student Derrion Albert being killed by other kids, clubbed, beaten to death right here.

This is the spot where Derrion Albert first fell. He was walking home from school. His school is just about two and a half or so blocks from here. There's a lot of security at the school. But as he was walking home, trying to catch a bus, which is further down the road there, he came upon a fight, got involved in it and that's when as you saw in that video tape, he was beaten to death.

It happened right here. His body was carried by some of his friends off to this center. You can see there's a makeshift memorial that's been set up to honor him and remember him. People leaving flowers and plants, stuffed animals, all things to remember their friend by.

He was just 16 years old. He was an honor student. In the days since this happened, no one has stepped forward with information. No one has told police what they saw, who they saw, who was involved in the killing of Derrion Albert. There's a code of silence on these streets. I want to show you also some pictures of some of the other fallen, Chicago's fallen, kids, boys, girls, teenagers, all of them public school students, all of them murder victims.

Now, since we first reported from here in Chicago a little more than two years ago on this story, 94 kids have been killed. They have been the victims, they have been shot, they've been stabbed, some of them strangled, beaten to death. More than 500 have been wounded.

But Derrion's murder was different because it was videotaped and that got Washington's attention. Today, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the Education Secretary Arne Duncan came here to Chicago. In fact, before Duncan joined the administration, he ran the public schools here for seven years.

Today, the cabinet members met with kids and parents and politicians saying, something -- something -- has to change.

I spoke to Arne Duncan earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARNE DUNCAN, EDUCATION SECRETARY: What's amazing to me is we've been dealing with students being killed for far too long. And the fact that those deaths, those violent deaths weren't on video, people didn't seem to wake up. And so it's amazing to me that it takes a video to sort of awaken a country.

If that's what it takes, let's use this as a moment, let's not lose momentum and let's make sure this doesn't happen again. So let's take an absolute tragedy in trying to make sure that our children can live safe. And that we open this national conversation about values.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: While federal stimulus money is being given to schools here to curb the violence but Arne Duncan is the first to admit the federal government is not going to solve this problem. It's going to be up for local leaders, communities, parents, preachers and the kids themselves. We all have a part to play.

We're going to hear more from him later.

But first, a look at a new controversial plan, the head of Chicago schools is about to try.

Gary Tuchman joins us live for more on the new strategy. Gary what is it?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Anderson, the people who run Chicago schools have $30 million this year, $30 million of federal money next year to keep their kids safe.

So what's the plan? Well, they plan to spend the money on fewer than three percent of all the schoolchildren.

But the officials say it's all very logical.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN (voice-over): This is the head of the Chicago public schools. Ron Huberman has come up with a controversial plan to try to stop the violence.

RON HUBERMAN, CEO, CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS: We have the dollars and we've started.

TUCHMAN: It's controversial because tens of millions of federal stimulus dollars will be spent targeting school kids who are at the highest risk of getting in trouble.

HUBERMAN: These 10,000 kids are our toughest kids in terms of the ones that we need to reach.

TUCHMAN: 10,000 is a small percentage of all the kids who go to Chicago public schools. But the school chief analyzed specific acts of violence over several years to collect data about what happened, when and where it happened and who did it; to identify the students most likely to hurt others or be victims themselves. Each of them will be assigned a 24-hour mentor and offered a part-time job.

HUBERMAN: We don't label students. We don't share the information with the schools of who these students are. The only people who know who these kids are, are the individuals involved directly in their intervention.

TUCHMAN: On Chicago's South Side, in the Back of the Yard's neighborhood, there is desperation for anything that might work.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Being caught in the middle of violence, coming home from school right now, that's my main concern.

TUCHMAN (on camera): In the Chicago public school system's own literature on the violence in this city, specific mention is made of this area, in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. Not only is there gang activity here, but three gangs that hate each other compete on these very same streets for influence and members. It's a recipe for unrelenting violence.

(voice-over): What this program won't do is work with perpetrators who are no longer in school. Which is what this aunt of a 4-year-old is very concerned about.

(on camera): Do you think a lot of kids in this neighborhood have parents who are gang bangers?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes.

TUCHMAN: A lot?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I think majority of them.

TUCHMAN: So you're saying the majority of the kid's parents in this neighborhood are in gangs?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But there are many adults in this neighborhood and elsewhere who are signing on as mentors, ready to offer support to become positive role models for 10,000 kids before it's too late.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

COOPER: So they're going to give a job and a mentor to each of these 10,000 kids. Where are all these people coming from?

TUCHMAN: Well, the mentors are not professionals. They will be people from the city, who volunteer and they're hoping to get 10,000, one for each kid. But they're going to start right away with 200 and work their way up from there. And also people are going to provide jobs, fast food restaurants, stores, et cetera.

COOPER: Again, this is only for 10,000 kids that they believed are going to be at-risk of being part of violence or victims of violence. But a lot of the kids killed who have been killed recently they are not part of that 10,000.

They would not be part of that...

TUCHMAN: I think that the victim who was killed here would not have been part of that 10,000.

COOPER: He was an honor student.

TUCHMAN: He was an honor student but presumably the people who killed him would have been.

COOPER: Yes, all right Gary, I appreciate that, thanks very much. We'll follow it up and see how that works.

Assigning mentors for at-risk kids and offering them jobs; can this plan using tens of millions of stimulus dollars stop the violence?

We're "Digging Deeper" now with education contributor, Steve Perry.

Steve, what do you think?

STEVE PERRY, CNN EDUCATION CONTRIBUTOR: I don't think that this is the solution. I think it's another reaction. Too often what happens is we react to the problem as opposed to trying to solve it.

If we want to solve the problem that's existing in Chicago or any of the large public school systems, we have to fundamentally change the way in which we deliver our education. Teachers can play a different role.

The issue is not money. The stimulus money is not sustainable. So to put this in play as a solution puts us in a position to know that this solution will ultimately end. It's stimulus money, it's not sustainable money.

So what has to happen is the teacher's roles need to be redefined; just like it is in private schools where they have the role as teacher, adviser and coach -- what they call the triple threat. Teachers need to play a different role than they typically do in the public schools. Then we can begin to see change.

I'm trying to find out which children are not at-risk in Chicago's public schools.

COOPER: We're going to have more with Steve Perry in a moment after the break.

We'll also talk to Janice Allen, who lives in the community and has to face this crisis every single day of taking care of her nephews.

We're going to bring you my interview with Education Secretary Arne Duncan ahead as well.

Also tonight, James Carville, Bill Bennett, clash over President Obama's high-stakes decision. Should more U.S. troops be sent to Afghanistan?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL BENNETT, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: You're really disparaging what you shouldn't. You're acting as if this is casual.

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: But it is not unreasonable to assume -- and I'm not casual at all -- that after eight years, any country should reassess the way it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Later, is David Letterman abusing his power? The National Organization for Women blasts "The Late Show" host, saying his office affairs have created a toxic work environment. Our panel weighs in, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And we're back live from Chicago's South Side, just steps away from where 16-year-old honor student Derrion Albert was beaten to death.

We've been reporting on the violence in this city since 2007, asking questions, demanding answers from people in power about why kids are dying here and what's being done to stop it.

With me again is education contributor, Steve Perry. Also with us is Janice Allen. She's from the South Side. This is her neighborhood. She lives in fear; she's helping to raise her nephew, Devante (ph) who is a friend of Derrion Albert who was beaten to death on this spot just a few weeks ago.

What's your greatest concern raising your nephew?

JANICE ALLEN, CHICAGO RESIDENT: Them coming home at night. Once they leave, are they coming back? When they go to the store, are they coming back? Because of what's going on, you can leave out the door and you could be a target. Somebody could be around the corner waiting for you.

So it's like, you pray going, you pray coming.

COOPER: What do you think needs to be done here? I mean, there're some after school programs, but you need money for that. And a lot of folks don't have the money to pay for it.

ALLEN: Where is the money, where is the after school programs at?

COOPER: There's not enough?

ALLEN: Not enough. They need work study programs, they need jobs for our children. They need somewhere for our kids to utilize their idle time. And the idle time is so much in depth (ph) with the devil's worship that he's looking for someone to devour. And he just walking down the street and there were kids right there, a targets.

If they have something to do, these four, five hours, where they can utilize that energy, they have their mind and keep it focused of what's going on in their life instead of what's being afraid to walk the streets. And that's most of our kid's fears is walking the streets. You see them walking down with bats and poles and sticks.

I mean, we didn't have that.

COOPER: Yes.

ALLEN: What's going on now? They have all these people talking about, you know, we have this, we have that. Where is it at? It isn't out here.

COOPER: Through schools -- is this a problem with bad schools? I mean, is the key to this -- bad schools that aren't teaching kids to write and teaching kids to read and giving kids a future?

ALLEN: I think it has an effect on them because they can't focus to read and study because they're in fear of what's going to happen around them.

COOPER: Principal Perry, what do you make of this? You hear this all the time. You're a principal of a school in Connecticut. Is bad school is the key?

PERRY: It is -- they are. Children want to learn. When a child wakes up and walks through one of the most dangerous neighborhoods on the earth with nothing but their books on their back to a school, they're there for a reason. They came there to learn. And so when they get to that school and they do not learn and that's a check that it has insufficient funds. When we hear Mrs. Allen, we have to really hear her. She's saying I need help. I'm saying give her the help that she needs by making it possible for children to go to quality schools.

Take it one step further. We find it criminal to rob a child, to deprive a child of education. If a parent were to leave that child home for a year, that child -- that parent would be brought up on charges.

We found all the way back from 1954, that children have access to quality education. That's supposed to be the law of the land.

So how is it possible for us to have schools in places like Chicago that over 90 percent of the children are not performing at level in subjects such as math, science and English? That's unconscionable and it's criminal.

ALLEN: Right.

COOPER: Go ahead.

ALLEN: Right, because they're sitting there in fear of how am I going to get back home, am I going to make it back home. If somebody in the classroom is having a problem, am I going to be hit, am I going to be a target when I walk out the classroom. That's what they're afraid of.

So it keeps their mind from learning of what they're being taught. Yes, they're teaching it, but the kids are distracted of fear.

PERRY: Well one of the things...

COOPER: Principal Perry, when you see -- when you see Arne Duncan here, who is a good guy, he's trying hard; when you see Eric Holder here and they come in on a big case like this, is this something the federal government can really do anything about?

PERRY: I don't think that this is a federal government issue. I think that they spoke and said essentially what Rob Paige would have said. And anyone else in their position would have said.

I think that this is a local issue. I say with all due respect to Mrs. Allen, she and the members of that community need to own that they can change this. They need to acknowledge their own power within the community, their churches, their religious orders, their fraternities and sororities.

These are the people who live in Chicago. We can all sit in here and pontificate about it and I can talk about it from Hartford, Connecticut. But in the end, when we all leave and go back to what we need to do, this sister and those people who are there in her community, have to own responsibility. That every single time those schools are allowed to persist, and that the children are coming from that community's home when we do not own the responsibility for our children, our children act irresponsibly and dangerously.

COOPER: Do you think this community can change what's happening here?

ALLEN: Yes, it can. Yes, it can, with the right people and right things being projected to them, instead of them being afraid. And not only they're afraid, we are afraid.

COOPER: You're afraid in these streets?

ALLEN: I'm not afraid. But I'm afraid for my children and everybody else's child. Because if your child get hurt, my child is hurt and if that child is hurt, I'm hurting because I know their parent in that household is hurting.

So it is not just my child personally, it's all our children needs help. Needs help and we got all these policies and all these big people saying this and that. Nobody is coming to help our kids until something like this happened.

And why do we have to go through this as a parent? It's not fair. And then our kids are depending on us to see them through. Sometimes we just don't have the answer. We just keep praying and praying, lord, keep covering them in the blood of Jesus as they walk to and from.

COOPER: I appreciate you being with us, Janice, thank you.

ALLEN: Thank you.

COOPER: All right, stay strong.

ALLEN: I will.

COOPER: And Principal Perry as well. Thanks so much.

PERRY: Thank you.

COOPER: So where does the buck stop on this? Chicago's Mayor Daley, is he doing enough? He's been in power here since 1989.

Consider this raw data -- Daley has been in office 20 years. In just the past three school years, according to the Associated Press, there have been 501 shootings.

Of those as we mentioned earlier a research shows, at least 94 students have been killed. Most of the students were not born yet when Mayor Daley took office back in '89. We wanted to talk to the Mayor about all this; he declined our request for our interview -- In fact, numerous requests. He again today turned us down.

To get an "Up Close" look at where the violence in Chicago is taking place. Go to AC360.com to see the most dangerous streets.

Just ahead, the chairman of the powerful House committee that writes tax laws, the guy who is writing laws that we all have to abide by, he's under fire for allegedly playing fast and loose with his own taxes.

When Democrats won control of Congress, they promised to clean it up. So how come it's taking Democrats so long to investigate one of their own, the powerful politician Charles Rangel?

Plus, James Carville and Bill Bennett square-off over Afghanistan on the eighth anniversary of the war. Is President Obama running out of time?

Support for the war dropping, his top commander on the ground wants more troops. We're "Digging Deeper."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And welcome back. We're on the streets of Chicago. We have a train passing by; we're on the wrong side of the railroad tracks tonight.

We have new developments in another scandal on Capitol Hill, this time on the House side involving Representative Charles Rangel, who chairs the powerful House Ways and Means Committee which writes the tax laws the rest of us have to follow which makes the allegations he's facing so astounding.

For a year now, an entire year, an Ethics Committee has been investigating whether Rangel failed to declare hundreds of thousands of dollars of assets on his financial disclosure forms and whether he also failed to pay taxes on those assets. Well today, House Republicans tried again to oust Rangel, a Democrat, from his chairmanship and failed.

Let's talk "Raw Politics" with senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash and Peter Flaherty, president of the National League and Policy -- Legal and Policy Center.

Peter, I want to start off with you, you've been instrumental in kind of revealing some of these things that Rangel is accused of doing. If you can just kind of tick-off for us what are the accusations? How much did he hide and where did he allegedly hide it?

PETER FLAHERTY, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL LEGAL AND POLICY CENTER: Well, there are several things he's accused of now. The two most prominent are that he hid income, we noticed on his financial disclosure forms that he had a house in the Dominican Republic but he reported no income for rent.

So we sent an investigator down there who found that the place was continually rented out and at the height of the season, Charlie gets $1,100 per night. Rangel...

COOPER: He makes $1,100 for one night rent? FLAHERTY: That's right. Rangel subsequently admitted that he did not disclose the income as required. Nor did he report it to the IRS. We believe the $75,000 figure is low and we filed a complaint with the IRS and U.S. Attorney asking them to establish actually how much rent he received.

The second one is hiding assets. When his finances were scrutinized as a result of all this, he promised to file amendments through disclosure forms. He did that in August and lo and behold, his net worth roughly doubled. He had several hundred thousand dollars more in assets than he previously reported.

And these reports...

COOPER: Wait, so he was filling out for years -- he was filling out -- for years he was filling out financial forms and basically then, when you actually called him on it, it turned out his personal net worth actually doubled, it was actually twice what he had been reporting all these years?

FLAHERTY: That's correct. He's a serial offender. He has two bank accounts worth between $250,000 and a half million dollars in them. He's got stock holdings, he's got land and somehow he says he just forgot to put these things on the form.

COOPER: Dana, it's pretty outrageous that the man responsible for writing our tax laws is accused of being basically a complete dead beat on his own taxes. What was his reaction after the vote today?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I caught up with Congressman Rangel earlier this evening and I asked him just about that question, Anderson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BASH (on camera): Why is it that you don't think it's appropriate considering that you're being investigated for tax issues to resign from your post that dictates tax policy in this country?

REP. CHARLES RANGEL, (D) NEW YORK: Because the allegations have been made by newspapers reporters and I asked the Ethics Committee to review it and report back to the Congress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Rangel told me it is the Bipartisan Ethics Committee's job to decide if he did anything wrong, as he said, not the newspapers and his office lashed out at Republicans today for playing politics and using him as the posting child for Democratic corruption.

But watching Rangel today, the dynamic was quite interesting, Anderson, because he's not running away. He sat in the House chamber, in the front row for about 30 minutes as a GOP Congressman read the resolution, detailing allegations against him. And then Rangel spent the rest of the day in back to back meetings, knee deep in negotiations on health care reform. And the tax issues he oversees as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

One other interesting thing, the House Democratic leadership and their dynamic here; they -- led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are uniformly behind Rangel. And they're against the Republican attempts to strip him of his chairmanship before the House Ethics Committee actually completes its investigation.

And I spoke with the House Speaker earlier today. And was struck by how emphatic she was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: He is one of the most experienced, knowledgeable people in the Congress about health care. But even if he weren't, the process here is that the Ethics Committee reviews the situation and then they make their statement on it. So I think it's very unfair to him to say, you should step aside because you're under review.

That's what I think...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now, there are a lot of dynamics at play here. Anderson, Rangel is a veteran member, he's a leading member of the Black Caucus, which is of course, is a powerful block that the leadership doesn't want to anger.

But when I talk privately to House Democratic leadership sources, they insist the real test for them is going to be when the Ethics Committee does issue a report and if it's harsh, what will they do then, Anderson?

COOPER: Dana Bash, I appreciate it.

I've actually lost IFBs. We're going to have to stop the conversation here.

Peter Flaherty, I appreciate it as well. We'll continue to follow that.

There are other important stories we're covering tonight.

Randi Kaye joins us with a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Randi.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there Anderson.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the cost of the Senate Committee health care bill to be $829 billion over the next ten years. According to the CBO, the bill would also reduce the federal deficit by $81 billion and expand the percentage of insured Americans from 83 percent to 94 percent.

U.S. mortgage applications spiked last week to their highest level since mid-May. Behind the surge, low mortgage rates, bargain house prices and the government's $8,000 tax credit, scheduled to expire November 30th.

And astronomers at NASA had discovered an eighth ring around Saturn. NASA says the new ring is a mile and a half thick, 15 million miles in diameter and the largest ring in the solar system. Infrared technology detected this super-sized circle of ice and dust particles; pretty cool.

COOPER: Wow, amazing yes, amazing picture there.

All right, still ahead, a grim anniversary: the war in Afghanistan enters its ninth year and the debate over what to do next heats up. Is President Obama running out of time? James Carville and Bill Bennett square-off.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARVILLE: This is the eight-year war. We've been there longer than we would have been in World War I and World War II. You know what? This just might not be the smartest thing that we've ever done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And later, David Letterman's ratings have surged in the wake of his sex scandal in the allege extortion against him, but not everyone is laughing, especially not the National Organization for Women. How they see the scandal, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: President Obama and his national security team met again today to discuss what to do next in Afghanistan. The war began eight years ago today. Less than a month after the 9/11 attacks when there was strong support for the mission.

Since then, nearly 800 Americans have been killed. And support has plunged. President Obama is under intense pressure from his top commander on the ground to send more troops. He's getting just as much pressure from other corners to deny that request.

Now earlier I talked to CNN political contributors James Carville and Bill Bennett.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Senator John McCain warned President Obama against half measures and the word from inside that meeting is that it looks like he's trying to come up with some sort of -- some middle ground. Does that make sense to you?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I don't know what makes sense. I know what we've been doing for the last eight years is not working very well.

The president was asked for 20,000 more troops as soon as he took office, he gave 20,000 more troops. That hasn't worked out. Now he wants 40,000 more troops and I have no idea what the recommendation of the secretary of defense is and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Somebody has to look at the entire Department of the United States military and see if we have those number of troops available. And what's working and not working.

I think the president is asking some tough questions and tough questions are kind of called for now, frankly.

COOPER: Bill, John McCain has been critical saying that the president is not acting in a timely way. Is he being prudent to James Carville's point?

BILL BENNETT, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: No, I don't think so.

Yes, in the sense that it's fine to ask questions. But he asked a lot of questions before. He reviewed the situation when he came to his conclusions.

He appointed General McChrystal, who gave him a 65-page report. He's had it for several weeks. It's backed up by General Petraeus; it's backed up by Admiral Mullen. It's time to make a decision.

While you're not making a decision, you're losing ground and you're losing men. That's the problem.

Look, the kind of recommendations that McChrystal made are for the sort of thing we did in Iraq that was so successful. It seems to me it is logical to trust the people who were successful in Iraq to try the same thing here.

CARVILLE: I would point out -- and maybe somebody does -- I don't know what the recommendation of the Secretary of Defense is; I don't know what the recommendation of the Joint Chiefs are. I don't know what the other recommendations are of the United States government which the president has.

I do know this, this is an eight-year war. We've been there longer than we've been WORLD WAR I and World War II. If we just keep doubling down on the same strategy, there are some people that look back and say, "You know what? This might not be the smartest thing that we've ever done."

BENNETT: It's not.

CARVILLE: We ought to look at trying to fight a smart war.

BENNETT: It's not the same strategy, James, that's what the point of the document was. The document has been widely circulated. It's a different strategy.

CARVILLE: Everybody is just let's throw 40,000 more people in there and let's do this. And so far for eight years, people are saying, you know, this thing is not going very well. You know, and the president comes in, he's asked...

(CROSSTALK) BENNETT: It's not going very well.

CARVILLE: You know, we've been over there in Iraq and Afghanistan for a long time. And we spent a lot of money.

BENNETT: You're acting, James -- James, you're acting as if this is -- you're really disparaging what you shouldn't. You're acting as if this is casual. It's not a matter of throwing more people in. This was a well thought out strategy.

Things weren't going so well in Iraq either, and then we got a well thought out strategy and it worked.

CARVILLE: It's not unreasonable to assume -- and I'm not casual at all -- that after eight years any country should reassess where it is. And there may be -- and there are a lot of people, Carl McSavage (ph) and any number of really smart military people that say we can try something entirely different here.

And I think the president owes it to look at every other possible alternative.

COOPER: Bill, let me ask you about the surge in Iraq and whether there is correlation. A lot of the Marines on the ground when I was there a couple of weeks ago were saying, look, sending more troops into Iraq was part of what worked. But the major part of what worked was the change in mind, the desire by Sunnis, former insurgents, to either be bought off, paid off, or to change and start fighting against al Qaeda.

We haven't seen a willingness on the part of a lot of people in Afghanistan to get off the fence. So why is just sending more troops key to winning if the people themselves aren't off the fence?

BENNETT: I think you're diminishing and I think the guys you talked to -- if you're quoting accurately and you usually do -- are diminishing the importance of that surge. I've talked to an awful lot of Marines and awful lot of soldiers who say the surge had one heck of a lot to do with it and I think history will show that it does.

But there's a notion abroad if we talk about Afghanistan, that the people in Afghanistan are not with us, that they do not support the troops, that they don't care whether it's the Marines or the Taliban, this couldn't be further from the truth. They do not want the Taliban back taking over their country. The surge is a very important part of it. The military surge in Afghanistan will be an important part of it.

COOPER: Bill Bennett, James Carville. Guys thanks.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: It's hard to appreciate how difficult the fight in Afghanistan is until you've gone there to see where it's taking place and what makes it so challenging.

Go to ac360.com right now for some detailed maps of the fight and the difficult terrain.

Do you think the president should send more troops to Afghanistan? Let us know. Join the live chat happening now at ac360.com.

Just ahead, more trouble for David Letterman. "The Late Show" host now under fire from the National Organization for Women. They say he created a toxic work environment by having sex with female staffers. They're not laughing about his jokes about it either.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, CBS HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": Ladies and gentlemen, I want to remind you of one thing. This is only phase one. This is phase one of the scandal. Phase two, next week I go on Oprah and sob.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Also coming up tonight, my interview with Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Here came here to Chicago today to meet with the mayor about the epidemic of kids dying here in the streets. But frankly, Chicago needs more than talk to fix this crisis. We're "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: In "Crime & Punishment" tonight, David Letterman keeps on telling jokes about the alleged extortion plot against him. In fact, it's become a running theme in his monologue. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LETTERMAN: It's fall here in New York City. And I spent the whole weekend raking my hate mail.

Ladies and gentlemen, I want to remind you of one thing. This is only phase one. This is phase one of the scandal. Phase two, next week I go on "Oprah" and sob. That will be stage two.

The tradition of the Broadway Theater is if the leading characters can't go on, they always have understudies. And so I was thinking we should get an understudy for me, because there's a wide variety of reasons I might not be able to continue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, Letterman's audience is laughing, and they're watching in big numbers. But one group is not amused: the National Organization for Women. Today it slammed "The Late Show" host, accusing him of creating a toxic work environment. The group says his office affairs were inappropriate, and they raised questions about abuse of power.

So, did David Letterman create a hostile work environment? With me now, legal analyst Lisa Bloom and Howard Kurtz, media critic for "The Washington Post" and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES" right here on CNN.

Lisa, I want to read a portion of NOW's statement to our viewers. It says about Letterman, I quote, "As 'the boss,' he's responsible for setting the tone for his entire workplace -- and he did that with sex. In any work environment, this places all employees, including some employees who happen to be women, in an awkward, confusing and demoralizing situation."

Do you agree?

LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It will shock you, Anderson. I do agree with the National Organization for Women. I've been saying the same thing since this story broke.

It is unprofessional and inappropriate when there's this much power differential. We're not talking about co-workers. We're talking about a man who is the executive producer, host, and owner of the company, having repeated sexual relations with women who are at the low end of the totem pole.

That's inappropriate and unfair to the women who aren't having sex with him.

And what about the men in the workplace, who nobody is talking about, who don't have the opportunity for potential favoritism?

COOPER: But at this point, there's no evidence that there was favoritism involved.

BLOOM: Well, we know that Stephanie Birkitt was on the air repeatedly. She gets an extra payment when she goes on the air. Others did not get on the air, and so they're naturally going to be suspicious about that.

I mean, it's simply unprofessional. And that's why most people at the top end of the hierarchy don't engage in this kind of behavior, much less repeatedly.

COOPER: Howard, Letterman's ratings have soared, though, since the scandal broke. I mean, is he out of the woods, do you think, in terms of his career? Do you think this is going to affect it long- term?

HOWARD KURTZ, CNN HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": It could. And the short-term ratings boost could prove to be temporary. I mean, I'm glad to see the focus on what he did, because some of the pundits I've seen defending him on the PR grounds. Oh, he was so funny and he's so masterful. It seems like they're only disappointed that he didn't have sex with them.

Now, what we have here -- what we have here, as Lisa says, is a CEO who had sex with an intern. I'm not comparing Letterman to Bill Clinton, who did the same thing, or to John Ensign or to John Edwards or to Mark Sanford. But, of course, Letterman makes fun of these people for a living. It's going to be a lot harder for him to do that. Right now, he's making fun of himself. And, you know, some of the women in the audience may not find this quite so amusing as the cultural elites do.

COOPER: But Lisa, as he points out, I mean, he is the victim here of an alleged extortion or the alleged victim here. Is it appropriate to kind of be attacking him for something which has emerged because of an extortion plot?

BLOOM: Well, I think we can talk about both. And clearly, being the victim of extortion is worse than anything than Letterman has admitted to doing: sex in the workplace with consenting adults and possibly creating a hostile work environment.

That is absolutely worse. That's a crime that -- that struck terror and fear in his heart. They mentioned his 6-year-old son. Absolutely disgusting.

But now we're talking about the workplace issue. And look, I have a daughter. Do I want her, when she enters the workplace, to be in an environment where the big boss is constantly hitting on underlings, subordinates? Or do I want her to be judged on her merits?

KURTZ: How amazing, Anderson, to watch Letterman in his apology the other night say that he was shocked to find out that reporters would now be trying to find out more about who these women were.

BLOOM: Yes.

KURTZ: I mean, how long has he lived in New York? This is what the tabloid press does.

BLOOM: Yes.

COOPER: Yes. The accused extortionist, his attorney is hinting that there are other shoes yet to drop. Do you buy that or do you think that just sort of a lawyer saying what he's going to stay?

KURTZ: No, I think it's entirely possible. The attorney, Gerald Shargel, you know, wants to make Letterman's credibility an issue so he can prove that his client is not guilty of extortion. That means he's going to be deposing the women who worked on "The Late Show" staff.

So when people just reach the conclusion that, you know, Dave is going to skate here because America loves him, and he is a likable guy, I think what they're missing is that a lot more may come out.

This is a criminal proceeding. Dave can't just decide to settle it. It's now in the prosecutor's hands. And I think that we'll have more dirty laundry before this is over.

BLOOM: And Anderson, you know, people say, "Well, no woman has raised a claim." Think about what it takes to raise a claim against an A-list powerful man like David Letterman. I mean, the woman who raised the sexual harassment claim against Bill O'Reilly ultimately left the news business, left New York City entirely. I mean, it is a very scary thing to come up against a major celebrity.

COOPER: All right. Lisa Bloom, Howard Kurtz, let's leave it there. Thanks.

BLOOM: Thank you.

KURTZ: Thanks.

COOPER: Coming up next, the race to save Chicago's kids: my exclusive interview with Education Secretary Arne Duncan. He was the head of the city's public schools here before going to Washington.

"Keeping Them Honest" ahead. Asking him why the violence has gotten so bad. We'll also talk to members of the community who want answers, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: When we first reported from Chicago's South Side, it was -- well, it was two years ago, and it's a sickening feeling to be back on these same streets reporting the same story, talking about another young man or another young girl who's lost their life.

We thought that going forward something would be done to stop the killing of Chicago's kids. But that hasn't happened. And frankly, it's unacceptable.

We've come to think that this is the norm, that this is the way things are. But this is not the way things should be. Kids should not be dying on the streets of Chicago in the numbers that they are.

A senseless killing this time was caught on videotape has put Chicago's deadly epidemic in the spotlight, but it shouldn't take the fact that it was videotaped to make people pay attention. Because of that videotape and because people around the country for one of the first times in a long time took notice of the deaths here in Chicago, President Obama sent two powerful people today to meet with the mayor.

Here's what one of them, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, said earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Youth violence is not a Chicago problem. Any more than it is a black problem, a white problem, or a Hispanic problem. It is something that affects communities big and small and people of all races and all colors. It is an American problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, violence may be an American problem, but Chicago is in crisis. And urban kids are at the center. Chicago needs solution.

Earlier, I talked to the other big wig Obama sent to Chicago today: Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who actually used to run the Chicago public school system.

Here's the exclusive interview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Steve Perry, a CNN contributor, who's a principal of a high school in Connecticut, said, look, if a white kid had beaten up Derrion Albert and killed him on videotape, the community would be outraged. If it had been a white police officer, there would be marches in the streets.

But the fact that it's African-American kids killing another African-American kid, people seem to accept that. And that's not something that should be accepted.

DUNCAN: It's absolutely unacceptable. And so everyone has to step up, Anderson. Nobody gets a pass. Everybody: parents, the community, the clergy, political leaders, all of us need to step up.

The answer, Anderson, isn't just more police. The answer is really how do we get to our children from the earliest of ages? How do we instill in them a love of life? How do we love them so they can in turn know how to love other children? How can we respect them so they in turn can show respect?

That's what this is about. Everybody has to step up. Everyone has to stop pointing fingers, and they have to be part of the solution.

COOPER: Is that something the government, though, can provide?

DUNCAN: This -- of course, Anderson, this isn't about the federal government. This is about the federal government supporting the great work of local communities. This is about local communities stepping up and saying, child by child, "We're going to work with you. We're going to stay with you through good times and bad times. We're going to give you an adult in your life who can show you how to be successful."

COOPER: You know, it does seem, though, that year after year this thing just keeps on going. And Mayor Daley has been the mayor of Chicago since '89.

DUNCAN: I hate to say it, Anderson. Maybe it takes a video. Maybe this is the video age and maybe it takes seeing a death on film to galvanize the country.

It takes people witnessing it with their own eyes for them to truly understand the horror. So maybe this time it's different.

COOPER: These politicians have press conferences and the mayor gets up, and the aldermen are all standing behind him. But this happens year after year after year. And these folks have been in power an awfully long time. Why should anyone believe that mayor Daley or the aldermen here are making this their top priority?

DUNCAN: Well, you have an absolutely passionate mayor. I'm a little biased, I'm from here. I think he's one of the best mayors in the country.

COOPER: You used to work for him.

DUNCAN: One of the best mayors in the country. He's put his heart and soul behind this.

But political leaders, Anderson, you know, they can't solve it. I think so often, we want to point fingers; we want to blame. We want to play a game. It's not constructive. It doesn't get us to the answers.

One gentleman on the board today talked about, you know, it's heartbreaking -- he said, you know, I want to build a park. My dad's gone. I want to try to build a relationship with my mother, but she's drinking her life away. I can't help her. I've got to try to get my life together. I have to try to keep moving forward.

That's the reality of what the students are dealing with.

COOPER: Final question. Do you still believe, as you did in 2007, that if this was happening in a rich suburb, the reaction would be different, the response would be different?

DUNCAN: I think we have too many deaths whether it's here in Chicago or whether it's northern Illinois, whether it's Columbine. This is not a Chicago issue. That's what this is about.

COOPER: Thank you very much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: That was Arne Duncan.

It's interesting. Two years ago, Arne Duncan said when he was heads of the public school system here, he said that if this was happening in a rich suburb in Chicago or outside Chicago, if kids in rich suburbs, in a white suburb were getting killed on this level, there would be -- all hell would break loose; that there would be a national outcry.

But the fact that it's happening in this neighborhood, people have come to accept it as being normal, and it should not be accepted as normal. I mean, there's nothing about -- normal is not what's happening there.

I want to introduce you to some of the people from the community who just came out tonight to talk to us. This is Albert Sanders Vaughn. You actually lost your son here. How long ago?

ALBERT VAUGHN, SR., CHICAGO RESIDENT: Actually 18 months and one day to today's date.

COOPER: What happened to him?

VAUGHN: He was the 23rd public school student killed to street violence. He was killed with a bat. He was beaten with a bat in front of the Chicago police.

COOPER: Have the people who did it, were they apprehended?

VAUGHN: Yes.

COOPER: And how do you see the violence here? Do you believe things can change?

VAUGHN: Yes, it can change. We're doing a lot of things to help it change, but we need help in the community with these community leaders. They say they're doing things but they haven't stepped up and done nothing yet. The mayor, not the aldermen, nobody; they do nothing.

COOPER: The mayor has been in power since 1989. It's not as if they haven't had time to kind of look at the problem. What do you -- what do you think the problem is?

SONYA WILLIAMS, CHICAGO RESIDENT: Well, in my dealing with the school system, I think that's where it starts.

COOPER: The school?

WILLIAMS: The school. Because when my daughter was attending Julian High School, I complained numerous times about the security there, just before the young man Blair was murdered. And nothing was done.

I spoke with the principal. I e-mailed Arne Duncan and I went to the district...

COOPER: And it takes a death for someone to actually do something.

WILLIAMS: Before it's recognized.

COOPER: Rod, you actually speak to young people around the country. You speak to kids here. What do you see as the problem?

ROD MOYER, CHICAGO RESIDENT: You know, I think that a standard needs to be set. As I was mentioning, everybody does not have a Steve Perry standard of non-negotiable greatness where, you know, we're not just having a committee, a program. Let's get you off the street and good.

No. Let's -- let's, you know, become doctors. Let's become lawyers. Let's program you how to think and be willing to do what's necessary in order to get it done.

I would probably -- I would say about 250 different cities over the last year, and whether it's an affluent area, an inner city, I find that all students are very bright. They're smart. They want to learn. They want to be successful. And, you know, I'm very proud that we're out there helping these individuals to change.

COOPER: But when you see a memorial like this, what goes through your mind?

WILLIAMS: Seeing that I live in the neighborhood and I have grandchildren that are young, it's kind of frightening, because you're not safe to walk to the store.

COOPER: Have you seen too many of these memorials?

VAUGHN: Too many. We're seeing too many. And I've got too many stories of these young men and some girls, ladies (INAUDIBLE) with these senseless -- murders, they're senseless in Chicago. We need help. We're crying out for help.

Mayor Daley, where are you? We need help.

COOPER: We tried to interview the mayor today and the last couple days. He declined our request. We leave it open to the mayor any time he wants to come and talk to us.

Albert, appreciate you being with us. Sonya, as well. Rod, as well. Thank you very much.

When we come back, we'll give you a quick update of the top headlines of the day. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Let's get caught up on some of the other stories we're following. Randi Kaye has a "360 Bulletin" -- Randi.

KAYE: Hi, Anderson. And undercover sting operation found that gun show dealers repeatedly sold weapons to buyers who admitted they would failed a background check. The sting, commissioned by New York City, took place in Tennessee, Ohio, and Nevada; states that allow the unlicensed dealers to sell weapons without conducting background checks.

Federal health officials are urging Americans to get vaccinated against the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu. They say it is safe and effective. But a new poll suggests a third of parents don't want their kids to get those shots.

And Wallace Souza, a former Brazilian TV host and politician accused of orchestrating killings to boost the ratings of his daily crime show, has gone missing, just as an arrest warrant was issued in his name; very creative timing there.

COOPER: Curious, bizarre, unbelievable.

That does it for 360. Thanks for watching.

"LARRY KING" starts right now.