September 8th, 2009
11:17 PM ET

A race against time in Helmand province

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Anderson Cooper | BIO
AC360° Anchor

We're at a remote outpost in Helmand province. Remote is a mild term to describe it. If you think U.S. Marines are living on huge bases with all the comforts of home here in Helmand province, you'd be surprised to see the conditions they are facing in these small outposts.

A thick layer of dust covers everything. After a while you stop trying to fight it and you just let it be. There's nothing you can do about it anyway. There are no dining halls out here, just meals-ready-to eat, and bottles of hot water.

This is a critical time for the U.S. fight in Afghanistan. I know it sounds like a cliché. How many times have we been told that over the last eight years? It's true though. There continue to be serious questions about vote fraud in the wake of this past election – an election which was supposed to help stabilize things here.

The Taliban has been growing in strength, improving their capabilities. IED's (Improved Explosive Devices) – which were once rare here, are now the biggest threat to U.S. forces. The Taliban have been able to move beyond their traditional stronghold in the south and are causing trouble in the north and west as well.


Filed under: Afghanistan • Anderson Cooper
September 8th, 2009
10:07 PM ET

Sound Off: Your comments 9/8/09

Editor's Note: Tuesday night’s AC360° continued to draw viewer response on Anderson’s reporting from Afghanistan. Many wrote to thank Anderson for highlighting the work being done by U.S. Marines in the region. Family members and friends of the soldiers wrote to us, sharing stories and expressing gratitude over this glimpse into the day-to-day life of their loved ones. We welcome your thoughts and comments on this as well:


I greatly appreciate your reports from the ground in Afghanistan. My 19-year-old Marine son will soon be deployed to Afghanistan. Your reporting puts a reality to the situation my son will be facing – danger and all. As a parent, that's the kind of information I am seeking. I don't want my news sugar-coated, I want to see and hear about the realities facing our troops over there. On behalf of my family, please extend our sincere thanks to all of your crew that made this week-long special possible.


Filed under: Behind The Scenes
September 8th, 2009
09:46 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 9/8/09

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Anderson reports from Afghanistan tonight. He takes you along on the most dangerous job for U.S. forces – the search for IEDs.  And, 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta takes you inside a battlefield hospital. Meet the only cardiovascular surgeon on the frontlines. And, see how Dr. Gupta helped in the OR.

Scroll down to join the live chat during the program. It's your chance to share your thoughts on tonight's headlines. Keep in mind, you have a better chance of having your comment get past our moderators if you follow our rules.

Here are some of them:

1) Keep it short (we don't have time to read a "book")
2) Don't write in ALL CAPS (there's no need to yell)
3) Use your real name (first name only is fine)
4) No links
5) Watch your language (keep it G-rated; PG at worst - and that includes $#&*)

Filed under: Live Blog • T1
September 8th, 2009
06:25 PM ET

Journalist and surgeon in the battle zone

Program Note: Tune in tonight to see Dr. Sanjay Gupta report from a field hospital in Afghanistan. AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

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Tim Langmaid
CNN Medical Managing Editor

I work with Dr. Sanjay Gupta in CNN’s Medical unit. Sanjay is a practicing neurosurgeon who spends much of his time away from CNN working at a hospital in Atlanta. Since he joined CNN in 2001, Sanjay’s two worlds (brain surgeon and journalist) have collided (so to speak) on a few occasions.

While covering the war in Iraq in 2003, Sanjay was called upon while reporting on the U.S. Navy’s Devil Docs - the military's nickname for a group of physicians who provide battlefield medical care. A 23-year-old Marine hit with a sniper’s bullet was left with massive head trauma. Jesus Vidana was declared dead – twice. But he had a faint pulse when he reached Sanjay, the surgeon. Vidana survived the surgery,  and the war.

Sanjay was still in the war zone in Iraq when he was asked about the surgery. His response offers some insight into Sanjay the doctor, the journalist and the human being.


Filed under: Afghanistan • Dr. Sanjay Gupta • Tim Langmaid
September 8th, 2009
06:23 PM ET

Gallery: Photos from the front line in Afghanistan

August was the deadliest month for U.S. forces in Afghanistan since the beginning of the war in 2001. Roadside bombs are now the biggest threat to U.S. forces in the region. Anderson reports from the front lines of the war against the Taliban and goes out on patrol with Marines in Helmand Province.

Take a look at this photo gallery.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Afghanistan • Anderson Cooper
September 8th, 2009
06:15 PM ET

South to Kandahar

Program Note: For more on Afghanistan follow AC360° and ac360.com all this week. Anderson Cooper will be reporting live from Afghanistan and will be joined by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Michael Ware and Peter Bergen.

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Peter Bergen | Bio
AC360° Contributor
CNN National Security Analyst

Over the loudspeaker system, a female voice announces “ISAF flight number 44 from Kabul to Kandahar is leaving at gate 1.” Just like for any other flight we grab our hand luggage and boarding passes but what makes this boarding a little bit different is that all the passengers are wearing flak jackets and clutching helmets. We troop in double file to the whale-like C-130 transport plane operated by a crew of reservists out of Missouri and strap in for the ride.

On the plane is a motley crew of young Asian women likely destined to work at the massive US/NATO base at Kandahar Air Field; a smorgasbord of soldiers from various European countries, and American military contractors wearing their uniform of baseball caps, cargo pants and shades. Most snooze through the 75-minute flight.

As we fly south to Kandahar I start thinking about the perfectly good highway constructed for several hundred million dollars—much of it American taxpayer money– that connects Kabul and Kandahar and the fact that anyone on this flight would be likely committing suicide if they drove it without a significant security detail as it is now a gauntlet of possible Taliban ambushes.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Afghanistan • Peter Bergen
September 8th, 2009
05:43 PM ET

Pentagon puts a hold on media briefings

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Mike Mount
Senior Pentagon Producer

For at least four years now the Pentagon has been hosting satellite-linked video briefings from Iraq and Afghanistan allowing reporters that cover the building to ask questions of U.S. and coalition commanders in charge of specific regions of those countries.

There is no set schedule, generally we get an even mix of briefings from Iraq and Afghanistan during any given week.

So when we were told this week we would be having two more briefings from Iraq, it was time to ask why we had not had any briefings from commanders in Afghanistan in a number of weeks.

After all, Afghanistan is the Obama administration's military imperative. It is a key time in that country with disputed national elections, new U.S. commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal was handing over as assessment of the country to the President and Taliban influence and fighting was getting stronger by the day.

For the most part, the briefings are helpful and offer insight into parts of the country not often reported on. The briefers can range from colonels in command of a brigade and are close to the action, to generals who oversee large swaths of the country.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Afghanistan • Mike Mount
September 8th, 2009
05:07 PM ET

Beat 360° 9/8/09

Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture – and you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV talk to members of the media outside the West Wing after meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at the White House today.

Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.

_________________________________________________________________________________ Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
September 8th, 2009
04:14 PM ET

Police: Sleeping teacher shot by daughter






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Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

A Tennessee high school teacher was shot to death by his teenage daughter while he was sleeping, authorities said Tuesday.

It is too early in the investigation to determine if any criminal charges will be filed, said Deputy Chief Donna Turner of the Tipton County Sheriff’s Office. “An accidental shooting has not been ruled out in this case, nor has it been ruled a homicide,” Turner said.

A news release from Sheriff J.T. “Pancho” Chumley provided details of what happened: Shortly after midnight on Monday, deputies responded to a report of a shooting at the Millington home of Douglas VanNeste, his wife and their two children. When they arrived, the deputies discovered VanNeste, 40, fatally shot.


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
September 8th, 2009
03:59 PM ET

The ticking bomb of Afghanistan

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Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

At this moment, three storms are converging in Afghanistan, which may well determine the future of that country for decades to come and America’s future interests there as well.

First: American troops are dying in greater numbers. There have been four fatalities already today as I write this. Last month there were 52; the largest number since the war began. The increase is tied to the intensified push against the Taliban, especially in the eastern and southern parts of the country. Every military analyst will tell you that casualties usually rise when troops engage the enemy. But the Taliban is also doing a better job. Their fighters have learned from eight years of combat how long it takes our air power to show up, how well armored our ground troops are, and how to strike at our weaknesses.


Filed under: Afghanistan • Tom Foreman
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