August 20th, 2009
08:51 PM ET

The Evening Buzz: Terrorist Welcome Home

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/europe/08/20/transcript.lockerbie.bomber/art.lockerbie.bomber.afp.gi.jpg caption="Al Megrahi, now 57, is suffering from terminal prostate cancer."]

Charly Feldman
AC360° Intern

We have new information tonight about an alleged struggle within the Bush administration just days before the 2004 presidential election. According to Former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, senior officials including former Attorney General John Ashcroft and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, pushed to raise the terror threat level to orange after Osama Bin Laden released an audiotape critical of then President George W. Bush. Ridge says he successfully thwarted the effort, and the threat level stayed at yellow. Ridge describes the behind-the-scenes White House drama in his new soon-to-be-published book, “The Test of Our Times.” Ed Henry will have the latest on this developing story.

Long before September 11, 2001 another terrorist attack sent shock waves around the world. The 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 killed 270 people. Today, Abdel Basset Al-Megrahi, the only person convicted in the horrific attack, was released from the Scottish prison where he has spent the last eight years. He’s been diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer and was released on compassionate grounds. Freeing prisoners on compassionate grounds is an established feature of the Scottish judicial system—but al-Megrahi’s release has ignited controversy around the world. President Obama says it’s a mistake. Randi Kaye has the details.

President Obama is hitting back at critics of his health care reform plan. Today, he sparred with conservative talk radio host Michael Smerconish and took questions from callers. Mister Obama says Republican lawmakers are playing politics with health care reform just to put themselves in a better position for the midterm elections. Tonight, we’ll hear from Congressman Ron Paul, who’s also a medical doctor. He’ll tell us why he thinks the government should stay out of health care. It’s one view in a debate with many voices and opinions.

It’s been three weeks since we’ve heard from the three American hikers being held in Iran. Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal have been in custody since July 31st, and their families are pressing for diplomats to gain access to the three and help arrange their release. They want to know how their children are doing—and where exactly they are being held. Anderson will talk to the mothers of the hikers in an exclusive AC360° interview.

We’ll also have details on a new development in the murder investigation we told you about last night. California prosecutors say former reality television contestant Ryan Alexander Jenkins has been charged with murder in the death of his ex-wife, who was found stuffed in a suitcase in a trash bin over the weekend. Police say Jenkins apparently slipped into his native Canada on foot after a 1,000-mile car and boat trip from Southern California. He vanished after the body of 28-year-old former model Jasmine Fiore was found. Now police are scrambling to find him.

These stories and more, tonight at 10 pm eastern. See you then!

Filed under: 360° Radar • The Buzz
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Peter

    If the president is tough enough, he'll push through some kind of health care reform and disregard his own political future for the benefit of the American people. Is he willing to not play politics as well?

    August 21, 2009 at 11:38 am |
  2. David

    Re. the attempt to raise the alert level...The Republican party has learned that combining the terms terrorist and patriotism in the same sentence is a wonderful tool for manipulating the psyche of the American people to abandon any sense of justice. It never fails. It would appear that with the healthcare debate they are experimenting with combining other fear inducing taboos with patriotism to see if that is equally effective in manipulating the American people to abandon any sense of social justice. Wake up people, your are being cynically manipulated by one of the most morally bankrupt parties that has ever existed in the history of the USA.

    August 21, 2009 at 11:27 am |
  3. dottie

    Tom Ridge,,, l knew those guys were a crook from the get go.
    they send, ours Counrty to a nasty wars, for their own political gain.
    now, all of them have turn on each other ,with his millions of dollars
    soon to be published tell all books,duh!

    August 21, 2009 at 6:23 am |
  4. Sisilia

    If the Bush Administrations need to talk about it.Why they hide this for long times?Why they did not come and talk to me? They know all the locations and dates of all the terrorists activities move in our country.I already gave the F.B.Is all my documents and reported since 2004 until last time April13,2009.And now I am not that healthy.I believed is causing by terrorist move,but I don't want to talk about it.Because if our White House (gov.)is not helping you they are not helping me too.etc.Is the White house think I am crazy?or I am dead.I need award and honored.I didn't asked before but I will say it now.Disgremination,racism,dishornesty in everywhere under the rocks,under tree roots,etc.But you and me very hard to get along.I love you more than I love me.much love and prayers.Thanks.

    August 21, 2009 at 3:32 am |
  5. Sisilia

    Keep America hornesty,In 2004 Osama BL. audiotape with his white veil was taking in the fall 2004 Oct.28,04 at 12pm.I was over there, at the same place same time,looking at it with my own eyes.I already reported it to Fedral Building to F.B.I at SanFrancisco.Why they did not show it now?Because it was shown on CNN and FOX NEWS T.V on that time,that why I reported it.And there is something was happen to me over there too.It was order from AlQaieda (Osama)and they did it for me.I thought that the last day of my life.I am still alive to day.Where Tom R.,John A.,andDonald Rumsfeld information recieved from?what kind Government duty is that?That why we are having mistake and slow down our work.Because you reported something you did not watch it with your own eyes. The latest developing story long before SEPT.11,2001like what Ed Henry said,attack in 1988 O.K. But what happen in 1996,1998,2002,2003,2004 Al Qaieda #1and#2 audiotapes.I feel like is a cover up and disgremation and dishornesty duties is happening now in America.Because all this things was happening in America in our country.If you have anything to help out America be hornesty have god in your life outside and your innerbeing.Where is the Fedral economic reserved for all my work you were requested for anybody to help you. Pres.Bush Administration?Keep the White House sparkling white and hornesty.This is not all I give you,I have a lots to talk about it ,terrorists in our country U.S.A. You have to keep me talking. I like it .Thanks

    August 21, 2009 at 3:04 am |
  6. anibal coronel

    Mr Cooper, you look great on your white Horse even after Guantanamo, Irak, Afghanistan, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Panama, Granada, plus a 100 etc, etc...s accusing people condemned by kangaroo courts, our favorite kind of courts !!! Revenge courts !!! Why was not this man judged in a neutral country ? Tu si eres imparcial verdad ? O vives en La Gran Luna, our troops are our heroes no matter who or how many innocents they kill. not to mention the cia, etc, etc.

    August 21, 2009 at 2:12 am |
  7. Alfred

    Americans are all outraged that Pan AM 103 bomber is released on compassionate grounds . Where is the outrage that Bosch and Posada who blew up a Cubana airliner in1976 off Barbados killing 73 have not been extradited to Venezuela or Cuba to be tried for murder but rather are allowed to live free inUSA?

    August 21, 2009 at 1:52 am |
  8. Steve Anderson

    The Tom Ridge revelation is not a revelation. Many questioned the politics behind much of the so-called threat levels and their potential influence on the outcome of the election. The real shame in all of this is that we can't even be up in arms about it. The statute of limitations has run out, and frankly, if our current administration is not willing to investigate the other criminal activity of the Bush administration, such as torture, warrantless wiretapping, and of course, all the lies that led us into Iraq in the first place, why would anyone think any kind of justice will come out of this. It is an absolute shame the crimes these men have gotten away with. Hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi's dead, millions now living as refugees, and George Bush had the gall to joke about not finding the weapons of mass destruction he and Dick Cheney knew weren't there. And to hear right wing extremists call Barack Obama every name under the sun and continue to use more fear-mongering to achieve their objectives, and to hear even those in positions of authority distort the truth as they are, particularly in light of all we went through under the Bush administration, is stunning to say the least. It sometimes feels like there is no hope. No matter what good people do to make this world a better place to live, others will bring them down. And, at the end of the day, money equals power, and power wins.

    August 21, 2009 at 1:46 am |
  9. Fubu

    I feel terrible for the families of Pan Am Flight 103 on the release of Abdel Basset Al-Megrahi, but what Moral authority does the US or US media have to speak on the subject , while ommiting the fact that we have terrorist like Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles, living free and enjoing a hero's welcome HERE, by the Miami Cuban comunity.
    Anderson be fair and mention why these terrorist have not faced "any" Justice for their crimes also. That's why we must abide by international law otherwise we're not any better.

    August 21, 2009 at 1:23 am |
  10. Annie

    How can someone with no compassion for The people he killed with forethought be released on "compassionate" grounds?

    August 21, 2009 at 12:12 am |
  11. REally?

    Where is the outrage when thousands of US war veterans have returned from wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan? Well, they are given a hero"s welcome. Wait, you say, but they arent terrorists, because terrorists have beards and Muslim names? Terrorism isnt just Muslim men blowing up planes; it is also and very much Western armies flying planes over the rest of the world bombing people on the ground below – civilians included. Anyone wants to go back in time and add up the blood on US hands, nicely called "casualties" , while this terrorist attack becomes a "mass murder". Hate the crime – but not just when it hurts you. Having said this, I have the utmost sympathies for the victims of the kin, for their sorrow is unimaginable, even before today. And I have the highest regard for the Scottish Justice system and their Minister. As for Obama, and the government 's various agencies, shut up, stop telling the world what their governments and people s

    August 20, 2009 at 11:38 pm |
  12. michael armstrong sr.

    The whole thing to this delima is that George Bush was intended on the American people keeping there wits against psycological war fair from Bin laudin and it worked our nation kept there courage and the American people pushed on to pursevere and now its up to the democrats to finish the job they will either finish the job or do a Jimmy Carter retreat.

    August 20, 2009 at 11:34 pm |
  13. Laurie

    Unbelievable!! Democrats and CNN will do everything to throw the Bush administration under the bus without checking the facts. Francis, one of the 3 guests interviewed, was the only one PRESENT at the meetings and yet no one (including Begala and Anderson) believed that what she said actually occurred during the meetings was factual. Amazing! You might want to watch FOX news to learn the real facts. The ratings are dropping for Obama and all media related to his election. Not surprising that CNN is grasping for any news possible.

    August 20, 2009 at 11:24 pm |
  14. Libyan

    I am very disappointed by the shallowness of all the people accusing Libyans of welcoming this terrorist back. I'm from Libya and I can assure you that most Libyans oopose Gaddafi and disapprove of his crazy actions which include oredring this terrorist to bomb that plane. Libyan oppostion organizations can be found all over the western world and many of their memebers have been murdered by Gaddafi intellegence officers just like Megrahi. The very reason for him being ordered to bomb that plane was that a prominent Libyan opposition memebr was expected to boeard it. The welcome party you all saw on TV was oragnized by Gaddafi's regime and the people you saw are merely his minions and they don't represent the true good nature of Libyans. These rallys are easily organized in democratic countries, let alone a dictatorship like Libya. People, please get a little bit more educated and informed before throwing judgements on good people like Libyans who have suffered more than anyone else from Gaddafi's crimes, one of which is murdering 1200 men in cold blood in THE SAME DAY at the notoroious Abu Salim prison in Tripoli in 1996. Thx Anderson Cooper for pointing out that 'the welcome party consisted of people who wore the same T-shirt and looked like they were rallied'.

    August 20, 2009 at 11:24 pm |
  15. creating a story

    There is no story. They did not raise the threat level.

    It is good to sell books to the Bush Bashers.

    An executive takes all the opinions, weighs them and makes the right decision. Bush did just that. The President did not raise the level.
    It was not politics.

    Obama could lean much from George W.

    Very MUCH

    Morristown NJ

    August 20, 2009 at 11:19 pm |
  16. Evan Julien

    Watched your inteview with the mothers of the three hikers apprehended in Iran.Why would three apparently intelligent people who must have been fully aware of the strained relations between the U.s and Iran, go hiking anywhere close to the Iranian border. Now there has to be negotiations between Iran and a third party acting on our behalf to get them freed. It would teach them a good lesson to be left in jail for a while. This was an act of stupidity.

    August 20, 2009 at 11:17 pm |
  17. Al

    I have posted some comments that you at CNN took as critical. Do you have any problems with 1st amendment? I can just as easily contact other media sources, regarding their views on the issue of your reticence to publish anything that might be slightly not to you liking.

    August 20, 2009 at 11:13 pm |
  18. Al

    I do not think it is our place to tell Scotland how to run their legal system. I feel for the victims, yet I know it is an emotional response and not common sense. I do not believe that US should intervene in any way in the decision of Scottish government. I frequently travel all over the world for business and leisure, and I am sick and tired of explaining that US is not taking over the world. WE should let other nations govern the way they choose to and not attempt to intervene. US is not popular throughout the world, and that fact interferes and causes me to be ashamed of my country.
    He is released. Move on!

    August 20, 2009 at 11:08 pm |
  19. Fran T.

    Hey Anderson: The release of the terrorist/bomer, to Libya, should serve as a wake up call to those Americans who suggest that we send gitmo prisoners to other countries. We have no say, no control at all over how other countries will handle those prisoners in the future. Having said that, I would much rather keep gitmo inmates in an American prison because that is where they will die. They aren’t going to excape; our maximum security lockdown is the best in the world and they ain’t going no where – they will die behind prison walls no matter 20, 30 or 100 years from now.

    August 20, 2009 at 10:49 pm |
  20. Miki Hawkins

    It doesn't matter what we say about the release of the Pan AM 360 terrorist. What does his reception in Libya, crowds in t-shirts honoring him, a hero's welcome, say about the people of Libya? That Libyans have so little to be proud of that they cheer a mass murderer is sad and just points out that their values are not our values. No surprise there.

    August 20, 2009 at 10:36 pm |
  21. Henya,From CA

    Hello Anderson,
    It is very disturbing to let out a terrorist that killed over 200 people unbelievable,
    To the story about the Republicans manipulating allocations and scarring us to death. It just shows how that party only cares about themselves. And not the American People, they are tiring to use the same tactics to derail the Health Care reform plane, this is just plain evil. I hope that people pay attention to the Gama's their are paying with our lives,

    August 20, 2009 at 10:34 pm |

    The release of the Libyan Terrorist by the Scottish government shows utter insensitivity and injustice to the victims of the terrorist. What they have done is to display open support for terrorism and terrorists.Above all, this is unacceptable and should be investigated whether there was a behind the scene deals.

    August 20, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  23. Bryan- Los Angeles

    There's not much the U.S. can say about the release of Al Megrahi.
    Just last week our government released Squeaky Fromme from prison......and she attempted to kill a sitting U.S. President not to mention the other murders she committed.

    August 20, 2009 at 9:57 pm |
  24. Annie Kate

    Sounds like a busy evening. I'm very interested to hear the reaction of people all over the world of the compassionate release of the terrorist bomber in Scotland.

    Also, hopefully with Anderson's interview of one of the mothers of the 3 Americans under arrest in Iran we can get those young people back. I wonder if it will have to be a private humanitarian effort again.....

    August 20, 2009 at 9:12 pm |
  25. Anthony Usher

    Hi Anderson

    The reason why the president's approval rating is slipping is because it is clear that that the American people equate the public option plan ran by the government is an opening wedge for the government to eventually take over the entire system, as the private sector would never be able to compete with the government. It has never been the intention of the Obama administration to run the health care reform. While It is virtually impossible to rid our finance industry from self-interest on the part of both the working class and corporate bosses; government should regulate the industry in order to level the playing field. I disagree with Howard Dean and Maxine Walters that Health Care will not be reformed without the public option. There will be no true health care reform without regulation. The reason why the president is reluctant to get on board with the Public option plan is because he is sensing that this is not the desire of the American people. I think he is right. Insisting on a public option will cause the President's approval to continue slipping. What should they do to stop the bleeding? Exchange the public option for a a health care program that is strongly regulated by the government that will halt the abuses. But it is imperative that I expose a little of Republican hypocrisy. When it is to their convenience, anything that the government runs is doomed to fail. But when it comes to health care reform, there is a mysterious transformation. If Medicare and Medicaid are as bad as they claim they are, then the private sector would come out on top. The public option plan is by no means the government running the entire health care program. As it stands, the government is already running a section of the health care program—Medicaid and Medicare. Would it be fair to say then that the government is running the entire US health care plan? How is it that we have not heard that accusation before? The answer is obvious; the republicans are bent on blowing up the health care reform in the faces of the democrats. We must not provide the dynamite for them to use the American people to do it.

    Pastor Anthony Usher

    August 20, 2009 at 8:53 pm |