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Interview with High School Journalist Kimberly Hagan, David Winter; Military Bloggers Write about Time on Frontlines in Iraq

Aired May 28, 2005 - 18:00   ET


CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Her son died in combat but she's been denied membership to an exclusive club that's supposed to comfort those in need. It's a fight that has at least one community crying foul.
Also, on the front lines and on the Web. I'm going to talk to one soldier whose milblog is really his personal diary. Some poignant excerpts coming up.

And can a three-day diet take years off your looks? I'm going to talk to one doctor who says his diet does just that.

It's May 28th and you're watching CNN LIVE SATURDAY.

From the CNN Center in Atlanta, I'm Carol Lin. Our top story in just a moment. But first other stories making news right now.

The father of slain Army Ranger and former NFL star Pat Tillman is angry with the U.S. Army. In a letter to "The Washington Post," he accused the military of deliberately falsifying the facts regarding his son's death. Tillman was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan. He was originally listed as killed by enemy fire.

And convicted sex offenders on Viagra, a new survey by the Associated Press shows that almost 800 of them in 14 states got Viagra on Medicaid. The government has ordered states to stop that kind of prescription coverage for convicted sex offenders.

And rough waters on the Potomac River today. At least 20 boaters were rescued during the annual Dragon Boat Festival and Race. A storm left the river choppy and at least one boat overturned. No serious injuries were reported but some boaters suffered from hypothermia.

Right now we're going to begin with the nation honoring the sacrifice of men and women in combat, now and in conflicts passed. About 300 bikers from around the country rode through the Washington area, part of their annual Rolling Thunder tribute to Vietnam vets, long with the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And it's graduation day at West Point. The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff is calling it a special class. One forever changed by 9/11. We're going to have much more from the Military Academy in just a moment.

But in the meantime, Memorial Day takes on a special significance during times of war. U.S. casualties are mounting in Iraq and Afghanistan and that weighs heavily on President Bush. CNN national correspondent Bob Franken joins me now from the White House. Bob, what did the president have to say on this very special weekend?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's part of a theme that you've developed and the veteran's groups developed that although this is the three-day weekend. It's really a lot more than just the unofficial beginning of summer.


FRANKEN (voice-over): When he returns from Camp David, Commander in Chief Bush will lead the nation in another solemn Memorial Day salute to those presidents have ordered into battle.

GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: Today a new generation of Americans is making its own sacrifice on behalf of peace and freedom. And some have given their lives.


FRANKEN: The number of members of the U.S. armed forces who have died in Iraq this month alone is the largest since the country's elections began what the administration repeatedly describes as a reduced role for the United States military, a growing role for the Iraqis.

DICK CHENEY, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: They're going to be writing a constitution this summer. That will lead to elections under that constitution later this year, and there will be a brand new government in place duly elected under a newly written constitution by the end of the year.

FRANKEN: In their radio address, the opposition Democrats featured former NATO commander and presidential candidate Wesley Clark.

GEN WESLEY CLARK (RET), FORMERED NATO COMMANDER (audio): It's just a matter of priorities. What could be more important for government than taking care of the men and women who keep our country safe and strong? I believe as Democrats we have our priorities right.

FRANKEN: In Iraq, as well as Afghanistan, U.S. combat troops will continue to fight and die.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Left, right, left, right, left, one, two.

FRANKEN: Adding to the millions who are remembered, by a country that honors their sacrifice.


FRANKEN (on camera): But in these modern times, this is another war that is controversial, even as the nation honors those who have fought and who are still fighting. Carol?

LIN: Indeed, thanks very much, Bob Franken live in front of the White House.

Well, a whole other new generation is heading out to the front lines. You might call them the class of 9/11. The freshmen who arrived at West Point just weeks before the September 11th attacks are now officers, ready for a new mission. Seventy percent of them will be in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan within a year. CNN's Alina Cho reports.


ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The so-called class of 9/11 has 911 graduates. Tom Pae.


CHO: Is one of them.

TOM PAE, WEST POINT GRADUATE: Whew! When I went here, it was a peacetime army just training and standing there and once 9/11 hit, totally new perspective. Changed everything.

CHO (on camera): This class of 2005 began their career at West Point just weeks before 9/11. They had two years to decide whether they wanted to leave, but a majority, 77 percent, decided to stay.

(voice-over): Cadets like Pae, who, like most of his classmates will likely be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan within a year.


CHO: Pae's parents are Korean immigrants and say American soldiers saved them during the Korean War. On this day, they are both proud of their son, and worried about his future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told him, "If you want to leave West Point after two years well, that's fine to us, because we're very much proud of what you have already two years finished." But he said "No, dad, I just want to go, keep going."

CHO: 23 West Point graduates have died since September 11th, 22 of them in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan. All 911 graduates are now second lieutenants in the army, a day of celebration, and the beginning of a 60-day vacation.

ALAN LEFEBVRE, WEST POINT GRADUATE: I might take a nap first, spend some time with family and take a nap.

CHO: What about Tom Pae?

PAE: First thing's first, I think I'm going to take a long nap. Really tired.

CHO: Good idea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Class dismissed! CHO: These graduates will soon begin serving out their five-year commitment to the army, and most say they can't wait. Alina Cho, CNN, at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.


LIN: Well, those West Point graduates are entering a military facing some major changes. The Pentagon wants dozens of the nation's bases to be closed or downsized. And now two senators want to know how officials made their decision. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine and Joe Lieberman, a Democrat from Connecticut, have sent a letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and in it, they write, "Despite repeated requests from members of Congress, the Department has thus far failed to make available to congress this critical information."

Now the senators represent states they say are disproportionately affected by the proposed changes and they want to look for potential improprieties in the decision-making process.

In the meantime in Iraq, U.S. troops are reporting new progress in "Operation New Market." It is the second anti-militant sweep in western Iraq this more than. More than 14 insurgents have been killed and more than 30 men suspected of insurgent activity have been detained. There are U.S. casualties as well. Two marines have died in the operation.

And violence in Iraq has claimed the lives of at least 28 people since Friday. Insurgents attacked in cities including Tikrit, Mosul and Latifiya.

In our security watch, Iran is making it official. The country's hard-line Guardian Council today approved a law making it Iran's duty to develop nuclear technology. The measure doesn't force the government to resume uranium enrichment right away but the Council's decision is a setback for European negotiators trying to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear program. The U.S. and other countries say Iran is intent on developing weapons. Now Iran insists its program is for peaceful purposes.

Stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security.

I have got the news around the world now. Former President Bill Clinton is continuing his tsunami aid tour overseas. Earlier we heard he was canceling his tour of the Maldives because he was exhausted. The former president visited Sri Lanka today and from the Maldives he's going to head to Indonesia.

The United Nations chief says African peacekeepers need to take a broader role in protecting refugees in Sudan. Kofi Annan toured the troubled Darfur region, which has seen some of the worst violence in recent months. Two years of rebel attacks have left tens of thousands of people dead and 2 million others displaced.

Could Big Ben be broken? The world famous clock tower in London stopped ticking last night for 90 minutes. The 147-year-old clock survived World War II without stopping, but this is the third time it's fallen silent since then.

And right here in Atlanta, a murder suspect who spent more than two days on top of a construction crane is back on solid ground and awaiting charges. The standoff came to an end early today. CNN's Catherine Callaway has more on the suspect and his eventful capture.


CATHERINE CALLAWAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a bizarre story that began in Pinellas County, Florida, and ended 350 feet high atop a crane in Atlanta, Georgia. On Tuesday, Florida authorities find a dad badly beaten body of 36-year-old Jennifer Gonzalez in a retention pond behind this apartment complex near Tampa.

A day later in Atlanta a man forces his way past construction workers and climbs onto the arm of a crane, perched 25 stories had is high. His I.D. falls out of his pocket. That's when police realize this was the man, 41-year-old Carl Edward Roland, wanted by Florida officials in connection with the death of his ex-girlfriend, Jennifer Gonzalez.

Roland remains on the crane, refusing to eat, drink or talk with negotiators and shutting down part of the busy Buckhead area for 57 hours, until 12:30 a.m. Eastern Time Saturday, when Roland agrees to take a drink of water from a negotiator on the crane. Roland is tackled, Tasered and handcuffed.

He was strapped to an orange backboard and hoisted down the side of the crane. Roland was taken to a local hospital for treatment of dehydration. Officials credit negotiator Vincent Velasquez for the safe ending.

CHIEF ALAN DREHER, ATLANTA POLICE: He developed rapport, and over a period of time without food and water his physical condition deteriorated and so through his negotiations, he was able to entice Mr. Roland into a position where we could effect a tactical solution.

CALLAWAY: Roland's family had been critical of how the police handled the situation. This morning, they were happy it was over.

JOHN ROLAND, SUSPECT'S BROTHER: It was a long, tall mountain we got to climb but we're going to climb that together.

CALLAWAY (on camera): Roland will remain here at Grady Memorial Hospital. When he's released, he will be transferred to the Fulton County Jail where he'll face charges here in Atlanta. He'll then be extradited to Florida on murder charges. Katherine Callaway, CNN, Atlanta.


LIN: Well, we've got a lot more ahead on this Memorial Day weekend, including the story of a Gold Star mom shunned. She was denied access into the nation's largest organization for mothers who have lost sons in a war.

Plus blogging into the history books. Preserving the memories of war through the words on a computer. Military blogging and its growing impact on recording American history.

And later ...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One day he was playing Nintendo. The next day, he was in the middle of the war.


LIN: A father remembers his fallen son and soldier. You're watching CNN LIVE SATURDAY.


LIN: Among the most popular stories this hour on, the pitcher for the minor league baseball team the Nashville Sounds impales his left arm on a broken bat. Ouch! Click on to for more details.


LIN: They're called the American Gold Star Mothers. It is a group of women who have lost children in combat, not exactly an organization you would expect to find embroiled in controversy. But that has all changed. When it denied this woman membership, Ligaya Lagman (ph) from Yonkers, New York. She lost a son in Afghanistan but the Gold Star Mothers say she cannot be a member because she is not a U.S. citizen, a decision that's triggered outrage in her community. Jeff Goff from affiliate News 12 Westchester has more.


BEN SPADARO, VFW: A son is a son is a son is a son and she's a mother who lost her son in combat.

JEFF GOFF, NEWS 12 WESTCHESTER CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ben Spadaro was a past commander of Eastchester's VFW post 2285. The post makes a point of letting people know how members feel about Gold Star Mothers. Since World War I, women who lost children in the military have been called Gold Star Mothers. But when Ligaya Lagman asked to become a member of the American Gold Star Mothers, a national group, she was denied because she is not a U.S. citizen.

The groups president, Ann Herd (ph) tells News 12 Westchester their rules simply do not permit noncitizen members. Herd says, quote "She was denied membership simply because she is not an American citizen." Herd went on to say, "But she is a Gold Star Mother in any event, because she lost her son." Unquote.

Anthony Lagman was killed during a fire fight in Afghanistan early last year. Since then he's been honored by his hometown of Yonkers and Westchester County. And Congressman Eliot Engel (ph) is also outraged. In a statement released by his office, Engel says, quote, "whatever the excuse, American Gold Star Mothers' decision smacks of xenophobia," a fear of foreigners, "and is in stark contrast to what Ms. Lagman's son fought and died for." People we spoke to in Yonkers also feel it's wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think if the boy has fought for the country, the mother ought to be honored for her son's sacrifice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If her son can go to war, then they should let her join the organization.

GOFF: And Ben Spadaro is just beginning to fight.

SPADARO: She doesn't deserve this. She deserves the respect as every other Gold Star Mother is entitled to.

GOFF: John Goff, News 12 Westchester.


LIN: Will, Hillary Clinton has something to say about this matter. The senator from New York says "We now have many non-citizens serving honorably in our armed services and I hope that this can be satisfactorily resolved."

Well, it used to be pen and paper. But now it's mouse and computer. U.S. soldiers turning to blogs to record stories of battle. A military blogger and a representative from the National Endowment for the Arts joins me next.


LIN: Every week we bring you the more personal stories from the front lines. And today we're going to be talking about bloggers. Battlefield memories are being preserved on milblogs. Perspectives of the war derived from troops' own letters and online diaries.

Jon Peede is the director of the National Endowment for the Arts "Operation Homecoming" program in Washington. We're going to get to that in a moment, but I want to introduce you to Army Reserve Sergeant Chris Missick. He is a milblogger, standing for military blogger and he is out in Los Angeles now, back from the war zone. Chris, let me begin with you. In reading your military blog, I don't know, I think I was expecting these literally war stories from the field but they were very, very personal stories. What is it that you were trying to get across to your readers?

SGT. CHRIS MISSICK, ARMY RESERVES: Well, two things, Carol.. First of all I wasn't having that sort of combat experience. I wasn't like the brave soldiers going street to street fighting. But what I was experiencing is something that a lot of the soldiers in the supply aspect of the army have. And I wanted to let people at home know what it was like to be there, to be a year away from your family.

LIN: Let me share some of the quotes that I personally picked that I thought were kind of compelling. You had an essay called "Simple Pleasures: a Haircut," dating back to August 2004. You say, "as soon as I say the words high and tout, I start to feel drowsy as the clippers vibrate against my head and I close my eyes. When I was a kid I always drifted off to sleep whenever I got my hair cut, it was just one of the most relaxing feelings for me." This a message from the war zone.

MISSICK: It really is. Especially a haircut, it's so simple but one of those few pleasures that you have to enjoy over there. There's not a lot of recreation but it's one of those things you sit in a chair and just kind of relax.

LIN: And you talked also about because you physically don't get touched a lot there, that it was a pleasure of having human contact as well in such a simple thing you remember from your childhood.

Another one, "Reflections on Being Homesick." This was my favorite because you shared a funny story about your parents about how they had this penchant for remodeling every time you deployed. And you said departing for basic training back in 2001, you said, "This deployment has been the most drastic to date. Our backyard is now completely different with new landscaping ... and a totally remodeled pool and an added Jacuzzi." You went on and on about how your father simply could not stop remodeling. And I got the sense your parents in their anxiety about you just wanted to have something to do.

MISSICK: It's true. They're amazing people. And I think that was their form of therapy. You know, just a chance to be distracted with something else.

LIN: Jon Peede, you have something called "Operation Homecoming" program where you're gathering some of the memories of the soldiers out in the field. Tell us a little bit more about it.

JON PEEDE, NEA'S "OPERATION HOMECOMING": Well, it has a simple goal, which is, we want to give voice to the troops, and we have more than 10,000 pages from troops. We have a lot of bloggers like Chris, and preserving their stories, why we go across the country, overseas to bases with writers like Jeff Sherra (ph), Mark Bowden (ph).

LIN: What have you learned, that actually will make history down the road?

PEEDE: It will. When future historians want to understand this, they'll be able to go right to the words of the troops and I think that's essential. And they're writing it in the real time, the immediacy of the blogs, of the submissions we receive, it's very special and it's very unique.

LIN: Mm-hmm. Chris, you write about the, you write about how there's a smell to the sand and the air in Iraq, that it's 120 degrees in the shade, that every morning, one of your routines is to look for spiders and scorpions in your boots, just kind of the odd detail of everyday life. When you look back on that experience, now that you're home does it seem real to you? MISSICK: You know, it really doesn't. For the first two weeks, it felt like I was going to have to go back, that I wouldn't be able to enjoy home very long, but before I knew it, it felt like I was in a dream, that everything that had happened over there, just it was a memory of some film I saw or something I didn't really even experience. It's all so strange.

LIN: Mm-hmm, so you were actually talking on your milblog about maybe your next project will be a writing project as you went across country to follow up on some of the stories and the people that you met during the war.

MISSICK: It's true.

LIN: Are you going to do it?

MISSICK: You know, I'm planning on it. There are so many great Americans that come out to support milbloggers, thousands -- I'm talking about thousands of e-mails, care packages, letters. And I just want that opportunity to meet face-to-face with some of these people. I set up a Web site and a blog to kind of keep track of that, that's at, and I'm hoping that's something that I can get going on towards the end of summer here.

LIN: Right. Chris, we'll be looking more for your writings. Jon, I'm just wondering of all the writings you've read, what's your favorite?

PEEDE: The personal ones, what you touched on, Carol. The most powerful one, I guess because I met this particular troop, was a soldier and she wrote a letter to her unborn child. She was pregnant and just about why she wore the uniform and that was stunning when I heard her read it, and it remains so a year later.

LIN: All right. History in the making. John Peede good luck with the project. Chris Missick, we'll be looking forward to a bright future for you. Thanks so much.

MISSICK: Thank you. Appreciate it.

LIN: Well, it was the worst school bus accident in Texas history. Twenty one students killed, almost 16 years ago. Coming up, one of the survivors talks to CNN about the deadly crash and about how her brother saved her life.

Plus charged with cheating in a story about this soldier, a high school newspaper scoops the national media on a big story only to be falsely accused of plagiarism. The student reporter and her adviser join me live.

And you want to look younger and live longer? Well, one doctor says you can in just three days. He told me how.


LIN: Welcome back. Here's a quick look at what's happening right now in the news.

Despite a report to the contrary, former President Clinton is not stopping his tour of tsunami-ravaged South Asia. That is according to his former White House chief of staff. An earlier report said he had canceled the rest of the tour due to exhaustion.

And we're told that King -- Saudi King Fahd's health is improving. The 82-year-old monarch was hospitalized yesterday with pneumonia-like symptoms. The Saudi foreign minister says the king is in stable condition. The hospital official says, well that the king has water in his lungs but his fever is coming town.

Oscar winning director Oliver stone is out of a California jail after posting bond for DUI and drug charges. Beverly Hills police say Stone showed signs of alcohol intoxication at a DUI checkpoint last night. They also say they say they found unspecified drugs in his car.

And it's almost been 16 years but the memories of a deadly bus accident are still vivid for one young woman in Texas. She was headed to school with her young classmates unaware that in a matter of moments their lives would change forever. Ed Lavandera shows us.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On an early September morning in 1989, a day like any other day in Alton, Texas, 81 students boarded their school bus. Seventh grader Virginia Flores was near the back.

VIRGINIA FLORES, CRASH SURVIVOR: Everybody in the morning -- we were chitchatting, looking out the windows and looking around.

LAVANDERA: Wide eyed and young they had no idea of what was to come.

FLORES: I saw it coming, approaching us, and realizing that it wasn't going to stop because it was coming fast.

LAVANDERA: It was a truck barreling through a stop sign, crashing into the bus.

FLORES: I remember every second of it as if it was just yesterday. I see it frame by frame.

LAVANDERA: The impact forced the school bus off the road 16 years ago, right here.

FLORES: It was kind of like a big old like a hill, that's why the bus went up that way, because it was like a hill right here in this end.

LAVANDERA: Did you know what was on the other side?

FLORES: I knew what was on the other side.

LAVANDERA: The hill led to a steep drop into a watery gravel pit.

FLORES: When the bus flew up, though, yes, I flew up and hit the back of my head on the roof of the bus. I was flying in there like a rag doll. It seemed like in slow motion. Like I saw the sky. I saw the wall, and then I saw the water. You know, and then it was like boom! And just like that.

LAVANDERA: The bus plunged into 20 feet of water and started to sink.

FLORES: I didn't see anything or hear anything for a little while, I'm guessing, I don't know how long it was, and then I heard a voice calling me by my nickname.

LAVANDERA: Virginia's brother was one of the first to get out.

ALEX DE LEON, CRASH SURVIVOR: I thought for sure, you know, I was going to die. Because we were going straight down.

LAVANDERA: Alex De Leon immediately reached back for his sister.

FLORES: He was calling me, Gorah! Gorah! And I thought I was dreaming and finally I opened my eyes and I looked, and there was a hand, like this, and I said, well, I guess I'm going to heaven.

LAVANDERA: Instead, Alex grabbed her hair and pulled her out to safety. For the next hour, rescuers worked to reach the drowning students.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had to break the glass of the windows to get in.

LAVANDERA: Students tried to save their friends.

DE LEON: Everybody was screaming it was going on down and nobody could believe we came out, everybody was crying, help me get my sister out, help me get my brother out. But there was nothing they could do.

LAVANDERA: As school notebooks floated to the surface, 21 students were trapped inside and drowned.

FLORES: Seeing your friends dead on top of a bus. It's nothing that you wish on anybody. It was something that was very hard.

LAVANDERA (on camera): If you spend a lot of time driving around this part of south Texas, it's incredibly flat and that's one of the things I'm struck by the most as we stand here at the bottom of the pit. The accident happened just at the top of that cliff and of all the places where this accident could have happened this was the worst possible location, feet from the intersection is this 50-foot drop into a body of water.

FLORES: Was he in the bus accident, too?

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Sixteen years after the accident, Virginia Flores still struggles with the haunting memories as Virginia and her mother thumb through snapshots of those days for us. Her mother pulled out a surprise.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Alex's clothes that she wore at the bus accident.

LAVANDERA: You kept it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah. I don't know why.

LAVANDERA: For reasons only a mother can really understand, Virginia Flores never threw away the clothes Alex wore the day he rescued his sister, white pants, muddied with the stands of the gravel pit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He doesn't know that I have them. And I was going to throw it away one time when I was cleaning up and I just said no, I think I better keep it, as long as nobody see it is, you know.

LAVANDERA: The accident took its toll on the family. Months of depression, visits to therapists, and then Alex moved away.

FLORES: My brother is, I hold him dear to me, although I never see him anyway, you know. I don't see him, but he's still my brother, no matter what. Even though we don't see each other.

LAVANDERA: Virginia Flores says the accident changed her forever.

FLORES: I learned to appreciate my life, because I didn't appreciate my life. I wanted to die, and at that moment, I realized how much I wanted to live.

LAVANDERA: Today crosses mark the spot where 21 students died, in the worst school bus crash in Texas history. A memorial where many still come struggling to understand why some lived and some had to die. Ed Lavandera, CNN, Alton, Texas.


LIN: We've got news across America right now. A missing 3-year- old Missouri boy is alive and well after a harrowing night. Holden Modlin and his dog wandered away from his great grandmother's home late yesterday. The two were found today a few miles away, the boy too young to tell investigators very much say he slept curled up with his dog. We'll have more on this story, in fact, a live interview with the family at 10:00 tonight.

In the meantime, transportation officials are investigating a massive tanker truck explosion in Dallas. The tanker apparently went over an embankment today exploding in a ball of fire. One person was killed. Three firefighters injured. The overpass was damaged and will be closed for weeks.

And more than four years after the Florida election debacle, new trouble is brewing in Miami-Dade County. The elections chief now wants to ditch the ATM-style voting machines that replace the troublesome punch ballot machines used in 2000. The switch out cost taxpayers almost $25 million. The county is being urged to replace those with optical scan machines.

And little Tinky Winky is getting a little R and R after a frightening rescue. The pooch fell from a sea wall into a small ledge in Oregon yesterday. A firefighter repelled down and brought him to safety. Tinky Winky, safe at home tonight.

In the meantime, a roller coaster of emotions, that is what an Atlanta teenager has experienced this year after writing an article for her high school newspaper. Kimberly Hagan's piece was praised by her teachers and classmates, it was even entered into a national competition, and then there was a shocking announcement, a judge accused Hagan of plagiarism saying her work was too good to be hers.

So what does she do then? Well, she's joining me now along with her school advisers, David Winter one of her advisers, David Winters. The competition itself, nationwide competition associated with Columbia School of Journalism, Right?


LIN: A lot at stake. You wrote a story about a lieutenant colonel who was accused of abusing a prisoner during an interrogation. Pick up the story here.

HAGAN: He was threatened of a court-martial that could possibly get him dismissed from the army or possibly have him facing prison time and after this happened, his brother came to us and wanted to write a story about -- basically his brother's story with the army and felt like his brother's side wasn't getting out. So that was the first tip we got on the story. We published two stories about Lieutenant Colonel West. We received this evaluation, the evaluator believed we had plagiarized both of our stories about LTC West as well as some of the other stories I had written.

LIN: There were some scathing words. This is LTC West, people might recall, this is LTC Alan West. The story was a major coupe because it ended up making national headlines in light of the Abu Ghraib scandal and whatnot and here you are a high school senior getting the scoop from the lieutenant colonel as well as his family.

HAGAN: Mm-hmm.

LIN: All right, the judge said that the language that you were using was too mature essentially -- that there were phrases in the article, name a few, for example name a few that the judge gave some exception to.

DAVID WINTER, H.S. NEWSPAPER ADVISER: Well, she named one specifically, the phrase was "ill-fated precedent," which in the sentence that Kimberly originally wrote, it was that convicting him of, you know, the court-martial convicted him, than it would have set an ill-fated precedent for future generals in similar situations.

LIN: Citing the Geneva Conventions. HAGAN: She believed a high school student would not cite a Geneva Convention, she said that a high school student would never have conduct these interviews or the interviews other articles which I think is probably the worst part for me because I love the interview process so much and it means so much, and then to have someone say I had never done that at all was probably the worst part about the accusation.

LIN: How extensive was your research?

HAGAN: Well, I did, I guess, research before I interviewed them, looked up the Geneva Convention and talked to LTC Alan West's brother, Arlen West about which charges, which policies he believed -- or the army believed he might have violated. I spoke with -- in each of these I spoke with West's attorney, Neil Puckett who was willing to talk to me and basically what you do with any news story, tracking down and you probably know this, tracking down different contacts and finding out as many different people who you can talk to and what their opinions are.

LIN: Mm-hmm, all right, well, you did get a concession from the competition itself, according to Edmund Sullivan, director of the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, and this is a quote here. He says, "We regret that the judge's choice of language may have reflected poorly on Kimberly Hagan's excellent story, a piece of enterprising journalism that deserved the praise it had received." And you got a gold medal for the reporting. Do you feel vindicated?

HAGAN: For me this isn't so much about vindication or really getting a formal apology. I appreciate Mr. Sullivan's comments so much and all of the attention and praise and recognition this has gotten for high school journalism. Because for me that really is the important part. It might sound idealistic but what I want high school journalism to be respected and recognized and for that to stop having the criticism or disbelief of what high school students can do.

LIN: Was it a problem, David, that the newspaper had been cited before, had even admitted that it had made up, had falsified quotes in the past?

WINTER: Well, that was kind of disappointing, that they mentioned that, in my opinion, because I mean we did have three students last publication year who did that, and while I was disappointed in those individuals, I was extremely proud of the staff as a whole, because they took accountability for the mistake and you know, in the discussions leading up to it they really, you know, took a very responsible, ethical, filled with integrity approach to it.

LIN: As have some major news organizations including "New York Times," "Newsweek," even CNN, I think that when you step up to the plate you admit your mistakes and correct the problems, that everyone can be vulnerable to bad journalism but in this case excellent reporting and now acknowledged on a national level. Any job offers? You're a senior now.

HAGAN: Not yet, no. LIN: You certainly have quite a clipping file to present if you want to go into journalism.

HAGAN: That's right and I might work on a college newspaper which would be amazing.

LIN: Wouldn't that be? Thanks very much, Kimberly.

HAGAN: Thank you.

LIN: David good luck with your future enterprising -- future Nobel Prize winners.

WINTER: Than you. That's the greatest thing about working with high school journalists. They're the best to work with.

LIN: Wouldn't it be ironic if she ended up at Columbia for graduate school?

Thanks guys.

Well, you've heard the saying you are what you eat. Well, my next guest says that couldn't be more accurate. Straight ahead, looking younger and living longer. You can do it in just three days.


LIN: It's a promise some may find hard to swallow. An anti- aging diet that can turn back the clock. Well, it's outlined in the book "The Perricone Promise" and early I spoke with author and Doctor Nicholas Perricone about the three-day eating plan.


NICHOLAS PERRICONE, AUTHOR AND DOCTOR: And the nice thing about the three day nutritional facelift is that it truly works. That is if you start the program and on the fourth day, when you are through with the program, finish your three day nutritional facelift, you will look so different that you'll walk into your workplace or see friends and relatives and they'll be completely shocked about how you look. They'll ask you what have you done, had a face lift? It is that radical and happens in such a short period of time. I make this promise because if people do the three-day program and see the results, they're very much likely to go out to the 28-day program.

LIN: All right. Well, on the screen we'll give some of the information, some of the details of the three-day program. But give me the premise behind it. What's the theory behind it?

PERRICONE: The theory behind it is this, that micro- inflammation, invisible inflammation affects every cell in our bodies. And this inflammation is responsible for aging and wrinkles and dark circles and age-related diseases like heart disease and cancer and all the rest. That you can decrease inflammation rapidly with this three- tiered program. The first tier and the most important aspect of this program is eating the anti-inflammatory diet, that is, we get rid of pro-inflammatory foods the starches and sugars, we eat a lot of anti- inflammatory foods, which are just things like fresh vegetables and fruits and lots of fish.

LIN: So what's the perfect menu then?

PERRICONE: Perfect menu then, you're going to have, let's talk about an average dinner, you're going to have a nice piece of broiled salmon, and with that you're going to have a big green salad, and on the salad you'll have olive oil and lemon juice as your dressing and for dessert I want you to have berries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and some, say cantaloupe melon and drink eight glasses of water a day. And you will have that meal, by the way, this is kind of a strict thing for those three days. I want you to have the salmon meal twice a day. The other meal we have to stay with the actual principles of the program, avoid starches and sugars and I want you to give up coffee for three days. I'm not saying give up caffeine. I want you to have green tea instead of coffee and that's all we need to do for the three days and you'll look like a completely -- and feel like a different person.

LIN: When you're talking about a regimen, it's a combination of diet as well as supplements as well as topical creams. But your essential theory behind all of this is that your body biochemistry processes all of these things in such a way it reduces this form of inflammation and reduces aging?

PERRICONE: Exactly. This inflammation, by the way is invisible. We can't see it, we can't feel it, but it's going on all the time, caused mainly by the foods we eat, stress, environmental factors. So by eating the anti-inflammatory diet and you could just do the diet for three days and have fantastic results. I think you get better results if you do the diet and add the supplements and the supplements are basically vitamins, anti-oxidants that have anti-inflammatory activity and the third level, taking the anti-inflammatory topicals which I've worked on for years and used those.

However, we have done this many times with just the first tier, the food and it works and it works extremely well, photographable and you'll see the difference and will feel the difference and most importantly everybody else will see the difference.

LIN: How long do you have to keep this up for? Longer than three days.

PERRICONE: Well, the three-day diet is a very kind of a concentrated strict powerful anti-inflammatory program. Once you do the three-day program you move on to the 28-day program, which is a very diverse diet, much more relaxed, greater choices and a lot easier to follow.

LIN: Dr. Perricone, it sounds almost too good to be true. We've shown the before and after pictures but it looks like you're on to something. Thank you very much.

PERRICONE: Thank you.


LIN: Of course I had two candy bars before I did that interview. So I'm way behind the curve.

He was a teenage private who died with an American flag on his shoulder and wasn't even a citizen of the United States. Straight ahead, a father remembers his fallen soldier.


LIN: Like many of you, we are honoring military veterans this Memorial Day weekend, including those who saw the September 11th attacks as a call to duty and enlisted. Not all of those who shed their blood were born here. But that does not make their sacrifice any less poignant.


GEORGE RINCON, DIEGO'S FATHER: He was ready to go to the homecoming and I was so proud (ph) because obviously he was my big boy, you know. That's Diego right there. There's another picture of my baby. In his beautiful uniform. He's my baby big time. I miss Diego. One day he was playing Nintendo. The next day, he was in the middle of the war. Nineteen years old, they are not ready to do things like this. They just want to have fun, but Diego, no, he was doing something for everybody in this country.

DIEGO RINCON, DEAD SOLDIER: I Diego Fernando Rincon do solemnly swear...

GEORGE RINCON: He decided to go into the army because after that happened on September 11th in New York changed his life, I think. He said, "Dad, I have to do something for my country. It's my country to defend." It's nothing that I -- I don't want to be here, sitting around waiting for somebody to kill us here, you know?

He was in the middle of nowhere. It was raining, you see here, and he was smiling. No matter what, he was happy all the time and you know why he was happy all the time? Because he was in that for you, America, for us, and for everybody.

This is Diego Rincon here, the face right here. I was asking, why you don't go up to the army and be in the kitchen. He said no, let me go, to be in the front. He said, "no, dad, I want to be with the best ones."

Coming to this country, giving everything, not even being a United States citizen, and giving his own life for this country was only heroes do that. And he died with Diego the same day. But no matter what, I'm strong. I'm going to be okay. I don't want to take the son, the picture out of my life. He's going to be in my picture of my life forever. I pray for every single family in Iraq. And not only that because they deserve to live a free life free life and they deserve to have a free country, like we have here in the United States. For me, every single red color in the flag is the blood of my son. This is not for free. We paid for this. And we paid this big time, you know, only to give some people a nice country to live.


LIN: Rincon was awarded citizenship posthumously.

Well, that's all the time we have for this evening. I'm going to be back at 10:00 Eastern, though. Tonight the mother of the little lost boy in Missouri and the uncle who found him are going to join me live. Can you imagine how happy those folks are. A check of the hour's headlines up next and then "THE CAPITAL GANG."



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