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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

New Details About Alleged Threat to New York Subways; White House Releases List of Foiled Terror Plots

Aired October 7, 2005 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening. New details tonight about alleged threats to New York subways, and new questions about how credible the information really is. Should you be concerned? 360 starts now.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: New York City subway system on alert. A specific threat, fears that bombs will be hidden in baby carriages.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you think twice. You know, should I take the car? Should I take the train?

ANNOUNCER: But is the threat credible? Tonight, why the Department of Homeland Security is doubtful.

The White House releases a list of 10 foiled terror plots. Tonight, how the U.S. and its allies say they stopped Al Qaeda's deadly plans.

New Orleans recovering after Katrina. But if the levees fail to keep the city safe, why are they being rebuilt exactly the way they were before the storm?

And a massive oil spill during Hurricane Katrina. Did negligence in an oil company poison a neighborhood? Tonight, residents want answers. Is it safe to return? And what's being done to clean up the mess?

Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And welcome to 360. Let's check out what's happening at this moment.

The New York City subway system remains on heightened alert. You all know by now that police received information of a possible terror attack in the coming days. The mayor called the threat specific and credible, but the Department of Homeland Security has its doubts. We're going to have more on this story in just a moment.

Indicted Congressman Tom DeLay is fighting back. The powerful Republican lawmaker has filed a motion accusing a Texas prosecutor of misconduct. That prosecutor has charged DeLay with conspiracy and money laundering in connection with corporate donations.

And a grim report on the job market. Today, the Labor Department said the U.S. lost 35,000 jobs in September. Now, that is the biggest drop in two-and-a-half years. Unemployment rate rose to 5.1 percent. It's believed the number of job losses was affected by Hurricane Katrina.

A lot to cover ahead in the hour. We begin with the threats against subways in New York.

The city's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, rode the subway into work today. He often does that. In fact, everyday he does that. There have been, in his words, a number of threats against New York's mass transportation system.

He announced that yesterday. A threat that caused station closings here today. And some suspicious objects were spotted. A soda can, an unattended bag, all those were investigated.

As for why Mayor Bloomberg sounded the alarm when he did, CNN's Debra Feyerick has an explanation and new details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It began during the morning rush. First, a suspicious package, then a soda can filled with green liquid at Penn Station. The afternoon, a major Manhattan subway line was temporarily shut down. And so it went, the mayor standing by his decision to warn New Yorkers, despite opposition from Washington.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: A lot of our information comes from the FBI. And what you see in Washington is, different intelligence agencies looking at either different information or evaluating it differently.

FEYERICK: The timing of the attack is one reason New York City's mayor went public. CNN learning that Friday, October 7th, was talked about as a date for a possible attack. Sunday, October 9th, was another date mentioned.

BLOOMBERG: The intelligence information you get is never going to be so explicit and so guaranteed to be correct. By the time you get that, the event has already taken place.

FEYERICK: An official close to the investigation tells CNN the information about the attack came from a source who had provided accurate information in the past. The official telling CNN the source was questioned in Iraq and passed a polygraph test concerning the proposed New York City subway attack.

That source trained at a terror camp in Afghanistan. Based on the information, the U.S. launched a joint operation. Three men were taken into custody. An official tells CNN they are of different nationalities, some Middle Eastern.

The FBI chief in New York says there's no reason to believe any terror suspects are in the city.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FEYERICK: Now, as for the New York-Washington split, a high- level city hall source tells CNN that Mayor Bloomberg spoke with Department of Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff before Thursday's press conference and that Chertoff did not ask the mayor to withhold the information or to even stand down.

The source also says that New York's FBI chief got permission from the director in Washington to attend the press conference -- Anderson?

COOPER: Deb, thanks.

You know, as if the situation in New York wasn't already complicated enough, there's this strange tidbit: The information with which New York officials went public, precisely because they considered it too credible to keep to themselves, was deemed not sufficiently credible by the federal government.

This may not be the most elegant way to ask the question. But, what gives? We asked CNN's Brian Todd to try to find out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Is this an overreaction? An important question floating in important circles between Washington and New York and forcing New York's mayor to address the issue.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: If I've got to make a mistake, it's going to be on the side of protecting the people of the city.

TODD: But Mayor Bloomberg and his police commissioner insist it was not a mistake to announce a specific threat against New York's subway system and to step up security, even though federal officials questioned the credibility of the information.

Publicly, officials from the Department of Homeland Security said they support the mayor's decision. But CNN security analyst Richard Falkenrath, a former deputy homeland security adviser to the president, believes that privately federal officials are, in his words, pulling their hair out.

RICHARD FALKENRATH, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: This is definitely a disconnect. This is not the way things are supposed to go.

Clearly, the information was shared with the New York City government. That's an appropriate thing to do. But the federal government was not prepared for New York City to release the information and give a public advisory about the threat. And that created a real problem of mixed messages, in my view.

TODD: But Mayor Bloomberg and former top FBI official Pat D'Amuro say information on the threat had already begun trickling out when the announcement was made.

PAT D'AMURO, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Enough information got out through homeland security and through other agencies and the police department that I think the mayor and the police commissioner felt they needed to make a public statement.

TODD: Adding to the public and private confusion, one law enforcement source expressed, quote, "mystification" that federal officials are downplaying the information, saying the person who provided it has been credible in the past.

But Falkenrath says New York officials likely do not know all the details that federal officials do, specifically details about intelligence operations in Iraq that provided the threat information, which federal officials, he says, have to hold very tightly.

Former law enforcement and intelligence officials say those operations overseas could possibly be compromised now that the threat information is out. Another risk, they say, the overall loss of confidence when the public hears different interpretations from different figures of authority of the same piece of information and comes away with a perception of a government not coordinated.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Not coordinated and kind of confused. I mean, how can the information be credible and not credible at the same time? It seems that it depends on who's looking at the information.

Earlier, I spoke to with CNN security analyst Pat D'Amuro, the former assistant director of the FBI, here in New York.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: If the federal government finds intelligence not credible, why would the mayor of New York come forward and say that there's a specific threat?

D'AMURO: Well, I think we can only go with what the mayor said today, that he felt error on the side of caution to put that information out. I think the other thing to keep in mind here is that we've seen some media reports that this information was actually leaked out a few days ago to another media person.

And I think the mayor probably felt that, if this information is going to get out anyways, he may want to get in front of it to put that threat information out to all the public.

COOPER: Can the New York City government vet intelligence? I mean, that's what the CIA, that's what the FBI is doing. I know New York has their own intelligence service kind of going on right now. But, I mean, they're basically just getting their information from the federal government. D'AMURO: Well, this particular situation, yes, they wouldn't be involved in vetting that particular information out, unless the threat information was coming in and they would come back to the federal government and say, "That's not possible in New York. Here's how the subway system is structured," or, "That wouldn't be possible to get this particular type of device into that particular area."

COOPER: Would they be given all the information that the CIA, say, had received on this specific threat? Or would they just be given enough that the federal government thought, "OK, all you need" -- just what they thought they needed to know?

D'AMURO: Well, in the past -- and I don't know about this specific situation -- but, in the past, we would have shared all that information with them.

COOPER: How do you vet the credibility of the information? I mean...

D'AMURO: Well, there are a lot of different ways, investigative ways. For example, if it was a human source providing information, you could potentially polygraph the human source. You could conduct other overt or covert investigation to determine if what the individual telling you is potentially true.

If he's in contact with another person, how does he speak to that person? Is it over the Internet? Is it over the telephone? What's the number? Are there contacts from that number with other known terrorists?

COOPER: Because, I mean, in this world where people talk on the Internet, and you have these jihadist web sites, people make threats all the time. At some point, you have to determine what's a legitimate or real threat and what's just sort of Internet chatter.

D'AMURO: That's right. And the federal government works with a lot of foreign services that, when there are these Internet chat rooms or Internet messages sent from other countries, that we work with these intelligence services to try to identify where they're coming from, who's sending them, and to take that investigation further.

COOPER: Mayor Bloomberg today at a press conference said that he felt the FBI attached more credibility to this than, say, folks in the Homeland Security Department. When information is coming from overseas, who is responsible for vetting the credibility of it? I mean, who has the final say?

D'AMURO: Well, that was something that was created under President Bush. They created something called the Terrorism Threat Integration Center. And that was a piece of the federal government created to analyze all of the intelligence collected within the federal government intelligence community, the Department of Defense, the FBI, the CIA, and to have one-stop shopping for that analytical product.

Analysts from the FBI, all the other agencies that I mentioned, would work in one center, take all of the information, churn it, and come up with a finished product.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, next on 360, the president talks of specific terror plots that were prevented, but how serious were they really? We're going to take a look at what cities were allegedly at risk.

Later, after Katrina a lot of promises were made to rebuild New Orleans' levees stronger than before. Remember that? Guess what, folks. Now that the country isn't paying so close attention, the plans have been scrapped. Disturbing information tonight from Louisiana.

And a massive oil leak destroyed dozens of homes in St. Bernard Parish. We have some new information tonight on whether that spill could have been prevented. Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Erica Hill from Headline News joins us with some of the other stories we're following right now.

Hey, Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Hey, Anderson.

A six-day offensive by U.S. troops in western Iraq is now over. U.S. officials say more than 50 Al Qaeda terrorists were killed in Operation Iron Fist. At least two other U.S. military operations are still under way in Iraq. The goal here: To suppress insurgents before next week's critical vote on the new Iraq constitution.

At the Pentagon, an intercepted letter from this man, Ayman al- Zawahiri, and Al Qaeda's second in command. The letter was being sent to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, of course, Al Qaeda's leader in Iraq. A Pentagon spokesman says the letter outlined a strategy on pushing the U.S. out of Iraq, but also mentioned financial concerns for the terrorist network.

In Central America, more flooding and mudslides after Hurricane Stan. At least 200 people have been killed. The U.N. says more than 50,000 people have been displaced. They need shelter, food, and basic medical supplies.

And in Vienna, Austria, the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency and its director, Mohamed ElBaradei. Under his direction, the IAEA has been keeping tabs on suspected nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea. And he's also challenged the U.S. conclusion that Iraq was a nuclear threat.

And one other thing I wanted to bring up, Anderson, especially since we're going into the weekend, there was another, you know, sort of list for the Nobel Prize. And there's a list in "Fortune" magazine now. And you've made it.

It's the 2005... (CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

HILL: I have to admit. My friend, Michelle, told me about this. And I said I have to get it on the air tonight. You're listed as a real news anchor, not to be confused with Jon Stewart, who's listed as a fake news anchor.

One of the reasons you're envied, your great hair...

COOPER: Really?

HILL: And you're found at once confronting, confrontational, and -- who are we kidding? Apparently, you're better looking than Bob Schieffer. Take that one to the bank.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Wow, the envy list. Wow.

HILL: How about that?

COOPER: Well, you're welcome to be me, because, frankly, it's no great shakes. Erica, thanks.

HILL: So modest.

COOPER: Well, hey, not kidding.

You may remember, as Congress approved John Roberts to be the chief justice, many Democrats swore to be tough on the president's next pick. After all, she was going to be replacing swing vote Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Well, the person who became the president's next pick, Harriet Miers, is drawing some pretty strong criticism, not coming from Democrats at this point.

White House correspondent Dana Bash looks into it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An Oval Office moment to remember. Just four days after tapping Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court, the president is asked if he'll give in to scathing criticism and withdraw her nomination.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She'll be confirmed. And when she's on the bench, people will see a fantastic woman who is honest, open, humble, and capable of being a great Supreme Court judge.

BASH: What's jaw-dropping, calls for withdrawal are not coming from Democrats but some furious fellow conservatives, writing columns calling her nomination an insult to the institution, even scandalous.

BILL KRISTOL, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": It's a mistake that could be rectified by Ms. Miers deciding that it might be for the good of her president if she stepped aside.

BASH: Privately, Bush aides are stunned, saying Republicans should trust the president who, in two campaigns, rallied conservatives with this promise.

BUSH: We stand for judges who strictly and faithfully interpret the law instead of legislating from the bench.

BASH: But many rank-and-file say Miers isn't what they bargained for, that they've been burned by presidents who said, "Trust me," with justices like David Souter and Anthony Kennedy, who turned out to be too moderate.

JESSICA ECHARD, EAGLE FORUM: This is a letdown for the conservative base. Most of the folks who voted for President Bush are not energized by this nomination.

BASH: One key conservative senator is openly concerned about Miers' unknown record on issues like abortion.

SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), KANSAS: We're left to try to gather little pieces and shreds of evidence and do almost a "CSI"-type of operation to try to conjecture out of that where a person will be.

BASH: An urgent, week-long White House effort to stop the blaze of anger has had some success. After calls from Karl Rove and Miers confidants, the influential Focus on the Family's James Dobson told supporters he was reluctantly taking the president's word for it.

JAMES DOBSON, FOCUS ON THE FAMILY: If I have made a mistake here, I will never forget it. The blood of those babies that will die will be on my hands, to some degree.

BASH: Even nervous support like that allows the White House to charge Miers' GOP opponents are mostly Washington elitists.

(on-screen): Frustrated Bush aides insist Miers is qualified and complains she's being held to a, quote, "different standard." But officials take solace in what they say really matters: confirmation. And no senator so far says they'll vote against her.

Dana Bash, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, coming up next on 360, the 10 terror plots allegedly foiled by the U.S. and its allies. Is your city on the list? And how real a list is it?

Plus, this, the 911 calls from residents in New Orleans, desperate as the floodwaters rose. Today, more than a month later, law enforcement's finally able to respond to those calls. That story and more, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: In his speech trying to bolster support for the war in Iraq, President Bush announced yesterday that the U.S. had thwarted 10 Al Qaeda plots, which sounds impressive, especially since some of those plots were strikes on American soil.

The question, of course, is, how real were those 10 plots? We asked CNN national security correspondent David Ensor to investigate.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the president's scorecard, 10 of what he calls serious plots foiled since 9/11, three of them within the United States, and another five attempts to case targets here, also stopped.

A number of those on the list are linked. The 2002 West Coast airliner plot. Al Qaeda plans to hit targets on the West Coast with planes.

The 2002 Jose Padilla plot to blow up apartments and, possibly, a dirty bomb in the U.S. And the plot by Indian national Issa al-Hindi and others to attack Heathrow Airport in 2003. He was captured in Britain.

All of these plots and others were connected to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the 9/11 mastermind who was captured in March of 2003 and has been talking to the CIA.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It shows the enormously significant impact that even the apprehension of a single individual can have on a terrorist group's plans but also, indeed, its capabilities, too.

ENSOR: The White House list includes nothing that has not been made public before and nothing in the past year. Could that be a sign of failure to detect recent terrorist plots? John McLaughlin was deputy director of central intelligence and stays in touch with his former colleagues.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I know for a fact that we continue to succeed against these terrorists. I imagine the latest successes are not discussed because they are ongoing operations that haven't played out fully, and they're too sensitive to reveal at this point.

ENSOR: Of course, Osama bin Laden has his list, too, Bali, twice, Madrid, Sharm al-Sheikh, Riyadh, Casablanca, and then there was London, not to mention the almost daily violence in Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have been able to manipulate Iraq to their benefit, to keep their cause alive in essence.

ENSOR (on-screen): The greatest success the president can point to is that Al Qaeda has been unable to hit the U.S. since 9/11. But as senior intelligence officials continually repeat, in their business you don't know what you don't know.

David Ensor, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, coming up next on 360, oil everywhere. One of the largest spills from Hurricane Katrina has made some neighborhoods toxic. The question we're trying to get answered is, could it have all been avoided? We're going to investigate tonight.

Plus, fixing the levees. Remember all those promises to rebuild the levees taller, stronger, better? Well, now we've learned the Army Corps of Engineers is not planning to make them any stronger. We're going to look into how come.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back to 360. At half past the hour, here's what's happening at this moment.

In the nation's capital, a scare at the Washington Monument. A bomb threat of, quote, "limited credibility" was phoned into law enforcement. Nobody was taking any chances. The monument was closed and searched. Streets were shut down for several hours.

Firefighters in southern California are making progress. They're battling a wildfire near the Mexican border. Now, the flames are said to be 60 percent contained. More than 4,000 acres have been destroyed thus far.

And an interesting proposal to help New Orleans recover from Katrina. Today, Mayor Ray Nagin said the city should consider building Las Vegas-style casinos. He envisions a large-scale gambling district along Canal Street. Nagin calls it thinking outside the box, though the Louisiana legislature has the final say.

And no karma for Mr. Chama-Chama-Chama-Chameleon. Ah, clever, huh? Boy George was arrested in New York on cocaine charges. Very '80s. The '80s singer was busted after reporting a burglary at his home in little Italy. When police showed up, they said the Culture Club crooner was in a drugged stupor. There you go.

Hurricane Katrina did more than just rip up homes and buildings along the Gulf Coast. It caused more than 40 oil spills. The storm dumped nearly 8 million gallons of oil in southeastern Louisiana. More than a quarter of that still needs to be mopped up.

It is a mess there. One of the biggest spills was from the Murphy Oil Refinery in St. Bernard Parish. Residents near there are now coming back to their homes finding their stuff covered in black muck. Now there's a question as to whether this spill could have been avoided.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen investigates.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god. That's oil down there and mud. The oil is what I'm stuck in.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Imagine walking into an oil spill in your living room. That's what happened to some 1,500 families living near the Murphy Oil Refinery, 10 miles southeast of New Orleans.

(on-screen): What's it like to come to your house and see not just this disarray, but things coated in black?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's unbelievable.

COHEN (voice-over): More than a million gallons of oil spilled from a Murphy storage tank, coating streets and houses in this neighborhood. Now returning remembers here are left wondering, whose fault is this, if anyone's? And what health dangers might lurk in the mess the oil left behind?

Murphy Oil spokesman Kevin Roussel shows us the storage tank that leaked when it was hit by storm surge.

KEVIN ROUSSEL, MURPHY OIL: When that wall of water hit our tank, it moved it 30 feet. But when the tank settled back down on the ground, it bent, and in the crease of the bend there was a leak.

COHEN: The sheen stretched for miles.

(on camera): The oil spill was it completely, 100 percent, an act of God?

ROUSSEL: I think it is. Yes, I do. But, thats ...

COHEN: But, Murphy couldn't have done anything to prevent it.

ROUSSEL: I don't think we could have done anything.

COHEN (voice-over): But five refinery safety exsperts have told CNN there was something Murphy could have done. They say it is standard operating procedure to make sure storage tanks are full when a hurricane is on the way, with oil or with water pumped in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the tank is full, it has much more resistance to wind damage, it has much more resistance to flood forces in terms of buoyancy and sliding.

COHEN: But according to Murphy when the storm hit this tank was only one-third full of oil.

(on camera): We had heard that it was not completely full. Is that accurate?

ROUSSEL: That's probably true, yes.

COHEN: OK.

(voice-over): One of the experts we consulted is Gerald Pogi (ph). He has served on government panels and testified before Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm hoping that we're going to have an independent governmental body investigating this problem.

COHEN: And yet, the oil company says it did what it was supposed to do.

ROUSSEL: We used all the precautions that the industry standards use.

COHEN (on camera): So, what does that standard say to do, when a hurricane is coming, what does that standard say to do?

ROUSSEL: I can't answer that. I don't know. I don't know that answer to that question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have nothing. We lost everything.

COHEN (voice-over): Residents here say they want answers. Already government tests show high levels of the hazardous chemical benzene in the air. And also, high levels of petroleum products in the ground and water.

ANNE ROLFES, LOUISIANA BUCKET BRIGADE: The government is not going to protect us, we have to protect ourselves.

COHEN: But, one citizens group isn't relying on the government and is doing its own testing. Murphy Oil is paying to clean up the streets and canals and last week pledged another $5 million to the community. But at this point, Murphy is not spending any money to clean up the oil in these houses. The company says its waiting for the local government to decide whether the houses can even be saved.

(on camera): Would you want to live in a house that had lots of oily muck in it?

ROUSSEL: Yes. It wouldn't -- once it is cleaned up I would not have a problem living in a house like that, not at all.

COHEN: You wouldn't mind breathing the air.

ROUSSEL: It'll be cleaned up. Once it is cleaned up it will be healthy.

COHEN (voice over): But many wonder whether they will ever be able to live here again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just total devastation. There's no hope. There's no hope for this.

COHEN: Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Chalmette, Louisiana.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, remember all that talk about making the levees in New Orleans stronger? Well, listen to this, the Army Corps of Engineers said the broken levees which caused much of the destruction in New Orleans and neighboring parishes are going to be restored by June. That's the good news. The bad news is they are going to be restored to the same level before Katrina struck. The Corps says it has authority to make them stronger.

CNN's Dan Simon joins me from New Orleans with more. Dan, what is this about?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they say they don't have the money in place and they don't have a plan. We were over there in Saint Bernard Parish today and the prepping has begun in earnest. There were bulldozers over there, and they were getting the land set to rebuild those levees. But, as you mentioned, they can only be rebuilt to Category 3 strength or pre-Katrina strength.

And, obviously that just infuriates residents. We talked to a lot of folks over there and they say why can't you get it done to Category 5 strength? And we talked to the Army Corps of Engineers and they said we don't have the funding. Congress has to give us the money to allow us to build those hurricanes -- or allow us to build those levees stronger. And right now they simply don't have the money.

Now, as for what is happening today, it's a long process. They are not even confident they can even get those hurricanes back to pre- Katrina strength before the start of next hurricane season. And you got a lot of folks on Capitol Hill who are upset over this and they are wondering if the timeline can be expedited, but the Army Corps of Engineers is telling me at this juncture the answer is no -- Anderson.

COOPER: It seems bizarre that they would just rebuild them to the exact same strength they were when they failed the last time. Obviously, I guess a question that's got to go above the Army Corps of Engineers to someone in Washington. We'll try to look into it more because this just seems surprising to say the least. Dan, thanks very much.

Some people who lost everything to hurricanes are getting temporary homes from FEMA in the form of trailers. But, the help is just a tease for one family hit hard by the storm. They were given the trailer but they weren't given the key to the trailer. Now, it all seemed helpless until they got some big help from the man in charge. CNN's Randi Kaye has this story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gena Heffner needed a lifeline. Her home was flooded, carpeting and cabinets gone. The Hefners evacuated and since returning home, Gena and her husband have been sleeping on the floor. Gena has been calling FEMA every day.

GENA HEFFNER, HOME FLOODED: Many, many, many hours tracing and retracing and asking and begging and trying to prove my daughter's medical condition.

KAYE: Their home is too toxic for two-year-old Hannah (ph). She has a hole in her heart and needs daily medical care in a sanitary environment. Doctors suggested Hannah stay with friends. Her big brother is with his grandfather. But Gena has to start work again. No job, no health insurance. She says that would be a death sentence for Hannah.

HEFFNER: Hey, I miss you.

KAYE: Meanwhile, a perfectly clean FEMA trailer has been parked on the Heffner's property, locked without any utilities for 10 days. FEMA never gave the family the keys.

HEFFNER: And you see, OK, I could have somewhere to live. But, then you can't get in.

KAYE: Tired of waiting on FEMA, Gena e-mailed CNN. I showed the e-mail to Lieutenant General Russel Honore, the man in charge of humanitarian efforts here.

KAYE (on camera): Her critically ill child is being passed back and forth between two families.

LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE: I need the name and address.

KAYE: I have it all.

(voice-over): The general was anxious to help.

(on camera): If she could get into this trailer they could ...

HONORE: We'll get her in the trailer. Just give me the damn number.

KAYE (voice-over): Armed with my blackberry. General Honore worked the phones.

HONORE: Yes, be good if somebody just go knock on her door and see how she is doing.

KAYE: FEMA did more than check on her. Within two hours Gena had the keys and her trailer all its utilities.

HEFFNER: It's very, very small and that's fine. Everything -- that's just fine. I just needed somewhere for my family to live.

KAYE: When FEMA first delivered the trailer they left a note warning installation and hook-up could take a few days, apologizing for any inconvenience. So why ten days?

SID MELTON, FEMA: And it looks like there may have been some disconnects here and there. And it was one of the trailers that had rolled out there and didn't get followed up behind and it was just a mistake that happened and we're sorry that it did.

KAYE: The wait is over, the Heffners are moving in. They have a home even if it is temporary.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: It's amazing to me -- that was Randi Kaye reporting. It's amazing that a little girl has a hole in her heart, and needs a relatively pristine environment, they can't get into their trailer and they end up e-mailing CNN to talk to General Honore who just happens to be there. You've got to wonder how many other families are there who don't have that direct connection, who we haven't just done a story about them, who are just sitting out there waiting for the keys to the trailers.

It's continuing -- we're going to continue to focus on this story. I know a lot of the country has moved on, I know there are other things in the news, but there is so much still that needs to be reported about this story. There are so many people still in need, not only in New Orleans, but all around the country, hundreds of thousands of Americans displaced now, we have to keep on this story.

Coming up next, the new challenge for New York commuters afraid to take the subway due to the security alert. See how they are getting home now.

Plus a look at the security steps being made in New York. People are taking the subways. How are they feeling today?

And it was three months ago today the terrorists first hit London's transit system. Three months ago today, perhaps, a coincidence that this threat came three months ago? We'll see. We'll see how people are coping in London.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: I want to return to the subject of tension in New York City in light of these threats against the subway system. We suspect some of you and the rest of the country must be thinking, well, look, if the subways have been threatened, you're worried about that, all you have to do is avoid them, get around some other way. Surely people in the Big Apple must have lots and lots of transportation options.

The truth is, they don't, unless you consider slower and much more expensive options. CNN's Keith Oppenheim rides the rails.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How was school today?

KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over: Larry Lopez (ph) is changing his routine. Instead of letting his 11-year-old son Leo take the subway, he has got another plan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to walk through Madison, and then from Madison we catch a 32 bus right there.

OPPENHEIM: Today, Larry will escort his son home by walking half a mile to a bus. Normally, father and son commute separately, both taking two subways from Manhattan's West Side to the family's apartment in Queens. The train trip lasts a half hour. The walk and bus ride will take twice as long. Larry feels it's worth it.

(on camera): As a parent, it's kind of a different dynamic that you feel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes.

OPPENHEIM: You've got to be with them on a train.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. Right. You know, right now we're scared. You know, we have to take it seriously, because, you know, you don't want to be saying, you know, oh, we could have done this, we could have done that.

OPPENHEIM (voice-over): The Q32 shows up on Madison Av just minutes after Larry and Leo reach the stop. On board, Leo says having his dad take him home is just easier.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It might be a waste of time for the cops to check my backpack, since I have a really big backpack.

OPPENHEIM (on camera): But for you, it's not just inconvenience, you're a little scared about it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little bit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you go to Queens?

OPPENHEIM: For Elaine Ezis (ph), the change in routine is all about inconvenience.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Usually I just jump on the subway and go home.

OPPENHEIM: Today, she is taking a cab. Instead of spending two bucks for a subway fare, she will spend 17 in a taxi. She says she will go back to the trains Monday, but now she wants to take the easy route.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Getting my bag searched and crowds and then the terror threat added to that. All that, I just decided, you know what, I just want to go home without any hassle.

OPPENHEIM: Larry Lopez has a parent's perspective. Until he feels secure his son can get home safely, he will stick with the long way home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once the scare is off, then we won't have to worry about it, and you know, and then...

OPPENHEIM (on camera): So a day-by-day thing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, yes, you know, we'll play it as long as it goes. And once everything is OK, then, you know, we get back on the subway, get back to the faster pace of life.

(END VIDEOTAPE) OPPENHEIM: Anderson, I'm joining you live from the Long Island city neighborhood of Queens, right near Larry Lopez's apartment, where we came to by bus today. For the record, four and a half million people, it's estimated, ride the New York subway system every day, and from what we can see, most folks are still doing that, because that's what they need to do to get to work and get on with their lives. But as you just heard, some people are making changes.

Larry Lopez says unfortunately, he has to have his son take the train alone in the morning to school because their schedule really just won't allow anything else. He doesn't have another option. He's kind of uneasy about that, but for now, he's going to escort his son home by bus in the afternoons.

Back to you.

COOPER: All right, Keith, thanks. Keith Oppenheim.

360 next, subway security. What is being done to keep those safe who aren't afraid to go underground? And most of us aren't.

Plus, London three months after the terror attacks there. Are commuters still scared?

And a little later, Scientology and birth. Religion may play a big part in the delivery of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' new addition.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: A live shot of New York City at this hour. Of course, you know, we all hope this particular threat against the subway in New York comes to nothing. No matter what happens, however, everyone pretty much agrees that more needs to be done to safeguard such vast, vulnerable systems. And that's the problem: How much can you do to safeguard a system that is used by millions of people every day? CNN's Jason Carroll has been looking into the question standing by live now to talk about it -- Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Anderson, it is a good question. And first of all, there are a number of measures that have been put into place to try to make the system more secure. First and foremost, some of the measures that we have actually seen out earlier today are those random bag searches. That actually has been in place ever since the bombings in London three months ago. But since this new threat, specific threat has occurred, police have definitely stepped up those efforts at all the subway station.

In addition to that, let's talk about surveillance. Police are in the process of installing 1,000 security cameras at all 490 subway stations. That process expected to take two years. In terms of what else is being done right now, well, police have increased their presence at all of the subway stations. But you have to remember, there are 6,000 trains, there are 600 miles of tracks beneath us below ground. The subway system is literally like a city beneath a city, and security experts say it's just not practical to try to secure mass transit like you do the airports. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM DALY, CONTROL RISKS GROUP: When you look at the vastness of some of these stations, and you look at the number of people that come in and out on a daily basis, the thought that we'd ever have 100 percent security or security that likens itself to an airport, for example, is really not possible.

Security will probably mean more physical presence, more technology, more ways to monitor things such as the air quality in the system, to see if there's contamination. There are some pilot programs under way currently to do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: And of course, some of those pilot programs, some of that new technology that's being put into place, not being made public for obvious reasons. Security experts say still one of the best lines of defense are the eyes and the ears of the public -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jason, I seem to remember you doing a piece a couple months ago, an experiment in which you placed a bag -- I think it was in Penn Station or maybe it was Grand Central. How long -- do you remember how long that bag sat out there before anyone noticed it?

CARROLL: That bag sat out for several hours before any security guard actually noticed it. And that's also an important point. When you look at a system that's so vast, and you've got so many people -- millions of people -- coming in and out every single day, you can't expect the police to be everywhere at every time, which is why police are really asking for people -- because remember, it wasn't just officers who didn't spot the bag.

People walking by didn't notice the bag, as well, which is why they are really trying to get out the motto, if you see something, say something.

COOPER: All right. Jason Carroll, thanks, appreciate it.

Probably no coincidence that this terror threat on the New York subway was timed to coincide with the three-month anniversary of the London train bombings. It was exactly three months ago today that four bombs exploded in London, three in the underground and one on a bus. Dozens of people were killed in the blink of an eye. CNN's senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, reports tonight from London.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The morning after New Yorkers faced raised fears of attack on their subway, Londoners catching their Underground Tube to work seemed relatively unfazed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel very safe when I'm traveling on the Tube. I mean, I don't -- it doesn't really cross my mind anymore. I mean, it's just a risk you have to take. You've got to get to work.

ROBERTSON: But by day's end when people were on their way home, when the news about New York had sunk in, a different mood.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think probably everybody who is in a major city and traveling on a major transport network should feel reasonably concerned.

ROBERTSON (on camera): The fact is most people, most of the time, have been able to put the July 7th suicide attacks that killed 53 people on three underground trains and a bus behind them.

MIKE BROWN, TRANSPORT FOR LONDON: Immediately after the bombings, for the remainder of July there was a downturn year on year. But since then numbers have picked up steadily, and we're now five percent up compared to this time last year.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): But it's not been easy for everyone. John and June Taylor, who lost their daughter in the bombing exactly three months ago, today attended a small memorial service. John still won't use the Tube.

JOHN TAYLOR, FATHER OF VICTIM: We still have to be vigilant. We still have to be careful of what we do.

ROBERTSON: Few new details about the July 7th attack have emerged. Save three of the four bombers carried out a reconnaissance mission.

MICHAEL CLARKE, TERRORISM EXPERT: The thing that's most disturbing about the 7th of July is that these young men seem to have come out of very ordinary lives. They didn't give any indication beforehand of a terrorist intent. And they certainly didn't behave or act like suicide bombers.

ROBERTSON: And for New Yorkers, that may be the most sobering thought of all. Nic Robertson, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, coming up next on 360, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, they are now expecting. This we found out the other day, but did you know that Scientology believes in silence during childbirth? Silence? And silence for seven days after. Does that mean no yelling during childbirth? We'll try to figure out what's going on. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: In a moment, silence, of course, is golden. But can Katie Holmes really stay silent while giving childbirth? And for seven days afterward? That's apparently what Scientology recommends. We'll have that story in moment, but first, let's find out what's coming up at the top of the hour on "PAULA ZAHN NOW." Hey, Paula.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: No silence in my household after giving birth to three of them. Thanks, Anderson. At the top of the hour, I'm going to continue our security watch focus on New York subways. Should we turn hundreds of stations into mini airports with checkpoints?

I have also got a story out of New Orleans that -- it's going to leave you shaking your head. I know it did mine. Why are they rebuilding New Orleans levees just the way they were instead of making them better so they won't break during the next big storm? See you at the top of the hour.

COOPER: Unbelievable. Paula, thanks. To be honest, I haven't given a lick of thought to Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes of late. Frankly, it's been rather nice. But this week it was announced they are expecting a baby and what caught our attention today is a report about how Scientologists are supposed to give birth. They are supposed to do it silently. CNN's Jeanne Moos explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After all that public nuzzling and staring into each other's eyes and jumping for joy, could a bundle of joy be far behind? Wedded or not, here it comes, but it may be what is called a silent birthing or, as the "New York Daily News" put it, "quit yellin', it's only childbirth."

Tom Cruise is a Scientologist, and Scientologists don't believe in drugs and they don't believe in screaming during childbirth. In the words of Scientology's founder "maintain silence in the presence of birth to save the sanity of the mother and child." Try telling that to this woman who delivered her baby home alone after calling 911.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just let it come.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's coming out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, let it come out, ma'am. Just don't let the baby fall on the floor. Let it come out.

MOOS: The Church of Scientology told CNN it doesn't regulate the private lives of its parishioners, that silent birthing is strictly up to the parents. Another pair of famous Scientologists, John Travolta and his wife, Kelly Preston, opted for silent birthing, though Travolta did say his wife was free to moan.

Scientologists believe in seven days of silence after birth fearing noise and negative experiences imprint themselves on the child's mind. It's ironic that the female half of a celebrity couple, accustomed to hearing a whole lot of screaming, could end up trying not to scream at a time when most women can't stop themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of it's out. It's out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's out. Is the baby breathing, ma'am?

MOOS: Breathing and crying. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can hear the baby crying.

MOOS: At least Scientology doesn't say anything about the baby not being allowed to cry. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: I don't think you could stop the baby from crying, though I guess some people would like to. That was a great report from Jeanne Moos. That's it for us tonight on 360. Hope you join me and Aaron Brown tonight from 10 Eastern to midnight Eastern for a special edition of NEWSNIGHT. CNN's prime-time coverage continues right now, however, with Paula Zahn. Hey, Paula.

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