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Egypt Uprising

Aired February 2, 2011 - 19:00   ET


JOHN KING, HOST: Thanks Wolf and good evening everyone. Tonight the revolution in Egypt turns ugly and deadly as allies of embattled President Hosni Mubarak make a desperate effort to disperse pro democracy demonstrators. An angry and anxious Obama administration denounces the violence and makes clear it is out of patience with the Mubarak regime.


ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The time for a transition has come and that time is now.


KING: Among the startling images today horses riding into Liberation Square as part of the attacks on what had been peaceful demonstrations. And among the startling words, a defiant push-back from the Mubarak government saying it did not appreciate or welcome what it considers over-the-top meddling from Washington.

Make no mistake Egypt is at a tipping point. But the violence raises fears the regime will not yield without a fight. Along those caught in the middle today when thugs started targeting the demonstrators and the journalists covering them was our own Anderson Cooper. He joins us now live on the phone.

Anderson, I want to get to what happened earlier in a moment, but set the scene right now as we go into the early morning hours, what is going on in Cairo?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR (via phone): Well the battle continues. It's basically a standoff at this point. A little bit to the north of the Egyptian Museum, I'm looking at the scene right now. Fires are burning in what was -- were some vehicles up until a few hours ago. Now they're just blaming embers.

We have three fires burning. The anti-Mubarak protesters who held the square for nine days going on now 10 days because we've entered the tenth day, they have formed a line, all across a wide avenue, a line of what looks like sheet metal barricades that they have gotten from somewhere, from store fronts or from somewhere that they have formed a phalanx much like the old Roman legions used to use their shields to advance.

They have been slowly advancing over the course of several hours and they now have a line of sheet metal shields that stretches from one corner of the Egyptian Museum all the way across the street to another building and you probably can't hear it but they are banging on those shields, I guess with clubs or sticks or whatever they have, and that is the noise we hear.

It is a constant banging on it echoing into the night. It is quite an intimidating sound. There are still pro-Mubarak demonstrators, protesters here. Their number greatly dwindled though, but they are still throwing Molotov cocktails at the anti-Mubarak forces and I can tell you I just watched two Molotov cocktails being thrown and every time one of the Molotov cocktails thrown by the pro- Mubarak forces hits inside a crowd of people and the anti-Mubarak group, you can hear a cheer going up from the pro-Mubarak side.

The idea that any of them have been injured, a cheer goes up from pro-Mubarak protesters. I'm now actually seeing and I'm not sure exactly why this is happening but I'm seeing a large number of the anti-Mubarak forces running from the barricades kind of back toward the Egyptian Museum. I'm not sure if they're coordinating or trying to bolster up an area, but the crowd is definitely kind of moving.

It's a confusing situation, John, but basically the battle lines are drawn now. Clearly the anti-Mubarak forces have been victorious in the sense that they have not been pushed from the square and they have regained territory that earlier in the day they did not possess.

KING: Anderson, stay with us and please stay safe. We are watching some live pictures at the moment. I want to go back though to earlier today because what makes this stunning, you're watching this play out now. You're still seeing the Molotov cocktails, what is essentially a civil war; it is rival gangs, if you will, one, the peaceful demonstrators who have now been forced into conflict because of the pro-Mubarak thugs. I want to go back to earlier in the day when you were out in the middle of all this and it turned ugly.


COOPER: I've been hit now like 10 times.





COOPER: The Egyptian soldiers -- the Egyptian soldiers are doing nothing.



(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Now, Anderson, we can see the pictures here, you're getting jostled and it's hard to see obviously because it's shaky video because you're getting shoved around in there. Explain to our viewers, you're out doing your reporting and obviously you as well as others were coming under attack there.

COOPER: Yes, my cameraman (INAUDIBLE) and my producer Marianne and I were heading toward Tahrir Square. We wanted to report on both sides, which is what we considered our job to be. We wanted to talk to the pro-Mubarak demonstrators, as well as the anti-Mubarak demonstrators and we were going through a crowd of pro-Mubarak demonstrators and a man jumped out of the crowd, tried to grab the cameraman, tried to grab the camera from Neil.

I was shooting on a flip phone as you saw and from there a melee began. People just started joining in, throwing punches, kicking, we immediately turned around, tried to make our escape, we tried to walk quickly, but walk because we didn't want to break into a run and embolden the pro-Mubarak demonstrators who attacked us and chase us even further, but that is exactly what happened nevertheless and basically for several minutes as we were trying to make our way through the pro-Mubarak crowd to safety we were pummeled.

You know a couple of shots to my head. Neil, his eye has somewhat been bloodied up. Marianne has a scratch. They were trying to rip off her clothes. It was, you know it was a chaotic scene, but you know this was happening to journalists and anybody who the crowd would set upon.

KING: And obviously and correct me if you think I'm wrong, but it seems quite obvious and we've seen these tactics in the past from regimes like this, this is an attempt to intimidate and to frighten off the streets, not only the journalists but the pro-democracy. I'll call them pro-democracy.

We can call them anti-Mubarak -- anti-Mubarak demonstrators. As the day has gone on now and you've been out there for hours in this, do you get the sense that the demonstrators, is their resolve strengthened or is there some fear?

COOPER: I don't know. I haven't been able to talk to the demonstrators. It is clearly now the people on the front lines of the -- (INAUDIBLE) the pro-democracy demonstrators are clearly hard core. These are people who are determined not to leave this square. I mean, you know, during the height of the anti-Mubarak demonstrations we've seen over the last couple of days there were women and children.

There were intellectuals, doctors, professors, people from all walks of life, students, especially young people. The people now who are -- I'm not sure it's those people who are in the square at this point, but certainly they are still supporting the activities of the people who are in the square at this point. It is -- without a doubt the anti-Mubarak forces have been emboldened by the fact that they despite the attacks and the complete uninvolvement of the Egyptian military in protecting are keeping both sides apart from one another -- despite the Egyptian military standing by today and watching armed crowds of pro-Mubarak protesters attack these anti-Mubarak demonstrators, they have held this square.

Tomorrow, though, what happens? That I don't know and that is of great concern. As daylight comes, as more people -- do more people come and join both sides? Do more pro-Mubarak protesters come? That seems inevitable. Do more anti-Mubarak protesters come? That is possible as well. How do they get into the square -- I don't know. There's many questions about what's going to happen in the hours ahead but there is no sign, there's no indication, and there's no reason that the violence will not continue unless someone on the ground, Egyptian military, gets involved and takes a more active role in trying to keep these sides apart -- John.

KING: And you make an interesting point that the military is on the streets. It is not taking part. It is not -- the military itself, we have had reports of police or people with the support of the police, which is different from the military. The military is just -- do you have any encounters with them? Are they standing and watching? Are they protecting anybody in this or are they just idle?

COOPER: They're standing and watching it from what I can see. You know, they actually control access to this square and over the last several days have done you know a very efficient job when they want to of checking people going into the square, you know, stopping people from going in or limiting where people could enter the square from. They made no effort to check the IDs or give body searches to any of the pro-Mubarak protesters and the pro-Mubarak protesters were certainly not you know doing body checks which is what the anti- Mubarak protesters have been doing for days, pat-downs of people, checking IDs, that people aren't bringing weapons into what they hoped to be and was a peaceful demonstration.

So the military has literally been standing by. When we were being attacked earlier today, we tried to head toward some Egyptian military personnel. They did not get involved. Finally after several minutes when we were close to safety, one Egyptian soldier seemed to sort of come toward us, but really didn't do much to keep the crowd back. We continued to get pummeled.

So right now, you know, we did see Egyptian military vehicles being brought in right in front of (INAUDIBLE) hours ago to try to separate the crowds and we have heard shooting and shots going off, but I can't confirm who is firing those shots, whether it was soldiers trying to keep the crowd apart or firing above people's heads. But had the Egyptian military, John, wanted to get involved they could have sent reinforcements by now. This has been going on for more than 12 hours. There have been no reinforcements that we've seen from our vantage point and that is just shocking to me.

KING: It is a very important point as we watch these live photos, live images from the scene there. Anderson Cooper is right in the middle of it. It is a very important point that we'll discuss later with some very smart policy analysts who believe it is a troubling sign that the military is not taking a more active role in protecting people on the streets. Anderson, you stay safe. We'll check in with Anderson a bit later in the hour. And also he'll have a full hour ahead tonight. Don't forget, two hours, "AC 360" coming up beginning 10:00 here in the East. And as Anderson gets to safety and keeps his eye on things it is very hard to get a reliable count of the dead and injured. But government officials say at least three people have been killed and more than 600 injured.

In a moment a chilling firsthand account from an American student who was helping treat the wounded today. First though CNN's Arwa Damon is just back from visiting a hospital near the main demonstration area. Arwa, give us the latest on what you're seeing.

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. Before I get into what the situation was at the hospital I'm just going to step outside because I have a different vantage point than Anderson and try to see if you can actually hear that thumping on those metal plates that he was talking about. That's the sound that's echoing across Cairo tonight and as you were saying there we did just try to go out, go to a hospital, it was around 10 minutes away from the demonstration site.

The minute you get away from where all of this activity is concentrated, the streets are eerily silent. Pretty much the only vehicles that we saw were the ambulances themselves. When we got to this hospital it was a nonstop flow of ambulances, walking wounded, all of them with wounds to the head, a number of them on stretchers, as well. The situation at the hospital was very tense. We tried to speak to one of the doctors who ended up answering my question but would not -- but in an official capacity because he says that there were quote, "government or pro-Mubarak agents among this group of civilians that have been gathering out front that did not want the image of what was happening in the hospital to be seen" but he was saying to us that this particular hospital treated around 100 to 120 wounded.

Most of them head wounds, burn wounds due to those Molotov cocktails and a couple of stab wounds as well. He also said that he had been hearing reports of children who have been wounded at the demonstration site but they've been really struggling trying to get additional medics inside because the ambulances he was saying were being searched for additional personnel and then not allowed to get through so he had been having to hide medics inside this ambulance. We did manage to talk to two of the wounded.

They sustained head wounds. They were part of the anti-Mubarak demonstration. They were walking out of the hospital and were going to be heading right back down to this demonstration site saying that they wouldn't give up. This crowd at the hospital, though, the civilian crowd did end up getting quite aggressive towards me saying they didn't want any media around. They were trying to stir up the rest of the people who were there. They began shouting profanities, eventually, of course we had to leave but it's just an indication of how tense the situation is, John, even at a hospital.

KING: Remarkably, remarkably intense -- Arwa on the scene, we'll check back with Arwa as well tonight, courageous reporting by all of our correspondents on the scene right there. You're watching live pictures as all this plays out and we will keep watching these live images.

Now let's bring the conversation though back to Washington because the Obama administration is exasperated, to say the least, after President Mubarak -- this action today, he had hoped the president would agree to name a transitional government and leave office quickly. Now senior officials believe he is making a final effort to outlast the energy on the streets and using violence to create an air of crisis in hopes Egyptians not involved in the rallies would somehow see the need for the government to step in and restore order. The White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs today did not try to hide his scorn.


GIBBS: President Mubarak has a chance to show the world exactly, exactly who he is by beginning this transition that is so desperately needed in his country and for his people now.


KING: Gloria Borger is with me to discuss the administration's next move and this one is remarkably dicey in the sense that they nudged him once, he moved a little bit. They nudged him twice, he moved a little bit, but then he pulled back and essentially is being defiant, President Mubarak is, which leaves the president of the United States almost no choice but to say himself not through his press secretary, go now.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, which is exactly what he did and I think the big question mark, as you were talking to Anderson earlier, is just what does the military do? What is the role of the army here? That's what they're trying to figure out in Washington and does it mean that there is some kind of cynical move afoot by the Mubarak regime to get the army to come into the rescue at the last moment on their behalf and keep the government in -- up and running until September?

KING: And that is the great question in the sense that the administration to date has been saying the military has been responsible. The military has stayed out of the fray. The military has actually protected demonstrators and said they would not hurt them. Secretary Gates spoke again today to Field Marshall Tantawi, the defense minister essentially, who has a long-standing relationship with the American military. I spent time with him back in the first Gulf War up in the desert of northern Kuwait, southern Iraq right before the ground war in the first Gulf War.

BORGER: Right.

KING: The question is what is their calculation? They are loyal to Mubarak. The administration is hoping though in the end they will say we are not going to shoot our sons and daughters and our cousins. Mr. President, you need to go. BORGER: Well they're going to -- the military, as somebody told me today, is going to do what's good for the military and they're clearly waiting to see which works best for them. You know, for example, if there's an election in September, is that better for the military? What does that mean for the Muslim Brotherhood and also, you know, the question is, as Secretary Gates has these conversations, is he talking about $1.5 billion in foreign aid that goes largely to the military from this country? I've got to think that that is part of the conversation.

KING: I think that's a very important point because Senator John McCain among those joining the statements from Congress today saying that Mr. Mubarak needs to go and that could be in the end the ultimate leverage when the administration calls and says it's not just us, leading members of Congress are also saying you're not going to get your money. We'll continue to track developments here in Washington. Gloria, thank you.

When we come back, we'll also go back live to Cairo. Ivan Watson is on the ground watching all this unfold and we'll ask two very smart analysts in Middle East policy where does the president and where does this situation head from here?


KING: You're looking at live pictures here. It is the early morning hours in Cairo and still demonstrators out after a tense and bloody day as pro-democracy anti-Mubarak demonstrators confronted by supporters of the regime, a desperate day in Egypt and throughout the day stunning images from today's violence, again, between the supporters of Egypt's President Mubarak and those trying to overthrow him.






KING: Government protesters rode horses and camels into the crowd. In an interview earlier today, CNN's Hala Gorani who was right there described what she saw in Cairo.


HALA GORANI, CNNI ANCHOR: Out of nowhere it seemed demonstrators on camel back and horseback started charging in. At that point there was a rush of people in the other direction. I got caught in it. I got slammed against the gate and was threatened by one of the pro- Mubarak protesters, who was threatening me, telling me to get out, get out.


KING: Throughout the day also you see it here Molotov cocktails flying in Tahrir Square throughout the day dangerous there, one, then another, then another, then another. Tracking it all throughout the day is CNN's Ivan Watson who joins us to talk about today's violence. And Ivan, it has been all day long and continuing now into the early morning.

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via phone): That's right, and the demonstrators -- I'm inside Tahrir Square behind the barricades that have been erected by the opposition demonstrators who had been peacefully demonstrating here for days prior to today's clashes, and we're effectively trapped in here, John. There's a man on the loudspeaker who has been exhorting the thousands of opposition demonstrators here telling them that victory is coming, saying that there will be no negotiations with the government.

And basically giving battleground orders to the thousands of young men here on which entrance to the square, which is about roughly maybe a square mile, a patch of territory to rush to defend at any one time. The fighting has subsided somewhat over the last couple of hours. We saw exhausted combatants sleeping on the grass next to campfires, many, many, many wounded people. I estimate hundreds, John, and recently the man on the loudspeaker has been telling the supporters to wake up. He's been saying we have to get ready, be prepared for anything, and start to return to your fortified positions -- John.

KING: Ivan, I called it earlier and let's hope it stays relatively or less violent than it could get -- I guess is the best way to put it -- but this is in part a civil war. How are they being supplied with the simple basics of food and water, those who have been trapped there all day long?

WATSON: What we've been watching here is the opposition people digging up -- they've been supplying themselves with weapons by making them out of the urban landscape here quite literally carving out pieces of flag stones. Ripping out aluminum siding to use as shields, they've been carving out the flag stones and using them as weapons to hurl at the pro-government supporters and they've been taking a number of prisoners.

We've seen them hauling back to one end of the square where I believe they're being held. We heard the voice over the loudspeaker saying any ID cards that you confiscate from our prisoners, bring them to me. We're going to broadcast them to I presumably explain more about the pro-government supporters. Unfortunately, the position I'm in I'm currently holed up in a building that the door has been barricaded because of the security issues and unable to circulate freely here and really not sure what will happen in the hours to come.

The Internet was turned back on, John, after being shut down for days. The government finally turned it back on and now the Egyptian twittersphere (ph) and social networking and text messaging by phone has been circulating rumors that the pro-government forces will mount another perhaps larger offensive on Tahrir Square around dawn and it's very clear that the opposition here have been preparing for that possible attack.

KING: Ivan, you stay safe where you are. We will try to stay in touch with you throughout the hour and obviously throughout the hours ahead as we watch for daybreak. You're watching live pictures there in Cairo and as those pictures play out and as this drama plays out the Obama administration is hoping, hoping the Egyptian military, long a respected institution, will eventually tell President Mubarak he must yield power, but today's bloody rampages raise serious questions.

Among those who track Egypt and the Middle East closely including Robert Kagan of the Brookings Institution and Michele Dunne of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Bob Kagan, to you first. Things turned ugly today in Egyptian. What does that tell you?

ROBERT KAGAN, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well it tells me that the military isn't playing, at least doesn't appear to be playing the sort of neutral benevolent role that we hoped it would. It does appear to be not only allowing these brutal pro-government thugs to come in and attack the protesters but maybe even facilitating it, which raises very serious questions about what role the military intends to play in this whole period of transition.

KING: That would be a pretty troubling development, Michele Dunn, if it took that course. Do you agree with Bob? They do say in the administration they reached out to the military today and they are convinced the military in the long run at least can be a helpful player. Are you seeing that today, though?

MICHELE DUNNE, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: Well no, not today. You know I think today we saw a very ugly face of this regime. These are tactics that are well known in Egypt, have been used many times before to send regime thugs to break up peaceful demonstrations and so forth. And you know the question is what is the military up to here? You know it's possible -- certainly they were aware of what was going on and probably aware ahead of time that it would happen. Are they -- does this mean they're committed to Mubarak or does it mean that perhaps they're giving him one last chance, one last try to see if he can get control of the street and get the demonstrators out.

KING: There's no doubt that Bob again to you first, there's no doubt that this is sanctioned by the government. It could not happen without government sanction, right?

KAGAN: Well it's not only sanctioned by the government. It's I'm sure these people are being paid by the government and sent in by the government, but this is their way around having to send the military against the protesters because the military obviously didn't want to do that in such an overt fashion, so this is their next best option, is to send in these rent-a-thugs to go and try to create the image of chaos which -- and then claim to the world that the government has to come and restore this -- to restore stability so it's a very cynical move, which I hope the rest of the world and particularly the United States people don't fall for.

KING: Well, Michele, let's pick it up right there. What does the United States do now? It clearly condemned the violence, but former Ambassador Richards (ph) on his way back. The president of the United States and they have reiterated this at the White House today, they say they want the transition to begin now. Obviously the Mubarak administration, the regime is saying, no thank you.

DUNNE: I think the administration needs to be even more clear, especially now based on the use of violence against the demonstrators that it's time for the administration to say, openly and I think that, you know, Mubarak has provided them with a reason to say openly that there's no way under these circumstances that he could be entrusted with a peaceful transition to democracy.

KING: And yet Bob Kagan, Senator McCain had a meeting with President Obama today. He came out saying just what Michele just said, it's time for President Mubarak to go, but as you know there have been some (INAUDIBLE) say some of your friends in the neo-con movement saying well wait a minute here, the president even by nudging Mr. Mubarak has undermined a regime not knowing what would come next.

KAGAN: Well I don't know if they're my friends or not but they're certainly mistaken. The notion that we can somehow cling to Mubarak and expect him to weather this storm completely misunderstands the situation in Egypt. Mubarak has now certainly with the violence today but even before that lost the confidence of the overwhelming number of Egyptian people. It's a losing bet to think we can stick with Mubarak and what we need to do now is take action as quickly as possible to get to this transition period to avoid the worst possible outcome, which is the increasing radicalization of the revolution if this persists with this kind of violence and Mubarak refusing to budge.

KING: And do you see that threat, each of you, first in Egypt and then a contagion, if you will, in Egypt and then a contagion across the region? We heard you know President Saleh in Yemen today saying he would not seek re-election. We've heard demonstrators organizing in Algeria, organizing in Syria, we don't know yet of course how deep and widespread they would be, how effective they might be, but do you see, Michele, to you first, a contagion based on what is happening in Egypt?

DUNNE: Well yes, but it's a question of a contagion of what because you know some of the -- some of their leaders have been taking positive actions. I think it's a good move that President Saleh says don't worry, you know I'm going to leave office. My son is not coming after me you know and so forth. For example, the Palestinian Authority announced they're going to go ahead with local elections that they had canceled. These are positive moves of governments you know trying to carry out reforms in order to avoid this sort of very sudden bottom up change.

But the way things go in Egypt are really going to be very, very important. You know, and what the United States should be trying to do is use what influence it has to try to guide Egypt toward a transition to real democracy and, you know, as Bob Kagan said, the longer this goes on, the more dangerous it becomes and the more, you know, radical scenarios become, you know become possible. KING: And, Bob, do you see that spread or is it unclear until we sort of go country by country and see what happens?

KAGAN: Well I mean you know, I take exception to the notion that this is a contagion. I mean what we're seeing in Egypt is an expression of popular and I might say in most cases secular demand for the kind of freedoms that the rest of the world enjoys and we're seeing this -- that spread increasingly around the Arab world. I mean let's face it.

This is what we've been hoping for is this kind of demand for a true democracy, for true freedom of expression, for true political rights and the real risk to that now is precisely old decrepit dictatorships like the Mubarak regime cracking down and leaving people with no choice but a radical option and I think it's very much behooves us to get behind this movement in the Arab world, for an unprecedented demand for freedom and democracy.

KING: You heard Bob Kagan there saying unprecedented demand for freedom and democracy. Here is a map of the region and Ivan Watson a bit earlier said the Internet was back up in Egypt. Let's show you how this plays out. These are the countries, Tunisia, Egyptian, Jordan, Syria, Yemen, where we've already seen protests in recent days. Obviously Egypt one is continuing.

And we also know from social networks and other that there are others coming up in these countries, in Egypt, for example, the Internet back up. This Facebook posting from a youth group talking about a demonstration to come in Egypt. In Yemen today, the president, President Saleh said he would not run for re-election, and his son would not be a candidate. That was noted in a Tweet. But also in that Tweet, there will be a major protest still in Yemen, despite the president's announcement.

In Bahrain, one of the more liberal Gulf States, if you will, even there plans on February 14th for a demonstration against the regime. And as well in Syria, a day of rage planned on February 4th against the Assad regime there, as the protests spread throughout the region. We'll see how each of them play out as we follow this throughout.

And when we come back, next the 26-year-old American in the middle of the mayhem today. He didn't run. He stayed to treat the wounded.


KING: In addition to our team of CNN correspondents in Egypt we are also benefiting from the eyewitness accounts of iReporters in the middle of it all. One of those iReporters, Hunter Moore, is an American who is studying and teaching in Cairo. He's been administering medical care to injured protesters near Tahrir Square today. He joins me now from Cairo.

And, Hunter, I just want you to take me back to the moment when you're in the square and things turn violent. Describe the scene. HUNTER MOORE, WITNESS TO VIOLENCE IN CAIRO: It was -- we were in the center of Liberation Square and we moved -- most of the violence that we saw was down Talab Harve (ph) Street, and it was mostly, from what we understood pro-Mubarak's supporters, throwing rocks at the anti-government protesters, who were also throwing rocks so we were getting in the medical facility that we kind of set up on a side street. We were getting all of the injured anti-government protesters.

KING: And is there any doubt in your mind in terms of who instigated this? Was the violence instigated by pro-Mubarak demonstrators, or more murky than that?

MOORE: I can't say -- I can't be certain. But it seems to be -- the feeling on the street was it was instigated by the pro-Mubarak supporters. There were a lot of rumors going around that the Mubarak supporters were paid to come down and start problems. And they were also getting some of the Mubarak protesters coming in, they were getting beaten by the crowd by the anti-government protesters. And they were brought to us and taken to the army and they were arrested.

KING: So describe for me the care. You're trained in CPR and first aid. How many did you help treat? And were they coming in one, two, three at a time or was it more chaotic, where people were just coming in, in crowds?

MOORE: They were coming in, for awhile there, for probably about two hours there one was coming in every probably three to five seconds. I treated probably 50 people in an hour and a half. And, again, my medical training is very rudimentary, so but there's just so much need that they were getting every volunteer they could possibly get. They gave me a piece of tape on my arm that said medic, and just volunteers mostly Egyptian.

KING: We're showing some of the images you fed in, a friend of yours fed into us, as we're having this conversation. You've been there, obviously, in the middle of this all for several days. How has the energy and the tone and the mood on the ground changed over the past 24 hours since President Mubarak gave his most recent statement?

MOORE: Honestly, yesterday we were out in Liberation Square and it was an incredible vibe. It was very peaceful. Everyone was helping one another. The solidarity among the people here in Egypt was a really contagious. It was great day. And today initially, Liberation Square was fine. It was feeling much like it was today although there was a little more shouting, a little bit more, perhaps, a little bit more hostility. But it seemed fine for awhile. Then I don't know what triggered anything. I couldn't see, but it just kind of went down hill really, really quickly.

KING: You talked about the stream of injured coming in. How significant, how severe are the injuries we're talking about that you personally were dealing with?

MOORE: I would say 90 percent of them were head injuries from rocks. Most of the people were fine. We saw a few people that needed lot more significant care. A lot of people needed stitches, but we just couldn't do it. I mean, I don't know how to stitch somebody up, and nor did I have the materials to do so. The best we could do is just disinfect their wounds and bandage them up.

KING: And as you're watching this unfold it's obviously has to be pretty harrowing. The police and the army, two distinct groups, obviously, the police and army are they allowing this to go on, or are they turning a blind eye, or are they encouraging it?

MOORE: The army is right there. I mean I was next to two army tanks today administering medical care and the army was not involved. The extent of their involvement was they were taking weapons from supporters, and kind of hiding them behind tanks, so nobody could get to them. Because people were using weapons to beat pro-Mubarak supporters. And mostly they were just doing their best not to get involved. And it seems to be -- the people actually seem to appreciate that from who I've talked to because like it's hard for them to choose a side. I'm not sure.

But the police, we didn't see any police presence down there today aside from some of the pro-Mubarak supporters who were rumored to be police officers that were brought and arrested by the army.

KING: Help us understand. Yeah, I'm back in Washington, D.C., one of the conversations going on in this city, and all around the country, and all around the world is who are these people? Who are the demonstrators on the street? When you've been with them in recent days, have you ever heard the term Muslim Brotherhood, for example, are there Muslim Brotherhood people instigating the protests? Are they just part of the protests? Have you heard no reference to that at all?

MOORE: In my experience I have not heard the term Muslim Brotherhood until I started watching the news. I mean, I know who the Muslim Brotherhood are, but on the streets in Liberation Square I hadn't heard that term mentioned at all. And then I think there was a little bit of a presence down there today but mostly the people down there, they're everyone -- they're the poor, the rich, they are the middle class. I've met people from all walks of life.

There's a sign that I don't know if I posted it on the CNN iReport, but it's just a crescent and a cross together and says one nation and one people and that's kind of the feeling that I get from being down on the square.

KING: And as an American, are people coming up to you and making observations about how they think President Obama and the United States is handling this?

MOORE: They're really appreciative to the American people. And, I mean, again this is a situation where you have the general population against the government. So they see the problem here and it's the same thing. They look at the American people. They like the American people that they see. I've been welcomed. I've been offered water, food, shelter, on numerous occasions. It's the government that they're upset with. They're upset with the hypocrisy of the American government for the most part, from what I can tell.

KING: That's the term they used. They think President Obama is being hypocritical.

MOORE: That is the term I've heard most often. That's the term I've seen on several signs in Tahrir yesterday.

KING: And Hunter Moore, let me ask you lastly, you have no fears at all about your own safety being in the middle of this?

MOORE: Not really. I mean, I was -- I guess as safe as you could be today, but it's -- I don't feel in any immediate danger right now. Maybe I'm being a little bit naive, but I feel pretty safe.

KING: Hunter Moore, we appreciate your insights and this conversation and also all the images. You're helping understand this dramatic story as it unfolds. We'll keep in touch.

MOORE: Thank you.

KING: Thank you.

Brave young American, there. This is a story of course that is captivating attention not only here in the United States because of our long-term interests with Egypt but also around the world. Let me just show you some of the global headlines.

This is the "Arab News", an English language newspaper published in Saudi Arabia. Below here, a French language newspaper, this is in Morocco, another country that has had some rumblings because of the urge for democracy in the region. "Haaretz", obviously, Israel very invested in this story. However, quite interesting today, the Egypt story playing down in the bottom of the front page. And here, the English language, "Kuwait Times", right up front, "Mubarak Vows To Quit" Right there. "After Million March"

You see this scene, here, in the newspaper today. We'll take a peak now. Live pictures from the same square, right in the heart of Cairo. We'll go back to Egypt, as this breaking story as it develops, in just a moment.


KING: Back live to the crisis in Egypt in just a moment, but also breaking political news here in Washington tonight. A key Senate vote, an attempt by Republicans to repeal the health care reform law, well, the Republicans failed this that effort after a feisty debate.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) MINORITY LEADER: The case against this bill is more compelling every day. Everything we learned tells us it was a bad idea, that it should be repealed, and replaced.

SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI, (D) MARYLAND: Their amendment offers a repeal, but it does not offer a plan or strategy to replace. Because you know why? They have no ideas. They just want to pander to the crowd.


KING: Our Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash watched all this unfold.

A pretty partisan vote?

DANA BASH, CNN SR. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A very partisan vote. All 47 Republicans, John, voted for this repeal. Not one Democrat broke ranks. All of the Democrats voted against it.

And, look, the writing was on the wall here, Republicans knew all along they could pass the repeal in the House which, of course, they did last month. And that it would die in the Senate which, of course, is what happened today.

But Republicans were insisting this is just the first step. In fact, John Cornyn, who of course is in charge of electing Republicans in the next election, he said this is just the first step in a long road that will culminate in the 2012 election. Before that we are going to see Republicans in both sides of Congress try to choke funding, use the power of the purse to choke funding and implementation of key parts of this health care law.

Despite all of that there was one spot of bipartisanship. The Senate did overwhelmingly vote to do away with one provision in the health care law, that small businesses say really hurts them. It is something that requires them to report anything to the IRS, purchases over $600. They say this is to costly and it is too cumbersome. And you remember in the State of the Union address the president actually said that he agreed with that. So the Senate voted on that today, but that is one of the few areas of agreement on this healthcare law, John?

KING: One of the very, very, very, very few.


All right. Dana Bash for us on Capitol Hill, thanks for that.

When we come back that's breaking political news here in Washington. When we come back, straight to the breaking international news, live from Cairo.


KING: Live pictures there, central Cairo. It is right there, right there, where earlier today pro-government demonstrators started violence with pro-democracy demonstrators. Coming up on 3:00 o'clock in the morning now and the question is, what will happen at daybreak?

CNN's Arwa Damon in the middle of it all day long, joins us now live.

Arwa, describe the scene and the sense of anticipation. ARWA DAMON, CNN MIDEAST CORRESPONDENT: John, I'm at a vantage point where I'm looking straight on the front line that the anti- government demonstrators have managed to push forward to. They basically are using these large metal sheet, don't know how they got their hands on them. But they're pounding on them using them very much Roman style, that's how they managed to push the pro-Mubarak demonstrators back.

In the last five minutes that I've been standing out here I've seen at least eight Molotov cocktails being thrown back and forth. The crowd, much smaller than it was earlier in the day, but definitely just as intense and just as intent on keeping this up. I'm just going to stick the phone out and see if you guys can hear the sound of the pounding. That has been going on for hours now amid rising casualties and rising concerns.

We were just at a hospital a few hours ago and one of the doctors was saying that most of the victims they were receiving had head wound, burn wounds.


KING: We lost our connection with Arwa Damon. We'll keep looking at these live pictures here, see if maybe Arwa can dial back in. Obviously, some difficulty communicating from the scene. As you go to the live picture, here, you look at this. You see some crowds gathering here. There is a sense of what will come next.

Someone else right out in the middle of all of this is our Anderson Cooper. We spoke just a few moments ago.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: People just started joining in throwing punches, kicking. We immediately turned around, tried to make our escape, we tried to walk quickly, but walk because we didn't want to break into a run and embolden the pro-Mubarak demonstrators, who attacked us and chase us even further. But that is exactly what happened nevertheless. And basically, for several minutes, as we were trying to make our way through the pro-Mubarak crowd to safety we were pummeled.


KING: That was Anderson Cooper a bit earlier. "AC 360" coming up at 10:00 o'clock, of course. We'll take a quick break. More on this crisis in just a moment.


KING: Live pictures from Cairo there, again, as we continue to track developments there. And let's take a look at what we expect, a reminder of what we expect in the days ahead.

We have been told that there will be future protests across the region. In Algeria, more in Egypt, in Saudi Arabia, there is talk possibly there. Syria scheduled. Bahrain is scheduled and Yemen is scheduled.

And one of the big conversations how is everybody communicating in this part of the world where you know you do have very strong regimes. Let's take a little bit of a look at how people communicate in the area.

In Egypt, about 21 percent of the population have Internet access. Look at the difference here. We think of the United States, more people used to have land lines than mobile phones, 10.3 land lines. Most people communicate, nearly 70 percent of the population, mobile phones. Syria, as well, only shy of 18 percent have access to the Internet, more than 10 million mobile phones in Syria. A lot of texting going on to organize these rallies, a lot of people on the Internet as well. We showed you Facebook and Tweets earlier.

In Yemen, a very low population on the Internet, less than 2 percent there. The government in Yemen, today, saying that he would not run for re-election. We will see if that tempers down the protest there. About 35 percent of the population has a mobile phone there.

Jordan another place where we have seen demonstrations and where more are planned, about 27 of the population have access to the Internet, and again 93 percent use mobile phones. Only 1 percent have landlines there and Saudi Arabia where we have not seen demonstrations as yet but there is a sense of nervousness and anxiety, about 38 percent have access to the Internet and again, mobile phones, by far, the greatest means of person-to-person communication there.

Communication is critical as people plan the demonstrations. Of course, our focus at the moment is on Egypt. We want to end the program tonight, take you over to the live pictures, and you've watched this play out. You have heard our correspondents. It is right in here, throughout the day, remember it is just shy of 3:00 o'clock in the morning. There would, in no way, in a normal circumstance be this many people out in the street.

You've heard our Ivan Watson, Arwa Damon, Anderson Cooper, all in this scene, Hala Gorani there earlier today. The big question, now, looks relatively peaceful at the moment. You heard Arwa talking earlier about people who have taken the corrugated steel, using it as shields, making noises.

The question is, when we come to the daybreak hours, will the government have made a reassessment? Or will it send the gangs back into the street, the police back into the streets, to challenge those who want President Mubarak to leave immediately? It is a huge crisis in Egypt. It is a big calculation here in the United States. The Obama administration, including the Defense Secretary Robert Gates, calling his counterpart today urging the Egyptian military to take more of a leadership role to urge President Mubarak not to send the police or government-sponsored gangs into the streets to crack down on the people of Egypt.

This will be the focus in the coming days. I can tell you without a doubt here in Washington, at the highest levels of the administration, they believe Egypt is at the tipping point. CNN's coverage continues in the hours ahead, including on "PARKER SPITZER," which starts right now.