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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Sarah Palin Book Tour; 'Going Rogue' Fact Check; Ex-Congressman Sentenced
Aired November 16, 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: Larry, thanks very much.
Tonight, the "Raw Politics" of Sarah Palin. She kicks off her big media blitz for her new book today on "Oprah." "Going Rogue" is already a best-seller but some of the McCain staffers she's trashing in it says it's full of lies. Are those charges fair? We'
Also, tonight, a surprising and frankly confusing change in the guidelines for breast cancer screening. They used to say get screened at 40. Now they say that's wrong. We'll tell what you the new guidelines are now. All women need to know about this. Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes us up close.
And later a nation divided. The long-running battle over abortion now threatening health care reform. What exactly would the abortion amendment in the House plan mean for all women?
First up tonight, Sarah Plain. Her new book, "Going Rogue in American Life" hits bookstores tomorrow. Advanced sales, as I said, have already made it a best seller. Palin kicked off her book tour today on "Oprah." We'll play you lots of what she said.
Take a look at this, however. According to a new CNN Opinion Research poll most people don't think Palin is cut out to be president. Just 28 percent thinks she's qualified, 70 percent do not.
We'll see if after this book tour that she has changed any minds. So what is this all about? Best-selling books or is she planning to run in 2012?
Candy Crowley has the "Raw Politics."
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With Oprah and then Barbara Walters on ABC, Sarah Palin is telling it her way.
BARBARA WALTERS, ABC NEWS: Towards the end of the campaign, the press reports quoted unnamed McCain aides calling you a diva? You know, this a whack job, a narcissist. Why do you think these people were trying to destroy your reputation?
SARAH PALIN, FORMER REPUBLICAN VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: For some people this is a business. And if failure in this business was going to reflect poorly on them, they have to kind of pack their own parachutes and protect themselves and their reputations so they wouldn't be blamed.
CROWLEY: The problem with Republicans is that nobody speaks for the party so everybody speaks for themselves. There is no consensus on Sarah Palin.
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: I think she is a smarter, more confident person than the image you got in the McCain campaign. I think that that will become apparent.
DAVID BROOKS, NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: The idea that this potential talk show host is considered seriously for the Republican nomination, believe me, it will never happen.
CROWLEY: Should she even want to run for president, Palin does face headwinds of five politicians, she was the lowest ranked in the latest CNN Opinion Research Corporation poll on the qualifications to be president. Only about 3 in 10 Americans think Palin is qualified. A party breakdown as totally reality check.
Predictably very few Democrats think Palin is qualified. Most but not an overwhelming percentage of Republicans say she is but in a country where independents rule at the ballot box, just 29 percent say Sarah Palin has the credentials to be president.
Republican consultant Mike Murphy, a frequent critic of Palin, calls her the Jesse Jackson of the Republican Party. She has a constituency but not enough to get her nominated. Outside the party, he continued, she's plutonium.
But notice that few elected officials are out there criticizing Palin because even if she proves not to be presidential material, she already has proven she is a political catalyst. She Tweets, Washington reads.
LESLIE SANCHEZ, AUTHOR, "YOU HAVE COME A LONG WAY, MAYBE": She is relevant. It is unavoidable. She is influencing the debate not only in health care. She's influencing on candidates. You saw the conservative party in the New York election, New York 23. She shed light on.
CROWLEY: There is no question that Sarah Palin is a tour de force, a celebrity politician and right now the emphasis is on celebrity. The question is whether she's a force to be reckoned with when the emphasis is on politician.
COOPER: That was Candy Crowley reporting. Now just after the campaign ended, some McCain staffers bashed Palin describing her as difficult to work with and worse. In her book, Palin turns the tables and gives her version. Now she's being accused by some of playing loose with the facts.
Tom Foreman got a hold of copy of the book today and he's "Keeping Them Honest." Tom?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, hi, Anderson. "Going Rogue" is quite a read, and I should know. I spent all afternoon reading it as you can tell from my little Post-It note here, annotated as I went through.
A lot of it is just really her personal feelings and memories. Many of which match just fine with the record as we know it. We have to give her credit for that. But in some places she strays from the facts and in others her recollections are just not the same as other people who were there at the time.
Here's one point in example. We all remember that interview with CBS's Katie Couric that many political analysts felt was disastrous. Palin suggests she was driven to give that interview by a campaign adviser who used to work with Couric, Nicolle Wallace.
Here is what Palin writes. "'Katie really likes you," she," Nicolle, "told me one day. 'She's a working mom and admires you as a working mom. She has teenage daughters just like you. She just relates to you.'"
And later, "Nicolle went on to explain that Katie really needed a career boost. 'She just has such low self-esteem.'"
All of that in one page. Well, I spoke with Nicole Wallace who says this conversation simply never happened, calling it all a complete fabrication and saying no one connected with this book project ever called her to check that story or several others against her memories.
Other items we should point out. At one point, Palin criticizes some of President Obama's economic policies and says that Ronald Reagan faced an even worse recession. That is her quote. That's not true. This recession has lasted considerably longer than that one. And a vast number of economists will tell you it's also hit harder.
Palin paints herself as champion of better ethics in this book. The Associated Press scrutinized her political records in Alaska and said they found several instances in which she appears to have used her power to influence decisions which were favorable to her associates.
It's not illegal to be sure, but hardly fitting the image of a reformer. The governor, we should note, the former governor has lit into the AP saying that they're really chasing ghosts here. And that is not really fair what they're doing.
She also raises an old accusation against John Kerry saying she thought he was a loon for saying if kids don't do their homework and get smart, they'll wind up in Iraq. Well, Kerry a long time ago explained that he was not disparaging our troops in that comments, but was making a joke about President Bush suggesting that he was not too bright for getting us into that war, Anderson.
In any event, when you read through the book, I guess, that a lot of it is her personal recollection. And a lot of it is very much like the campaign, Anderson, on both sides where politicians just shape things, leave out certain facts to create a very positive image of themselves.
COOPER: All right, Tom, thanks very much. We want to know what you think about Sarah Palin. You can join the live chat right now at AC360.com.
And on the program, Palin's book getting some backlash, as we said, from former McCain staffers. What does she hope to accomplish with the book. And what she's going to do next. We'll dig deeper with our panel.
And later, new guidelines for breast cancer screenings say women in their 40s are getting too many mammograms. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us ahead to answer your questions. Text them to AC360 or 22360. Standard rates apply.
COOPER: Talking about Sarah Palin's new book and where she goes from here. In "Going Rogue," Palin writes about how McCain campaign aides tried to micro manage what she said and did. According to her. Oprah asked her about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW": You talk about extensively how you were told to stay on script. Were you surprised at how they were trying to, in my ways, control and force you to say things that you were not comfortable with?
PALIN: Well, at the end of the day, I'm the candidate. And if ever I got sucked into that and allowed that handling of me to the detriment of the campaign, that's my fault. That's not their fault. They were just doing, I guess, what the staff was hired to do.
And that was to write the script. Though my team, the vice- presidential candidate's team, my handlers, if you will, we never really did find that script. So we couldn't really say on the script.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Oprah and Palin covered a lot of other ground in the interview including whether Palin plans to run for the Republican nomination in 2012. Let's "Dig Deeper" with our panel.
And joining me are Dede Scozzafava, a Republican, who dropped out of a recent race for a New York congressional seat after Sarah Palin and others backed a more conservative party candidate and the poll numbers dropped.
Also CNN political contributor and Republican strategist Mary Matalin and CNN senior political analyst David Gergen.
David, so how did you read today? I mean is this the -- is she laying the groundwork for a run in 2012?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think so, Anderson. Leaving the governor's chair early in Alaska was not a great career move if you want to run for president. It was a great career move to do exactly what she's doing.
She's varnishing a very large national reputation and she is making a lot of money. She and her husband, her family have not had much money. I would think that in 12 months or 18 months after she leaves the governorship, she stands to make somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million.
COOPER: Mary, I want to play something that Sarah Palin said about the interview with Katie Couric.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WINFREY: Obviously, you've read books and magazines. Why didn't you just name some books or magazines?
PALIN: Well, and obviously, I have, of course, all my life. I'm a lover of books and magazines and newspapers. By the time she asked me that question, even though it was kind of early on in the interview, I was already so annoyed. It was very unprofessional of me to wear that annoyance on my sleeve. But it was like...
WINFREY: You can't think of any at the moment? Or you were...
PALIN: No, it was more of like, are you kidding me? Are you are really asking me?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Mary, how do you read what happened today? I mean is this -- do you think she's laying the groundwork for a run?
MARY MATALIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I think you have to be in the pressure cooker of a national campaign like that to know how really frustrating it is. That answer was preceded by she had just come from giant rally and was all pumped up and -- you know, then she comes up against this question, of course. And she inferred that Katie was making fun of Alaskans for...
COOPER: Which is not true. I mean she keeps repeating this. And I mean, just -- I'm not here to defend Katie Couric.
MATALIN: That's your feeling. No. And I'm not...
COOPER: But that's not what the question was.
MATALIN: And I -- but I'm not -- but I know what's that like to be on the other side of a reporter who from whom you could infer that they are -- and she had been pilloried. But setting this aside, can I just pick up where David left off, all this political talk. It's not a political book. It is a memoir. And putting on my publishing hat, a memoir for which she got paid a lot of money and has to sell a lot of books. Then the outcome of this and until we see the outcome of this, we can't know how she's positioned or not positioned for a 2012 or even 2010.
COOPER: Assemblywoman Scozzafava, I mean you have a unique vantage point on this, obviously. How do you see her -- Palin's political future?
DEDE SCOZZAFAVA (R), DROPPED OUT OF NY-23 CONGRESSIONAL RACE: Well, you know, it's difficult for me to tell at this point. I don't know enough about, really, the policies. I know she's talking about taking America back.
But what I'm most interested in is what is she going to do for America if she were to take it back. So I'm entrusted in the policies that she sets forward. We've got serious problems in this country with unemployment. I'm interested in what she -- her viewpoints are on foreign policy.
COOPER: Do you think she has...
SCOZZAFAVA: I know that can make some sort of determination.
COOPER: Do you think she is good for the Republican Party?
SCOZZAFAVA: Well, you know, my concern is -- yes, she's good. But she's also, I think, very divisive. What happened in my race, she didn't know the area. She really didn't know my background. She certainly brings some excitement to it. But at the same time, I think she's a divisive and some of what a polarizing figure at this point when I'm looking for a leader that can bring people together in our party.
COOPER: David, I want to look at what she said today to Oprah Winfrey about why the campaign failed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WINFREY: Do you think in any way that if you had been allowed to be more of yourself and less scripted that there would have been a different outcome?
PALIN: Not necessarily. I think the reason we lost, the economy tanked under a Republican administration. People were sincerely looking for change. They were quite concerned about the road that America was on with our economy.
They did not want more of the same. They did not want status quo. And I think, unfortunately, our ticket represented what was perceived as status quo. And so I don't think that I was to blame for losing. The race -- any more than I could be credited with winning the race had I done a better job as the VP candidate.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: It is so interesting, David, watching her because, I mean she's -- people do not have -- there is no real middle ground, it seems, with her. People either really like her or really dislike her. And everybody -- it's like a (INAUDIBLE), everybody kind of reads her answers differently.
GERGEN: That's interesting. I agree with that, Anderson. And unfortunately for her, she's got a very intense base. But your own poll shows 70 percent don't think she's qualified to be president. I must tell you, I -- in talking to others who know her better than I do, and watching her and listening to her, I think Newt Gingrich has a point when he says that she's smarter than most people think.
And, you know, she should be given more credit than she gets. But I also feel, had she run the campaign she wanted to, if she had gone out there and started talking to the press immediately after -- and she gave that Katie Couric interview early, for example, I think she would have been slaughtered.
Because she is so unaccustomed to speaking on a national -- forum, especially in the cauldron of a presidential race. It's a really tough game. Look what happened to some very good people. Dan Quayle was a lot smarter than people thought, but he really -- he got chopped up in that early going. So that's why they had to, I think, go to script and sort of keep her hidden from the press for a while.
And I think that it would have hurt the campaign had she come out on her own and done what would have come naturally to her, I think, which was to go out and deal with a lot of press interviews early.
COOPER: Mary, how would you buy this -- you know, there are a lot of the people from the McCain campaign have said and Nicolle Wallace, among them, publicly has said, you know, what did the conversation that she says we had never happened?
MATALIN: Well, I do know this having worked with Nicolle and Steve Schmidt, they are two of the most talented, brightest, professional operatives and wonderful people in the party. So -- but everyone does have a -- has their own memory of how these campaigns worked.
But picking up on what David just said, and we've been in a number of these foxholes together, the role of the vice-presidential candidate is not to set the script. It's not to set the message. It's not to be out front. It's to be in the B markets and be an echo chamber.
And you're not allowed to have your own opinion or set your own agenda. So if -- to that complaint, that's just how every campaign works. And when the vice president's making news inside the campaign, that's a bad point.
GERGEN: Mary is right on all those points.
COLLINS: Assemblywoman Scozzafava, do you see Sarah Palin as trying to purge moderates from the Republican Party?
SCOZZAFAVA: Well, certainly in my race. Again, I don't think she knew the area. I don't really think she accurately knew my record. I think she gave an endorsement. And it seems like she was looking to purge moderates which, to me, is troublesome.
We need a strong party. We need a party that can go forward and a party that encourages some independent thinking. When she talks about Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan was someone who worked hard for a vision, made people believe in the vision that he had.
And I believe made the party stronger by bringing in lots of different viewpoints and setting us in a direction.
COOPER: Mary, do you -- you don't believe that moderates are being purged, is that right?
MATALIN: Just to speak to New York-23, the internal polling the day before Sarah Palin endorsed, Dede was in last place. Hoffman was already two points ahead of her. She had no impact. The DCC, the Democratic Campaign Committee, ran $1 million of ads attacking Dede for raising taxes.
The Democrat was running to -- she running to the left of the Democrats. What was divisive were Dede's record on -- with respect on card check, on stimulus, on taxes. That's what was divisive up there. Not Sarah Palin. She did not have literally or figuratively an impact in that race.
COOPER: Dede, I want you to be able to respond.
SCOZZAFAVA: Well, I'd have to -- yes. I just have to disagree with the tax situation and a couple of other things that Mary said. And I just ask that she, as well as Sarah, review your facts.
COOPER: David, how -- what's interesting, too, is that basically it doesn't really matter. You know people will, for days now, argue about whether something she said is factually correct or not. But for the people who support Sarah Palin, it doesn't matter. I mean it doesn't matter that you can point out all sort of inconsistencies.
GERGEN: I think that's right, Anderson. That is sort of just Washington games for them. But I -- here's what I think going forward beyond the fact that she's going to sell a lot of books and have high speaking fees and make a lot of money.
I do think that -- we all know that there is this populous surge in the country that shows up in tea parties and elsewhere. She's going to be the darling of that set. People will flock to her. This idea of having a bus tour to go out and to smaller towns America, what Mary just called sort of the B markets of, you know, media.
She's going to do really well out there with this book and with her -- she is very popular. She draws big crows. She's going to be helpful to people in 2010 on the Republican side. She'll choose some candidates. And I think she's going to have a -- I think she's going to have a significant voice among conservatives in the next few years. I do not think she's going to be the Republican candidate for president. And I doubt she'll run.
COOPER: Mary, I know you've been trying to -- have you read the book or you've been reading it?
COOPER: In the process of.
MATALIN: I've read it and I'm particularly interested in her philosophical framework. This is not a political book. It's a memoir. And a memoir is...
COOPER: Does she go into the philosophy? I mean does she go into her framework?
MATALIN: Yes, she does in the final chapter. So it's a memoir. And people are parsing it like it's a political treat. But the final chapter talks about her philosophical framework into which -- which is mainstream, common sense conservatism into which we can drop these specific policies going forward.
And David is 100 percent right. She is a huge asset to these campaigns in 2010. As she's been saying in the interviews, and she says in the book, there's a lot of ways to impact on the future of the country and on policies besides running for office.
And I think he's -- I think he's got where she wants to go as to make an impact and take care of her family before we look at the next office.
COOPER: We're going to have to leave there. Assemblywoman Scozzafava, I appreciate you being on, and David Gergen and Mary Matalin, as well. Thank you.
Sarah Palin wants to be your friend. She's is on Facebook. You can go to AC360.com to see how she's communicating her message through social networks.
Still ahead, though, tonight. This is an unbelievable story. Former Louisiana congressman, William Jefferson, now a convicted felon. He's going to spend the next 13 years in prison. But get this, he gets to keep his pension paid for with your tax dollars. So who came up with that rule? Guess. We're "Keeping Them Honest."
Plus, a collision of politics and health care. Why an abortion amendment in the House reform bill could make it harder and more expensive for many women to get abortions in this country. We'll be right back.
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(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Still ahead new details in the heart-wrenching saga of Elizabeth Smart. Seven years after the Utah teen's abduction, will her kidnappers finally face justice?
First, though, Erica Hill has a "360 News and Business Bulletin." Erica?
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, in his first visit to China, President Obama today declaring the U.S. and Chinese share a, quote, "burden of leadership." Speaking before university students, the president prodded China to take a bigger role on global issues ranging from climate change to nuclear proliferation.
Mr. Obama also appearing tonight in a joint news conference with the Chinese president, Hu Jintao. We'll have that for you coming up live in our next hour.
Back state side, General Motors announcing today plans to start repaying billions of dollars in debt to U.S. taxpayers. This despite a third quarter loss of $1.2 billion which was actually lower than expected.
The shuttle Atlantis is heading for the International Space Station. Its mission, deliver nitrogen, a gas tank and some other spare parts. Now according to NASA this delivery will actually add years to the space station's life after the U.S. space shuttle fleet is retired next year.
And the thrill of victory leaves Titans owner Bud Adams 250,000 grand in the hole. The NFL fined the 86-year-old for making an obscene gesture.
COOPER: Not just one, like multiple.
HILL: Well, that'll get you quarter of a million dollar fine. He made the gesture apparently at Buffalo fans after Tennessee's victory over the Bills on Sunday. Adams later apologized explaining he just got caught up in all the excitement.
COOPER: Wow. He's like letting go double handed.
HILL: You know?
COOPER: Wow. All right.
HILL: His team.
COOPER: Quarter of a million dollars. I guess so. Time now for our "Beat 360" winner. Our daily challenge to viewers. A chance to show up our staffers by coming up with a caption better than one we can come up with for a photo that we draw on the blog.
So tonight's photo, Hulk Hogan arriving at Sidney airport ahead of the Australian Hulk-a-mania tour.
HILL: Bring it.
COOPER: Yes. Apparently, I guess, pointing to his bicep, maybe? The staff winner is Eli. His caption, "How about we send these guns to our troops in Afghanistan, Mr. President?"
And the winner is Kevin Haggett from Toronto. His caption, "Until you scrolled up and saw my head, I bet you thought was that Anderson Cooper guy, right?"
HILL: AC, working up the guns. Don't deny it.
COOPER: Yes. No. Kevin, your "Beat 360" t-shirt is on the way. Reluctantly.
Up next, an ex-congressman caught with $90,000 cash in his freezer was sentenced to prison. But he still gets to keep his pension, the pension that you and I and all of us are paying for. It's your money and we're "Keeping Them Honest."
Also ahead, major health news for women. A government panel recommend that women in their 40s should stop getting routine mammograms. Why would they say this when mammograms save so many lives? 360 MD Sanjay Gupta is going to join us. He'll answer your questions. Text them to AC360 or 22360. And standard rates apply.
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COOPER: A former Louisiana congressman who had $90,000 in cash stashed in his freezer is headed to prison. William Jefferson was sentenced on Friday to 13 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release. He faced up to 150 years behind bars.
The ex-Democratic congressman lost his freedom but he gets to keep collecting his pension. He's not the only one. And you're paying for it.
Joe Johns tonight is "Keeping Them Honest."
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You might think former Democratic congressman William Jefferson just sentenced to 13 years in prison for taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes would be just about the last guy on earth to get a pension paid for with your taxpayer dollars.
After all, he's a towering symbol of political corruption. He will forever be known as the congressman who got caught red-handed with $90,000 of FBI sting money in his freezer. But was perhaps even more outrageous than the frozen cash, Jefferson is still eligible to receive a full congressional pension for the rest of his life.
STEVE ELLIS, TAXPAYERS FOR COMMON SENSE: Taxpayers going to see that he's trading in his pinstripes for prison stripes. But he's still going to get pension funds paid for by them, tens of thousands of dollars, while he's sitting in a cell.
JOHNS: Wait a minute. Two years ago Congress passed a law called the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act. It's supposed to prohibit congressional convicts from getting their pensions.
And, yet, guys like Jefferson, who committed their crimes before Congress passed the law, can still get the money. Sounds like a loophole. But the Constitution says you can't enforce a law retroactively.
ELLIS: It's only if you committed your crime after the date the bill was enacted. So as long as lawmakers did their dirty deeds before September 14, 2007, they've got a get-out-of-jail free card. Or at least a get-a-pension-in-jail-free card.
JOHNS: But don't think we're singling out William Jefferson. A long list of Congress members have made their way from Capitol Hill to prison and still managed to keep their pensions intact.
California Republican Duke Cunningham, also convicted for bribery and in prison for eight years, gets a combined congressional military pension of $64,000 a year.
Former Democratic congressman Jim Traficant of Ohio, convicted for bribery and tax evasion, did his time, and now he's out, receiving a $40,000-a-year pension.
And former House Ways and Means chairman Dan Rostenkowski, also a Democrat, was released from prison years ago with a whopping $125,000 a year pension.
In all, you, the taxpayer, are on the hook for about half a million dollars a year in pension payments for former members of Congress who went to prison.
COOPER: So, Joe, I mean basically they -- they passed this law in Congress for anyone two years ago to stop congressional convicts from getting their pensions. But they made it possible for anyone who is currently in Congress at that time and had committed a crime, basically, they gave themselves, as the guy said, a "get-a-pension-in- jail-free" card.
JOHNS: Pretty much. And there are some other loopholes. I think legitimate loopholes, including if, say, you commit a violent crime, you just might get to keep that pension. But if you commit a handful of serious corruption crimes -- bribery, wire fraud -- that sort of thing, your pension can be taken away if you're in Congress. Also, another loophole, spouses of convicted members of Congress can get some of the money that disgraced member isn't entitled, to Anderson.
COOPER: Amazing. Joe, appreciate it. Joe, "Keeping Them Honest." Thanks.
Tell us what you think during the live chat right now at AC360.com.
Up next, 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta, answering your questions about women and breast cancer. The government now says women in their 40s should not get routine mammograms. So what should do you? It's confusing. Text your questions to AC360 or 22360.
Also ahead, abortion. What the new health-care reform effort may mean for the future of it in this country and why it may become much harder for women to get abortions.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: Up closer tonight, controversy over new mammogram guidelines. Women in their 40s should not get routine mammograms for early detection of breast cancer, according to the U.S. Preventative Services task force. This is new.
Instead, the government panel of doctors and scientists, none of which are oncologists, advises women to begin mammograms at age 50 with new screenings every two years. It also puts less emphasis on breast self-exams, saying they do little good.
The update is a major reversal. It's being challenged by the American Cancer Society. To try to make some sense of it all is chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Sanjay, this is really confusing. I talked to a bunch of women about this tonight who were completely caught by surprise and frankly, just didn't believe it. A government health panel is recommending one thing, but cancer experts seem to disagree. So what evidence are these new guidelines based on?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it has caused a lot of shock waves within the medical community, as well. And it is confusing, Anderson, no question.
First of all, there is no new evidence. This is the same data that was examined several years ago, and they've come to different conclusions. The same organization came to a different conclusion this time than they did several years ago.
First of all, this sort of highlights the friction that always exists between individual risk and public risk. Screening tests can save lives. But they can cause anxiety. They can cause worry. They can cause biopsies that may not be necessary, as well. Take a look specifically, Anderson, at what you said. What the task force is specifically saying as part of this new -- this new analysis of the evidence. In the past they said women should get mammograms starting at age 40, every one to two years. And now they're saying they recommend against routine screening mammography in women aged 40 to 49.
Now the key word here is routine. What they're saying is that you should talk to your doctor ahead of time and really understand the risks and benefits of getting a mammogram and make a decision after that. That's what they're basically saying.
The problem is I'm a doctor and, you know, I've talked to lots of doctors about this today. And most doctors are going to continue to recommend mammography starting around the age of 40. So in practice, that's probably not going to change, Anderson.
COOPER: So what are other health organizations saying about this?
GUPTA: You know, they've come out pretty strong. And you know, this is again some shock waves through the medical community. The American Cancer Society, which you mentioned, they released a statement specifically about this, saying, you know, with its new recommendations, the task force is essentially telling women that mammography at age 40 to 49 saves lives, just not enough of them. That's a pretty striking statement to make.
You know, they're conceding that they save lives, but they're saying the task force is not sort of recognizing the fact that it saves enough lives.
Another -- another comment from the American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Commission, which oversees a lot of these types of studies. They say these new recommendations seem to reflect a conscious decision to ration care, which, again, very powerful statement coming out of them.
But most of the organizations we talk to, Anderson, were either confused by what the task force said or they simply did not agree with them.
COOPER: You know, one person I talk to who raises a lot of money for cancer organizations said to me tonight, she thinks this is all about insurance. And our Text 360 question references that. It comes tonight from South Carolina. The person asks, "Will insurance companies be able to claim that they will not pay for routine mammograms for women under 50 because it is no longer recommended?"
GUPTA: That's a great question. This has come up, you know, when we were researching this, as well, today. We talked to the organization that is -- acts as a lobbying organization for the insurance industry, the AHIP organization, they're called.
They say for the time being, probably nothing is going to change. But they do concede two points. One is that, in the past, they have taken these task force recommendations and, you know, adopted some of their own policies regarding insurance based on those.
And two is, you know, who knows sort of how this is going to translate a year or a few years down the road? Could this become -- make it more difficult for women to get their routine mammography around age 40 covered? And so it's a really valid concern. We don't have the answer to that as of right now. This is just happening.
COOPER: I didn't get when they said that, you know, one of the negative things about having a mammogram is that it can cause anxiety. But I mean, if it catches something, isn't that -- I mean, a little anxiety is not the worst thing in the world.
GUPTA: Yes. And you're sort of addressing, I think, again this real friction between public health and individual risk. Look, if you take all the women out there with breast cancer right there, about 15 percent of them were caught on routine mammography.
And Anderson, you and I talked about this. I've had this happen in my own family. A family member with no family history, no risk factors to speak of, who caught breast cancer on routine mammography. So you know, I've seen it on a personal level, as well.
But, you know, 15 percent is a lot, I think, to most women, especially those women who have had breast cancer caught this way. But for women who have false positives, might they have anxiety that's undue? May they worry that's unnecessary, and may they get a biopsy that ultimately wasn't needed? That's the other side of the argument here.
COOPER: So bottom line for women in their 40s tonight is what?
GUPTA: Bottom line is I think the recommendation that's we heard for many years probably aren't going to change in the eyes and minds of most doctors that we talk to. They say talk to your doctor before getting the mammogram. I'm a doctor. I've talked to a lot of other doctors out there.
I think the recommendations, the advice from most doctors is still going to be, "Look, you know, a mammogram is not a perfect test. One day we're going to be able to individualize who's most at risk for breast cancer and recommend the best tests for those people. But for the time being, mammography is the best screening test that's out there to start around the age of 40."
COOPER: All right. Sanjay, appreciate that.
As Sanjay mentioned, these guidelines are not supported by all groups. And you can go to a AC360.com right now for a breakdown of the guidelines from the American Cancer Society and other medical groups, as well. Trying to give you as much information as possible.
Tomorrow on 360, a fascinating story, a disturbing story. Four Iraqi detainees shot, execution-style in a Baghdad canal. Now, three Army sergeants were charged and convicted for gunning them down. The question is, was it murder or battlefield justice? Special investigations correspondent Abbie Boudreau confronts the killers for this answer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My first sergeant comes up to me. He asked if I have a problem if we take care of them, and I told you no.
ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And what do you think he meant by that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To kill them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you shot him, just say you shot him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is going to be ugly. It is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You wouldn't have so much question right now if you didn't know what happened.
BOUDREAU: Did you ever think that your husband was capable of killing like this?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I didn't.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said, "Honey, I'm going to tell you something, and I understand if you don't forgive me. But I'm not a good person."
BOUDREAU: Why didn't you report it right away?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I were Sergeant Cunningham, I'd be worried that, having broken the band of brothers, something might happen to me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did the right thing.
BOUDREAU: These men were convicted of premeditated murder.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
BOUDREAU: But you still call them heroes?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to say I didn't hit him, because I'm not...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're saying you witnessed people taking those things out of the Bradley.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody has to articulate now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't consider myself a murderer. I made a huge mistake in my life that I know I have to accept the consequences for. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think a lot of soldiers were betrayed. I think the wrong thing was done for someone's ego.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not a good person because I murdered someone in Iraq. BOUDREAU: This is premeditated murder. You thought you could keep this a secret?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Uh-huh.
COOPER: A lot of questions raised. Our four-part investigation, "Killings at the Canal: The Army Tapes," begins tomorrow night, right here on 360.
Coming up next, could a controversial health-care amendment tied to abortion mean restrictive rights for all women? Or is the outrage -- well, is it over hyped? We're going to talk with CNN's Jeffrey Toobin.
And a plea deal for one of Elizabeth Smart's alleged abductors. The latest in the case, ahead.
COOPER: The health-care battle is heating up. The fight has turned to an issue that has divided the nation for decades, abortion. The House added tough restrictions on abortion to its version of the health-care reform bill. Now under the amendment, anyone who buys insurance with the government subsidy cannot choose a plan that covers abortion.
But according to the Gutmacher Institute of Pro-Abortion Rights think tank, about a third of all women of reproductive age in the United States will have an abortion, one-third. So will the amendment make it harder for all women to get abortions?
Jeffrey Toobin, our legal analyst, raise this issue in the current issue of "The New Yorker". He joins us now.
It's interesting, because you say that abortion is being marginalized. This is what Representative Stupak says about his abortion amendment. He says, "Passage of the Stupak Amendment does not impose a new federal abortion policy: it simply continue what has been the law of the land since 1977."
You say it's being marginalized. How so?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's -- what he's referring to is the Hyde Amendment, which says there can be no director federal expenditures for abortion. Like Medicaid can't pay for abortions; military hospitals can't pay for abortions.
But what's different about the health-care plan is that individuals are putting up their own money. Now maybe with some federal help. But they are putting up their own money to get an insurance policy.
And even if they pay for most of the policy themselves and, even if only a tiny fraction of their premium would go towards abortion services, they can't get it because that's perceived by representative Stupak and his allies as subsidizing abortion. That's new and different.
COOPER: What impact is that going to have?
TOOBIN: Well, if the Obama plan works, as the Obama administration says it will, 40 million people will get insurance that they haven't gotten before. Half of them, approximately, are women. So that's 20 million people who will get health care. But abortion, for the vast majority of them, will be cut out of it.
And this is the thing about abortion that's changed over the years. Is that abortion is not treated like any other medical service. You know, whether it's an insurance or doctors being trained to do it, hospitals being allowed -- you know, being -- ready to do it. It's just being treated more and more different from other -- other kinds of procedures.
COOPER: And that's why you say it's being marginalized?
TOOBIN: That's right, yes.
COOPER: So there are basically fewer doctors who are performing it, fewer doctors who are in the pipeline, training to perform it, and fewer places where it can actually be done?
TOOBIN: That's right. And if this passes, there will be a great -- the whole idea behind the health-care reform is greater access and lower prices. And if this goes through, there will be, probably, less access and higher prices for abortion. Because it's just treated as different from any other medical procedure.
COOPER: I was surprised by this figure from the government, if they are accurate, that one-third of women will have an abortion in their lifetime.
TOOBIN: It's -- it was very striking to me, too. I hadn't heard that, too. And one of the interesting things, as you study this around the world, is that abortion rates really don't change much if abortion is illegal. Brazil, abortions are illegal totally. But there are more abortions per capita than there are in the United States because women have abortions. They get them one way or another, either legally or illegally.
COOPER: Interesting article in the New Yorker right now. Jeff Toobin, appreciate it. Thanks very much.
Coming up, a lot more ahead tonight. We'll take a look at the "Shot." We'll also take a look at what's next for Dick Cheney, president in 2012? His daughter, Liz, floated the idea this weekend. Was it a hint or -- well, we'll check that out. And Janet Jackson pointing fingers. From Dick Cheney to Janet Jackson. We'll tell you who she says is responsible for her brother, Michael's, death.
COOPER: Time to catch up on some other important stories we're following tonight. Erica Hill has a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, a guilty plea expected in the Elizabeth Smart case. Wanda Eileen Barzee will appear in federal court tomorrow, and her husband, Brian David Mitchell, are accused of abducting Smart, who was then 14, from her Salt Lake City home in 2002. The terms of Barzee's plea agreement have not yet been made public.
Janet Jackson breaking her silence. In an interview ABC News, the singer blamed Dr. Conrad Murray for her brother Michael's death. Los Angeles prosecutors are weighing charges against Murray, who admits administering a powerful anesthetic shortly before the pop star's death.
Dick Cheney for president? His daughter Liz floating the idea on "FOX News Sunday." But was she actually serious? The suggestion surfaced amid discussion of President Obama's recent vow to the emperor of Japan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, "WEEKLY STANDARD": Sarah Palin would not have bowed to him. She wouldn't even curtsy to him. You know? Nor would she have an attorney general who was taking the extremely risky move of bringing Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to New York. Oh, I don't know. I mean...
LIZ CHENEY, DAUGHTER OF DICK CHENEY: You can also look at the comparison and think Cheney 2012.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Finally, Heidi and Spencer Pratt shopping a reality show. Unsatisfied with their supporting role on MTV's "The Hills," the couple says their own show would reveal everything that happens to them. Because there's so much mystery there. So far, no reports of network pickup.
COOPER: Well, you know, fingers crossed.
Erica, I know you're a dog lover like me. Today's "Shot" is proof that dogs are truly man's best friend. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get him! UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey! Gracie. Oh, my God.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gracie is crying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gracie?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I told you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen to her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honey. Honey. Honey.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Aw, you're going to make me cry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Aww. That's Gracie, greeting Lieutenant Andrew Schmitt (ph) back in 2005 when he returned from a five-month tour in Afghanistan.
There's another great one of a guy, of a soldier, I think, being greeted by a group of beagles, I think, from his -- back from his tour of duty. It's just amazing.
For the day's videos, well, it's become a YouTube sensation. People can't get enough of it. In an interview, Schmitt, who's now a captain in the West Virginia Air National Guard says he finally thought he was home when the door opened and Gracie ran out to greet him.
HILL: I love those stories, too, of dogs who find their way home after years.
HILL: I know. There was just one in Afghanistan of that. Yes.
All right. You can submit your "Shot" suggestions at AC360.com.
Still ahead, Sarah Palin and her new book making a lot of waves. But does everything in the book check out? We're "Keeping Them Honest."
And we're going to bring you President Obama's press conference from China live in the next hour. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Tonight, the "Raw Politics" of Sarah Palin. She kicked off her big media blitz for her new book today on Oprah. "Going Rogue" is already a best seller. But some of the McCain staffers she's trashing in it say it's full of lies. Are those charges fair? We're "Keeping Them Honest."
Also tonight, a surprising and, frankly, confusing change in the guidelines for breast cancer screening. They used to say get screened at 40. Now they say that's wrong. We'll tell what you the new guidelines are now. All women need to know about this. Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes us up close.
And later, a nation divided: the long-running battle over abortion now threatening health-care reform. What exactly would the abortion amendment in the House plan mean for all women?
First up tonight, Sarah plain. Her new book, "Going Rogue: An American Life" hits stores tomorrow. Advanced sales, as I said, have already made it a best seller. Palin kicked off her book tour today on "Oprah." We'll play you lots of what she said. Take a look at this, however.
According to a new CNN/Opinion Research poll, most people don't think Palin is cut out to be president. Just 28 percent think she's qualified. Seventy percent do not. We'll see if, after this book tour, that she has changed any minds.
So what is this all about? Just selling books?