CNN TALKBACK LIVE
Aired July 19, 2002 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MILES O'BRIEN, GUEST HOST: Hello, everybody. Welcome to TALKBACK LIVE. I'm Miles O'Brien, Arthel Neville on assignment to "AMERICAN MORNING."
We're going to start off with the arrest of a suspect in the case of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion. Just two hours ago, the Orange County Sheriff's Department announced that arrest. It also played a tape of a 911 call made by the man who found Samantha's body, very dramatic tape. CNN Correspondent Rusty Dornin is on the scene in Stanton, California. She joins us with that.
Rusty, I can't -- it was a remarkable news conference, for those of us who had a chance to watch it. You were there. Have you ever seen one quite like that?
RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I have never seen one quite like that. First of all, they played this 911 tape of the man who discovered Samantha Runnion's body. And then later on finally, as we say it in this business, they sort of buried the lead. The sheriff came on and said that they had made an arrest in this case, but he was not going to take any questions at all about it. That was it, until 6:00 Pacific time, when they said they will give a press conference and update the situation.
What we do know is that overnight there has been a buzz all around Southern California about this 27-year-old man, Alejandro Avila, that he was a suspect in this case. They served some search warrants. They impounded his cars. CNN actually spoke to his apartment manager, who said that she had seen him Tuesday night circling very suspiciously around a light green thunderbird, and she really didn't know what he was doing, kept looking at the tires, although she did not call police at that time. She did not think about the connection to this case.
But we -- Fremont's (ph) photographer, John Casper (ph), did speak to Avila's mother, who did talk about the fact that her son was accused of molesting two young girls a few years ago. Now that has been corroborated by the D.A.'s office. Apparently, he was acquitted in those cases, but Avila's mother says that he had had nothing to do with this case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADELINA AVILA, MOTHER OF ALEJANDRO AVILA: He's not being charged. They are just investigating because he has a green car. But his car is thunderbird.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What were they looking for her?
AVILA: I don't know, some kind of evidence. They took a lot of stuff. So I don't know. I really don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What kind of stuff.
AVILA: Like, I had a serape on a rocking chair. They took that with a lot of hairs because it was a lot of hairs. I told them it was cat hair, but they took it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did they mention this little girl who was killed in their investigation?
AVILA: Well, they gave me the search warrant and it mentioned the little girl there. And I said, well, I don't think my son did anything. But as long as he's cooperating and I don't have anything against that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't think your son would do something like that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DORNIN: Now what was interesting was five minutes before the press conference began with the sheriff, they apparently -- that's when they arrested this Alejandro Avila, but the first thing they did in the press conference was play the 911 tape of the man who actually found Samantha Runnion. Let's hear some of the tape. Now, what you are going to hear are a few gaps in the tape. That's where they edited out his name and his phone number when he gave it to the 911 operator. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. What's going on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my god, I found a dead body. Please hurry. OK. I'm in the Ortegas, OK? Ortega Mountains, I'm in Riverside County, OK?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. I need some streets...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen to me, I'm scared sitting here. There's another truck up the street, and we want to get out of here. We're scared!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DORNIN: Now this man whose name was Justin -- that's all we know -- was, you know, beside himself. He did say he was the father of a 3-year-old child. And he did say he knew it was a little girl and that he was afraid that it was connected to this case in some way. Now, we do know that, apparently, Alejandro Avila has been taken to the Santa Ana jail where he is being booked right now, and any further developments the sheriff will be bringing us in a few hours here -- Miles.
O'BRIEN: CNN's Rusty Dornin, thank you very much for following that for us. We appreciate it.
Joining me now is W. Louis Hennessy, a defense attorney, former chief homicide investigator for the Washington Police Department. Good to have you with us, Mr. Hennessy.
LOUIS HENNESSY, FMR. CHIEF HOMICIDE INVESTIGATOR, WASHINGTON POLICE DEPT.: Thank you for having me.
O'BRIEN: All right. Just based on what you have heard today -- I assume you had an opportunity to see that news conference and got a sense of that. How good a case might they have out there? We have heard a lot about the potential for a lot of forensic evidence here.
HENNESSY: Well, my sense of the case is that the police are under a lot of pressure to solve these type of cases. And they probably have been proceeding very cautiously to ensure that they are going down the right path, getting as much evidence as they possibly can to ensure that they're going to be able to make an arrest and arrest the right individual for the case. It appeared from the press conference today that they probably were a little reluctant to release the information that they had made an arrest, but, as I said, they are under this pressure from the community, and the community wants some resolution to this matter.
So at the very end, they acknowledged that they had made an arrest on an individual to put people at ease. But obviously the police like to keep that information confidential as long as they possibly can.
O'BRIEN: Well, give us a sense, though, from being on the inside of this as a former homicide investigator, how much pressure an investigator feels and whether that -- you know, whether you admit it or not, maybe even subconsciously, that impacts the way you do your job.
HENNESSY: Well, there is tremendous amount of pressure because, first of all, most of these people who are working on these cases have children of their own, and it does hit home when you have a child involved in a case. But more importantly, the community is in a panic state. And you're trying to bring some closure and some calmness to the community that is suffering from this traumatic event. So there's a tremendous amount of pressure, both professionally and externally, from the community itself to bring this case to a successful closure.
That's where the police need to really be careful. It appears as though they have. They've executed a number of search warrants. They've done a tremendous amount of interviewing prior to making an arrest, to ensure that they are going down the right path, their able to corroborate the information they believe is accurate and then arrest the correct person for the job. Otherwise, what happens is you have, not only the wrong person arrested for the case, but then you have a murderer out there that nobody is looking for. But it appears as though they've covered their bases in this case.
O'BRIEN: That's a bad double whammy. Joanne (ph), go ahead.
JOANNE: Hi. I live in Riverside, and I'm visiting in Atlanta. And I was watching this. I was real concerned because I want them to catch the perpetrator. But I hope they catch the right person because I don't want, you know, the person to still be in the community if they have the wrong person. So I wouldn't know if I'm feeling like I want to put pressure on the police. I want them to do a good job and make sure they get the right person.
O'BRIEN: And that's something we can all agree to. And I'm curious, you mention -- because even these days it seems that police are very reluctant, Louis, to even label people with the term "suspect." Would you be willing to surmise here that there's a fair amount of evidence already gathered against this particular suspect?
HENNESSY: Well, they have arrived at a standard of probable cause to be able to place him under arrest, which means that they believe that it's probably more probable than not that he committed this offense. But one of the things that we got from the press conference was that the investigation, it was just now really beginning. And in fact, that is the case. They are going to do a lot of background on this individual, try to establish timelines, potential motives for this guy, see whether or not this is the first time this has happened or whether he's talked to anybody about the offense itself.
O'BRIEN: All right. Let's talk to Pat (ph) here for a minute. Pat, stand up. As a parent, I'm curious what parents are thinking right now. It's very difficult for me to even pick up the newspaper and read this story. What goes through your mind?
PAT: Well, it's extremely difficult to read it because, being a father of -- both my daughters are older -- but to think a child that innocent was violated, it just scares me and it just turns my stomach to think that that's happening.
O'BRIEN: Louis, have you spent much time over the years doing the so-called profiling of the mind of these sick individuals? Would you care to speculate on the mind of this individual?
HENNESSY: Well, I'm not a forensic psychologist. We do rely on them in the trade quite a bit. When we have cases of this nature go down, it's not unusual for to us pick up the phone, contact the forensic psychologist or profiler from the FBI and ask them about what type of person we might be looking for, and more importantly, if we develop a suspect, what approach to use in interviewing them. You know, where we might be able to appeal his values or however distorted they might be.
O'BRIEN: Osi (ph), go ahead. OSI: I believe we need to -- I have 4-and-a-half-year-old twins, and I believe it's very important that we educate our children and let them know what a stranger is because most 4-and-a-half-years old believe that a stranger is an alien. We have to let them know that they are common people. They can be mailmen. They can be business people. But if they are people that they don't know, then that is what the definition of a stranger is, is someone that you don't know. Even when we're in the mall, the people come up to and say, oh, they are so cute. Hi. How are you doing? How old are you? They look at me to give the OK for me to nod. If I don't not and say something, if I do this, if I shake my head no, they don't speak to that person because that lets them know that that's a stranger.
O'BRIEN: All right. That's good. A round of applause for Osi (ph). You got the word out. We're going to take a break. Louis Hennessy, thanks for joining us, giving us those insight. We appreciate it.
The horrifying case we've just been talking about has some calling for a national DNA bank for convicted sex offenders. We'll talk about that and some other things when we come back. Stay with us for more TALKBACK LIVE.
O'BRIEN: Welcome back. We're talking about the arrest of a 27- year-old man -- his name Alejandro Avila -- in connection with the kidnapping and murder of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion. Investigators say the arrest doesn't end the investigation, and it brings up the point we want to talk about today. Should convicted pedophiles be forced to keep their DNA permanently on file?
Our guests are ready to go, Sam Greenfield, radio talk show host on WEVD in New York, Terry Jeffrey is the editor of Human Events, Mark Cunningham is the executive editorial page editor of the "New York Post", and Monique Caradine is host of -- is it "Mo in the Midday?"
MONIQUE CARADINE, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST, "MO IN THE MIDDAY": "Mo in the Midday," that's right, Miles.
O'BRIEN: Or not M-O. "Mo in the Midday." "Mo in the Midday."
CARADINE: "Mo in the Midday."
O'BRIEN: WVON in Chicago. Good to have you all with us. I'll tell you what, we're going to start it with Tracy (ph). Tracy has a good point to make, and then we'll get going with you guys. Tracy, go.
TRACY: Hi. I think a DNA bank would be an excellent tool for law enforcement. They already have fingerprints on file, but in some cases, fingerprints aren't available. It's a new waive of technology. DNA is a definite find. If your DNA is on the scene, you were on the scene.
O'BRIEN: All right, anybody on our panel disagree with Tracy? CARADINE: I have to disagree, Miles.
SAM GREENFIELD, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST, WEVD: I don't know how you could disagree.
GREENFIELD: I don't know how could you disagree.
CARADINE: I have to disagree.
O'BRIEN: All right. Who is disagreeing? Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Who's disagreeing first?
CARADINE: Mo disagrees.
O'BRIEN: Go, Mo.
CARADINE: And I have to tell you, Miles. I have an incredible passion for children and their safety. I think the main message here is that parents need to keep a very, very close watch. Don't let your children out of your sight. But I disagree that DNA should be kept on file, Miles. There are other ways that we can work to protect our children and to convict those who are guilty of victimizing those children besides keeping their DNA.
MARK CUNNINGHAM, EXEC. EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, "NEW YORK POST": But they're convicted felons.
GREENFIELD: Yes, I think there should try every way. Why should there be a way that is that fool of proof and go, well, there are other ways. I want every way to protect the kid, DNA, fingerprints, profiling, everything --
O'BRIEN: All right, wait. Would you willing give up your DNA -
GREENFIELD: ...because the reason -
O'BRIEN: ...if that would help ultimately, some day down the road, in other words, a nationwide data base of everybody's DNA?
CUNNINGHAM: Sure. Why not? Why not? But I mean, you know, people should have a privacy right, but convicted felons clearly should be on file. All violent criminals should have their DNA on file.
CARADINE: The key here...
O'BRIEN: All right.
CUNNINGHAM: There's no reason not to do a registry.
CARADINE: ...I think is that...
O'BRIEN: All right, go, Erik (ph).
CARADINE: The key here, I think is, that...
O'BRIEN: Wait a minute, let's get Erik (ph) in from the audience. Go ahead, Erik (ph)...
ERIK: Hi. I just think that, not to be too alarmist, but collecting DNA samples could be a slippery slope. You could create a lot of problems with people. I think that you have to be very careful when dealing with something like this because it's not quite fingerprint. It's more in depth than that. It's very personal. It scares people.
O'BRIEN: What do you think? Mo, first of all, you go. Is that your concern?
CARADINE: Here's my point. I just want to make sure we drive home the fact that the key word here is convicted felon. And so we are talking about individuals who supposedly have served their time in prison and are now free. They have paid their debt to society and so -
GREENFIELD: The cure rate for pedophiles is 5 percent...
CARADINE: ...do we continue to force them -- to cure them.
GREENFIELD: The cure rate for pedophiles is 5 percent.
CARADINE: But here's my point. Do you force them to pay the price for the rest of their lives? And if so, then you also have to ask the question, what kind of rehabilitation is going on behind bars to make sure that we are not just warehousing criminals in prisons? That we are addressing some of the problems that got then there in the first place.
CUNNINGHAM: Fine, but rehabilitation and the DNA bank are not -- are not -- they're separate goals. There's no reason you can't aim for both.
CARADINE: But there is not rehabilitation. That's my point.
CUNNINGHAM: Rehabilitation fails, especially for sex offenders. And again, convicted felons, the fact that we're letting them out does not mean that they have paid their debt to society. It means we have decided that it is a sufficient sentence for a bunch of reasons.
GREENFIELD: It's nice that you have a passion for children, and it's nice that you care...
O'BRIEN: All right. Giovana (ph), Giovana (ph), here...
GREENFIELD: But that aside, 5 percent cure rate means we live in a real world, and the real world dictates I want every method available to make sure the children aren't hurt.
O'BRIEN: All right. Let's get Giovana (ph) in here. Giovana (ph), go ahead. Stand by one second. GIOVANNA: I think that helps, but it's not going to solve the probable. There's nothing that's going to solve the problem. You have those that haven't been convicted yet that are still out there. You are never going to get their DNA until they're in court and convicted and everything. And then second, those that have been convicted and you do have their DNA, they could still go out there and repeat the crime anyway.
TERRY JEFFREY, EDITOR, HUMAN EVENTS: But they should...
O'BRIEN: Ernie (ph) real quick, then Terry.
ERNIE: Yes, there was -- you know, I think in the report that they said that he had done some sexual things prior to this. If they had had DNA on file, they probably could have solved this a lot quicker.
O'BRIEN: Terry, go.
JEFFREY: Listen, first of all, the real reason you have somebody who committed a sexual assault in jail is not to rehabilitate them. The reason we have them in jail is, first, to protect everybody else in the community and, second, to get just punishment for that person. If there's real risk that we're going to be letting a sex offender back out on the street -- he's going to commit more crimes -- I suggest the problem is not that we are taking his DNA, but that we are being too lenient in the way we punish and give sentences to these types of criminals. Of course we should take DNA.
CARADINE: I agree with that. I agree with that wholeheartedly.
O'BRIEN: Lionel (ph) has a question. Lionel (ph) has a question. Go ahead.
LIONEL: OK. My question was who made up the statistics? I mean, like are you sending out questionnaires to people? Did Arthel get one? Like how are you defining this? Who is going to say, you know, -- who is not going to say they are not cured? How are you judging this?
GREENFIELD: Right. The Federal Bureau of Prisons was my guideline.
O'BRIEN: OK. That's a pretty good source. Go ahead over there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Miles, this is Veda (ph).
O'BRIEN: Veda (ph), go.
VEDA: I do not think that we should collect DNA on prisoners because...
O'BRIEN: Why not?
VEDA: ...once you collect for sex offenders, you might as well collect for everyone who has committed a crime, and... CARADINE: That's right. That's right.
VEDA: ...I don't think that will solve it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A violent crime, yes.
CARADINE: A violent crime. That's right.
VEDA: You need to take care of your children.
O'BRIEN: David (ph), go.
DAVID: They should make DNA samples the same as like fingerprints when you get arrested. It's not -- you shouldn't be just random. It should be anybody that gets arrested should have the DNA sample the same way they have a fingerprint.
GREENFIELD: I have a -- Let me just say this real quick, if I may. I have a 3-year-old child. I go to the playground with my child. You can turn your head for one second and something bad can happen. My child, anyone's child should not be punished because the proviso is, well, you should be watching them more carefully. This is all about protecting the kid. We are not talking about...
CARADINE: This is the world we live in. This is the world we live in.
GREENFIELD: ...some guy who happens to look at a kid. We are talking about convicted pedophiles. Yes. Their DNA should be on file so that children will not be killed. I don't see the other side of this argument.
O'BRIEN: All right. Let's get a phone call in, phone call in. Bob, you are on the line. Go ahead.
BOB: Hi, Miles. I love your show.
O'BRIEN: Great, go.
BOB: Listen, Miles, I've got a comment about Samantha's little 5-year-old friend that witnessed this horrible murder. And my proposal is that this little girl should be entitled to the $500,000 reward that is being offered. She has been scarred for life, and if this person that they arrested or any person that they have arrested for this crime, she should be the one that should receive that $500,000.
O'BRIEN: That's a great point. Everybody agree was that.
BOB: I just wondered what the panel was thinking about that.
O'BRIEN: That's a great point. Tammy (ph), go.
TAMMY: Well, I'm an Air Force retiree, and we had to submit to DNA testing in the Air Force, and I had no problems with that. And DNA is not only to incriminate, it's also to prove your innocence. Recently, several people have been released from prison because of DNA testing that proved that they were not the perpetrators, and DNA testing was not available back then, so I don't think that DNA testing is a problem.
O'BRIEN: It's a two-edged sword. Anybody on the panel want to talk? Go, go.
JEFFREY: I think that points to a great liberal hypocrisy here. You have liberals all around the country calling for DNA testing on people who have been convicted of capital offenses before they go to the death chamber. I think that's a good thing. But why also can't we have DNA evidence of people who have committed sexual offense to make sure if they go out and do it again we can nail them?
O'BRIEN: Monique's still ahead.
GREENFIELD: Speaking as a liberal, I don't think we should...
CARADINE: Two totally different things.
O'BRIEN: All right. Stand by.
GREENFIELD: ...talk about the lives of children in a liberal- conservative venue at all. This is about children's lives. It's got nothing to do with conservative-liberal. This is about a child.
GREENFIELD: Let's leave it at that.
O'BRIEN: All right. Let's go to Monique (ph). Monique (ph) has a question.
CARADINE: I think, though, apples and oranges that you compare there, having DNA on file versus comparing DNA testing to people who have been convicted and thrown in prison for crimes they did not commit. We can solve this case in particular if we take DNA from the individual that is now in police custody and compare it to that on Samantha's poor innocent body.
O'BRIEN: Oh. All right. Now...
CARADINE: But to collect DNA, I think, is a bad idea, and it's going to lead to other very, very negative things.
O'BRIEN: All right. Let's go to Monique (ph) in the audience. Go.
MONIQUE: I just have one statement. I am just a regular citizen. I would have no problem giving a DNA sample, a fingerprint or anything else because, if I am doing something or planning to go do something in the future that is wrong, maybe I would be worried. But I don't plan to. And as a regular normal citizen, I don't have a problem with it. I will never be incriminated by it.
O'BRIEN: Who agree were his that. Jason (ph), go. JASON: If you ask me, this isn't even a discussion. These people have infringed on other people's rights, and they have no rights themselves. They have given that up. Like as soon as they committed that act, they have given up their rights, and it doesn't really matter what they think about it.
O'BRIEN: All right. Let's get a phone call in. Marcy (ph) is on the line from Alaska. How are you Marcy (ph)? Is it cold up there?
MARCY: No it's very warm, thank you.
O'BRIEN: It's been kind of warm there this year, hasn't it? OK. What's going on?
MARCY: About this topic, I think that these pedophiles, known pedophiles, should not be let out into society because they have a 90 percent failure rate to be cured, and we should not let them back into society because they will do it over and over again.
CARADINE: How about we take DNA from every single catholic priest in this country then? How about that?
O'BRIEN: All right.
MARCY: I don't care about the priest. I'm talking about known pedophiles.
O'BRIEN: Let's leave it at that now. We're going to take a break. We're going to be back with more in a just a moment. As a matter of fact, we're going to shift gears and talk about Wall Street. Believe it or not, the Dow actually went below 9-11 levels, the slump that occurred after the terrorist attacks. In just a few moments, we're going to check in on Wall Street with, who else, the man, Lou Dobbs, who is there and will tell us how far this free fall will go. He's got that crystal ball. We're going to check in with Lou Dobbs crystal ball after the break. Stay with us.
O'BRIEN: Oh, boy. Oh, boy. Oh, boy. We're sorry to tell you about what is going on Wall Street, another down day. Allan Chernoff at the Stock Exchange with an update. Allan, the -- just when you think it can't get worse, what does it do? It gets worse.
ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNNfn SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Keeps on falling. We've got a serious losing streak going on here on Wall Street. Nine of the past 10 sessions, including today, the Dow getting hit and hit very hard, down, as you see, by 300 points right now on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. And the selling very heavy in drug stocks, heavy in defense stocks. These are stocks that usually are able to withstand real tough times. The selling today not quite as bad for the Nasdaq composite, where a lot of the technology stocks trade. The Nasdaq, right now, is off 27-and-a-half points, down 2 percent -- Miles. Back to you.
O'BRIEN: Allan, what about this Johnson & Johnson deal?
CHERNOFF: Johnson & Johnson is getting hammered today down seven bucks. The company has said that the Food & Drug Administration is investigating one of its plants in Puerto Rico. They believe this investigation dealing with allegations that there was improper record keeping at the plant. Investors don't want to take any chances. They are bailing out. Stock hit very hard, and it is a member of the Dow 30.
O'BRIEN: All right, Allen Chernoff, let's send it up town a little bit to Lou Dobbs, who is the managing editor of "LOU DOBBS MONEYLINE." It's a well-titled show. "LOU DOBBS MONEYLINE" hosted by Lou Dobbs. Lou, how are you?
LOU DOBBS, MANAGING EDITOR, "LOU DOBBS MONEYLINE": Miles, I'm fine. That's a fascinating observation you just made.
O'BRIEN: Well, you know, I don't know -- sometimes these things come to me. How could I tell you? But let's talk about this market. I just talked to Margaret (ph) over here, who said she hoped to retire when she was 40. Now she'll be 140. The question is, you know, the bad news just keeps coming. And we hear about the corporate problems. We hear about -- every day, it's a death of 1,000 cuts. What are we going to see ahead here?
DOBBS: Well, what we are going to see, I think, is continued weaknesses in the markets. In terms of what we are watching today, Miles, I would venture to say we are getting to the point where we are looking at capitulation. When you see investors bailing out of a premier stock, a premier value stock like Johnson & Johnson, as they did, on the suggestion that a whistle blower's comments about their Puerto Rican operations, I mean, that's a huge reaction. It represents the tone and the tenor of the times.
People don't trust the accounting. People don't trust the integrity of these markets right now. And we are going to see more of the same, but it looks to me as though we are getting near what could be called some order of capitulation.
O'BRIEN: Well, let's hope. And that trust issue is an interesting issue because you already had problems, then you add in the fact that have lost their faith in the whole system. That's the problem. David (ph), go.
DAVID: If we saw some punishment from the government, maybe we'd start turning back into a buyer's market.
O'BRIEN: Yes, what about the government? What is the appropriate thing for the government to do here, do you think, Lou?
DOBBS: Well, David (ph) is exactly right, Miles. This government, under the leadership of SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt and the Justice Department, simply have to put criminals, corporate criminals, in jail. There can't be the toleration for the kinds of abuses that we've seen over the past eight-month in this country. That isn't the way these markets work. It isn't the way business works. Once one says that the vast majority of American men and women running business are honest and hard working, you have to say there is also a significant number of people in corporate America now who have grossly abused their positions of trust. And they have to be brought to justice.
O'BRIEN: All right, Arlene (ph), go.
ARLENE: Hi. I have a new concern. My daughter is a new college graduate, and she was just employed by Johnson & Johnson, so my mind immediately goes to the employment status in the company because usually that's impact.
O'BRIEN: What do you know, Lou? It's hard to say what the implications are going to be in this. It's just happening.
DOBBS: It's very difficult. We do know, though, it is isolated to the operations in one specific drug of Johnson & Johnson and does not have, at least the appearance at this point, of being either a major issue, nor one that would affect domestic operations.
O'BRIEN: All right, let's go to Sue (ph).
I teach school. So, obviously, I didn't have a large salary. And my husband and I had a child late in life. And we have been trying to save for his education. So I find it kind of scary now that our savings has not been doing so well, because we have a lot of stock investments. So...
O'BRIEN: Lou, do you have any advice for the likes of Sue? Should they ride it out?
DOBBS: Well, Sue, first let me say you are in a lot of very good company. Nearly all of us have experienced sizable financial losses over the course of the past 2.5 years. In point of fact, just about $7 trillion has been lost in the stock market in that period of time.
Now, in terms of preparing for your child's education and your own retirement, you are going to have to be extraordinarily careful here. And that means diversifying your portfolio and taking absolute individual responsibility for your money. You simply cannot hand it off to somebody else. You are going to have to watch it. You are going to have to be very careful, do your own research, and understand precisely what is happening with that money.
O'BRIEN: Now, let me ask Sue this question, though.
Do you feel you have time to watch your money in the way that Lou suggests? A lot of people feel they don't have time. But, really, maybe we should all make it a priority. What do you think?
SUE: Well, I have about nine years because my son is in fourth grade. So we are hoping, in nine years -- I don't know if that's long enough -- but we can ride it out that long.
O'BRIEN: But in the course of daily life, do you have time to watch the portfolio like you think you should?
SUE: Never, no. Too busy. Too busy.
O'BRIEN: Lou, what do you do? People are busy. What do they do?
DOBBS: Miles, well, if you are too busy to manage your own retirement and to manage the education of your child, then you are simply too busy. And you better change that which makes you too busy, because that requirement is absolute.
You simply cannot hand off that responsibility. If you do, you have seen what has happened with Enron and WorldCom and Global Crossing and Tyco. And the list goes on and on. You simply have to be diligent. And I know that it is difficult for many of us to find that time and to focus on it, but you simply must.
O'BRIEN: Lou Dobbs, we appreciate your time on a very busy day. Great to have you on TALKBACK LIVE.
DOBBS: Miles, great to be with you always.
O'BRIEN: And you'll be on a little bit later, 6:00 p.m. Eastern time, for "LOU DOBBS MONEYLINE."
And I will be rejoined by our panel to discuss other matters, like: Are we all just a bunch of snitches? Let's find out about that when TALKBACK LIVE continues.
The TIPS programs in trouble, but is a plan to have ordinary citizens act as government informers needed to fight terror?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It isn't asking the park worker on the Fourth of July to report underage Johnny who is sitting on the blanket drinking beer. Do you see someone lighting a fuse that could blow up the mall?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it's an opportunity for the government to get inside people's homes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Would it bother you if your mailman was also a government informant?
These stories and more straight ahead on TALKBACK LIVE.
O'BRIEN: Hello. Welcome back. TALKBACK LIVE resumes. It is "Free-For-All Friday." It's a grab bag of subjects. Let's move on. Let's talk about snitching -- or that's what some people call it, anyhow. The Bush administration wants mail carriers and others who have access to our homes -- cable installers, that kind of thing -- to act as government informants. You heard me right. They want you to be informants and report suspicious behavior. Of course, that's a subjective thing right there.
Operation TIPS, as it is called, is getting the cold shoulder on Capitol Hill, however. Legislation proposed by House Majority Leader Dick Armey would specifically ban the program. Armey, who supports many of the president's other homeland security initiatives, says Operation TIPS would promote citizens spying on one another, which brings had me to Jody.
Jody, a student of history, has hearkened back to another era.
Jody, remind us of that era.
JODY: Well, I just believe that we are supposed to learn from history. And, in the 1950s, with McCarthyism, we did experience a red scare, which, as I said, was a little before my generation. But people still talk about it. And if we are not going to learn from history, then what is the point of history classes? All it's going to do promote paranoia. And I don't think that that ever leads to accurate conclusions.
O'BRIEN: All right, panelists. Jody is hearkening back to the days of McCarthy. Who would like to weigh in on this one?
JEFFREY: Well, I will.
JEFFREY: First of all, back in the 1950s, we didn't just have a red scare. We actually had Soviet communist spies planted in the government of the United States. In fact, Alger Hiss was convicted of perjury for lying about being a spy for the Soviet Union.
O'BRIEN: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Are you making the case that McCarthy was right?
JEFFREY: I think that McCarthy was right, that there were in fact Soviet...
O'BRIEN: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Say that again. McCarthy was right?
JEFFREY: Well, look, the evidence has come out from the Soviets' own files, now that the Soviet Union has fallen, that the Soviet Union was able to penetrate the U.S. State Department and other institutions of the United States government with spies. I don't think we should be surprised at that. It's a fact.
O'BRIEN: That's is revisionist history to the nth degree.
JEFFREY: Are you saying the Soviets didn't have spies?
O'BRIEN: I'm sorry. You are making apologies for Joe McCarthy, who a demagogue of the highest order, for God's sake.
O'BRIEN: You have stirred up a tempest.
CUNNINGHAM: There were communists in the government. Oppenheimer, the father of the A-bomb, was a former member of the Communist Party.
O'BRIEN: Well, but there were a lot of intellectuals of that era. And you know as well as I do that didn't necessarily, it didn't mean they were Soviet spies.
GREENFIELD: But going after Zero Mostel and going after John Garfield, what a wonderful legacy
JEFFREY: We know for an absolute fact that there were al Qaeda terrorists in the United States on September 11 that hijacked airplanes, flew them into buildings, and killed thousands of our people.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham, a Democrat, and his Republican colleague, Richard Shelby of Alabama, the vice chairman, have said there are at least 100 al Qaeda operatives in the United States today. We know, because the State Department has told us, that, between September 11 and the end of March, it gave visas for 50,000 new non-Israeli visitors from the Middle East to enter the United States.
We now have many, many people in this country who are foreign nationals who fit the profile of September 11 terrorists. We do not have the law enforcement resources to track these people. It seems to me insane to say that a postal worker who sees something suspicious happening in an American city should not inform the FBI in time of war.
O'BRIEN: No, no, no. Wait a minute. You know as well as I do that these peoples, as citizens of this country, will probably -- that is the point that the government is creating this whole program: to create, institutionalize snitching.
O'BRIEN: Candice gets to go. It's Candice's turn, all right?
CANDICE: I think what we are doing is, we are creating more complication. And I think that, because of September 11, a lot of people, if they see something that they think is not right, they are going to say something anyway. So, who is going go through all these tips and decide which one is legitimate and which one isn't?
O'BRIEN: John, you quickly. Go ahead, John.
Too many tips, I agree.
JOHN: I think that the government officials are going to notice suspicious activity anyway. And they are going to report it. And why not have a place for them to report it to and have it organized, so the government can investigate what they see fit?
O'BRIEN: Monique, Monique, you go now. You haven't had a chance. Go ahead.
I say, with the billions and billions of dollars that we spend on intelligence in this country, and with the FBI doing their work, then let them do the job. They are the ones getting paid for it. And they need to prove that they are capable and competent of doing that job.
However, the schizophrenia of this administration just completely boggles my mind, because first they say: "Keep your eyes open. Go about your regular lives, but keep your eyes open. And if you see anything, then please report it." People are doing that. So, why we have this bipartisan resistance to the idea of such a program, it boggles me. But, again, I say that we spend enough money on law enforcement in this country that the people hired to do those jobs should be the ones doing those jobs.
O'BRIEN: Let's point out one thing.
We do know now that, if the intelligence community had been paying attention, putting it together, there were all the tips in place to learn about 9/11 before 9/11. It's not the amount of data. It's the people to synthesize, analyze, put the puzzle pieces together.
CAROL: I would have to agree with Mo, because I just don't understand how all these things were happening and September 11 got by us. I just don't understand that, that there were people, Israeli people taking flight lessons in Florida, and we didn't know or we didn't even just think to say, "Why are they doing that?" They were also purchasing one-way tickets to places and we weren't paying attention to that.
O'BRIEN: All right, And I know you meant to say Saudis, right, not Israeli, right.
Let's get a phone call on. Greg is on the line from Virginia.
Greg, you have a comment or a question. Go ahead. Are you there?
CALLER: Yes, sir, I'm here.
O'BRIEN: You have the stage, Greg. Take it away.
CALLER: The fact of the matter is that I'm not too comfortable with -- I've been an avid supporter of Bush, but I'm not too comfortable with the fact that a meter reader or postal worker or whomever would have the opportunity to provide information as a snitch to the government.
Simply enough, the government or law enforcement officials can determine probable cause for anything from an arrest warrant to a search warrant and come into my residence and go through my items simply based on the probable cause from a snitch, once they have determined that level credibility by the individual. I'm not so sure that I would be comfortable with an untrained meter reader or postal worker providing that information on a whim.
O'BRIEN: All right, let's leave it at that for now.
We're going to shift gears once again, because it's "Free-For-All Friday," you know. When we come back: Beam me up. It's time for Congressman James Traficant in his own words. It doesn't get any better than this, folks.
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REP. JAMES TRAFICANT (D), OHIO: I will take with me a file, a chisel, a knife. I'll try and get some major explosives, try and fight my way out. Then, when I get out, I will grab a sword like Maximus Meridius Dimidius. And, as a gladiator, I will stab people in the crotch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: That's more like it. That's more like it. This crowd is proving that everything they say about Friday crowds is not true. There is some energy left at the end of the work week.
Thank you very much for being with us here on TALKBACK LIVE. We're getting toward the end of the program here.
We want to tell you that we are watching very closely the stock market right now. The Dow is down right now, what, about 400 points. Tell me in my ear. I can't see them.
It's right around the 400-point level. It puts it down below the low point after the 9/11 attacks. We are watching it very closely. At top of the hour, about 15 minutes from now, Lou Dobbs will be back to give you an update on that. We're watching it closely. So stay with us CNN as that story unfolds.
Now beam-me-up time. Congress James Traficant is going down fighting, and in a most colorful way, we might say. A House Ethics Committee has recommended that Traficant be expelled from the House of Representatives. It says he violated House rules by taking kickbacks, bribes and evading taxes. Traficant has maintained his innocence in a most flamboyant way.
Let's listen to some of Mr. Traficant's greatest hits, shall we?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRAFICANT: You could possibly expel a member that gets a new trial and makes you look like a bunch of fools.
I will be on the ballot. If I am in Leavenworth, the people in my district will have my name on the ballot. And if they vote for me and I get the majority of votes, then there will be a hell of a stink, won't there?
I broke no laws. You expel me, I will go down in history as an expelled member. But you know what? I have a very clear conscience. I am proud to be an American. I hate the government and love America.
If I've offended anybody, Mr. Berman, if I have offended you, Mr. Chairman -- this isn't patronizing. You already voted to throw me out, you Coors drinker.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Oh, man. Oh, geez. Where does he get his clothes? What are those, Garanimals?
CHRISTINA: Well, I think Congressman Traficant is a brazen character. He definitely has a colorful disposition. But I'm frankly disturbed that the people of Ohio voted him to represent their views and make esteemed decisions on our behalf.
O'BRIEN: All right, Eric, go ahead.
Them's fighting words to the people in Youngstown, Ohio.
Go ahead, Eric.
ERIC: It may be disturbing, but it's certainly not surprising. I think it's refreshing to see somebody who just says whatever they want to say on national television in front of the whole country who is actually a politician. I think most people are just tired of being lied to.
O'BRIEN: Ah, a little candor, a little candor is a good thing, right, Andrea?
ANDREA: Yes. I think that it's about time that we start holding our congressmen responsible for their legal actions that they do. And perhaps this will be the stepping stone to prosecuting or having hearings for other congressmen and women that are doing things that are illegal.
O'BRIEN: All right, Terry Jeffrey, you are in Washington. You are a little closer to this whole circus we have been seeing unfold here. What are your thoughts?
JEFFREY: Well, Traficant has always been a very colorful character.
O'BRIEN: To say the least.
JEFFREY: On one level, we'll be sorry to see him go.
But this guy has been convicted of very serious felonies. The House has a right to seat its own members. Ohio can elect him, but the House doesn't have to seat him under the Constitution. I think he will be expelled. And I think it will be a good move, set a higher standard for members of Congress.
O'BRIEN: Anybody else on our esteemed panel like to weigh in on this?
CARADINE: Hey, Miles.
O'BRIEN: Go. You go, Mo.
GREENFIELD: What member of Bill Carpet Warehouse put that rug on his head? Everybody is talking about his clothes.
O'BRIEN: Oh, man.
And, by the way, to the young man in the audience who likes someone who speaks their mind, this guy has an unbelievably foul mouth. If you like someone who speaks their mind in that manner, then you should elect Richard Pryor or Chris Rock. At least you get a genuine laugh. He's a moron.
O'BRIEN: Maybe it's a dead ferret. I don't know.
O'BRIEN: Monique, go. CARADINE: How about we bring back the show "Politically Incorrect" and have him as the host? I love him.
O'BRIEN: I've got to tell you, I am sure he would live up...
CUNNINGHAM: You are going to have to film in it Leavenworth, I think.
CARADINE: Yes, really.
But seriously, though, I think that, if he was indeed convicted of these very serious crimes, then you do have to send a message across the board that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated, because I guarantee you that, if you checked every single congressman in the Congress that you will probably find even more individuals who have done some of the same things, though they have not been convicted.
O'BRIEN: But nobody worse dressed.
Let's go to Kenny now.
KENNY: I actually -- I guess I would be a fan of this congressman or whatever. He's pretty much not afraid to say anything.
And a lot of times, we elect officials in the local as well as the regional and state and national levels, and they just pretty much do anything just to get elected. They focus on views that they think are going to get them votes. And unless we start having people expressing the views that they actually believe in, and people are willing to put their careers on the line, we are going to not have any feelings and people are just going to do what they want to do.
O'BRIEN: If nothing else, James Traficant I think has done a good job enhancing the value of the book I'm sure he will write, right? "Beam Me Up" by James Traficant, or something to that effect, or "Me and My Chinchilla Hairpiece."
Anywhere, we're going to take a break. When we come back, the Dow is tanking even as we speak. It's down by what, 400 still? More than 400. I don't have a ticker down here, more than 400, below 8000. They are calling it the crash of 2002 now. For a lot of folks who were planning on retiring, they are thinking about going to Wal-Mart and being a greeter and stuff like that. So, we're going to watch that for you, Lou Dobbs at the top of the hour.
A little more TALKBACK LIVE in just a minute. Stay with us.
O'BRIEN: All right, we are back. We are back. We are back.
O'BRIEN: And while we applaud, while we applaud here, everybody seems so happy that the stock market is tanking as we speak.
And I have got to go over to Jody, because Jody, who reminded us of McCarthyism, is now blaming the media on all this, me in particular.
Jody, I can take it. It's all right. Tell us how the media makes the stock market tank, please.
JODY: Well, Miles, I was just...
O'BRIEN: That's my microphone.
JODY: Sorry. Do I just talk? Sorry.
Well, five minutes before the markets close, I'm not sure I'm going to want to put my money back into the market when I'm watching CNN and the reporters are screaming: "It's tanking. It's tanking. What are we going to do?" I mean, it only adds to the hysteria. So, you can't expect people to want to invest and to have the markets go back up again when everyone in the media is screaming about how it's tanking.
O'BRIEN: All right, Tre (ph), and then we'll go to Monique.
TRE: I think the media is a commercial product. And it should be able to do or say what it wants. We are not imbeciles. We have our own minds. And we can discern fact from fiction.
O'BRIEN: All right, all right, Monique, what is it? Is the media doing us a disservice here? We inflated the bubble. We enhanced the burst. We are there for the ups and the downs, aren't we?
CARADINE: I think the media is doing its job. I think we are there for the ups and downs.
I think, though, that Lou Dobbs was right earlier when he said that we are going to have to start convicting these individuals who are causing so much suspicion and reluctance based on corporate corruption. My grandmother was obviously wise when she chose her mattress to put her money underneath, so that she could keep an eye on it.
But these days, we have to send a message to Americans that we are going to address corporate corruption and prosecute those individuals who do wrong to the highest extent of the law. We cannot tiptoe around these issues. If you are going to raise confidence, you just have to do that.
O'BRIEN: Sort of the seely investment plan.
Mark, you go now. You have not chatted in a little while. Go ahead, Mark, Mark.
Turn his mike on. There we go.
CUNNINGHAM: Two things.
Yes, we need to deal with corporate corruption, but it's not corporate corruption that brought the market down in the first place. That was -- there was a bubble. There was too much enthusiasm.
CARADINE: It contributed to it.
O'BRIEN: But we had so much fun. We had so much fun, didn't we?
CUNNINGHAM: No, no, the corruption came out on the way down...
CARADINE: It didn't help.
CUNNINGHAM: ... as things were falling apart and people looked. No, it's a problem. We need to deal with it.
But the fundamentals of the economy also need to be addressed, whether it's with a tax cut, some sort of wise deregulation along with the careful reregulation in some ethical areas. The point is, is that it's not simply a problem of villains made the stock market crash or made the stock market go down.
O'BRIEN: Quickly a comment from Kenny.
KENNY: I think the question was, pretty much, does the media perpetrate and pretty much form a lot of views of the public? I can walk up to one of my friends in the street and say: "Hey, I just invested in a stock," say Amoco gas or something. And if the stock is doing well, they will say: "Oh, I want to wait for to you invest some money into this thing. I want to see how it goes. And if you make some money, then I'm going to join."
And if as a people just invest our own money and stand on our two feet and do what we want to do, then we won't have any problems. And we'll make money.
O'BRIEN: Stand on our own two feet. Kenny, that's a good place to end. And I knew you would get to a point there. I appreciate it, because we were running out of time.
Sam, Terry, Mark, Monique, thanks. You guys were great. We appreciate it.
We are out of time. The final bell right after a break, we're going to be watching it closely with Lou Dobbs, who will also give you the closing numbers, Lou Dobbs there. Stay tuned to CNN for this and all events.
And you have a great weekend, everybody.
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