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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

9/11 Suspects Headed to Civilian Court; Sarah Palin Revealed

Aired November 13, 2009 - 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: Tonight: This man, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, is coming to New York, along with four other terror suspects accused of engineering the September 11 attacks.

Is it misguided, even irresponsible, to bring them to a civilian court to stand trial just blocks from where the World Trade Center stood? The backlash has begun. We're "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.

Also ahead: "Raw Politics": Sarah Palin's version of the 2008 campaign and much more, an early look at her new book and the controversy it's already causing.

And, later, a 360 exclusive: never-before-seen photos and recordings of Charles Manson. The convicted killer is turning 75 this week. We give you a look at his world behind bars and the people who, believe it or not, still follow him to this day.

First up tonight: the trial terror announced today by Attorney General Eric Holder. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks, is going to be tried in a federal court in New York, along with four other 9/11 suspects.

Now, we all remember this picture taken of Mohammed just after his capture in Pakistan back in March of 2003. Who can forget that image? He was held in secret prisons run by the CIA and then transferred to Guantanamo Bay in 2006.

Take a look now, a more recent photo taken at Guantanamo. During interrogations at a military hearing, Mohammed allegedly took full credit for orchestrating the 9/11 attacks. But he was also water- boarded 183 times in U.S. custody.

Defense attorneys will no doubt use that fact to try to keep key evidence out of court. Mohammed also allegedly claims he personally decapitated kidnapped "Wall Street Journal" reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan. The beheading, of course, was videotaped.

Today's announcement comes as the Obama administration is scrambling to meet deadlines on how to deal with the remaining prisoners at Guantanamo.

President Obama, who is traveling in Asia, signed an executive order in January to close the prison within a year. Now, today, a lot of Republicans and conservatives blasted Mr. Obama's decision. They call it dangerous, shortsighted, said it was taking the country back to September 10, when this country had its guard down. Some also said it was cowardly of his administration to make the announcement while Mr. Obama was in Asia, so he wouldn't have to answer his critics.

Now, we should point out that the idea of trying terrorists in court didn't come out of thin air. In fact, "Keeping Them Honest," back in May of 2006, President Bush himself said he, too, would like to close Guantanamo and put terrorists on trial in America. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JULY 11, 2006)

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We would like to end the Guantanamo. We would like it to be empty. And we're now in the process of working with countries to repatriate people.

But there are some that, if put out on the streets, would create grave harm to American citizens and other citizens of the world. And, therefore, I think they ought to be tried in courts here in the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Attorney General Holder also announced today that another set of high-profile detainees will be tried before military commissions. One of those suspects is accused of planning the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen.

Now, we don't take sides on this program. We try to present multiple points of view, so you can make up your own mind. Joining me now is senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, also national security analyst Peter Bergen, Joe Johns, and Kirk Lippold, who was the commander of the USS Cole when it was attacked by suicide bombers.

Jeff, you say this may become one of the biggest challenges the federal courts have ever faced. How so?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely.

Think about the different problems bringing this case to trial. Can you get a fair jury just blocks away from ground zero? Can you have security that makes everyone feel like this is not a battle zone in Lower Manhattan? How do you deal with the fact that he was tortured?

What happens to the evidence? What happens to the statements that he made? Can you turn over in discovery material highly classified information that will undoubtedly come up in this trial to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is one of the most dangerous people in the world? What risk do you take to national security to disclose this information?

All of that has to be dealt with by one judge, one set of lawyers for the prosecution, one group of defense lawyers. And it's not clear that it can be done. It probably can be, but it's not a sure thing.

COOPER: A lot to talk about. Joe, you have been talking to a lot of well-known defense attorneys, prosecutors. What do they make of this decision?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: You know, the opponents, Anderson, are simply not polite about it. I did talk to a number of people who actually used to work in the justice system, among them, Joe diGenova, a former Republican United States attorney from the District of Columbia.

He called this thing idiotic and mind-bogglingly reckless, an invitation to attack the United States. Bruce Fein was a Republican who came out of the Reagan Justice Department. He had a little bit of a different take on it. He said this was simply an overexaggeration of the danger to show people, we have got to stay in Afghanistan.

And, on the other hand, though, if you talk to people who favor the decision, they're more skeptical of the notion of the military actually holding commissions or trials or whatever. Talked to Jim Benjamin, who is a former prosecutor out of the Southern District of New York, and he actually wrote a study on how prosecutors do this.

He said: "Our courts have demonstrated that they're capable of handling cases like this. The results are credible, reliable and fair."

On a practical level, he asks, are the other systems, like the military commissions or whatever, going to work? Are they going to be as accepted, as credible, especially overseas, Anderson?

COOPER: Kirk, you were the commander of the USS Cole at the time of the attack on it. You helped the Joint Chiefs of Staff craft its current detainee policy. Should these men be tried in federal court?

KIRK LIPPOLD, FORMER COMMANDER, USS COLE: I don't think they should, Anderson.

I think that military commissions clearly were recognized today as being a proper venue for trying these terrorists down in Guantanamo Bay. To split them between two systems doesn't make much sense.

And, in fact, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed should have stayed down there, because it's been proven, after numerous legal challenges during the Bush administration, and with revisions that we recently have, the military commissions process will work, will work fairly. And they will get the fair hearing that they deserve.

COOPER: And you're saying it should be a military court because, what, these were participants in a war?

LIPPOLD: I do. I believe that this was an act of war, both the attack on USS Cole and the attacks of 9/11. And you have to look at the evidence that was gathered.

Everyone likes to point to previous cases, saying we successfully prosecuted them. The reality of it is, the evidence gathered in those previous cases was done with an evidentiary standard that they would be introduced into the federal court system.

In the case of USS Cole and especially 9/11, much of the evidence that was gathered was done post-9/11, where there was a war footing on, and that the evidentiary standards were not necessarily met for introduction into those court systems, whereas they could be successfully prosecuted under the military commission system.

COOPER: Peter, Peter Bergen, what do you think is behind this decision to try some suspects in federal courts, instead of military commissions?

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh, the operational commanders of 9/11, is probably one of the easiest cases you could possibly imagine, because they -- they admitted the whole plot when they weren't even in American custody.

They went on Al-Jazeera. They gave two days of interviews. They laid out exactly how they planned it, how they communicated with the hijackers in the United States, how they selected the targets, how they trained the 19 hijackers. It's all out there.

This is long before they were in custody, long before anybody was coerced or water-boarded or any of the above. In a sense, this is one of the easiest cases in history to try. Jeffrey, of course, has pointed out all the various problems, but, from a factual point of view, this is extremely easy.

And, you know, we have had cases that are similar. The U.S. Embassy cases involved more than 200 people being killed, tried in the same courtroom. Everybody involved got life without parole. They ended up in Supermax, Florence, Colorado, prison, which makes Guantanamo look like a Sunday picnic.

And these guys may not end up in Supermax. They may be executed. After all, Eric Holder is going to pursue the death penalty with these guys.

COOPER: I want to get Kirk's reaction to that and our other panelists, but just stay with us, guys. We have got to take a quick break.

I want to know what you think at home as well. Should these folks be put on trial here in New York? Join the live chat now under way at AC360.com. I have already logged on.

Our panel is going to be back after the break, as I said. You can also text your questions and thoughts to our panelists at AC360, or 22360.

Now, later on 360: Sarah Palin in her own words, taking shots at her critics, and revealing what she really thinks about Katie Couric. It's all in her new book. John McCain already has his signed copy. A lot of McCain staffers are already saying what she's writing about them is flat-out false. Coming up, hear if McCain thinks Palin should run for the White House in 2012. Also tonight, never-before-scenes photos of the man behind the Helter Skelter killings. This is the first time we have ever seen this picture. Charles Manson turned 75 this week. He still has a strong hold over some loyal followers. Some folks we have met actually moved to California to be close to him. You will meet them and hear the voice of Manson tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We're talking about the Justice Department's decision to bring five 9/11 terror suspects to New York to be tried in federal court just blocks from where the Twin Towers once stood, among them, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the attacks.

Now, the decision is being blasted by some, praised by others. "Keeping Them Honest," we're looking at all the angles.

Our panel joins me again, Jeffrey Toobin, Joe Johns, Peter Bergen, and Kirk Lippold.

Jeff, tonight's 360 text question comes from Monica in Texas. She writes: "A family member of one of the victims expressed her dismay over Attorney General Holder's decision to try the accused in New York. What other location would be a viable alternative?"

TOOBIN: Well, you know, the tradition in American law enforcement is, you try a case where the crime took place. And this crime primarily took place in New York. So, there's nothing extraordinary about it.

The real question here is, do you do it in an American court? And if you do it in American court, you have pretty much have to do it in New York. Or do you do the military tribunal? I mean, the Bush administration was very much heading that way. They built a very substantial courthouse -- I was there -- on Guantanamo Bay, on the Navy base. They were getting ready to try people there.

But that was a very different system. The courts have not approved that. You -- the defendants had many fewer rights in a military tribunal than they do in a United States district court. So, it would have been a legally risky proposition, although it certainly wouldn't have been practically risky. It's a very isolated place.

The -- the Obama administration took a very different direction. They said, look, we are going to prove to the world we can try these cases in a completely fair way. Now they have their chance to see if they can do it.

COOPER: Kirk, I want to read you a quote from House Republican Leader John Boehner, who said in a statement today, he said, "This decision is further evidence that the White House is reverting to a dangerous pre-9/11 mentality, treating terrorism as a law enforcement issue and hoping for the best."

Do you agree with that? Or do you -- do you agree that -- or do you believe that some sort of trials were -- were -- are the right thing to do?

LIPPOLD: There needs to be some type of judicial process. The reality comes down is that many people are still conflicted on whether this is a law enforcement action or a war effort.

I mean, clearly, we're at war. Look at the number of troops that we have engaged across the globe fighting the war on terror. The reality of it is, is that this needs to be tried, I believe, in a military commissions process, and the proper location is Guantanamo Bay.

We have already made an investment down there, not only in the court facilities, but the detention facilities as well, to an amount almost approaching $300 million. In these economic times, why shift them elsewhere? And why incur those security risks that were previously brought up just to prove a political point?

COOPER: Peter...

BERGEN: Can I suggest a reason for that?

COOPER: Yes, go ahead.

BERGEN: I mean, there have been 800 detainees at Guantanamo, and there have been three convictions, which is a conviction rate of less than 0.5 percent.

Federal courts in major jihadist terrorism cases get about a 100 percent conviction rate. So, the military commissions just have been a failure. Now, of course, Captain Lippold is correctly to say that improvements have been made.

But we're now eight years after 9/11, and it's probably going to be quicker to get this through the federal system than to go through the military commissions that have proven to be, essentially, a failure.

COOPER: Captain Lippold?

LIPPOLD: I do want to take that bet, because what you're going to see is, any time they get introduced into the federal court system, you are going to begin the legal challenge process, just as was undergoing in the Bush administration. And the 9/11 victims are going to suffer through years and years more of delayed justice for the people that killed their loved ones.

JOHNS: Anderson, hey, I just wanted to throw in something, because there are some statistics on this stuff. And we actually have a graphic, if the guys can pull it up.

This is a study that came out earlier this year that talks about outcomes in terrorism cases that the Justice Department has actually looked at. There you see it, 289 defendants -- charges still spending as of June, at least, 73 -- charges resolved, 214 -- convicted of any charge, 193 -- that's 91 percent -- and acquittals in only 8.9 percent of the cases. So, Justice Department can say they have a halfway decent record on stuff like this.

COOPER: Well, so, Peter, are you arguing that -- that the military tribunals have -- they have a lower rate than this, lower conviction rate?

BERGEN: Well, they have got a -- they have got a 0.5 percent rate, I mean. In terms of the convictions of the people who are at Guantanamo, they have been a failure.

TOOBIN: Well, they haven't -- they haven't had that many trials. They just -- they haven't been able to get the military commission system up and running.

The advantage of the United States district court is that it is a -- it is a system that is in place. And, you know, yes, this trial will take a very long time. I would be surprised if a jury is seated in this case before 2011. But we do know how to try criminal cases. And, eventually, it will get done.

COOPER: We're going to have to leave it there. It's a good discussion.

Jeff Toobin, Joe Johns, Peter Bergen, Kirk Lippold, appreciate you all being on. Thank you.

Still ahead tonight: new details about the Fort Hood shooting suspect. Tonight, we know more about his injuries. We will tell you what his condition is and whether he will able -- ever be able to walk again.

Plus, pictures you will only see on CNN of convicted murderer Charles Manson. That's him now. This week, 75 years old, he turned. He spent half his life in prison, still has devoted followers, if you can believe it. Some were born after the notorious Helter Skelter killings. What do they actually see in this guy? Some of them have moved to California to be near the prison, so they can talk to him on a daily basis. You will meet them and hear his voice in recordings -- ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Still ahead on 360: Oprah on Sarah Palin. You are going to hear from Oprah, what she thought of her one-on-one interview with the former V.P. candidate.

But, first, some of the other important stories we're following -- Randi Kaye has a 360 bulletin -- Randi.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we have a 360 follow on the Louisiana congressman who had $90,000 stashed in his freezer. A judge today sentenced William Jefferson to 13 years in prison on 11 counts of corruption. But get this. Jefferson still keeps his pension. We will have much more about this on Monday night, "Keeping Them Honest." The Army major who allegedly killed 13 people and wounded dozens more at Fort Hood last week is paralyzed from the waist down. That came from Major Nidal Hasan's lawyer today.

A newly released arrested warrant reveals how police say Raymond Clark tried to cover up the murder of a Yale graduate student. Annie Le was found stuffed behind a wall in September. Police became suspicious when Clark scrubbed floors after the murder and tried to move a box of bloody wipes from the view of an investigator.

And the balloon boy's parents pleaded guilty today for the hoax that captivated the nation -- Richard Heene accepting a felony charge, his wife, Mayumi, a misdemeanor. They face probation and possible jail time when they're sentenced next month -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right.

Balloon boy parents inspired our "Beat 360" winners tonight, our daily challenge to viewers, a chance to show up our staffers by coming up with a better caption for the photo that we put on the blog every day.

So, here's the picture -- you just saw the video -- Richard Heene and his wife, Mayumi, right after pleading guilty to charges in connection to the balloon hoax.

Our staff winner is Ish. His caption: "Mr. Heene, does your son know who the hell Wolf is now?"

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Our viewer winner is Patty Banks (ph) from Palmdale, California.

I liked that one.

Her caption: "CNN asks the Heenes: Will you appear on Larry King tonight? They reply: That would be very inappropriate."

Patty, your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way. Congratulations.

Coming up next: Sarah Palin revealed. We will have an early look at her book, what she says about Katie Couric, and her stories about the McCain campaign, which former McCain staffers, by the way, are already saying are simply not true.

And, later, Charles Manson turned 75 this week. We will show you what his life is like now -- exclusive new photographs from inside the prison and the people who have moved near his prison so they can follow him. Bizarre.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight: new details on Sarah Palin's point of view. You don't have to wait for her book to come out to know what she thinks of Katie Couric or the way Palin says the McCain advisers treated her during the campaign.

That's because we have got hold of parts of "Going Rogue." And they are provocative, personal, and definitely political.

Oprah Winfrey, whose interview with Palin airs on Monday, offered this Web tease -- on what to expect.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, HARPO PRODUCTIONS)

OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW": ... Palin just left.

And it was really an interesting interview. You know, lots of people didn't want me to have her on. Lots of people did. Lots of her supporters didn't think that she should come here. But she did. And we talked about everything.

We talked about inside the campaign, about what it felt like when she first was asked to be vice president, the candidate. We talked about Bristol, the pregnancy. We talked about Trig, her baby. We talked about Levi Johnston.

We talked about...

(LAUGHTER)

WINFREY: her marriage. We talked about -- we talked about everything. There's -- there's nothing that we didn't talk about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Palin covered a lot of territory with Oprah and, as you will see, with her book.

Candy Crowley reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While Sarah Palin rolls out "Going Rogue," her former running mate is going mellow.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I have heard about it. I just received a signed copy of it from her yesterday. So, I will have to look -- I will read it with interest.

CROWLEY: The "Reader's Digest" version is that Sarah Palin is not happy with the way she was treated by the McCain campaign or the media.

The conservative Drudge Report says it contained a portion of the book in which Palin claims McCain campaign adviser Nicolle Wallace pushed for the now-famous Katie Couric interview, arguing the CBS anchor needed a -- quote -- "career boost. 'She just has such low self-esteem,' Nicolle said. She added that Katie was going through a tough time. 'She just feels she can't trust anybody.'" In a phone conversation with CNN, Wallace denied the gist and specifics of Palin's account. "Not a single thing quoted under my name is anything I ever said or would say in a million years."

According to Drudge, Palin also writes there was something peculiar about the way Wallace talked about her days as White House communications director for President Bush. "She didn't have much to say that was positive about her former boss or the job in general."

Wallace says Palin is making stuff up. "It's not even like it's slightly wrong. It's like I feel totally the opposite. I would never disparage the president. I adored him then and I adore him now."

Wallace does agree with Palin's recent assessment on Oprah of the Couric interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW")

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Because I knew it wasn't a good interview.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Also in dispute, Palin's claim reported by the AP that she had to pay the legal fees for her own vetting as a vice presidential possibility -- 100 percent untrue, said a former senior McCain official.

This she said/they said is a great way to sell books. They don't give million-dollar advances for policy dissertations. But it may not be the best politics.

PALIN: It's snowing in Alaska right now.

CROWLEY: The Palin camp won't comment on any of this. But one Palin supporter said of the few snippets he has read, it just doesn't scream presidential.

Still, Palin's core, conservatives who think she got a raw deal from the media and the campaign, will love it and buy it.

And not every McCainiac takes offense.

MCCAIN: One of the things about campaigns that lose, there's always mistakes made. And the campaign that wins is always the perfect campaign.

I'm proud of the campaign we ran. I'm proud of Sarah Palin. And we continue to have a great and wonderful relationship.

CROWLEY: And that makes two of them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Candy, we saw in your piece John McCain had nothing but nice things to say about Palin. It's a different story for -- for his aides and his former campaign aides.

CROWLEY: It is. And there's a couple reasons for that.

First of all, from what we have seen in this book, most of it -- most the complaints, so much of what some people see as whining, is toward McCain aides, not toward John McCain himself. We continue to see Sarah Palin talk about the top of the Republican ticket as an American hero and how proud she was.

The two of them have kept up a relationship. I wouldn't call it a close relationship, but they are cordial to one another. He has got a copy of -- an autographed copy of her book.

So, listen, that's why God made campaign aides.

(LAUGHTER)

CROWLEY: They catch the grenades. So,all of this -- all of this sort of frustration that she had, any kind of settling of scores is aimed at people below John McCain. And then they keep the surface smooth.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: We're going to be back with Candy Crowley after the break, also John King, who's just back from Palin's hometown, Wasilla, Alaska, on what people there think of the former governor. Plus, we will bring you more new details from new book. That's next.

And later: Charles Manson turning 75 this week, what the murderer looks like now. We have exclusive pictures of him. That's one of them, the first time we have seen that picture. Also, you will hear his voice recordings ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Sarah Palin's new book is already a best-seller. It's not out until Tuesday, but parts of "Going Rogue" were leaked today, and they revealed Palin is taking pointed shots at her critics like Katie Couric and McCain advisors that she claims kept her bottled up during the campaign.

As the -- as for Senator McCain, as Candy Crowley mentioned just moments ago, he plans on reading the book this weekend. Today he was asked if his former running mate will be the party's choice for president in '12. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think that there are many viable candidates out there. And I think that Sarah Palin is obviously one of them. And we'll start through the process in about a year or so of selecting our nominee. But I think she's a very strong force in the Republican Party. I don't -- I can't predict who's going to get the nomination. But I certainly think she would be competitive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: We're "Digging Deeper." Back with Candy Crowley and John King, who recently spent some time in Palin's hometown of Wasilla, Alaska.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: John, the McCain campaign has already denied a reported claim in her book that they stuck her with a big legal fee for the vetting process. Are you surprised by the sort of sniping between the two camps at this point?

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Not surprised by the sniping. We do know the campaign ended bitterly and that she felt that she was mismanaged, put in a box by campaign aides. So there was definitely some bad blood there.

I think the two candidates, as Candy noted, try to keep their peace. Sarah Palin clearly has issues with the way she was managed. And she's trying to essentially say to those who didn't like her performance in the campaign that some of it, and a significant portion of it, was not her fault. That that's the way she was managed and vice-presidential candidates have to do what they are told to do.

But a lot of people, Anderson, are saying she wants to be president in the future, some of this seems pretty small.

COOPER: Candy, does that -- does it make her look petty, the fact that she's sort of still talking about, you know, the bad interview with Katie Couric and laying blame on what happened and when?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the conflicting needs of publishing and politics. You cannot publish a book unless you're going to say stuff like this in it, because that's what makes people read it, is to go after names, to name names.

So she had that dynamic going on to make some money. She got the million dollar up front. Now it's a best seller. So it's got to have something in it.

But if you're going to be in politics, as John said, especially if you're going to be in presidential politics, this is not a particularly presidential autobiography, if you're going to blame everybody else around you for what went on.

So -- but I will also say that many of these things and many of these criticisms in this book will ring very true in the core of Sarah Palin's support, which are conservatives who don't like the media, who do think -- who were suspect of John McCain and who do think that she was mishandled. COOPER: It's interesting, John, because I think Candy raises a very good point. You know, this book is really geared toward her core supporters, who are going to believe it as gospel, no matter how many McCain aides say, "Look, that never actually happened."

I mean, even the notion that she was being held back by the McCain campaign. She seems to be arguing two different things. On one hand, she's saying she was held back from doing media interviews, but then she said she had to be pushed into doing the Katie Couric interview.

KING: Look, some of this is going to be a conflicting message. But to your core point there, she does have a base of support. If you look at the polls, she runs roughly 20 percent among Republicans when they're asked who they want to be their presidential candidate.

Would she be that candidate? Can she withstand the rigors of a presidential campaign, not being the vice-presidential nominee? Those are questions down the road if she decides to jump in.

COOPER: John, you were just in Wasilla, Alaska. Were people there eagerly anticipating the book? What do they kind of think of her now?

KING: It is fascinating. Wasilla is finally mostly back to normal. I was there mostly, Anderson. I was doing my holiday shopping. This is the 2010 Sarah Palin calendar. Great pictures of Sarah Palin. Here's one in a native Alaskan outfit up here.

Look, they are divided over Sarah Palin just like the people of the country are. They love her. They think she's feisty. They think she's independent. They have questions themselves about whether she's qualified for president.

I stopped in a book store that says -- it's called Pandemonium Books. The owner says they are shattering orders, the preorders for this book. And she says the debate over Sarah Palin has reignited. And what she told us was there's no black -- I mean, there's plenty of black and plenty of white, but when it comes to Sarah Palin, absolutely no gray.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHANNON CULLIP, WASILLA BOOKSTORE OWNER: It's either one extreme or the other, I would say. People either completely, completely have her on a pedestal or don't like her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: All of Alaska, whether you're an everyday Alaskan or political Alaskan, they want to read this, too. Because they want some clues about what next.

COOPER: Candy, you know, there was a lot of talk about what she's going to be doing if she need to prepare for a 2012 run. And there was a lot of talk about her needing to kind of research stuff, kind of get -- find her voice, write some things. Clearly, she's writing stuff on Facebook, or someone is writing for her. You know, she has a ghost writer on this book.

Do you think she's -- she's growing? I mean, do you think she is following that trail of, you know, doing research on issues, figuring out what her position is? You know, so that she can argue it more effectively next time around?

CROWLEY: I will tell you that I've talked to so many people, former Palin supporters, current Palin supporters who say, listen, the minute she stepped down from being governor of Alaska and lost a way to kind of grow as a politician, it became incumbent upon her to take on some of these serious issues, to expand beyond the social issues that she talks about -- abortion, those sorts of issues -- to other things to kind of broaden her resume, if you will.

They believe that this book could provide a turning point.

COOPER: Interesting. John King, Candy Crowley, thank you very much.

KING: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: You can go to AC360.com to read John King's piece on how Palin's new book is reigniting the debate over her in her hometown of Wasilla.

Coming up next week, a 360 investigation revealing the reasons behind the killings of four Iraqi prisoners shot execution-style at a Baghdad canal. Three Army sergeants gunned down those detainees.

This soldier, a private who was one of the last to see the men alive, describes how his first sergeant decided not to take the detainees in, because he feared they would just be released, since there was not enough evidence to hold them.

Special investigations correspondent Abbie Boudreau asked Joshua Hartson what happened before the men were killed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PRIVATE JOSHUA HARTSON, U.S. ARMY: My first sergeant comes up to me and pulls me away from everybody. And he asks me, if we take them to the detainee facility, the diha (ph), that they'll be right back on the streets doing the same thing in a matter of weeks. He asked if I had a problem if we take care of them, and I told him no.

ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What do you think he meant by that?

HARTSON: To kill him.

BOUDREAU: How could you be OK with that? HARTSON: They were bad guys. If we would have let them go or take them in, we risked the chance of them getting out and killing us, killing other people.

BOUDREAU: And did any of them speak English?

HARTSON: The one on my right did.

BOUDREAU: So did you try talking to him?

HARTSON: I talked to him.

BOUDREAU: What did he say?

HARTSON: I asked him if he killed Americans, made bombs. And he laughed about the questions.

BOUDREAU: What did that tell you?

HARTSON: Yes, he did. And apparently, it's funny. He enjoys it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: The four Iraqis were lined up next to the Baghdad canal and killed. All three sergeants were eventually convicted of premeditated murder. We'll take a hard look at the Army's policy for detaining prisoners in our four-part investigation, "Killings of the Canal: The Army Tapes." Begins Tuesday night on 360.

Up next, though, tonight Charles Manson like you haven't seen him before. Exclusive new photos of the mass murderer who just celebrated his 75th birthday. Plus new audio tape. The phone conversations between Manson and two of his devoted followers. That's right. New followers who visit him at the prison where he spent half his life.

Also ahead, a shocking twist in the death investigation of a census worker. It once appeared to be a hate crime. Did he actually stage the scene, making it look like murder and in fact, it was a suicide, including writing "Fed" across his own chest? The latest, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: This week, Charles Manson, the mastermind behind the notorious 1969 Helter-Skelter killing spree, turned 75. He relished the infamy, parading through parole board cameras with his rants and ramblings and a swastika carved in his forehead.

What's his life like now? We have exclusive new pictures and details from Manson's world behind bars. Ted Rowlands brings them to you in tonight's "Crime & Punishment" report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHARLES MANSON, CONVICTED MURDERER: The atmosphere is dying. TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You're listening to Charles Manson in a recent conversation.

MANSON: Crime is anything that's done against your survival. Any sin that's against your life is crime.

ROWLANDS: He's on the phone from prison, and these are exclusive new photographs of Manson obtained by CNN.

MANSON: The world order of the court in crime and punishment is the air is God.

ROWLANDS: Manson's been in prison for four decades. The man who once convinced followers to murder for him is today convincing people to believe in him.

(on camera) Manson has spent the last 20 years here at California's Corcoran State Prison. He's housed in a special high- security unit in the middle of the jail.

According to prison officials, he still gets a lot of mail and spends most of his days playing his guitar and singing.

(MUSIC)

ROWLANDS (voice-over): This is Manson singing and playing guitar. Over the years, his recorders have been smuggled out of prison and put on a CD.

(MUSIC)

ROWLANDS: But friends say the telephone is Manson's main life line. That's how he follows current events, and it's a pulpit for his sermons on the environment.

MANSON: Without the air, we cannot survive. Anything that's made in the law should be against the criminals that are destroying your air. The air is all you've got.

ROWLANDS: For Manson it's a message to the faithful, like this man. Manson named him Gray Wolf. Gray Wolf says he talks to Manson almost every day, mostly about what Manson called ATWA. It stands for air, trees, water, animals. It's Manson's theory on the destruction of the environment.

MANSON: Crime, criminals, law, courts and religions are destroying the planet earth in a holy war to destroy all life. You've got to stop all the pollution or there is no life on earth.

GRAY WOLF, MANSON FRIEND: The main thing is that I know he's a truthful person. That's the main thing. I feel like he has a wealth of experience and a perspective that is unusual and valid.

MANSON: Gray Wolf is 60. He says he's been talking to Manson for more than ten years, and he visits Manson in prison. Two years ago he moved near the prison to be close to Manson. STAR, MANSON FRIEND: Hello.

MANSON: Hello. They had storms in Malaysia.

STAR: Oh, yes?

ROWLANDS: This woman is also devoted to Manson. She regularly calls and visits him. Manson named her Star. She's 21 and bears an eerie resemblance to the so-called Manson girls, the young women who were convicted of murdering for Manson 40 years ago.

The murders happened 19 years before Star was born. She says she wasn't drawn to Manson because of his crimes, but because of his views on the environment.

MANSON: A war against people is not going to help anybody. A war against pollution will help everyone.

STAR: He's really witty, and he's really sharp. And he's got a lot of good humor. He's got a weird sense of humor, but it's -- I like it. It fits with me.

ROWLANDS: Gray Wolf and Star say Manson knows that Susan Atkins recently died. She was one of the Manson girls convicted of the Tate/LaBianca murders, although she eventually turned on Manson.

They also report Manson was happy that Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme was recently released from prison. Fromme was also a Manson girl. She didn't participate in the gruesome Helter-Skelter murders, but she was jailed for trying to assassinate President ford.

So what is it about Charles Manson? Why are a 60-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman, and others, devoted to a 75-year-old convicted murderer?

WOLF: A legend has been made about Charlie Manson, and there's a media image that people make money off every day. But it has nothing to do with Charlie personally. He's a personable person.

ROWLANDS: But that hardly explains a life of devotion to a man who, in 1969, terrified the country. A man who today, on his 75th birthday, is no longer the frightening, wild-eyed maniac and yet somehow, even behind bars, he still has the power to draw true believers.

Ted Rowlands, CNN, Corcoran, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: It's hard to believe anyone would follow that guy.

For Vincent Bugliosi, who prosecuted Manson, the cult of personality continues to follow the infamous killer he put away for life. He's the author of "Helter Skelter," the definitive book on the case. I spoke to him earlier this week for the "Uncovering America" report. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Mr. Bugliosi, do you think people should worry about visitors that Manson gets, the devotees that Manson gets? We've just seen two people actually moved to California to be closer to this guy and talk to him on the phone every day.

VINCENT BUGLIOSI, PROSECUTED MANSON: I don't think so, Anderson. This is just a microcosm of the tremendous interest and fascination that people still have with Charles Manson, not just here but England and Europe. The "L.A. Times" said a couple years ago that Manson got more mail than any other inmate in U.S. prison history. So he's just a fascinating figure.

The Manson Family no longer exists. There's no group calling themselves the Manson Family on the outside. And these people, I wouldn't say they're followers of Manson. That's too strong a word. They're supporters, mostly young kids. They think it's hip to say that Manson is cool.

These are people that really don't know Charles Manson. They're going through a rebellious stage in their life, and they view Manson as an anti-authority figure, which, of course, he is. He's kind of a glorious outlaw to them like Jesse James or John Dillinger. But I don't think there's anything to worry about. These are not hard-core followers of Manson.

COOPER: It's strange, though. Because I mean, I look at these pictures of Charles Manson tonight, and I hear his rambling, you know, voice on a telephone. And he just seems like an old crazy guy. I mean, he just seems like, you know, a deranged person who's not making any sense, and yet, there is some sort of mystique to him. Is he charismatic in person?

BUGLIOSI: He's crazy the way Adolf Hitler was crazy. He's just a very evil, sophisticated con man. But he's not -- he's not deranged.

I don't think there's any question that he's charismatic. The evidence, empirically, is very clear that when he was starting his family, wherever he went for some strange reason, people -- young kids seemed to gravitate around him. And as I've said, he didn't have to get up on any orange crate and start screaming to get attention. So he definitely is a charismatic figure.

Another example is these murders used to be called the Tate murders before Manson was apprehended. Now they say the Tate/LaBianca murders. But shorthand, Tate murders. Manson appears on the scene, and he's so charismatic that he upstages the victims, and then it becomes known as the Manson murders.

But when you're saying that he rambles and he says things that don't seem to make much sense, Manson has a tendency to speak in riddles. But you type up what he said and you read what he said, normally there's some underlying message. So he's not deranged or crazy. He's just a very bad human being. COOPER: Does he like the attention? Does he like the people -- I mean, I guess he likes it still that people contact him and people are in touch with him, but he pays attention to that sort of thing?

BUGLIOSI: I definitely believe that, without knowing. But I believe that he enjoys his celebrity, as steeped in infamy as it is.

But this fascination continues on and on. And there's a certain mystique that has developed around Manson. And one reason is that the very name "Manson" has come to be a metaphor for evil. He's come to represent the dark and malignant side of humanity. And for whatever reason, people are fascinated by pure, unalloyed evil.

COOPER: His name, his face, still has the power to shock and scare.

Vincent Bugliosi, I appreciate you talking. Thank you so much.

BUGLIOSI: Thank you, Anderson.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, if you want to see then and now photos of the Manson Family killers, you can go to AC360 [SIC] for an interactive gallery.

Still ahead tonight, a new twist into the investigation into the death of that census worker found hanging from a tree. Is it possible he faked his own murder?

And you're not going to believe what they found on the moon. Details and pictures, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: All right. Let's get the latest on some other important stories we're following. Randi Kaye has the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Randi.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, nasty weather in the northeast tonight. High winds and rain are hitting the region, all remnants of Tropical Storm Ida. As the storm moved north, Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey called on the National Guard to evacuate flood victims.

And a couple of "360" follows.

In Kentucky investigators are reportedly looking at whether a census worker found hanging from a tree with the word "fed" across his chest may have committed suicide and made it look like a homicide. The Associated Press says investigators are trying to determine if the victim, Bill Sparkman, ended his life in September so his son could collect his life insurance.

More money trouble for actor Nicolas Cage. The Academy Award winner lost two -- two -- of his New Orleans homes in a foreclosure auction. Cage filed a lawsuit last month, alleging that his former business manager swindled more than 20 million bucks from him over several years.

Life on Mars. Not quite. But NASA scientists say they have discovered water on the moon. The finding could be a major boost to the development of a lunar space station. And not just some water, Anderson. Apparently, they found, like, 24 gallons, which I guess is a lot for the moon.

COOPER: Twenty-four. Was that the water?

KAYE: Yes.

COOPER: I couldn't even see it.

KAYE: I don't know. I wonder if they sent us a picture from there.

COOPER: It's like WMD in Iraq. You know? Remember when they showed those pictures?

KAYE: Exactly. You can't see anything.

COOPER: All right. For tonight's "Shot" -- there you go. There's the water or maybe the WMD. I'm not sure.

A real treat from a reality star, a performance from real housewife of Atlanta, Kim, who wows the other housewives and silences the critics once and for all during the reunion show. We got this from BravoTV.com. Watch and enjoy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC: "Tardy for the Party")

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That's right. It's "Tardy for the Party," the international dance club hit that's sweeping the country. I don't know what it currently is on iTunes. I'm not quite sure. But we wish, of course, the housewives nothing but the best.

KAYE: I think those are the only words to the song.

COOPER: It is pretty much the only words to the song, yes.

KAYE: It's all the same.

COOPER: It goes over and over and over again.

KAYE: Yes.

COOPER: But -- but she's not lip syncing, which is what's so cool about her. She doesn't believe in that sort of thing.

You can send all your "Shot" suggestions to AC360.com. Coming up next on -- well, actually, you know, let's take a look at the -- that video was kind of surreal. But let's take a look at the most surreal thing that happened on CNN, given that it's Friday night, and we try to do as much as we can to kind of make you smile before you go to bed.

The strangest moment: Carrie Prejean on Larry King.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KIND LIVE": In mediation it was discussed why you are mediating.

CARRIE PREJEAN, FORMER MISS CALIFORNIA USA: Larry, it's completely confidential...

KING: It wasn't discussed?

PREJEAN: ... and you're being inappropriate. OK?

KING: OK. All right. "Inappropriate King Live" continues.

PREJEAN: Yes.

KING: Detroit, hello.

CALLER: Hi, I'm calling from Detroit.

O'REILLY: Yes.

CALLER: I'm a gay man. And I love pageants. I'm sure that you, Carrie, have got, you know, great gay friends that helped you possibly win. What would you give them as advice if they wanted to get married?

KING: Did you hear the question, Carrie? Did you hear the question? Is she leaving because I asked what motivated the settlement?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: I love Larry's reaction during the whole thing.

KAYE: I just love how she says, "I'm leaving," takes off her microphone...

COOPER: And stays.

KAYE: ... and then continues to sit there at the desk. What, she couldn't find the door? What was going on there?

COOPER: I don't know. I don't know. God bless her.

KAYE: We've been in the studio. We know the door is right there.

COOPER: Yes.

Coming up next on the program, the top of the day: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, four other 9/11 suspects, now coming to New York to have their day in court. A civilian court in front of a jury? Is that a good idea? "Keeping Them Honest," we'll be right back.