LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES
Deadly Swarm of Tornadoes Rips Heartland; Democratic Hopefuls Square Off in South Carolina; Can Scott Peterson Get Fair Trial in Modesto?
Aired May 5, 2003 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: A deadly swarm of tornadoes rips the heartland. Tonight, picking up the pieces from the lethal path of the storm.
Nine Democratic hopefuls face off in the earliest presidential TV debate in history.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not fighting each other. We're trying to select one of us to be the opponent of George Bush.
ANNOUNCER: While these candidates are united against President Bush, when the dust settles who will be left standing in 2004?
Scott Peterson loses an early battle in his murder case.
MIKE GERAGOS, SCOTT PETERSON'S ATTORNEY: We've set the bar extremely high. And that's to prove that Scott is not only factually innocent but to figure out exactly who it is that did this horrible thing to Scott's wife and Scott's son.
ANNOUNCER: Can Peterson possibly get a fair trial in Modesto?
LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES with Paula Zahn in New York
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Welcome. Glad to have you with us as we start off a new week here. It is Monday, May 5.
Also coming up tonight, death and sickness in New Sweden, Maine. Was more than one person involved in the arsenic poisoning at the local church? Our own Jamie Colby is live with some new information tonight.
Also ahead, an Iowa state coach is photographed partying and drinking with students after two basketball games. Will Larry Eustachy be bounced from school as a result of it? And is he using his alcoholism as a defense for what some consider very boorish behavior?
Those stories and much more straight ahead. But first tonight, residents in the heartland are dealing with the aftermath of nature's fury tonight. A huge cluster of tornadoes ripped through Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Tennessee last night, delivering a huge blow to the nation's midsection. The damage is overwhelming. It is widespread. At least 35 people are dead.
People are in shock, searching for their relatives, trying to pick through piles of rubble in places they used to call home.
Leon Harris is in Jackson, Tennessee, where the twisters killed nearly a dozen people. Good evening, Leon, what else are you seeing there?
LEON HARRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, I wish I could say that folks here in Jackson, Tennessee are having a good evening.
But we've been here barely maybe even an hour. And what we've been able to see from the one spot that we've located here in the downtown area is no shortage of people who are walking around with stunned looks on their faces.
For many people in Jackson, Tennessee, this is a bad case of deja vu. This town was hit hard back in 1998 by a series of twisters and residents that we've talked to this evening say that what happened last night between 11:30 and midnight was at least as bad as that storm that came through here and devastated much of this town.
And you can see here, plenty of evidence here that testifies to the strength of the storm. Behind me you see this -- this truck here. This is a -- maybe a two, three ton vehicle. And right appropriately, it's up next to a dumpster because it is trashed, totally. And you can see the tree behind it; that's a very large tree, let me tell you. But right now, it might as well be so much plywood.
Now some of the residents that we talked to so far have been walking by this one spot that we're at right now, because this spot really represents in many ways the heart of this city. This is the Mother Liberty CME Church. This church has been here since the early 1800s. We understand it was found sometime back in the 1840s by some freed slaves. The building here has been here since 1893. Walls at least five or six feet thick and bricks in some places. And you can see what happened here.
But, Paula, again, testament to the vagaries of these kinds of storms. Steve, can you get a shot of the book case up there? You see this entire structure, five-feet thick brick walls, totally devastated. The book case up there, every single book still in its place on the shelves.
Now, residents of this city are trying to put their homes and their hearts back in their places. As you can probably hear right next door to us here at the Lowell Thomas (ph) state office building, they're working even though it's, you know, late in the evening here, beginning to be evening, at work right now still trying to close up some of the windows and clean up some of the mess.
But there is going to be a lot of work to do. Many people don't expect to get power here for maybe three or four days. That's going to be a very, very tough stretch of road here for these folks here in Jackson, Tennessee, Paula.
ZAHN: Leon, in the meantime what other kind of help are they getting, particularly those who don't really have homes to go back to?
HARRIS: Well, right now we talked briefly with some people from the Red Cross who said they're not really having a hard time finding other places because there are a lot of structures in this town that did not get damage like that.
But what we've been able to find out about is that there are some local efforts by the residents themselves to help each other out, on the radio, as a matter of fact. We heard a couple of stations here that were doing sort of a community call-in show, asking for people who needed any kind of help, whether it was power, whether it was ice or whether they need blankets or whatever to call in and they were making connections to people here in the community.
So the folks here are not waiting for outsiders, they're helping themselves now.
ZAHN: Leon Harris, thanks. We're going to move on to just show how widespread the path of destruction was. Parts of Tennessee, as Leon just mentioned, and Missouri are now under states of emergency tonight. Both hit very hard by the tornadoes. The governors in those states have been very busy today, inspecting the damage or coordinating disaster efforts.
Missouri Governor Bob Holden joins us from Jefferson City, tonight, and Tennessee's Governor Phil Bredesen joins us from Nashville. Good to see both of you. Thank you very much for being with us.
Governor Holden, we talked a little bit about the tremendous damage to your state. You've had a chance to fly around your state and get a sense of not only the economic damage, but the human toll the storm has taken on your state. What can you tell us?
GOV. BOB HOLDEN, MISSOURI: It's a real tragedy. We've already lost 18 people to the tornadoes last night. Keep in mind in the floods of '93, there was eight people lost. That gives you kind of the scope.
We've had communities in our state, Pierce City and others, just devastated. Totally destroyed by these tornadoes last night.
ZAHN: Tell us about what people need the most right now.
HOLDEN: First of all they need to allow the local officials to do their job. The Red Cross is there, the Salvation Army. We've got 175 Guardsmen around the state helping with the local communities to give them security, to provide all the assistance they need. We just need to let the local officials do their job. I've asked the president to declare 39 counties a disaster area in the state of Missouri. And I expect them to do so. We're putting the pieces back together.
But this truly was a tragedy that we witnessed last night in Missouri.
ZAHN: And Governor Bredesen, your state, as well, witnessed the same kind of trauma. You also are suffering under once again being under a severe storm warning and tornado warning this evening. What kind of preparations can you take tonight that you think could actually protect people?
GOV. PHIL BREDESEN, TENNESSEE: I think people are obviously so much more aware of it now and are very carefully watching television and listening to the radio to make sure they get to a safe place, were there to be another tornado and obviously, that's important, as well. I sure hope we escape anything like we had last night.
ZAHN: You look at these pictures and it's just hard to believe how much damage was done so swiftly. Give us your best estimate at what kind of damage figures you're looking at here?
BREDESEN: We just don't know yet. We have people in the field, obviously, making those damage estimates, which is what it takes to ultimately get the presidential declaration. And we're working very hard on that to help people get their lives back together.
I had the experience of being mayor of Nashville back in '97 when a huge tornado came through there. And so this is kind of deja vu for me, I'm afraid. And I know how important it was for local officials to just feel that the state was there, the federal government was there, and we do the stuff it took to back them up. And that's what I'm trying to do.
ZAHN: And finally, Governor Bredesen, tonight, just tell us a little bit about the folks you've had to help relocate. How long do you think some of these folks will be out of their homes, if you think they'll ever be able to get back? Some of these homes are so horribly damaged.
BREDESEN: Well, there are certainly plenty of homes across the state. We had 11 deaths in one county and three in another county. There are some homes no one will ever be back in again unless they're completely rebuilt.
But between the Red Cross and a lot of local agencies, churches, radio stations, really stepping up to make the connections, I'm certainly hoping and we're planning and -- that everyone will have a place to sleep tonight and to be safe. And they don't call us the Volunteer State for nothing and it's working very well right now.
ZAHN: Well, we're happy to hear people have been so generous and Governor Holden, finally tonight, just for folks out there who may be interested in helping out both of your states in its misery, what can they do?
HOLDEN: First of all they can contact the Red Cross and work through the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, our local officials, Both in Tennessee and Missouri. We have outstanding local officials. And we need to all give them our support as we support our citizens who really have faced a tragedy.
ZAHN: Well, Governor Bredesen and Governor Holden, we really appreciate your taking some time out of I know what has been a very long day to talk to us tonight. Best of luck to both of you and your home states.
BREDESEN: Thank you.
HOLDEN: Thank you very much.
ZAHN: And coming up in our next hour, we'll talk to someone who was out chasing last night's tornadoes. We're also going to find out the science behind the storms, what makes them strike land, how long they could be on the ground. And we're going to talk to a structural engineer about how you can survive one of these storms. Those stories coming up in a special report in our next hour.
Taking a quick look at news across America tonight, voodoo investigation. That is how Scott Peterson's attorney is characterizing the probe into his wife's death. Peterson is accused of killing his pregnant wife, Laci, and their unborn son. Defense attorney Mark Geragos wants records and search warrants in the case sealed. More on today's hearing coming up.
Piling on the pressure. President Bush is asking for the public's help in urging lawmakers to pass his tax cut plan. Speaking in Arkansas today, the president said he wants Americans to call their congressmen and let them know as he put it, Congress is moving too slowly.
And a struggle ends. A hotel worker in critical condition since that horrific fire at a Rhode Island nightclub has now died. Pamela Gruttadauria became the 100th victim to die from that February inferno. Five other victims are still hospitalized.
Still to come this evening, another card in the deck is caught. Hadu Ammash, a key Iraqi scientist. That story tonight from Nic Robertson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Seen here shortly before the war, Hadu Ammash rallies anti-American support, standing out not just because she was younger than most in the upper echelons of Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party, but because she was one of the only women.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Also ahead tonight, once secret hearings about alleged communist conspiracies in the U.S. now public. Tonight, the McCarthy excerpts, nearly 5,000 pages of them. Jonathan Karl is live on Capitol Hill with that story. And then a little bit later on, the case against Scott Peterson. Can the man accused of killing his wife and unborn son get a fair trial?
You're watching LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES on this Monday night.
ZAHN: Welcome back. Now a look at the world tonight.
The Pentagon plans to release a few of the detainees it's been holding at the U.S. Naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Officials say 12 to 15 detainees will be returned to Afghanistan within the next few days.
Health officials say it is increasingly clear that aggressive hygiene is an important tool in the fight against SARS. The World Health Organization warns that the virus can live up to four days on contaminated toilet seats.
Iraqis took a first step toward democracy at a U.S.-sponsored meeting in Mosul. About 200 community leaders chose an interim city council. The city council chose an interim mayor. Mosul is Iraq's third largest city.
Pentagon officials hope to learn more about Iraq's alleged biowarfare program now that they have in custody a woman they call Mrs. Anthrax. Huda Ammash surrendered over the weekend. She was the only woman on the U.S. list of most wanted Iraqis, and has been accused of overseeing biowarfare research.
CNN international correspondent Nic Robertson has her story.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Seen here shortly before the war, Huda Ammash rallies anti-American support. Standing out not just because she was younger than most in the upper echelons of Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party, but because she was one of the only women.
What may make her doubly attractive to U.S. authorities is the U.S. suspicion she has had a role in Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program.
Ammash got her master's in microbiology at the University of Texas, her Ph.D. in microbiology at the University of Missouri. But according to the former head of Iraq's biowarfare program in the 1980s, she has had no significant role in producing WMD.
NASSIR AL-HINDAWI, FORMER HEAD OF IRAQI BIOWARFARE PROGRAM: All of her life she had been in the administrative field, not in scientific and actual work.
ROBERTSON: Outside of government, Ammash helped run this medical test laboratory. Her partner there also doubts accusations she was involved in WMD. DR. TAHA SHEBEEB, AMMASH ASSOCIATE: As long as I know -- as far as I know -- sorry -- she didn't work in anthrax at all. At all.
ROBERTSON (on camera): In Huda Ammash, it seems the coalition has landed a complex character. Quite how much she knows about weapons of mass destruction, though, remains open to question.
Nic Robertson, CNN, Baghdad.
ZAHN: And still to come tonight, 5,000 pages of transcripts, secret hearings of Senator Joseph McCarthy now public tonight. Jonathan Karl is live on Capitol Hill with more.
Good evening, Jonathan.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Paula.
You know, McCarthy's public hearings were a media sensation. But the records of his secret hearings have been under seal in the National Archives for 50 years. Today they were finally released, shedding light on one of the most dramatic political events of the 20th Century. That story when we return.
ZAHN: Welcome back. Today we're getting a glimpse of what happened behind closed doors during a vanished era of U.S. history.
Newly released transcripts show us what happened 50 years ago during secret hearings led by Senator Joseph McCarthy, the man whose hunt for spies and communists in the U.S. government ruined many lives and gave us a phrase we still use, McCarthyism.
Here is congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Washington, the press rushes the meeting room of the Senate investigating subcommittee.
KARL (voice-over): It has been 50 years since Senator Joe McCarthy conducted his crusade to rout out communists from the highest levels of government and American society.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOSEPH McCARTHY (R), WISCONSIN: Another Fifth Amendment communist was finally dug out of the dark recesses and exposed to public view.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: But while millions watched those congressional hearings unfold, there was a side to McCarthy's inquisition the public has never seen until now.
Three-hundred-and-ninety-five Americans were interrogated in closed, secret hearings. They included the ordinary, the famous, and some who wore the uniform of the U.S. military.
CNN got an exclusive look at the transcripts of those secret hearings, which have been under seal for a half a century.
DAVID OSHINSKY, McCARTHY BIOGRAPHER: What we really have never had in the past is Joe McCarthy in private, surrounded by his henchmen, running a one-man operation in which hundreds of witnesses are being interrogated.
KARL: Exercising Fifth Amendment rights in these secret hearings was risky. In one hearing, McCarthy threatened a New York City teacher who refused to answer all his questions.
(on camera): To an aide McCarthy said, "will you transmit this testimony to the board of education? I assume with this testimony they will discharge this man." And then he added, "I may say your wife's testimony is being transmitted to the board of education also. I assume she will be discharged also."
(voice-over): McCarthy's public hearings took place before the TV cameras on Capitol Hill.
(on camera): But many of his secret hearings took place deep within the recesses of this federal courthouse in New York City.
(voice-over): A man suspended from the Army's signal corps simply because his mother had been a communist was grilled by McCarthy. "Well, did you ever ask her if she was a communist," McCarthy demanded?
"When you went to see her, weren't you curious? If somebody told me my mother was a communist, I'd get on the phone and say, mother, is this true?"
(on camera): This courthouse storage room is exactly the kind of place McCarthy liked to bring his witnesses. No windows, unventilated, oppressively hot, a setting for intimidation. One witness had to cut short his testimony when he began to suffer an apparent nervous breakdown.
OSHINSKY: When you were in that kind of basement, I think you had the sense that you were getting the kind of going over that you would get in the worst type of southern police station or KGB unit the Soviet Union. And McCarthy did kind of thrive on that type of fear.
KARL (voice-over): But some refused to be intimidated. McCarthy ordered America's premiere composer Aaron Copland to testify in secret session. Copland eventually was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. But in May 1953, Joe McCarthy accused him of being a communist agent. McCarthy: "You have what appears to be one of the longest communist front records of anyone we have had here."
COPLAND: "I spend my days writing symphonies, concerto, ballads, and I am not a political thinker." Copland conceded that he had worked with lots of musicians over the years and, yes, some of them may have been communists.
(on camera): Copland said, "I had no fear of sitting down at a table with a known communist because I was so sure of my position as a loyal American."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aaron Copland stood up to McCarthy in the executive sessions and one of the things that becomes clear as you look through the hearings is the people who stood up to McCarthy, who were articulate, who didn't bend, who didn't cower, who didn't stone wall, McCarthy didn't call on to testify.
KARL: Now, what's interesting about these hearings is we also have a very interesting figure you don't normally associate with Joe McCarthy and that's Robert F. Kennedy, who was working for Joseph McCarthy at the time. Then just a 27-year-old Senate aide. For the first several months of McCarthy's investigation, Bobby Kennedy was there working with him. And in many of the transcripts comes across as a relentlessly aggressive anti-communist crusader trying to talk to the various witnesses -- coming here you see pictures of Bobby Kennedy at that time. It's very interesting to look at those pictures to see Bobby Kennedy with Roy Cone and Joe McCarthy during a very different era.
Bobby Kennedy would eventually break with McCarthy, leave that committee and work with the Democrats, who eventually, by the end of 1954, Paula, censured Joe McCarthy, ending his career, putting him into shame and putting him into obscurity, as well.
ZAHN: Thanks for the fascinating look back. Jonathan Karl, appreciate it.
More than a week after the coffee at a New England church social was laced with a deadly dose of arsenic, many questions remain unanswered. Police now think more than one person may have been responsible for the poisoned coffee which killed one parishioners and sickened 15 others.
Jamie Colby now has the latest from New Sweden, Maine. Good evening, Jamie.
JAMIE COLBY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paula, how are you?
This is a community, a small community -- 621 people live in New Sweden -- that remains in shock. And we should emphasize there may be more than one person involved. So far they have only named Daniel Bondeson as their primary suspect. Bondeson was shot on Friday by a single gunshot. That's all the medical examiner's office confirmed today. They did not release an autopsy report; that was expected. The question still remains whether it was a suicide or whether somebody else was involved.
Bondeson has lived in this community all his life. He is liked, he is loved. He was a substitute teacher. Everyone that I talked to today only had good things to say about a man who gave of his time to his community and to his church.
Though Bondeson was not at the church on Sunday when the poisoning occurred, it left 15 people still hospitalized and one man dead. He did visit the church the day before, police confirmed, to attend a bake sale.
And also, Bondeson, who was very involved in the community and talked to people -- I'm told he was an avid athlete -- the thing, Paula, that people are trying to grasp today is one, how could it have happened here? How could it have happened potentially and likely the police are saying now, because they've linked to the poisoning, by one of their own? And how could they not have known?
Here is what one person, a friend of Bondeson, a teacher who taught with him, had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. DENNIS APPLETON, MAINE STATE POLICE: We're considering some motives we won't discuss them. But we're considering motive. We know some of the dynamics of what was going on within that church community. And so we're looking at those as motive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLBY: That's interesting. That was actually Dennis Appleton, the lead investigator, because today, Paula, he suggested that the poisoning display had something to do with church politics, something going on at the church that none of the members are talking to the media or to the public about but they are talking to investigators. What they're saying is more than they said initially. Many of the parishioners have been fingerprinted, they've given DNA samples, police trying to determine if anyone else was involved in the poisoning and police do say today that they are being more forthcoming.
I want you to listen now, if we have it available, to this friend of Bondeson's who had this so to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here, everybody knows everybody else, everyone's related or somehow interconnected. And if it were possible to know ahead of time that somebody was tormented, that somebody was feeling, you know, very unhappy, we would have known it here. And we didn't. We obviously didn't know that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLBY: You know, the morning paper, Paula, said today that here in New Sweden, people know your mother's maiden name. They even know your natural hair color.
And so what they're trying to figure out is so many people had contact with Bondeson, he worked at a nursing home, he was a substitute teacher at a school, an avid athlete who led a lot of athletic events here in town, how could they not have seen any change in personality or anything that might have led him to this crime which police have now linked him to.
Again, they don't know if anyone else is involved. The people here just saying they wished they had had a clue that might have saved not only Bondeson's life but also the 78-year-old elder -- the church elder, the man who died of the arsenic poisoning -- Paula.
ZAHN: One of those cases where every time they seem to confirm a new fact it leaves us with 10 more questions unanswered. Jamie Colby, thank you so much for the update.
Still to come, the case against Scott Peterson. Will he be able to get a fair trial? Both sides of the debate, right out of the break.
But first, a look at some of the closing numbers from Wall Street. We're back in a moment.
ZAHN: Welcome back.
As we mentioned at the top of the hour, new legal wrangled today in the Laci Peterson case. A California judge is refusing to step down from the proceedings. Scott Peterson appeared at a hearing today minus his prison issued jump suit with his new attorney, Mark Geragos.
Rusty Dornin was there. She joins us from Modesto.
We've heard a little bit of what Mr. Geragos has said right here on CNN before he was representing Scott Peterson.
What is it that you think he tried to accomplish today?
RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula he's continuing his legal maneuvering to really protect his client's image. Of course, the most visible thing we can see from that was the victory he scored when the judge approved his request to have Scott Peterson appear in civilian attire. He came to court today in a very expensive-looking blue suit. He'll be attired in civilian clothes for the remainder of the trial. Also the hearings today had to do with the search warrants. Mark Geragos does not want to see the search warrants unsealed at this point. He feels it will be very detrimental to his client. In one of the hearings that is protected. The 5th District -- the judge says he will wait for the 5th District Court of Appeals to rule on whether if the search warrants will be unsealed. In the other courtroom, however, he wanted to ask the judge to remove himself from the case, because the judge assigned to this trial case cannot hear any arguments or hearings regarding the search warrants. And Geragos is concerned that the trial judge have complete control of the entire case including decisions regarding those search warrants. But the judge wasn't buying it. He refused to excuse himself.
Geragos got in some snide remarks about the prosecution, regarding their case, he called it voodoo style investigation, referring to psychics and voice stress analyzers that would be inadmissible evident, the evidence he does not want to see revealed to the public at this point. He also, outside, told reporters that he believes he has a strong enough case to convince a jury that his client, Scott Peterson, Is innocent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERAGOS: Criminal defense lawyers are supposed to just go out and create reasonable doubt, if you will or argue reasonable doubt. We're not into arguing reasonable doubt in this case. We set the bar extremely high. And that's to prove that Scott is not only factually innocent, but figure out exactly who it is did this horrible thing to Scott's wife and so Scott's son and to their grandson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DORNIN: Now, Scott Peterson and Geragos are not scheduled to be back in court until May 27. A source close to the legal team did tell us soon they will be asking for the change of venue. That isn't any surprise. But, of course, they're hoping for something down near Los Angeles. They know the judges, they know the courts. It is their own home turf. Meantime, Laci Peterson's family for the first time did not show up for the court proceedings. Of course, the memorial for Laci Peterson was yesterday -- Paula.
ZAHN: Tells a little bit about the memorial service.
DORNIN: Very touching, 3,000 people showed up for the memorial service, Paula. The family invited everyone to come because so many people in this community were affected. They became involved as volunteers at the center. They became involved in searching or people just touched by that incredible smile of hers. They wanted all the people to come and say good-bye to Laci and 3,000 people showed up.
ZAHN: All right, thank you so much, Rusty.
We'll leave it there and move on. And to talk more about the legal strategy here, so sealed warrants, changing Scott Peterson's appearance, asking a judge to step down what is the strategy here, and will it ensure that Scott Peterson gets a fair trial?
Joining me to help me answer some of the questions, assistant district attorney James Hammer in San Francisco. He will look at it from the prosecution's point of view. And Geoffrey Fieger, he is a defense attorney joining us from Southfield, Michigan, tonight.
Welcome to both of you. Glad to have both of you with us tonight.
Joe, I am going to start with this evening, let's talk a little bit about what you think might be in those sealed arrest warrants. It has been widely reported what the tabloids are saying, that allegedly Scott Peterson beat his wife in his home, and that there were some elements of blood found on a mop in the car as well as trace amounts of blood found in her car. Once again, a lot of conflicting reporting.
What is it that you think is in the sealed search warrants that could be so damaging to Scott Peterson and do you subscribe to any of the reporting that's been done so far?
JAMES HAMMER, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I don't. We talked last week and we said the heart of the entire case lies in the search warrants. I think anyone is a fool at this point to guess if the evidence is true. If it is true there is a bloody crime scene inside of the house and efforts to clean it up, I think that will be a powerful case against Scott Peterson.
ZAHN: Do you think he can get a fair case?
HAMMER: I do. I think it is ironic and you just reported on it that one of the most damaging statements made in this case was by Mark Geragos himself who said it would be hard to find a prosecutor in California who couldn't get a conviction in this case. But in spite of that, California is a very big state. Even a case like O.J. Simpson where everyone seemed to know everything about the case got O.J. Simpson a not guilty verdict in Los Angeles.
ZAHN: Let's for a moment, Jeff, talk about the challenge that lies ahead for Mark Geragos when he so loudly proclaimed here on CNN that it was going to be pretty easy for a prosecutor to get a conviction here. After the hearing, we're going to play a little bit of what he had to say today. Let's listen. That tape might not be ready.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERAGOS: The people who know him best are standing behind him and standing behind me today 100 percent, because they believe totally unequivocally in this young man's innocence. And they've turned my head around, and I think it is only a matter of time before we're able to turn America's head around.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: All right, Jeff. You heard what he said. They turned his head around and now he has to turn America's head around.
GEOFFREY FIEGER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I to disagree. He's gone out on a limb that is going to fall off and break, that he's going to out investigate the police and he is going to identify the killer. We know, Paula, except on TV that doesn't happen. There has never been a case nor will there ever be a case where the defense attorney goes out and investigates the crime and finds it.
Secondly, he doesn't have the resources. He's not being paid a tremendous amount, if anything at all. He's going to have no investigators that could rival the police. It's silly. If he has anything right now, any evidence that he thinks that in any way exonerates his client, he's got to come out and say it now. Now is the time. Instead, he's playing games and seeking to have these search warrants continued to be sealed. They're going to be unsealed. Seeking to have them sealed to the press is one way to communicate to the press that if you're going to tell us that your client isn't guilty, then why are you trying to withhold evidence from us?
That strategy is nonsense. It is not going to work and it lead nose believe that Geragos hasn't thought it out well.
HAMMER: I think actually one of the smartest things he's done so far is to try to get to the search warrant sealed until he's had a chance to fully review them. I suspect like in any case there are some holes in the case or difficult part, and Geragos could try to get those out to the press to put a different spin on it. I do agree with your other guest, though, the idea he'll work into court and prove who the real killer is, sets the bar incredibly high, which he will probably fail. hand when he does, the jury will turn on him.
FEIGER: There is far worse evidence in this case than his public pronouncements. That the circumstantial evidence and the pictures of his client with another woman are going to so prejudice that jury that they'll filter every bit of evidence against Scott Peterson. And that is a problem that he can only solve by hoping to delay this trial a long time. A long time.
ZAHN: Geoff, you've taken on cases in the past that nobody thought you could win and you won anyway.
Would you ever touch this case?
FEIGER: No, because this case, first of all, doesn't deal with an issue. I always dealt with cases that I thought were important issues, notwithstanding the fact that people were against my client if you will. This is a case in which his clients' own actions have betrayed him. His client's own words have betrayed him. His client has done things that are going to make it so hard for Geragos to do anything. There is not going to be any south central districts like O.J. was tried in that will be amenable to a Scott Peterson in light of his activities vis-a-vis his wife. What I'm talking about is stuff that the prosecutor knows already the girlfriend, the pictures with the girlfriend, his activities on the day his wife's body was identified.
This is so tremendously prejudicial that on top of it if they have any physical evidence within the home, what is Geragos going to do? What is he going to do? HAMMER: I feel like I should take the defense side to be fair, but I have to agree once again, had when they play back his statements about his supposed talk with his wife where he told his 8 month pregnant wife that he was having an affair and she was fine with, nobody is going to believe that for second. And it really does provide the motive potentially in this case.
ZAHN: Finally, I want to close with something else Mark Geragos said, a very bold statement. Jim, you acknowledged how high the bar has been set by him and he acknowledged this in this short exchange. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERAGOS: We're not into arguing reasonable doubt in this case. We've set the bar extremely high. And that's to prove that Scott is not only factually innocent, but to figure out exactly who it is that did this horrible thing to Scott's wife and to Scott's son and to their grandson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: So as we close this out, Jim, you're saying he set a real big trap for himself today in court.
HAMMER: I really believe that. And he ought to be focusing on the holes if, there are any, in the circumstantial evidence case and start reading the evidence.
FEIGER: That's absolutely right. He cannot win like that. He has to come out now and if there are holes, he's got to attack them. He has to start creating that in the public mind, because that's Peterson's only hope --- to counter the tremendous publicity that's been issued so far against him.
HAMMER: That is his only hope.
ZAHN: Geoffrey Fieger, James Hammer thank you for both of your perspectives tonight.
FEIGER: Thanks, Paula.
ZAHN: Appreciate your dropping by.
HAMMER: Thank you, Paula.
ZAHN: Still to come tonight, the Democratic candidates debate who came out on top and is the party truly diverse. We're going to talk about some of that with Karenna Gore Schiff right after the break.
ZAHN: Here is a challenge for you: name all nine Democratic presidential candidates. If you can't, you're not alone. We took a poll last month that showed 69 percent of registered Democrats aren't paying any attention to the race. But, yes, it is indeed in full swing, highlighted by a nine-way debate over the weekend.
One Democrat who is paying close attention to these political developments is with me tonight. Karenna Gore Schiff is the new director of community affairs for the Association to Benefit Children. And as you might guess by looking at this picture, yes, she is indeed a member of the Gore family. She is Al Gore's daughter and she and her parents just celebrated the opening of the new Children's Center in Harlem.
And we appreciate you dropping by. You've been one busy woman.
KARENNA GORE SCHIFF, CHILDREN'S ACTIVIST: Thank you very much.
ZAHN: Not to mention two little kids you're chasing around.
SCHIFF: That's right. Thank you, Paula. It's very nice to be here.
ZAHN: Tell us a little about the goal of the center. Who -- who is it you're trying to reach?
SCHIFF: We're serving the most vulnerable at-risk children in Harlem specifically and through services that are integrated with a sort of whole family approach with employment, training for the parents and Headstart and day care and mental -- mental health care. And we also are an advocacy organization so we push for changes in policy both on the local and the national level.
ZAHN: Sounds like you could be pretty comfortable being a politician some day, no?
SCHIFF: Well, I don't know. It does sometimes come back to politics because truthfully the decisions that the elected officials make have a big impact on the communities, particularly the ones that we're serving who are very vulnerable children and families.
ZAHN: Tell us a little about how your dad is doing. Does he miss being engaged in these kinds of issues?
SCHIFF: You know, my dad's doing great. I just spoke to him. He and my mother and father are really enjoying their lives now. They're living in Nashville. Very concerned about the direction of the country and I think thinking about how to best influence the debate in a way that he knows will help because he's very concerned. But he's really enjoying his life and doing well.
ZAHN: I know when I lost spoke with him on the air, he talked about that critical decision period over the holidays when he's decided not run again. Did you try to talk him out of that?
SCHIFF: Frankly, yes. I really did want him to run again. And he made the decision based on, actually quite selfless calculation about who would be the best person to go through the primary and to come out and to challenge President Bush on the record and agenda. And I think that he made that decision. He's comfortable with it. He's at peace with it. So I give up. It wasn't my decision.
ZAHN: I know you were traveling during the great debate on Saturday night that was kind of hard to find nationally in each different market. You know, they didn't air live, I think, except in one major market.
But I wanted to share with you a little bit about what happened, one former Governor Dean of Vermont and Senator John Kerry went at it. Let's all watch this together.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D), NORTH CAROLINA: First of all, I want to echo what Senator Graham said. I think it's very important for us to recognize whatever personal differences exist. Governor Dean or Senator Kerry, either one, would be a better president than the one we have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: What was clear from watching this debate, there is still obviously a lot of discord among the candidates. In the end who do you think will be the frontrunner?
SCHIFF: Well, to be honest, I really haven't seen enough yet. And I think I'm probably not alone.
I believe strongly that the Democratic agenda is stronger than the Bush administration agenda right now and a whole host of issues. But in terms of who is the best person to represent it, I have to see more. And I hope that in the future there will be more coverage of the debates between the Democrats and I look forward to making that decision.
ZAHN: Well, yes, it's very early on in the process.
But even you would have to acknowledge that the power of incumbency is great and it would be hard for any Democrat at that point, even with Joseph Lieberman saying over the weekend, you know, whoever the candidate is has to convince the American public that the Democratic ticket is strong on national security. But when you see the pictures of the president landing on the aircraft carrier, those are really tough to counter.
SCHIFF: I saw that. And I just thought, Well, now he's found out what that experience is like, maybe he'll find go and find out what it's like to stand on an unemployment line or what it's like to be a homeless family as so many more in our city -- in my city and across the country are experiencing.
I think that there is imagery and then there is substance. And I do believe the American people will look beneath the imagery and find out how much these policies that he's propagating are really hurting our country.
ZAHN: And yet you look at his approval ratings, and they are very, very high. What should that tell the Democratic candidates?
SCHIFF: I think that it is certainly a wartime effect. And I think that it means that we have to focus more sharply on the domestic agenda and really just come together as a party who is behind certain issues.
I mean, I work with kids that are in Headstart, for instance. There's a lot of talk on the right about programs that don't work and wasteful programs. Headstart is a program that really does work, very well, and makes such a difference in people's lives. But it is so much at risk now at a time when it should be expanded. It is on the chopping block as a choice made in favor of the tax cut that benefits the wealthiest the most in this country.
ZAHN: How concerned are you, though, that Democratic voices are diluted when you saw these differences in the debate, particularly when a couple of Representative Gephardt's colleague came out swinging and said, yes, you're in favor of getting rid of the tax cut but it should go into this insurance program you're talking about.
SCHIFF: Well, I think the fact there is some dissension in the primary is overcomeable as long as in the end the candidate is somebody who really can reach out and bring all the different factions together.
It's been in the Democratic Party -- there's a lot of free thinkers and -- but the truth is that the values, I think, driving the agenda are so strong in terms of having this country grow together, stronger rather than apart. The gap between rich and poor should not be widening. And we should be reaching out and giving a hint at some of these people who are so vulnerable and at risk rather than having the current economic plan that Bush is proposing.
ZAHN: Well, it's great of you to drop by. Good luck with your new program.
SCHIFF: Thank you.
ZAHN: ABC. We should all be able to remember that.
SCHIFF: That's right.
SCHIFF: Thanks, Paula.
ZAHN: Appreciate your time.
Still to come tonight, a college basketball coach resign after photos are published showing him partying and drinking with students after two games. Up next, the story of what went wrong here.
You're watching LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES on this Monday night. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ZAHN: Here's a late breaking sports story out of Ames, Iowa tonight. Iowa State's head basketball coach Larry Eustachy has resigned. He was suspended after he was photographed at a party with students holding a beer can and being kissed by students from the school. The coach blamed his problems on alcoholism, but the athletic director recommended that he be dismissed anyway. Josie Karp reports that Eustachy is only one of several college coaches to get into trouble so far this year.
JOSIE KARP, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From late night drinking after a road game to carousing at a strip joint, embarrassing behavior and questionable judgment are again sullying the image of college athletics. This time there's a twist. The bad boys aren't the athletes, they're the coaches.
LARRY EUSTACHY, FRM. IOWA STATE BASKETBALL COACH: Obviously I was out of control.
KARP: Iowa State basketball coach Larry Eustachy was photographed drinking with college kids at a party he attended in Columbia, Missouri. The uproar over the pictures prompted the 47- year-old to admit he's an alcoholic and placed his million dollar a year job in jeopardy.
EUSTACHY: I vastly disappointed the people in Iowa. And I will live with that forever.
KARP: And at Alabama, new football coach Mike Price was fired last week for his conduct during a golf trip in April. Price apparently spent hundreds of dollars at a Pensacola strip club and more than a thousand dollars in food and drink was charged to his hotel room by a young woman while he played golf.
MIKE PRICE, FRM. UNIV. OF ALABAMA FOOTBALL COACH: I beg for your forgiveness and pray to god every day for his forgiveness.
KARP: Eustachy and Price are the only latest coaches to get in trouble. In March, Georgia basketball coach Jim Harrick was forced to resign after allegations of academic fraud and payments to a former player. In April, St. Bonaventure fired coach Jan van Breda Kolff when it was discovered one of his players did not have an associates degree from a community college but a welding certificate instead.
College coaches are charged not only with winning games, but also helping players mature as people. At some schools, lately, it's not the kids who look like they need to grow up.
Josie Karp, CNN, New York.
ZAHN: And that wraps up this hour of LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES. Be sure to catch our special report coming up in our next hour. We're going to talk to someone who actually chases tornadoes and catches them on tape. We're going talk also about the science of storms, how they're formed, how long they'll stay on the ground. This after tornadoes ripped through Tornado Alley killing dozens. We'll be right back.
ANNOUNCER: Killer storms tear a path through Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Tennessee.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It happened so fast that you don't have time (UNINTELLIGIBLE) much anything.
ANNOUNCER: What can you do to prepare for and survive nature's furry?
Maine murder mystery. Was more than one person involved in the murder?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We feel that there's a potential for more than one person to be involved.
ANNOUNCER: The anti-communist crusade that ripped the nation half a century ago echoes once again in the halls of Congress as the Senate unseals transcripts from the scandalous McCarthy hearing.
LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES with Paula Zahn in New York.
ZAHN: Good evening. Welcome, glad to have you with us on this Monday night. During this hour, we will watch a hero's welcome as some U.S. pilots arrive home from a very long deployment.
And we're going to get update on what rescued prisoner of war Jessica Lynch does not remember about her captivity.
But for millions of Americans in the Midwest and South, there was only one big story throughout this long, anxious and heartbreaking day. it is the subject of a special report in our second half-hour, "Twister Terror."
But first, today's major news events in the order they happened. First in today timeline, the first steps towards new government in Iraq. In the 7 a.m. hour, retired U.S. general Jay Garner makes the announcement a group of nine Iraqis is expected to run the interim government of Iraq. The nine come from a wide range of opposition groups and could expand to include others. He says that a government with an Iraqi face on it should be working with the coalition by the middle of the month. It's part of a process Garner says will put Iraq back on its feet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEN. JAY GARNER (RET.), U.S. CIVIL ADMIN. FOR IRAQ: It's necessary I think in -- that we do stabilize to a great degree, that we bring up the law enforcement (UNINTELLIGIBLE), that we begin to bring the public services back and that we begin now to see the -- what we hope will be the emergence of a government. Not a government, that's wrong. A leadership we can work with toward a democratic government process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Also in that hour, community leaders in northern Iraq took tentative steps toward democracy. They met to choose an interim mayor and city council for Mosul. Jane Arraf has the details.
JANE ARRAF, CNN BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF: In this room, the history and these people hope the future of Iraq. Representatives of urban Sunni Muslim Arabs, rural tribes, Sunni and Shi'a Kurds, Christians and other religions that have made Mosul their home for centuries, gathered to elect a new city government.
According to Iraqi and American officials, for the first time ever delegates chose from each ethnic and religious community voted freely for a city council. A council that looked a lot like the city. There were seven seats for Sunni Arabs, three each for Kurds and Christians, and more for Mosul's smaller ethnic minorities, Yesidian, Turkmen, Shi'a Kurds who had never before been represented in government. And even two seats held for retired Iraqi generals.
At the end of the day, the new city council elected an ex-general as mayor. Ghanam al-Basso first entered retirement in 1993 after he fell out with Saddam Hussein. The new mayor pledged to work for all Iraqis.
Jane Arraf, CNN, Mosul, Iraq.
ZAHN: Digging out, trying to start the rebuilding process and the declaration of a state of emergency in the 9 a.m. hour of the time line. Tornadoes killed at least 38 people in Missouri, Kansas and Tennessee last night and this morning. Cities and towns in those states and Arkansas saw some tremendous damage after the storms blew through. Leon Harris is in Jackson, Tennessee where some 11 people lost their lives. Leon, just even looking at the backdrop of where you're standing, it's heart-wrenching, isn't it?
HARRIS: It really is, Paula. And you know, timing is everything. The death toll here in Jackson, Tennessee may be 11. But it could have been a lot higher had this storm hit just a matter of a couple of hours earlier.
I think you can see right over my shoulder here, that gentleman in the rust colored outfit is the pastor of this church, Mother Liberty CME Church. That's Reverend Darrell (ph) -- I'm sorry, I can't remember his last name, forgive me for that. But I just met him briefly.
And he tells me that he and his congregation were in this church just a matter of hours before this tornado struck. And as you can see, it just totally devastated this building. And this is one of those things that really won't be replaced totally because this church as it turns out is the mother church for the entire CME denomination. This structure has been here since 1893. Five foot thick brick walls. And you can see, almost nothing left standing here. The pastor tells me he came back thinking to see a couple of broken windows. And he said, I never expected to see the whole thing gone.
As you can see, almost everything in this whole area is gone. This Burger King here, gone. That huge building back there, that's the postal handling center. It is totally devastated. We're right here next to the Lowell Thomas (ph) State office building. As you can see, Steve, get a shot of that line of cars there. Every single car here in this state office parking lot, damaged tremendously. Some how, some way.
We've seen devastation like this building, and then right next to it you'll see a car with one flat tire. Just kind the of thing that's impossible to explain. But just the kind of thing people here in Jackson, Tennessee are going to have to live with for some time.
They're telling me now here that talking to the police they're saying they don't expect power to be put in place for most of the city for maybe three or four days. But even still, in this late hour, you can probably hear behind me the workers are already at hard at work and they've been here all day and they will be for some time, trying to secure these buildings and clean up move on with their lives -- Paula.
ZAHN: Leon, are you through the worst of it? Or is there another storm system about ready to converge on where you're standing?
HARRIS: Well I tell you one thing, it sure felt like another one was coming here barely about 15 minutes ago, right before we got started setting up for this live shot. The winds picked up. We saw the sky go almost -- really dark, almost totally blacked out. Winds picked up a little bit and everything. Heavy rain. And then it all disappeared.
We're hearing that this weather system really is moving south of here and actually may be headed more towards Georgia. So these folks here may be out of the bull's eye for that. But you know it's still going to be kind of messy, there's going to be rain here for some time to come.
ZAHN: Yes, tens of thousands of people very worried where that storm system moves next. Leon, thanks so much.
Coming up a little bit later right here, deadly storms, our in- depth look at the terror that blew across the United States last night and early this morning. That begins at 8:30 Eastern time.
Meanwhile, on to other news now. Another former Iraqi official is in U.S. custody. This one known as some by Mrs. Anthrax. Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash, No. 53 and the 5 of hearts in the deck of most wanted. Ammash is a biologist and a Ba'ath Party official. The Pentagon says she was taken into custody on Sunday. The U.S. says she was a scientist in the alleged weapons of mass destruction program. She has denied that charge.
The time line continues with a look at a disturbing time in America's past. At 9 a.m.,the Senate released transcripts from private hearings held by Senator Joseph McCarthy. The hearings were held in the '50s at the height of the anti-communist red scare. McCarthy questioned almost 400 people in those secret hearings held in New York. Today senators said releasing the transcript should help show the dangers of targeting people because of their political beliefs.
We're going to be back after a short break with news of the continuing impact of a nightclub fire in February, the cleanup of the site where 100 people were killed gets under way in Rhode Island.
Plus, in Maine, the latest on the arsenic investigation. Jamie Colby joins us live -- Jamie.
COLBY: Paula, parishioners here are trying to figure out why one of their own would want to poison them and how they could not know anything to prevent it. More form New Sweden, Maine when the timeline continues.
ZAHN: Those are some of the recently released pictures taken by an Associated Press photographer of the terrible aftermath of that deadly nightclub fire in Rhode Island. That site is actually being cleared as the blaze claims another victim months later. Around 10 this morning, news came the demolition team was on the site of the Station, pulling down whatever remained of the club hauling ti away. One hundred people died and nearly 200 others were hurt when the nightclub burned February 20.
That 100th fatality came Sunday night when Pamela Gruttadauria died in a Boston hospital. She had been in critical condition since the fire. A band's pyrotechnic display is being blamed on sparking that enormous blaze.
Moving on to other legal news, the judge in Scott Peterson's murder trial will stay on the case. At noon in the time line, Superior Court Judge Al Girolami said he would not recuse himself from the trial. Peterson is accused of killing his wife Laci and the couple's unborn child. In a second hearing, another judge declined to issue a ruling on whether to unseal search warrants in the case. Both were steps Peterson's attorney said they were happy with.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERAGOS: In terms of what happened in court today, we're as pleased as we can be. We don't want to lose Judge Girolami, obviously, we have an issue whether or not one judge can put his arms around, so to speak, the entire case. Judge Beauchesne, I think, made the right decision in not doing anything on this case until we guess to the Fifth District so that the Fifth District can sort this out and we're very happy with that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Moving along to our 2:00 hour, a report on the arsenic poisoning case in Maine and the possibility that the primary may not have acted alone. One person died, 15 other people got sick after drinking coffee laced with the poison at a Lutheran church in New Sweden.
Jamie Colby has more.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). He was always helping someone.
COLBY (voice-over): That is how many of the people in New Sweden, a northern Maine town, population 621, remember Daniel Bondeson, the man linked to the poisoning of 16 people at the Gustav Adolf Lutheran church, who himself died Friday of a single gunshot wound at home.
Fifty-three-year-old Bondeson, born and raised here, wasn't at church a week ago when coffee tainted with arsenic was served. Though not a regular churchgoer, he'd been to a bake sale there the day before.
LT. DENNIS APPLETON, MAINE STATE POLICE: We feel Mr. Bondeson is linked to the poisonings.
COLBY: Lieutenant Dennis Appleton, the lead investigator in the church poisoning, says he now believes Bondeson's motive may be church-related.
APPLETON: We're considering motive. We know some of the dynamics of what was going on within that church community. And so we're looking at those as motive.
COLBY: Any parishioners who have already been fingerprinted and who have submitted DNA samples are being requestioned with results that Appleton says are taking investigators closer to solving this crime.
APPLETON: People didn't want to believe it. But they began to say, Wow. I guess we just better bear our should.
COLBY: An expected autopsy report on Bondeson was not released Monday. It would have ruled his death either a suicide or murder. Perhaps a clue if anyone else was involved.
APPLETON: We feel that there's a potential for more than one person to be involved. We haven't ruled that in or out. COLBY: His is a community with few secrets. Except perhaps one -- the one that still troubles Bondeson's friend and fellow schoolteacher Brenda Jepson.
BRENDA JEPSON, FRIEND: Here everybody knows everybody else. Everyone's related or somehow interconnected. And if it were possible to know ahead of time that somebody was tormented, that somebody was feeling, you know, very unhappy, we would have known it here. And we didn't. We obviously didn't know that.
COLBY: And that, Paula, is really what's troubling people here in New Sweden. So much that they're beginning to grasp that this happened and that it involved someone that they knew and cared for. But they just say to themselves -- and I've heard this so many times today -- was there any clue? Was there anything we should have recognized that might have prevented this from happening -- Paula.
ZAHN: And in a town that is as small as it is, isn't it hard to imagine why those warning signs wouldn't have been seen?
COLBY: You know, you're right, Paula. Everyone has been affected by this. Everybody that I've talked to either knows one of the people that are in the hospital or is a member of that church. Or even the people from the other church who came in support Sunday when they had their first church service since the poisoning, they came in support.
It's really a town that's so down right now,. They said, you know, they can hear of these things happening in big cities but this is a potato farming community of 621 people. That's it. Most have lived here all their life. They're really in shock. They've having a tough time. And I only heard positive things about Daniel Bondeson.
ZAHN: Interesting. Jamie Colby, thanks.
A change of heart announced in the 2:00 hour by a man well known for preaching strong moral values. Former education secretary and drug czar William Bennett admitted to gambling too much over the years. His new stand comes after reports Bennett lost millions of dollars in casinos.
Bob Franken picks up the story from there.
BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): My gambling days are over, said Bill Bennett, as the author of the "Book of Virtues" embraced the virtue of reform. That was inspired by a weekend of articles and ridicule over reports that the champion of high moral standards was a high roller who had bet millions over the last decade at Atlantic City and Las Vegas casinos.
After first contending that no one was harmed by his gambling, as opposed to the instant gratification he so roundly condemned as drug czar in his best sellers and in his stinging condemnations of President Clinton, now Bennett was issuing a statement saying he had learned a lesson.
"I have done too much gambling and this is not an example I wish to set. Therefore, my gambling days are over."
Bennett insisted that he had complied with all laws concerning reporting wins and losses. A leading fellow conservative, Dr. James Dobson, who heads Focus on Family, offered his support after saying he was disappointed to find out Bennett was dealing with what appears to be a gambling addiction.
There's always a question about who really cares about this sort of thing outside the Beltway. But inside, it was enough to cause the twaddle to flap.
PAUL BEGALA, "CROSSFIRE" "ON THE LEFT": Bill Bennett is a hypocrite of first order. He's a perfect right to go and gamble. Some people think that's a sin. Others don't. But for him to stand up there and lectures about what songs we should hear, what movies we should see, who our president should date? And he's out there losing $8 million? He's a hypocrite.
ROBERT NOVAK, "CROSSFIRE" "ON THE RIGHT": Paul, you are a hypocrite because you are moralizing when you talk about his gambling.
FRANKEN (on camera): At the very least William Bennett, in publicly admitting he was seeing the error of his ways, was following a rule that applies to gambling, and politics -- cut your losses.
Bob Franken, CNN, Washington.
ZAHN: And still to come tonight, more Americans returning home from duty in Iraq. We're going to take you live as they see their children and their wives and other family members for the first time in many, many months.
ZAHN: The nation has been captivated by the fate of Jessica Lynch. The time she spent as a prisoner of war in Iraq now, we are told, has affected her memory. A Pentagon source saying the army private can't remember the details of the fight that led to her capture, or even some of the details of her captivity. Patty Davis explains.
PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It turns out Jessica Lynch may not remember much of her ordeal. Doctors say it's not uncommon to have amnesia after such a traumatic event. Lynch was plucked out of an Iraqi hospital in a daring rescue by U.S. troops nine days after her 507th Maintenance Unit was ambushed by Iraqi troops. The private first class is recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. from her wounds, including a head laceration, spinal injury, two broken legs, a broken arm and right foot. One defense official says Lynch told her debriefer she does not remember details from the time of the ambush to the point where she was brought to the Iraqi hospital where she was rescued. Lynch's doctors say her amnesia is not consistent, and it vacillates.
A spokeswoman says doctors are not concerned about amnesia, her mental and physical state. In fact, doctors say they're pleased with her progress. She's in satisfactory condition undergoing occupational and physical therapy.
The U.S. military has been hoping Lynch can shed some light on the brutality that she and her fellow soldiers in the 507th Maintenance Unit suffered at the hands of the Iraqis, nine of whom were killed in the ambush. But Lynch isn't the only eyewitness. Five others in Lynch's unit were also taken prisoner by the Iraqis and rescued by U.S. troops weeks later.
DAVIS: Those five are back home in the United States. And they, like Lynch, could help with crucial details of the ambush, their captivity, and possible Iraqi war crimes -- Paula.
ZAHN: Patty, what else have you been told about how she's doing physically?
DAVIS: Well, we know she's in satisfactory condition. We just got that update today. She's been in in that for some time. We know she's undergoing physical therapy. And we know that her family has been to visit her quite a lot. They live about six and a half hours away in West Virginia, a lot closer than Germany, where she was being held, and Iraq, obviously, so that's got certainly has got to boost her spirits -- Paula.
ZAHN: And it seems that everybody that knew her says that she is one strong lady and quite a fighter. She'll need every inch of that strength to work her way back.
DAVIS: And they're going to have a major party when she gets back to West Virginia as well. So she's definitely going to be celebrated there, Paula.
ZAHN: She deserves it. Thanks, Patty.
It's a night of joy tonight in Idaho. Citizen airmen who flew A- 10 Warthogs during the war in Iraq are going home tonight. Those members of the Idaho Air National Guard are ready to get back to their regular jobs. Gary Tuchman joins us now from Gowen Field in Boise, Idaho with details of the homecoming. Hi, Gary.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paula, hello to you. And during the war, we were embedded with the U.S. Air Force. During much of the time, we stood in front of about 38 A-10 attack aircraft. Within five minutes, 11 of those A-10s are coming back here to this air base in Boise, Idaho, because the base we were at near the Iraqi border, well, a major contingent of that base was the Idaho Air National Guard. And you can see right now family members of the 22 pilots are gathered here, waiting to greet their loved ones, who in many cases have been away up to six months.
Now, about 45 minutes ago, six of the pilots returned in a C-141 transport plane. We want to give you a picture of that, the joyous return as the transport plane came up the tarmac here at the Gowen Field air base with the United States flag waving from the top. People were cheering, the music was playing, as these pilots, who performed 1,400 sorties between the 22 of them during the course of the war, came off the plane and greeted their loved ones.
Now, 11 pilots will be flying 11 different A-10s, and they will be the last arrivals of the Idaho Air National Guard contingent.
With us right now, Michelle Hitchcock (ph), waiting for her husband, A-10 pilot, Major Todd Hitchcock (ph), with her daughter Allie (ph), her little son down here. This is (UNINTELLIGIBLE). How are you feeling right now as your husband prepares to arrive?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anxious.
TUCHMAN: He's been away, you told me, since January 1. How has it been for you and the kids?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's been hard. It's been hard, just knowing that he's away at war. Worrying about that. But we've been OK.
TUCHMAN: And on this beautiful day with the mountains, the snow- capped mountains behind us. What are you going to say to him once he gets off the plane?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love you, I'm so glad you're home.
TUCHMAN: Thank you for talking with us. Good luck to you, kids, your dad's coming home. And that's the good news.
We do want to tell you, this contingent here in Idaho had 12 A- 10s before the war started. Only one U.S. Air Force plane was shot down during the war. It was one of these A-10s from Idaho, but the pilot ejected safely and was rescued. Paula, back to you.
ZAHN: Gary, can you hear me right now?
TUCHMAN: I do hear you right now, yes.
ZAHN: Given the intensity of everything you've covered during this war, it must be very nice to be in the middle of a giant celebration.
TUCHMAN: Paula, you hit the nail on the head. It was very tense, a lot of anxiety, very scary at times being at the air base, being in Iraq, at the air bases that the coalition took over, and to be here at this point when people come home who you've spent a month or five weeks with is really very rewarding. ZAHN: And it is very nice to see from our distance. Gary Tuchman, thanks so much.
When we come back, a closer look at some of the places hit hardest by the weekend tornadoes. Damage from the storms, the risk of more threatening weather, and the people who actually track tornadoes. You're going to meet a man who was out in the middle of all of this over the weekend in our special report, "Twister Terror."
ANNOUNCER: Four states reeling after some of the worst storms on record unleash their destruction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even part of the foundation is gone. It's just completely flat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: We'll go live to the scene of the devastation.
The science of tornadoes. Why do they strike where they do? Is anywhere safe from the storms? What can you do to survive?
The deafening roar. The total destruction. What's it like to chase a deadly tornado? Tonight on LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES, "Twister Terror."
ZAHN: It's hard to keep track of all this but more than 80 tornadoes raked their way across Missouri, Kansas, Tennessee and other states late last night. When it was over, at least 38 people were dead. Untold dozens more injured. Jackson, Tennessee was one of the cities hardest hit. And that's where we find Leon Harris tonight, as he's trying to assess just how much damage there is, in terms of human toll and economic damage as well. Good evening, Leon.
HARRIS: Good evening, Paula. Yes. And the toll here, it may be some time before it is finally tallied up. We're standing here in front of the Mother Liberty CME church, which is a site where that particular denomination was founded. And some of these hand-made bricks have been here for hundreds of years, and yet last night, in a matter of moments, these walls all came tumbling down, and that is just the kind of story that people all around this region are telling today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got to be kidding me!
HARRIS (voice-over): Vision of a swirling chaos.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got to get out of here! We're about to get -- we've got hail.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That thing is strengthening, too.
HARRIS: At least 83 twisters spun loose and ripped through western Missouri, eastern Kansas, Arkansas, and Tennessee yesterday night. And tonight, tornado watches remain in effect in some of those areas, while residents are just trying to make sense of what the twisters have left behind.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My house. I'm glad you're here. Oh, god.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I couldn't believe it. And then when I got down here and started down here, I said I wasn't going to be too upset. But, of course, I was. It was hard. We'll have to just start over.
HARRIS: The death toll is heavy, scores dead, dozens injured. And at this hour, several people are still missing. The physical destruction is visible everywhere: houses leveled, trees uprooted, cars crashed, debris blocking roads, entire parts of towns wiped out.
Already, the cost of reconstruction is estimated to reach several million dollars. Experts call this storm system one of the 10 worst tornadic events in the U.S. in the last six years. Seven counties in Kansas have been declared disaster areas. States of emergency have been declared in Missouri and Madison County, Tennessee. Across the area, the twisters' speed and force took many by surprise.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't have time to be scared. And it just -- it happened so fast that you didn't have time for much of anything.
HARRIS: In Pierce City, Missouri, one died when the roof of the National Guard armory, where some residents had gathered to take shelter, collapsed. Several people remain missing. Not a single building was left untouched in this town of 1,400.
THOMAS MAJORS, PIERCE CITY COUNCILMAN: It's the Main Street of Pierce City. And we have antique shops. And, oh, the pharmacy and the grocery store is completely gone. It just leveled all the -- pretty much took the tops off of everything.
HARRIS: It is the second time in four years that the city of Jackson, Tennessee, has been hit hard by tornadoes. This one has left 11 people dead; 16 homes were destroyed and at least 100 damaged in the area.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looked like the post office was ripped half in two. The top of the civic center was gone. Most of the businesses around and across the street from the post office were demolished. It's a total disaster down there.
HARRIS: In Little Rock, Arkansas, President Bush this afternoon offered his condolences to the victims of the tornadoes.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nature is awfully tough at times. And the best thing we can do right now is to pray for those who have suffered.
HARRIS: And, Paula, it appears that perhaps some of the prayers here in Jackson, Tennessee, are already being answered. I talked to Reverend Darrell Coleman (ph), rather, who is the pastor of this church. And Reverend Coleman says that this building is on the national list of historic buildings. And it turns out, to stay on that registry, all the building needs is the facade. And as you can see, that's the only thing that's still standing here -- Paula.
ZAHN: It's remarkable how sporadic the damage is, that you can have the facade standing and nothing left behind it.
Leon, you mentioned that this is the second time this small city has been hit. What is your sense? Will people rebuild or they have had enough of this?
HARRIS: You know, I've talked to a number of people. And I must say, a lot of them are out walking around, even though it's well after the curfew that's been imposed on this town. Not a single person has expressed any real despair.
We've talked to many who have all -- many of them who have said they were here back in '98, when six people died in that string of tornadoes that ran through here. And they said they've seen plenty of examples of reasons why they shouldn't give in to fear and despair. You see this building here? Fifty, 60 yards over this way is the memorial to the people who died back in 1998, what was that, three, fours ago. Well, that memorial: totally unscathed. And one we talked to says that's all he needs to see to give him hope.
So perhaps that's the way many people who are walking around this area right now, Paula, are thinking and feeling tonight.
ZAHN: Yes, they need a lot of hope as they try to go back to rebuilding their lives there. Leon, thanks so much.
Leon just mentioned a little bit earlier on in his report Pierce City, Missouri. Well, a Red Cross spokesman said, much of that city today is now -- quote -- "a pile of roofs," a pile of roofs where once 100-year-old buildings stood.
David Mattingly reports from Pierce City tonight.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The tornado left the streets of Pierce City, Missouri, littered with shattered masonry and splintered wood. Buildings that had withstood a century of wear and tear broke under the ferocious winds and crumbled in 30 seconds.
Among the bricks and broken glass, homes and livelihoods were also buried. A year ago, Scott and Lynnette Rector (ph) started this tea room and antique shop, part of the tourism economy that keeps the town going, now a total loss.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every business in town is gone, every single one.
MATTINGLY: Just two blocks away, the old church the Rectors were making into their home was also severely damaged. A brick bell tower, in some places more than 6 inches thick, broke under the strain.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I don't understand how the bricks just blew out of the top, that the bricks are gone out of some of the top.
MATTINGLY: In fact, for blocks around, people emerge from their basements and closets stunned by the storm's destructive power, something this town had never seen before.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honestly, I figured, well, it's happened before. And they've had sirens go off before. And every other tornado that's gone through here has either been south of town or north of town.
MARK PETERS, MAYOR OF PIERCE CITY, MISSOURI: Around the corner, there's a basement, a little alcove in there, a very sturdy thing made out of concrete and hard rock.
MATTINGLY: Mayor Mark Peters was among dozens of residents who heeded early warnings and sought shelter in the local armory. But caught directly in the storm's path, winds sent the roof and wall of one section crashing down, killing one person inside.
PETERS: Have a look at that street and see what it looks like and decide how much you can do to prepare for something like that. And I think the answer is, probably not much more than we did.
MATTINGLY: And the question of what could have been done is not nearly as important to residents as what will be done now. Some buildings are so badly damaged, they will probably be demolished, pieces of history lost to a deadly storm. Missouri Governor Bob Holden surveyed the damage, listening to one resident plea for the life of her town.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is horrific. How can we save this? We have to try and save it.
MATTINGLY: And how this town will be saved is anyone's guess right now. But leaders of the businesses here tell me that they will try.
There are more immediate concerns, however. This town still has no electricity and no running water. And, as you can see by all the piles of debris here, piles like this around the entire length of this street. There's a lot of cleaning up here to do, Paula, before anyone has any thoughts of rebuilding -- Paula.
ZAHN: Yes, you look like you're looking at weeks worth of cleanup there. David Mattingly, thanks so much.
The peak tornado season still has about a month to go. So how bad is the current threat of tornadoes?
Chad Myers, our chief meteorologist, is standing by in Atlanta. He's been tracking the storm for us.
And it looks pretty nasty out there, doesn't it, Chad?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's still going this evening, Paula, yes. Good evening.
Ten tornado warnings, 12 different counties right now, stretching all the way from Michigan through Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama. I want to get to them, because there are some major cities involved here. Tallahatchie County in northwest Mississippi just issued that one here, and back into Jefferson County in Alabama. This includes the city of Birmingham. Birmingham, you should be taking cover now. There is major rotation to your west, no reported Doppler-indicated radar yet on the ground, but the circulation in the radar does show the potential for that to produce a tornado at any time.
I will keep going here for southern Carroll County in parts of Tennessee, very close to the Milan Army Ammunition Plant. You know where that is, if you live there. Sunflower County in northwest Mississippi. Here I go. Panola County, again in Mississippi.
And then we work our way into Alabama: Walker County until 7:45, so another few minutes there for you. Gibson County, a brand new one just issued for another half-hour. Coffee and Franklin County in Tennessee. Marion County in Tennessee, and now Macomb County in Michigan, way up to the north. This storm still has punch, Paula.
We're seeing storms all the way from the east of Louisville, south of Cincinnati, right through parts of Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, even moving into Georgia, all these big red boxes you see are tornado watches. But, obviously, a tornado watch means the potential exists for tornadoes. The warnings that I just told you about means that those tornadoes are probably already occurring, some Doppler indicated, some already seen on the ground -- back to you.
ZAHN: All right, Chad, if you wouldn't mind standing by, we'd love to come back to you after this short break and better understand how these tornadoes form in the first place. See you in a little bit.
Also, when we come back: Now that we know how dangerous they are, we're going to try to put you inside the minds of storm chasers. Those are the folks who actually head toward the tornadoes into their wrath.
Stay with us for the storm chasers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "TWISTER")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: It's coming fast! It's coming towards you!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: While the movie "Twister" gave the world a somewhat dramatic, some would say overdramatic view of storm chasers, the risks they really take could kill them. Not all storm chasers do it for the sake of science, though.
Jeff Piotrowski is storm chase who caught up with the Pierce City twister yesterday to capture it on film. And that's exactly where he joins us from tonight.
Jeff, you're one lucky man. First of all, before we get to your love of chasing storms, rank for us, after 28 years of chasing them, how the velocity of yesterday's storm compared and the dangers everybody in the area faced.
JEFF PIOTROWSKI, STORM CHASER: Well, yesterday was, in my opinion, after 28 years of storm chasing, was definitely probably one of the top 10, top 20 of all tornadoes in the size of the tornado and how fast they were moving.
The National Weather Service has damage-survey teams out right now all over southwest Missouri, southeast Kansas, doing damage assessments. An official F-rating has not been assigned to Pierce City and all the other cities that have been hit here in Missouri. That will probably be out in the next day or two. And once we know that information, then an F-scale will be assigned to these particular locations.
ZAHN: Jeff, we're looking at some remarkable video. And I know you shot a fair amount of it. And I don't remember which is yours and which came from other video sources. But what is the closest you ever got to the base of the funnel cloud?
PIOTROWSKI: Probably the closest was when it was coming into the city of Franklin in eastern, southeastern Kansas. At that particular location, it was going just northwest of the intersection I was located at. And I saw it go past immediately to my northwest, through the intersection, and go through the city of Franklin.
This tornado was very well warned for. The local media, as well as the Weather Service had very advanced warnings on this. The Storm Prediction Center had a high risk out for Missouri, eastern Oklahoma, eastern Kansas, Arkansas. We knew there was going to be large tornadoes Sunday. And we also knew there was going to be damaging tornadoes. So the public was well informed, as well as the local officials were informed about these large tornadoes that could occur. And they did occur.
ZAHN: How fast were you moving when you were chasing the storm yesterday?
PIOTROWSKI: One of the things unusual about these tornadoes yesterday, at times, as they would -- as the tornado is smaller, it's less friction on the ground. So the tornado will actually speed up, in the sense of the storm moving at 50, it will move with the same storm speed.
When a tornado gets large, as yesterday they were up to almost a mile wide coming across the Kansas-Missouri border, the storm creates a lot of friction. So what happens is, the storm will actually slow down. So, at times, the storm was only moving at 20 to 30 miles an hour. And other times, I had trouble keeping up in front of the tornado at 60 miles an hour.
ZAHN: Jeff, help us understand why you do what you do and what you were feeling yesterday when you got so close to the power of this storm.
PIOTROWSKI: Well, I do what I do because Mother Nature affected me early. When I was a young boy, about 14 years old, in Tulsa, I almost drowned in a flood. So I've always been fascinated with weather. That's a one-hour story in itself, but anyway.
The main thing is, I enjoy filming Mother Nature, whether it be a snowstorm, whether it be a hurricane, or whether it be a tornado, or just a pretty rainbow. And weather excites me and I like covering weather. So, in the process of that, when you have an historic event like this, I like shooting those historic events. And, in the process of that, a lot of times, I'm in harm's way. And I film harm -- what's happening in that immediate area. So, a lot of times, that's just what happens in the nature of what I do.
ZAHN: But taking pictures of a rainbow normally can't get you killed. Have you ever been injured doing this?
PIOTROWSKI: I've been close a couple of times. May 3, the F-5 in Oklahoma City, that particular night. Then, also, we had a vehicle break down a couple of years ago in southeast Nebraska, that we had to run to a farmhouse a quarter-mile away. And the farmhouse got hit as we got to the front porch.
ZAHN: Well, we were delighted to share your pictures with our audience. But I got to tell you, you got a lot of guts to do what you do. You realize that, don't you?
PIOTROWSKI: Well, it's not guts. It's just -- it's 28 years of covering weather. And you've got to be extremely careful and you've got to completely understand your surroundings, the road network, where you're going, how fast these storms are.
And the important thing is, you got to be able to what I call read the storm, look at the storm, understand what it's going to do next. And as long as you do that, you can generally stay safe, stay out of harm's way.
ZAHN: Yes, we're glad you're an intelligent storm watcher.
Thank you very much for sharing that amazing video with us tonight.
PIOTROWSKI: Thanks, Paula. Thank you.
ZAHN: And please stay safe.
We're looking now at some of those horrible numbers. Tornadoes killed at least 55 Americans last year. Almost every year, they rack up an estimated $400 million worth in damages to homes, businesses, and churches. But lives have been saved and damage reduced thanks to increased understanding of how these storms form in the first place.
Meteorologist Chad Myers is back to help us better understand what makes them spin together.
Good evening again, Chad.
MYERS: Good evening, Paula.
Yes, it's almost like an ice skater. When I'm talking to second- and third-graders, think about an ice skater in the Olympics and she's out there skating around with her arms out and she's going very slowly. But as soon as she -- or he -- pulls her arms in, starts to move very fast. It's conservation of angular momentum, big old long term meaning that, if the storm is spinning in its big term, miles and miles across, as the cool air is aloft, the warm air is at the surface, the warm air starts to rise.
We start to build this storm up. It starts to bubble up. You see these big cumulus start to clouds go up. And they turn into thunderstorm clouds. And then, at some point in time, the entire thunderstorm, especially the storms we had this week, and even today, the super-cell variety, where they're all by themselves, as they begin to spin, the spin goes all the way up through the storm. And then, at some point, that spin also translates all the way down to the ground in the form of the tornadoes.
Because of Doppler radar, Paula, we know the storm is spinning. And, obviously, the warnings are well in advance of most storms now.
ZAHN: Well, let's talk about that. I grew up in the Midwest and I remember those tornado warning sirens sounding. And it usually was a five- or 10-minute warning to try to get to a safe place. That certainly has saved lives over the years. But there's some new technology that is much more accurate. What is it?
MYERS: Well, what used to happen is that we used to go out and send all of the policemen, the firemen out. And they used to look for the tornadoes. And when they saw one, they would call the Weather Service, said: We have a tornado warning. We have a tornado on the ground. And then they would put the warning out. The problem is, the tornado was already on the ground.
Now we have something called Doppler radar. And I know we use that term loosely all the time. But if you've been at a train stop waiting for the train to go by, and all the sudden you hear the train coming, and as it changes sound, as it changes pitch, because it's moving, that's the Doppler effect. We're watching the storms change direction. We're seeing if they're moving away or are they moving toward the Doppler radar signal? And if they're doing both next to each other, Paula, that means that the storm is obviously spinning, this cloud going this way, this cloud going this way, big thunderstorms obviously up on top of this thing. Very difficult to understand, but this is a radar site back out at Michigan a couple years ago, this wind blowing this way, because it's red, this wind blowing this way because it's green. Well, you can't have them right next to each other without some type of circulation going on. And that's what happened there with a tornado on the ground in parts of southeastern Michigan with this.
ZAHN: Well, that was helpful. I think I've been to school with you today.
MYERS: Because the Doppler radar can actually see the tornado developing before it gets on the ground, we can get these warnings out, the National Weather Service can, 20 to 30 minutes before the tornado is on the ground, compared to issuing the warning when it was already on the ground.
ZAHN: Yes, that's the difference between life and death.
MYERS: Yes, certainly.
ZAHN: Thanks so much, Chad.
MYERS: You're welcome.
ZAHN: Nice to see you in the evening for a change.
MYERS: I watch you all the time.
ZAHN: Well, thank you. I watch you in the morning, too.
MYERS: Fair enough.
ZAHN: When we come back: Now that we know just how dangerous they are, what can we do to protect ourselves during tornadoes? You're going to meet a man that actually does some pretty amazing tests in a tornado cannon.
We'll show you some of those tests straight out of the break.
ZAHN: Well, we know how devastating tornadoes can be. We know how scary they are to be in them. But what about surviving them? Last year, more than half of U.S. tornado fatalities happened to people living in mobile homes.
But there's more to surviving than just staying out of them, which is why we have with us Ernst Kiesling, who is the head of Texas Tech's Wind Science and Engineering Research Center and executive director of the National Storm Shelter Association. He joins us from Lubbock, Texas, tonight.
Good to have you with us tonight, sir. ERNST KIESLING, TEXAS TECH WIND SCIENCE & ENGINEERING RESEARCH CENTER: Thank you.
ZAHN: Wish it didn't come in the wake of such a terrible storm, but that is the way things worked out this weekend.
We'd love to start with some of what you're experimenting with in the tornado cannon. And we're going to look at these pictures now. Explain what it is you're trying to learn from these experiments.
KIESLING: We test materials for shelters to be able to withstand the impacts of wind-borne debris. This is a new -- relatively new science. We're not able to determine analytically, say, a wall section's ability to resist perforation. The only way to determine it is to test it in a laboratory. So what we're attempting to do is design shelters to protect people. And those shelters must not only withstand the wind forces, but also the debris impacts without perforation.
ZAHN: I guess what people have been struck by, as they are with any of these tornadoes, when you look at how intermittent the damage was over the weekend, where you have simply facades of buildings standing, everything behind them blown out, and then you'll have a bookcase in the building standing, with all the books in position, what do your experiments teach you about how it is that it happens that way?
KIESLING: Well, I think one has to look at that from a statistical standpoint. Because there are so many events that occur, there will be some unusual things happen. Our efforts focus on improving the buildings for wind resistance to reduce the damage, as well as to find ways to protect people, so that their likelihood of survival is vastly improved.
ZAHN: And, unfortunately, tonight, Mr. Kiesling, you've got tens of thousands -- well, actually much more than tens of thousands -- hundreds of thousands of people living under the threat of more tornado warnings. What is the best advice you can give them about what they should do if they're in their homes?
KIESLING: If they do not have a storm shelter or a basement, then go to the lowest level of the house and stay in the central portion of it. Put as many walls between you and the outdoors as you can, and, say, keep a low profile, because debris is likely to perforate the building envelope. But if you are low on the floor, your likelihood of survival is very great. Not a lot of people are killed inside the house, if it's a well-built house.
ZAHN: Yes, I guess it was scary to see one of those armories where the roof blew off last night. And two people are still missing.
Mr. Kiesling, we know this has been a very busy time for you. And we applaud the important work you're doing down there at Texas Tech. Thank you for your time tonight.
KIESLING: Thank you for having us. ZAHN: And we want to thank you all for being with us tonight. Please stay tuned for "LARRY KING LIVE," right out of a quick check of the headlines.
Again, thanks for being with us tonight. Hope you'll be with us again tomorrow night.
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