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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Japanese Nuclear Containment Efforts Continue; Moammar Gadhafi Remaining Defiant
Aired March 22, 2011 - 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: Another night of major new developments in both Libya and Japan, new smoke today rising over reactors two and three, exact reasons unknown. Radiation continues to leak, though exactly where from officials aren't sure.
The spent fuel pool in reactor number two has been a major problem today with water boiling this morning. They have been able to bring that temperature down. The best news, power lines to all six reactors have been reconnected, though not turned on the cooling systems.
Also, the fallout literally, the U.S. FDA slapping a ban on importing produce and dairy products from any of the four prefectures nearest the reactors. We will tell you more details on that ahead.
And for the very first time, workers at the crippled nuclear plant are speaking out. You will hear from them later tonight.
But we begin with the breaking news about Libya, late new reports of coalition airstrikes in the overnight hours near Misrata. We're just getting this information in. We will have details in a moment. Also, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Moammar Gadhafi, both speaking out tonight. What he's saying marches to the beat of a drummer only he seems to hear. What she's saying, if true, is a potential game changer, that he is looking for a way out.
Here she is on ABC News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIANE SAWYER, CO-HOST, "GOOD MORNING AMERICA": Are you indicating that there's someone close to him on his behalf reaching out to say, how do we get out, how does he get out?
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: This is what we hear from so many sources, Diane. It is a constant...
CLINTON: Today, yesterday, the day before. Some of it I will be very -- as my personal opinion, some of it is theater. A lot is just the way he behaves. It is somewhat unpredictable. But some of it we think is exploring, what are my options? Where could I go? What could I do? And we would encourage that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, in Tripoli, meantime, a surprise speech from Gadhafi aired just hours ago on Libyan state television. Obviously, it was not aired live. He says he's not going anywhere, says his forces are winning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN LEADER (through translator): We are making fun of their rockets. The Libyans are laughing at these rockets. We will defeat them in any way and by any method.
All nations are with us. We are leading the revolution. We are leading the international war against imperialism, against despots. And I tell you, I do not scare. Nothing scares me. No hurricanes scare me. I don't get scared by hurricanes, not even by the planes that send rockets. I am here, resilient. I have the right. I am here. I am here. I am here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, he certainly is still there.
Allied commanders, however, say his air defenses no longer pose a threat to operations over Libya, but they say his ground forces remain deadly to civilians.
Now, this is new video tonight posted on YouTube claiming to show Gadhafi attacks on the city of Benghazi this Saturday. Those attacks significant of course because they were possibly the final straw that prompted French fighter jets to strike when they did. Obviously we cannot independently confirm the authenticity of this video, but scenes like this jibe with allied statements today that Gadhafi forces have been and are indeed still targeting civilians and cities.
This video claims to be from inside Misrata, one of the cities said to still be under fire from Gadhafi forces. And the breaking news that we just heard, allied airstrikes in this area against Gadhafi forces, new airstrikes nearby.
Chris Lawrence is standing by at the Pentagon with more on that in a moment.
New video importantly of shelling yesterday in the middle of the town, that's what you're listening to. The cries of "God is great" punctuated by heavy explosions. Reports as well of opposition forces fighting government forces outside the city of Ajdabiya under artillery fire from government forces. And new video just in tonight that appears to be again from Saturday, Gadhafi's tanks at the gates of Benghazi. Take a look.
COOPER: Also in the east, two American airmen, a pilot and weapons officer, recovered after bailing out of this, their F-15, after reportedly ran into mechanical trouble. Both are OK. But several friendly Libyans were reportedly wounded during the Marine mission to recover the pilot. We will have details on that. And back in Tripoli, the Libyan government took reporters on a tour to show what they claim was an enormous toll on civilians from allied airstrikes. But they actually took reporters to a military site that had been targeted with no sign of any loss of life. More of that dog and pony show that didn't quite work out the way Gadhafi's representatives hoped in just a minute.
Misrata, though, is where civilians have been targeted reportedly by Gadhafi forces. Numerous eyewitnesses have reported shelling, also snipers. The breaking news tonight, new airstrikes reported near the city tonight by coalition forces against Gadhafi positions. First, though, quickly, here's one person we talked too earlier today in the city. Again, as always, we have to caution we cannot independently verify what this person is saying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can hear explosions and tanks, bombing in the center of the city. There are tanks and a lot of snipers. There's more than 50 snipers over the rooftops of the city.
They are attacking people and civilians. And the tanks, they are attacking the civilians' houses, killing everything that walks the streets. One of my friends has been killed by the sniper. He got the bullet under his eye, this eye. He was walking the streets. He was trying to get away from the center of the city. He has no weapon.
And there was a family. A family has been attacked with a tank. The whole family has been wiped out. It was a horrible scene. The tanks and the snipers are in the center of the city, at a street we call Tripoli Street. The people are living in a state of fear from everything.
They are very scared. Too many things has happened, like the electricity has been cut off and the phone lines has been cut off. Water has been cut off. The hospitals are overflowing from the injury. Misrata is -- right now is suffering.
The injured people are laying on the hospital floor, because no -- no place for them. Misrata needs any kind of help. If they can bring weapons, bring weapons. If they can strike, strike. If they can bring food to the people and the children, so bring food.
So, anyone who will bring help, bring it to Misrata, because suffering in Misrata more than I think any other city.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: A voice from Misrata.
Let's check in now with CNN's Nic Robertson, who is in Tripoli, Arwa Damon in Benghazi, and Chris Lawrence in Washington with the latest on new airstrikes.
Nic, first, we have been looking at what's happening in Misrata, word now of coalition airstrikes against positions, Gadhafi positions. What is the significance for Gadhafi forces in trying to retake or control Misrata?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think what Gadhafi is trying to do is to make sure however far he's pushed back from the east, that he doesn't want to be pushed back any further than Ajdabiya. That's the next city after Benghazi, in fact where rebels, opposition and government forces are reported to be engaged in fighting.
He doesn't want any rebel control further west of there across the rest of the country, which is a pretty large swathe of the rest of the country. So I get the impression he's trying to finish off the rebel opposition inside Misrata before the coalition can position itself and defend the civilians of that city, as is called for in the U.N. resolution.
So, I think it's for him not to have a pocket of rebel resistance essentially behind his front line. It is another strategic town important on that coastal highway for him as well -- Anderson.
COOPER: Chris Lawrence, what are you hearing now about coalition strikes against Gadhafi positions in Misrata?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, Anderson.
We're hearing from a coalition official that there were airstrikes near Misrata overnight. And earlier, earlier in the day, we heard from the coalition commander speaking by satellite from the Mediterranean Sea who said he was aware and they were aware of the situation there in Misrata with Colonel Gadhafi attacking some of the people who live there.
He said he knew of the challenges of trying to protect civilians and infrastructure there, but that they were going to continue to conduct operations against Colonel Gadhafi's forces under the authorization of that U.N. mandate.
COOPER: Arwa, we saw a new video of Gadhafi rallying supporters today in Tripoli. You spoke to a former Gadhafi confidant turned dissenter. What is his assessment of Gadhafi's plan at this moment?
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, we spoke with General Abdul Fatah Younis, who was in fact Gadhafi's former minister of interior.
He firmly believes that Gadhafi does fully intend to -- as he states, to fight this out until the very last blood of Libyan men and women has been split. He believes that Gadhafi does not necessarily have a grasp on the reality on what people are going through, on how they really feel about him.
He does have the sense that this is going to be a very bloody and very lengthy battle, which is of course very disturbing.
The big challenge, he says, is going to be trying to defeat Gadhafi forces that are essentially embedded in the various cities and towns because the airstrikes cannot be used against the troops in those locations because of the civilian population. And he does go on to say that this is still a very difficult situation and he is concerned that this is going to drag on for quite some time, Anderson.
COOPER: Chris, what's the latest on the F-15 crew rescued? Because the military action dropped bombs as part of that rescue mission, injured some locals. What do we know about the details of it all?
LAWRENCE: Yes. That is under investigation, as is the crash itself. The latest update is that one of the crew members is on the USS Kearsarge. He's OK, some minor injuries. The other has been taken to Europe, also OK. Some minor injuries. But that's to be expected when you consider that they had a mechanical failure while flying over Eastern Libya and they had to eject from the plane.
Their parachutes worked, but they landed in separate places. The pilot landed in one area. They were able to call in a rescue team from the Mediterranean Sea to pick him up. Now, the weapons officer actually was recovered by some of the rebels, some of the rebels who are opposing Gadhafi. The Pentagon official says that the rebels treated him with dignity, with respect.
In fact I saw in one of Arwa's report that one of the men actually gave him a kiss and a hug. But when they were recovering that pilot, the pilot saw some locals advancing on him. He didn't know if they were friend or foe, and they strafed the area, they dropped a couple of bombs in the space between the pilot and where the locals were coming.
It was not meant to kill. It was just meant to create a space between them and warn them off. No one was killed, but several of them were injured and taken to the hospital. And again, that and the crash itself all part of the larger investigation.
COOPER: Arwa, you went to the crash site of the downed F-15 jet. I just want to play a quick clip from an opposition military colonel who found the pilot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At first, he was afraid. But I am (INAUDIBLE) with him and I am kiss him. And I tell him, you are coming for us. You are our brothers. So don't be afraid. You will be safe. We will carry you for any place you will be (INAUDIBLE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Nic, from your vantage point in Tripoli, what impact is all this having on the people around Gadhafi, on his forces? Can you tell?
ROBERTSON: As much as we can tell, and it really is an opaque system, it's very hard to penetrate here, those around him are still loyal to him. The circle around him is a pretty tight circle. The military officers that we talked to today at the naval port facility we were taken to essentially said that they were in support of him. But I don't think we would get anyone on camera or even away from camera these days to tell us that they would like to see him overthrown. I think for me today, perhaps one of the most telling things that we could understand from what we saw, when we drove to the port facility today, we could see people lining the (INAUDIBLE) lining the seafront road, just Libyans from the capital here out having a look at the damage for themselves.
And you have to ask yourself why are they coming out here to take a look at the damage? Well, one of the reasons is, they're not seeing it on state television. The government is not putting those pictures out. And the other thing that was interesting about the people that were coming out to look in so many places and on state television, we have seen people waving the green flags. Wherever we go, the government seems to find some of them that are available to come in front of our cameras.
But when you see the average citizens lining up there to look at this, they're not waving green flags and they're not carrying posters of Moammar Gadhafi. We don't really know what they are thinking, but it tends to give me the impression that this isn't a city that's rabidly in support of Moammar Gadhafi.
It's certainly a city, though, where no one is willing to say anything against him, raise a hand against him. And the regime particularly seems very sort of hermetically sealed and intent on Gadhafi's vision of fighting to the end, Anderson.
COOPER: And, very briefly, Arwa, are opposition forces able to militarily take any advantage over the last 24 hours because of these coalition strikes?
DAMON: Well, Anderson, they most certainly have in the sense that they have driven Gadhafi's military back to Ajdabiya, that of course by and large because of the airstrikes that took place here on Sunday.
What we are hearing General Younis, the commander of the opposition forces, is that what they need now is weapons and equipment. They basically need to figure out how they're going to defeat Gadhafi on the ground. They say that they're still being pounded by artillery, by tanks and that's why they need this extra equipment, weapons. They say that they have requested it from various countries, but have yet to hear back on that -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Arwa, thank you. Nic Robertson as well. Stay safe. Chris Lawrence as well.
Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook or follow me on Twitter at @AndersonCooper. I'm will be tweeting tonight as well.
Did France essentially go it alone when they dropped those first bombs on Libya back on Saturday? Some new details coming out about that emergency meeting in Paris last weekend.
Plus, the up-to-the-minute wrangling going on between the coalition countries about who exactly is in charge of this mission and if the Arab League is going to play any part at all.
And the breaking news out of Japan, the health ministry there finding radioactive levels -- quote -- "drastically exceeding legal limits" in 11 types of vegetables. The FDA here in the United States is banning imports of certain foods from certain parts of Japan. We have details on what the what the foods are, where they're from -- details on that ahead.
COOPER: Villagers in Eastern Libya inspecting the wreckage of a U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle fighter bomber. Mechanical failure apparently brought it down, not enemy fire. It's under investigation by the U.S. The flight crew ejected safely; both are back in American hands. President Obama said that using force in Libya has already saved lives there. He's in El Salvador tonight where he sat down with CNN Espanol's Juan Carlos Lopez, who asked him about providing military support to opposition in Libya.
Here's his answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Obviously we're discussing with the coalition what steps can be taken. I think that our hope is that the first thing that happens once we have cleared the space is that the rebels are able to start discussing how they organize themselves, how they articulate their aspirations for the Libyan people and create a legitimate government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: President Obama tonight with questions still out there about the mission.
Joining us now, Jill Dougherty in Paris, senior political analyst David Gergen in Boston and with me again tonight Professor Fouad Ajami of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies as well as the Hoover Institution.
Jill in Paris, let me start with you.
We know the U.S. wants to step aside, let others take the helm. And there's been a real debate over who should lead. You have been following the debate. What is the latest on exactly who's in charge and where this thing is going?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the most likely candidate to be in charge would be NATO. But there are real problems with NATO, not that they can't do the mission, because they have the assets and the capabilities. They would really be the best as an organization.
But they have a perception problem, and especially the French have pointed this out. But you would have to say the Brits and also the United States agree with this, which is it's a problem for the Arab countries; to have NATO head up another conflict in another Arab country really would be a problem.
So today President Obama spoke by phone with the U.K. Prime Minister Cameron and also with French President Nicholas Sarkozy. And what they agreed is that NATO will take a key role, it will have a key role, but this will not just be a NATO operation.
Now, I know that's not really precise yet. But it looks as if it could be moving toward what the French foreign minister, Juppe, was suggesting today, which is there would be like a political body, a political committee in effect, made up of the foreign ministers of all the Western countries, plus the Arab countries. And then there would be NATO and they would work together. But you would have that political body, which would give some cover I think to them, showing that the Arabs are on board and it's not just NATO at the forefront.
COOPER: David Gergen, for a military operation, that seems like a very, awfully unwieldy power structure.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the president has been working very hard today to try to keep the power structure together. Jill Dougherty's report I think sounds -- is very consistent with what we're hearing from other sources and that is progress has been made toward building a coalition that, in effect, is like the coalition we have in Afghanistan. It's -- NATO plays a central role in command-and-control, a lot of the structure of it, but there are other countries involved, so it's not strictly a NATO operation.
And in this case, Anderson, what we has to do, what the president has to do is keep the Arab nations on board, too, because there's a lot of wavering among the Arab nations. But if I may say so, I thought the president, in that interview that you just showed, really pointed us toward something significant that may be coming.
And that was he was suggesting it was time for the rebels now to have a chance to pull themselves together, articulate their aspirations and to begin to form a new government. That is to suggest -- Fouad might be comment on this -- that certainly implies that the United States and others are now thinking that they would recognize the rebels as the legitimate government of Libya and that would be a major step forward.
COOPER: Something the French have done, something you have called for, for quite a while now, Fouad.
FOUAD AJAMI, PROFESSOR OF MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES, JOHNS HOPKINS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Absolutely. This idea that we now have to recognize the Benghazi people as the free Libyans, we should have done it all along. We're late. We're too late. There is no delicacy here. We're at war with Gadhafi. We don't have to be nice to him. We could recognize the Benghazi people. We could give them the money.
COOPER: There was a report in "The Wall Street Journal" that arms are being shipped to them from Egypt by Egypt with obviously the sort of approval of the United States, I believe.
AJAMI: Well, the more the better. And let's not forget, there's $30 billion that the Treasury Department, our Treasury Department has holding for the Libyans. This should be opened up, this tab should be opened up for the free Libyans in Benghazi.
COOPER: Does it concern you though, Fouad, that we're hearing first of all that the opposition does not seem to have been able to make the most of this opportunity on the ground in terms of -- they're still in Benghazi. They haven't advanced really beyond where they were Saturday. I guess that's when they were being attacked in Benghazi, so that's been an advantage, but does it concern you their lack of organization?
AJAMI: No, because I really didn't expect any better. Remember, these people have never governed themselves. These are rebels, they are civilians, they are lawyers, they are judges, they are ordinary men and women, teenagers being sent to the front to face a man who has ruled them for 40 years who has taken away from them every kind of initiative.
So the idea that in Benghazi, suddenly in this hothouse, there would be a free government and this government would know what to do and then it would head on the road to Tripoli to unseat Gadhafi, these are very unrealistic expectations.
COOPER: So, David, doesn't that auger a greater U.S. involvement, or greater NATO involvement, or greater international involvement in terms of training, in terms of arming, in terms of aid on the ground?
GERGEN: Well, if we recognize them as the legitimate government of Libya and then can turn over those $30 billion in assets, we're moving toward training them, preparing them in a variety of other ways that will be very, very significant.
In the meantime, I think that one of the other interesting questions is, what about the use of force, either by the United States or on the handoff by the British, the French and the others on the ground now in Misrata and these other cities? What has been lost here -- Nic Robertson referred to it -- is the resolution does call for Gadhafi to pull back from three major cities, Misrata being the third largest.
They have not done that yet. And what the coalition has said basically if you don't pull back, we're going to hit you. So it sounds to me like maybe the next step after getting the no-fly zone established, and it's almost there, is to really lower the boom on some of Gadhafi's forces on the ground. And that also could change the dynamics on the ground. We will have to wait and see. I'm curious about what Fouad thinks about that.
COOPER: Yes. It does seem, Fouad, that this resolution allows for -- it's a big umbrella. It allows virtually to be interpreted however they wants.
AJAMI: But look at the irony. We have these resolutions but we keep insisting that we cannot be seen to be the ones doing the fighting. This can't be a NATO operation because the Arabs are sensitive to the presence and to the influence of the West.
Now, here's something which is very interesting. Al-Jazeera, no friend of the United States, no friend of the West, did a survey of its viewers, its readers. It asked them what they thought of this military operation in Libya. Guess what? -- 62 percent of them, 62 percent of people who tend to be radical Arabs approve of this, because they know that a calamity is unfolding in Libya and they know that no help is going to come other than from the West and from the United States...
COOPER: So do you think the next step is then targeting ground forces? It's already been done around Benghazi. Do you think that is inevitable?
AJAMI: Absolutely because we can't -- we have to understand the limits of what airpower could do, because we have talked about this. This is a recipe for a stalemate. He stays in his bunker. The people in Benghazi stay behind the line secure for them. Otherwise, this will go on for quite a long time.
COOPER: David, do you have...
COOPER: Go ahead, David.
GERGEN: I was just going to say, Fouad, part of what's going to happen depends on what kinds of promises have been made privately to the Arab nations by the United States and by others. You remember with the Persian Gulf situation with President Bush Sr. and when we cleared Saddam out of Kuwait, and there was a lot of pressure to go on, to go all the way to Baghdad, and he resisted that because he felt he had promised the Saudis and others that he wouldn't do. And so he held back from going on.
And what we don't know here what is private promises have been made to those Arab nations.
AJAMI: No, you're absolutely right, David. That was such a different situation. And remember Kuwait was then the issue and you had the two leading Arab governments, which were basically Egypt and Syria and the Saudis, all these governments were involved on our side. The Arab world today is a very different world.
You have Yemen itself fighting for its life. You have Bahrain in contention. You have the Syrians, who are our enemies. You have the Algerians, who don't think much of what we're doing. So the Arab world is divided. You have a fight for the Arab future unfolding. We should not defer to them so very much. We are the ones doing the fighting. And I have tremendous sympathy for our president. He finally kind of understood his obligations. And he faces a very difficult situation.
COOPER: David Gergen, Fouad Ajami, Jill Dougherty, appreciate it.
Coming up, questions about what is really going on with the opposition in Libya. Is it a democratic revolution or are tribal alliances somehow driving much of the opposition? What about extremists? Gadhafi has claimed al Qaeda is behind the uprising; there is no evidence of that. There is a study that indicates a lot of the foreign fighters who went to Iraq to attack Americans came from Libya years ago. We will talk to "New York Times" reporter David Fitzpatrick, along with CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen.
And breaking news from Japan. Dangerous radiation levels found in food in areas growing immediately around the plant. Now the FDA and the United States issuing a ban on certain food imports from those affected areas. We will tell you what foods are being banned and from where.
Plus, an update on the race to cool down the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LEADER OF LIBYA (through translator): This is a new crusade war. It's against Islam. Long live Islam. All Muslim armies must join in the battle. All the free people must join in the battle. Protests everywhere. Protests everywhere are supporting you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Gadhafi's version of events in a speech from today on Libyan state television.
We talk a lot about the opposition to Gadhafi, but for a few minutes, we want to look at what we know about them. David Kirkpatrick wrote a fascinating article for "The New York Times" laying out two possibilities for what may be really going on in the Libyan opposition.
It could be a democratic revolution trying to wrest power from Gadhafi, and there's evidence for that in terms of the makeup of the -- the government now in Benghazi. Or it could be an uprising along tribal lines, between tribes in the east and the west who have long been at odds.
Kirkpatrick points out also similarities between the Gadhafi regime and the opposition, similarities in terms of the use of propaganda when it comes to who's winning which battles and the reliability of information.
David Kirkpatrick joins us now live from Tripoli, and in Washington, CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen.
So David, you've raised the question in one of your "Times" articles of whether this is an uprising against a dictator along secular lines, and we've seen plenty of lawyers and doctors in the secular group, which is now running the -- the council in Benghazi. Or if it's kind of an uprising more along tribal lines. Which do you think it is?
DAVID KIRKPATRICK, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well, the thing is, it's obviously both. You know, there's a reason why the eastern part of the country has always been a hot bed of resistance to Colonel Gadhafi. And that's because the eastern part of the country and the tribes in the eastern part of the country were favored by the former monarch who Gadhafi overthrew. Gadhafi's favored the tribes in the west. So the tribes in the east have always resented the tribes in the west and they've resented Gadhafi.
And at the moment, that resentment takes the form of a democratic uprising. The people who are leading this revolt are certainly talking about a constitution, about human rights, about western-style democracy. So there's an overlay here.
And the question that's becoming increasingly important for the west, because they're getting involved militarily is, which is it really? Which is going to predominate? If the rebels win, are you going to see a kind of rough tribal justice meted out against the west, the western part of Libya, that is? Or are you going to see them living up to these -- these promises, this rhetoric?
COOPER: Peter, what do we really know about the opposition? You know, you hear from the Gadhafi regime, well, it's al Qaeda. There's no clear -- you know, there's no evidence to support that. In fact, all the evidence, you know, indicates this is not being led by a small group of al Qaeda fighters, as they said, who have been drugging the youth of Libya.
And yet, you know, I did see a study about foreign fighters that went to Iraq to fight against U.S. forces and a large number of them, which actually came from Libya.
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, a cache of al Qaeda in Iraq, documents recovered by the U.S. military, and it actually provides the best snapshot that we ever had of al Qaeda. And when you analyze the documents, 20 percent of the foreign fighters, many of them whom were volunteering to be suicide bombers, came from Libya, many of them from the east of Libya.
So that is the one data point.
Another data point which I think is important, Anderson, is that the Libyan Islamic fighting group, which is a group that was sort of allied to al Qaeda, has already -- has done a deal with the Gadhafi government where, A, they've sort of laid down their arms and, B, they've sort of renounced al Qaeda's ideology. Which I think also suggests that the notion that al Qaeda has any big role to play in all this doesn't make a great deal of sense. It's not to say that Islamists are not part of this. But Islamist radicals, Islamist militants, even if you take a large -- largest assessment of the size of Libyan Islamic fighting group, you're looking at hundreds of people. Whereas, we're seeing with these kinds of protests and fighters are involving, you know, tens of thousands. So the element of this of al Qaeda or related affiliates is pretty low.
COOPER: That certainly squares with what Ben Wedeman had reported. I asked him this question a couple weeks ago, and he said, "Well, there may be Islamists involved, certainly, but that is not in any way the majority." And, you know, it's civilians who you see out there. It's people who are students and doctors and lawyers and teachers and just, you know, regular civilians who are really fighting for some sort of change in their lives.
David, the -- we've seen the disorganization among the opposition and their inability to kind of capitalize on, so far at least, and maybe it's too early days, to capitalize and sort of turn themselves into an army. Do you think -- is there any sense that they have what it takes to actually topple a regime in themselves, by themselves?
KIRKPATRICK: Well, I think you have to say that the rebels and the west, the American and European forces who are attacking Libya right now, are making a big bet. And the bet is that the people of Tripoli and the west, who for a while appear to be actively rising up against Gadhafi, will do so again if the air strikes pave the way.
You know, around February 20, Tripoli was up in arms. You had people rushing through the streets, burning police stations, government buildings. And the same in many other cities here in the west. Since then, that's been repressed, and we haven't seen any sign yet that those people are going to come back out in the streets. But that's what it takes.
It looks like right now like the rebels from Benghazi are not about to punch through the government lines and make their way all the way up the coast, especially because they would have to get through Sirte, the city along the coast, which is still a Gadhafi stronghold, where if he's got any support, he's got that support in Sirte.
But I will tell you this: today, you know, after three days of air strikes, today when we were talking around the old city, people began coming up to us, to me and other journalists, and volunteering, at some risk to themselves, in the hours (ph) of our official minders, that they were tired of Gadhafi. And to me that says that, at least psychologically, the mood is changing here.
COOPER: That's interesting, though, that even within earshot of government minders, that they would voluntarily come up to you and say -- I mean, that -- had that happened to you in the last week or so?
KIRKPATRICK: You know what happened -- when I first arrived here, which was more than three weeks ago, it was happening more. And since then it had stopped. Kind of -- the city had really been tamped down, and I heard more and more of what seemed like genuine support for Gadhafi, or at least a reluctance to speak about it.
But today I felt a return to the find of feeling we had when we first arrived. One gentleman who evidently spoke good English, I said "Oh, you know, well, this is a beautiful country out here."
And he said, "Yes, it will be a beautiful country when we change the system," which is a remarkable -- a remarkable thing to say to a foreign journalist of that kind of a conflict (ph).
COOPER: David also writes about that in today's "New York Times" issue with that article, as well. Peter Bergen, appreciate you joining us. And David, as well. Thank you so much.
Still ahead, are coalition air strikes killing civilians? And if so -- because that's what the government -- Gadhafi government is saying. If so, when reporters ask to see evidence of those alleged attacks, well, you'll see what they were shown today.
Also ahead, the first interview with workers inside the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Details on that ahead.
COOPER: New video just in, night operations aboard USS Kearsarge. Marine harrier jump jets taking off for operations over Libya.
Earlier, V-22 Osprey chopper planes from the same ship were used in the rescue of the F-15 airmen.
The line coming from the Libyan government is that coalition air strikes are killing innocent civilians. That's what they keep saying. Well, the government said that dozens of women, children and clerics died in allied attacks over the weekend, the Gadhafi government.
But when international reporters asked for evidence, when they asked to go to the hospitals or to areas where civilians were allegedly affected by the strikes, that's when the smoke and mirrors come out.
ITN Britain Channel 4's Jonathan Miller reports. Take a look at this.
JONATHAN MILLER, REPORTER, CHANNEL 4 (voice-over): We left our gilded cage at the Tripoli hotel in which the foreign press corps has been under virtual house arrest and headed out with our government minders. We harangued them to show us evidence that scores of civilians have been injured in the past three nights of bombing, as the government has claimed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
MILLER (on camera): OK. This man says there's no problem in Libya at the moment. Over here there's a small pro-Gadhafi demonstration. This is what we've been brought to see by our minders. What we actually asked to go and see were to go inspect damage or to go to the hospitals to see some of the civilians who supposedly have been injured in the strikes.
But no, this is where we are, Green Square. And look at it. It's completely empty.
(voice-over) Well, apart from the popcorn man and a clutch of government spooks.
But the Gadhafi fan club under the city wall was quick to spot us.
(on camera) Pro-Gadhafi...
(voice-over) The man in black is called Saleem (ph). He's our government minder. That's him whipping up the crowd, even putting words in the mouths of those I interviewed.
We retreat across Green Square towards our minivan, the Gadhafi supporters in hot pursuit. Another mystery bus trip. Finally, they were taking us to where bombs were dropped last night.
The government has offered no evidence to back its claim that many civilians have been killed and injured. Perhaps now they would.
We arrived at a still-smoldering building down at Tripoli port. The first thing to greet us, a multiple rocket launcher, and next to it, two huge warehouses, which had taken direct hits.
(on camera) What they've taken us to see today is not an air strike on a civilian area. This appears to be a genuine military target. These behind me are all Soviet-era rocket launchers or rocket carriers. They're probably empty; otherwise this place would really have gone up. But there were two direct hits on this naval warehouse.
(voice-over) Saleem (ph), the man in black, was beside himself. But the only thing wounded around here was his fervent national pride.
(on camera) Did you bring us to a naval target?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's attack -- attack here? Why attack here?
MILLER: It's a military target.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why bomb here?
MILLER: But Saleem (ph), you told us -- you told us that many civilians have been killed. How many civilians have been killed?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is this? What is this?
MILLER: This is a military... UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's our people. It's our money. It's our land.
MILLER (voice-over): This bombing was precise. No one killed, no one injured.
Government minders lecture foreign journalists about what they call the dirty, immoral foreign intervention, which they say is spilling the blood of Libyan civilians. Today we were shown nothing to substantiate that claim.
Jonathan Miller, Channel 4 News, Tripoli.
COOPER: Keep behind the propaganda machine.
Some other stories we're following tonight. Isha Sesay joins us with a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Isha.
ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a sixth straight day of anti-government protests in Syria. Now a human rights group says Syrian authorities have taken a prominent rights leader from his home and arrested him. The leader was a political prisoner for six years until 1991 and had been supporting the protestors.
Yemen's embattled president has offered to step down at the beginning of next year, according to a ruling party official. But the opposition says no, he has to go now. Meanwhile, the United Nations is calling for an investigation into the killing of protesters.
NFL Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor has been sentenced to six years probation after pleading guilty to sexual misconduct with an underage girl. Taylor was arrested last May after paying a 16-year-old girl $300 after sexual acts.
It looks like Chris Brown may need a refresher in anger management. The singer was on "Good Morning America" today to promote his new album. But when Robin Roberts asked him about his 2009 assault on Rihanna, Brown reportedly stormed off the set, stared down a producer, and trashed a dressing room.
Show staffers called security when they heard loud noises coming from his dressing room and later found the window had been smashed.
And then, Donald Trump says he has no regrets about doing business with Moammar Gadhafi. Trump leased Gadhafi some land in Westchester, New York. In an interview, Trump says it was a smart move, because he made more money in that one deal than he would have made all year for the land. Trump says he gave the money to charity.
Doing business Trump style, Anderson.
COOPER: There you go. Isha, thanks.
Still ahead, breaking news from Japan. New reasons to worry that radiation from the crippled nuclear plant is reaching many different types of food. What Japan's health ministry has reportedly found in food grown around the plant. Details on that ahead.
COOPER: Breaking news out of Japan. The Kyoto News Agency is reporting that Japan's health ministry has found radioactive materials at levels, I quote, "drastically exceeding legal limits in 11 types of vegetables grown in Fukushima prefecture." Spinach, broccoli and cabbage are on the list. Officials said none of the vegetables has been shipped since Monday.
Earlier today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned imports of all dairy products and produces from areas affected by Japan's nuclear crisis. This as seven charter flights left Japan carrying about 1,800 U.S. military dependents from the Asugi (ph) naval facility.
It was their choice to go. We also heard for the first time from some of the workers inside the crippled nuclear plant. They've been working tirelessly at great risk to their lives. Here's what they told the Japanese television network TVSI.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's settled down quite a lot compared to the beginning. We could even begin to see a bright hope that we may be able to somehow work out in a little bit. We're constantly switching over all the time, since the work cannot be stopped.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, we also saw where the workers are staying. The ship anchored in a harbor in Iwaki (ph) City is where they go between shifts. It's been their home base. They have to limit their time inside the plant, obviously, because of the high radiation levels.
At the plant today, workers restored power in the control room of the badly damaged No. 3 reactor. The lights now work, according to the plant's owner, TEPCO, a first step, obviously, in trying to restore the cooling systems of all six reactors.
But TEPCO also said reactors one and two suffered more damage than originally thought and will take more time for repair.
Meantime, the death toll from the quake and tsunami has climbed to more than 9,000. More than 13,000 are now missing. The losses are so immense, the rituals of grieving have to be improvised. Here's CNN's Kyung Lah.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Japan's disaster, there are too many dead to have a proper funeral. Sixteen-year-old Hiroki Sukawara (ph) is underneath this blanket. His parents and two others drove his body to the emergency shelter, the best farewell they could offer in the wake of the tsunami.
"Don't give up hope," Hiroki's father tells his friends. "Keep living for my son."
These children have already lost two of their friends. Hiroki is the third. He wasn't at school that day, which sits high above his neighborhood. Crews pulled his body from the rubble.
Sixteen-year-old Takuma Kinno played soccer with Hiroki (ph).
"I've lost my best friend, Hiroki," he says. "Hiroki died young. He should have lived a long life."
Life has been cut short all across Rikasenti Kata (ph), one of the hardest hit towns in the tsunami zone. Search crews find the body of a middle-aged woman. Like all the others, they can't identify her, but cover her and load her body onto a truck.
They offer a single sign of respect, a farewell, and the ground flowers and offerings of tea to mark the passing of another life. After a few seconds, crews return to the search.
It is tough to cope with this scale of loss as an adult. For the young, incomprehensible. It's too early to know how many children have been impacted by this disaster, but aid organizations believe that number will be well into the thousands and that they'll feel the psychological damage for years to come.
ANDREW WANDER, SAVE THE CHILDREN: We've already spoken to children who are having nightmares. They're unable to sleep. They're frightened of the sea because they believe it's going to come back. They're frightened of being indoors, because the building shook so violently during the earthquake.
So there's absolutely a chance that many of these children are going to have difficulties, serious difficulties coming to terms with what happened to them.
LAH: For the friends of Hiroki Sukuwara (ph), this impromptu funeral is some closure. A thank you from the family. His father covers his son and offers a final farewell to his friends. A few more seconds to cry, then Hiroki's friends move back inside the shelter to deal with what this disaster brings next.
Kyung Lah, CNN, Rikasenti Kata (ph), Japan.
COOPER: So much sadness. We'll be right back.