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DNA Testing of Katrina Bodies Continues to Stall; Reaction to Bush Iraq Speech; Supreme Court Tackles New Hampshire Abortion Case; Medical First: Face Transplant For Woman In France

Aired November 30, 2005 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: In a speech at the U.S. Naval Academy today, Mr. Bush discussed the U.S. Military's training program for Iraqi troops. He gave no timetable for withdrawing American forces from Iraq.
A 20-year old memo is providing yet another window onto Samuel Alito's views of abortion. In the document, released today, the Supreme Court nominee outlined ways to limit abortion rights without overturning Roe v. Wade. The memo was made public as the current Supreme Court was hearing it's first abortion case in five years. More on that later.

Out west, California Supreme Court today refused to stop the execution of Convicted Killer Stanley "Tookie" Williams, the founder of the Crypts street gang. Williams was sentenced to death in 1981, became an anti-gang crusader while on death row. He's scheduled to die by injection on December 13, unless Governor Schwarzenegger or a federal court intervenes.

And in New Orleans, some much needed Christmas cheer. They lined up for more than two blocks for free trees, donated by a tree farmer in Oregon. It's fair to say this Christmas will be a modest one for many Katrina victims.

We begin in New Orleans tonight with a story we first broke last night, a story that just makes your blood boil. Three months after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf, there are still more than 200 storm victims who are laying in a morgue. They're victims who have yet to have any DNA testing performed on them.

Now for months, Louisiana and FEMA were fighting over who would pay for the DNA testing. Then about three weeks ago we were told FEMA finally agreed to pay and the money was sent. We thought alright, testing's going to certainly begin. That was three weeks ago.

We discovered last night it hasn't. There's been no DNA testing so far. Hundreds of families are left in limbo. It is simply unconscionable. We're talking about a DNA test, not sending a man to the moon. We reported this last night; and frankly, are prepared to do it every night until the people are identified and the state of Louisiana does its job.

Just remember these are not corpses, these are not bodies, these are our countrymen, our neighbors, and they deserve dignity and identity. Tonight, CNN's Jonathan Freed is keeping them honest, trying to figure out who is to blame.


JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The process of identifying the bodies of Hurricane Katrina victims has been complicated enough and taking long enough that authorities have had time to build this brand new morgue to replace the makeshift one set up in the wake of the storm.

Inside new victim identification center, some 260 bodies still unidentified. DNA testing is expected to quickly identify roughly half of them. It could have been started months ago. But Louisiana said it didn't have the money. Some $12 million in federal assistance was finally approved 10 days ago, but CNN learned Tuesday the lab still hasn't started.

(on camera): So people who want to give a DNA sample are coming here to do that?

DR. LOUIS CATALDIE, LOUISIANA MEDICAL INCIDENT COMMANDER: Yes. They can come here and give a sample right over there.

FREED (voice-over): Dr. Louis Cataldie is the state medical officer in charge of identifying all the remains. Victims' family members have been coming to this operation center in Baton Rouge to leave DNA samples. He admits the process has fallen a month behind, and says it pains him.

CATALDIE: If it was my mother sitting in there, I'd be ready to have my DNA run.

FREED: So what's the delay? CNN has now learned the state is still finalizing contracts with the labs that will perform the tests. Even Cataldie says the bureaucratic hurdles have been maddening.

CATALDIE: Hellacious. The whole bureaucratic process has been hellacious from day one. I'm not leading anybody to blame at that, it's just been, you know, the very first thing out of the shoe, I was told that the state was responsible for picking up bodies. And in reality, I thought that the feds were going to pick up the bodies, so. If we -- from day one, we've been behind and playing catch up and that's been most of our struggle.

FREED: Once the lab work starts, health officials say it should take a couple of weeks to start identifying bodies and offering some form of closure to loved ones. It's hoped about 140 cases will be closed by the end of the year. The rest could take as long as another six months because investigators have so few clues as to who the people were.


FREED: Now, Anderson, the state Health Department told us today that they expect those DNA lab contracts to be finalized by the end of this week, Anderson.

COOPER: So what does that actually mean? Are they going -- is the lab -- the contract get finalized on Friday, when do the tests begin?

FREED: Now, that is the question, what does that actually mean? That's the key question. Theoretically, they could begin immediately, but we're getting a sense that there's going to be a few days anyway until the labs come up to speed. They said that once the contracts are finalized, Anderson, we could see the first results coming in -- they said in approximately a couple of weeks. But, the doctor told us today it could stretch to a month, depending on how long it takes.

COOPER: It just -- I mean, it's incredible to me that this is -- I mean, this is three months plus in this process, and that none of these families have had their loved ones returned to them of the unidentified victims. It is just incredible to me. Jonathan, I appreciate you keeping them honest tonight.

Dr. Cataldie's boss -- Dr. Cataldie's the coroner you met in Jonathan's piece. His boss is the governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Blanca. Now we asked her to be on the program tonight. Her office declined. I spoke with her about three weeks ago when the state was fighting with FEMA about who's going to pay for the testing. Amazingly, back then the governor didn't even seem aware that the testing hadn't begun. Here's what she told me on the 16th of the month.


KATHLEEN BLANCA, GOVERNOR OF LOUSIANA: I don't think that that's stopping any DNA testing, Anderson, I just think that it's just part of the frustrating process that we've all been going through.


COOPER: We've heard about the money arguments and yes, the money arguments did stop the process and now that the money argument has been resolved, the process still hasn't begun. It's incredible. That was Governor Blanca earlier this month. Again, we invite her anytime to be on the program.

Joining us once again now is Lynda Hymel, who's waiting for identification of her brother, Darrel (ph), who died during the storm. Lynda, thanks again for being with us.


COOPER: You know, you've heard now that the state, I guess, they're still kind of waiting to finalize these contracts with the labs. Does this make any sense to you?

HYMEL: No, it doesn't. And I hate to say it, but I'm not going to believe it until I see it. I hear -- when I first went to give DNA, they told me six weeks. If I brought a dental x-ray, it would be sooner. That was three months and one day ago today. COOPER: So you've already gone -- you're already left off a DNA sample. And you were under the impression that kind of the process had already begun. When you learned last night that it hadn't begun, what did you think?

HYMEL: Absolutely. Well, when I went to -- it was called a Holiday Inn Select in Baton Rouge. I brought the DNA, I brought a dental x-ray, the eight-page form. They told me it would be any day now. And I kept calling and there was nothing that I could really -- any -- no facts were available. They didn't know anything. They were still waiting.

They said it's going to take it a little time. And now, as you see, it's three months down the road and still no word. And last night when we talked, you said something about the money being available and our governor said that DNA was not being stopped. Well, it has been stopped. If my brother had been identified, somebody would have called me. No one has contacted me since.

COOPER: Yes, how would you feel you and other family members are being treated in all of this? Because, I mean, the family members I've talked to thus far, I mean, you know, they get numbers that don't seem to exist or numbers that get changed. You know, phones that ring off the hook and never get answered.

HYMEL: That's right. That's exactly right. I stated last night there's a Family Assistance Center number. It is not running. It is down. Somebody gave me another number. It's the same exact number I had three months ago that rings, and it's just volunteers at a table that no nothing about the voluntary center and St. Gabriel is miles apart. They know nothing of the individuals that are in these trucks that have the remains of our loved ones. They're just waiting in DNA limbo.

COOPER: Who do you blame for this? I mean, is it everyone? I mean, do you just feel like that there's no one in charge of this stuff?

HYMEL: I think, yes, I think it's just a mess. I don't think the right hand knows what the left hand is doing. I can't get a concrete answer from the governor, from the mayor. I bet you -- I mean, I'm not for sure -- no mayor or no governor or anybody has been to that St. Gabriel outfit. I'm not sure, but, you know, I'd have to guess that, you know, because no one has contacted me.

COOPER: When...

HYMEL: So somebody should at least call me.

COOPER: Yes, you know, I mean, I was thinking this when I first found this out last night and I've been thinking about it all day. I mean, when a soldier or a Marine dies on the battlefield, you know, the buddies do everything they can to bring their fallen comrade back and to make sure that...

HYMEL: Exactly. COOPER: You know, they don't leave them behind. I got to tell you, from here it feels like your brother, all the other unidentified victims, have been left behind.

HYMEL: That's right. And they said in the beginning they were going to treat these loved ones with respect and dignity. So far I haven't seen anything. It's like they're forgotten. They're just over there and I don't understand all the money that's been given to them, why can't we just use some for this -- I think there's what, under 300 bodies left?


HYMEL: That cannot take that much money out of millions of dollars that has been poured into the state of Louisiana. For at least, you know, if we can enough money to paint the top of the Super Dome and get Mardi Gras going on, what about these bodies that need to be recovered and given back to their moms and dads and sisters and wives and husbands?

COOPER: And let's just -- we've been showing pictures of your brother, Darrel (ph), and let's just remember, you know, --

HYMEL: Thank you.

COOPER: -- they're not bodies, they're not corpses. They are people, they are countrymen, they're our neighbors.

HYMEL: That's right.

COOPER: Our brothers and our sisters. What was Darrel like, in case there are any politicians who are watching this tonight and they do watch the show from time to time. I mean, what was Darrel like?

HYMEL: He was -- as a matter of fact, he was interviewed one year for staying behind in one of the worst hurricanes there on Irish Bailou (ph), and he helped everyone out there. You know, Darrel (ph) did not think this was going to be the one that would tear our houses away. He stayed behind to protect my mother's house and everybody on the Bailou (ph).

There was only three people out there and one casualty and that was our brother. One person died in that Bailou (ph). And, you know, to me it seems like they could have marked the body bag with something. Highway 11, one male body, you know, something to, you know, acknowledge on the body bag. That's what it seems to me. But he was an all around good guy. He helped everybody on the Bailou (ph). You can ask them people up there now. They're still there.

COOPER: Well, when we think about...

HYMEL: Some people have not lost their homes.

COOPER: When we think about unidentified victims, let's think about your brother, Darrel (ph) and all the others who are still out there. Lynda, I appreciate you joining us. I know it's been a difficult day for you and your family.

HYMEL: Thank you very much, Anderson.

COOPER: You take care now.

We'll continue to follow in this story and the other 260 family members. As for the Family Assistance Center that Lynda mentioned, it's often -- it is officially called the Find Family National Call Center. The toll-free number is 1-866-326-9393. It allegedly answers seven days a week, from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Central Time. Again, the number 1-866-326-9393, if you've lost track of a loved one.

Today, in a major speech at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, President Bush gave details on the U.S. training program for Iraqi troops, saying that U.S. troops won't withdraw until victory is achieved. The posters behind the president all said plan for victory.

Supporters and detractors have been arguing all day over whether that is in fact what Mr. Bush's speech contained, the plan for victory. The White House also released 37 declassified pages mapping the security plan for Iraq.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux joins us from the White House with details -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, really, very little was new. What we did learn is how the president breaks down the insurgency. He says until rejection is made up of Sunnis who don't accept the new government, the Saddamists who dream of bringing back the dictator, and the terrorists inspired by Al Qaeda and how the administration has different approaches to each one of these groups.

We also got some details about U.S. tactics used to train Iraqi forces, which ones have worked, those that don't. But as for the one question many Americans wanted answered, specifics for an exit strategy for American troops, they just weren't there -- Anderson.

COOPER: Why did the president declassify parts of this national Iraqi plan now?

MALVEAUX: Well, as you know, the president has been under tremendous pressure from Democrats and some moderate Republicans to lay out a clear Iraq strategy. His approval rating is hovering around 36 percent. And with Iraq's elections just two weeks away, the administration is expecting an up tick in the violence. So the president is seeking American support.

Also, you should know, Anderson, that the administration is looking ahead politically and figures that it has about a six-month window to turn things around in Iraq before it becomes potentially a liability in the Congressional mid-term elections next November, with Republicans possibly facing the backlash -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Suzanne, thanks. Now for some late numbers just in from CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll conducted today -- a snapshot really -- many of the respondents hadn't actually heard the president today. So the poll really speaks more to what people were thinking before they listened to the president's speech, than whether the speech actually changed any minds. Those are the footnotes. Here are the results.

To the question: How has the president handled the situation in Iraq? 15 percent said he'd done a very good job, pretty low. Twenty- nine percent said good, 25 percent answered poor, 29 percent very poor.

When asked if the president has a plan that will achieve victory, 41 percent said yes, 55 percent said no.

And to the question: Will the war in Iraq make this country safer from terrorism in the long run? The president scored better on this. Forty-eight percent said yes, 43 percent said no.

The president said today he'd gladly bring our troops home when Iraqi soldiers can do the job. The question is, how long is that going to take? We're going to look into that next on 360.

And then what secrets does Scientology have buried in the deserts of New Mexico? Why does a religion need a vault with secret markings in the ground that you can only see from space? Interesting question. That we'll look into ahead on 360.


COOPER: Well, President Bush today made his position clear: When Iraqi troops are ready to shoulder the burden of defending democracy in their country, that is when American troops will return home and not before. So it's simple, really. Just a matter of getting the local forces up to snuff. Given that the U.S. military's been working on that for quite some time, the job ought to be done pretty soon now. No?

CNN's Nic Robertson now with a fact check on the state of readiness of Iraq's troops.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Telafar, two months ago, the battle President Bush tells to show the Iraqi troops are getting better. The president said 11 Iraqi battalions took the lead, with five U.S. battalions in support. And said the Iraqis performed better than in the Fallujah offensive a year ago.

But, they were two different battles. Fallujah, an all-out offensive; Telafar, a dangerous but more contained large-scale cordoned insurge. Even with many Iraqi troops, the battle was fought from a U.S. plan, requiring U.S. tanks and helicopters. In other words, no U.S. troops, no victory. The next big operation, Steel Curtain, U.S. troops led the way, outnumbered Iraqis six to one. Uneven, was how President Bush described Iraq's security preparedness. He's in tune with his commanders here.

GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, MULTINATIONAL SECURITY TRANSITION COMMANDER: Progress is uneven and it's uneven across the country. It's uneven in units. It's uneven between the Army and the police.

ROBERTSON: President Bush said there were 120 Iraqi battalions 40 leading the fight, 80 fighting alongside U.S. troops. Iraqi Battalion Commander Colonel Thayer is capable of leading the fight.

DEMPSEY: He is the most affective counter-insurgency combat leader serving with this brigade task force right now.

ROBERTSON: But Thayer elects even an armored humvee. He says U.S. forces are planning to downsize significantly at his base. And he wants to expand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We talk of coalition forces just when you'd like supports.

ROBERTSON: Iraqi soldiers being trained by Lieutenant Colonel Ross Brown are a long way short of Colonel Thayer's readiness.

ROSS BROWN, LIEUTENANT COLONEL: When did you last clean this weapon? No, that's the answer, but look at that weapon. What'd he clean it with?

ROBERTSON: It's a daily battle for Brown, getting the unit he mentors ready to fight alongside U.S. soldiers.

BROWN: They didn't do too much work yesterday. They didn't too much work the day before. They have not done too much work since they've been here.

ROBERTSON: President Bush didn't say how many Iraqi troops are at level one readiness, units capable of planning and carrying out counterinsurgency operations on their own.


ROBERTSON: Well, that explains it, President Bush didn't detail the precise conditions for withdrawal. Iraqi troops, Iraqi people we spoke to said even if he did, they wouldn't trust him. But he did send a very clear message to the insurgents here, that the U.S. won't withdraw until the Iraqis are completely ready -- Anderson.

COOPER: Nic Robertson, thanks.

We're joined now live in Washington by James Fallows, a national correspondent of the "Atlantic Monthly," who's written an extensive research report on the readiness of Iraqi's forces in this month's issue. Mr. Fallows, I appreciate you being with us


COOPER: President Bush today said the training of Iraqi forces was moving forward. In the news issue of "Atlantic Monthly," in your article, you write, and I quote, "The problems created by the insurgency are getting worse and getting worse faster than the Iraqi forces are improving." And you go on to say, "the United States and the Iraqi government are losing ground." What did the president leave out of his speech today?

FALLOWS: Well, I think it's a matter of the context. It is true, most of the facts the president mentioned or the anecdotes have been well known and on the record. People have been following this issue in the last couple of months. But it's the overall context from which they're taking place.

I think the analogy to use here is during the last year or two of the war in Vietnam, the Americans were getting better at learning how to deal with the Vietcong and the south Vietnamese army was also getting better too, but overall, they were losing ground. And that is the overall tone that one gets from Iraq as well, that the army is improving, the police is improving much less, and the insurgency is getting worse faster than they are getting better.

COOPER: The president states that there are over 120 Iraqi army and police combat battalions in the fight against terrorists. You write in your article about the battle readiness. You say that if American troops disappear tomorrow, and I quote, "Half its policemen would be considered worthless, and the other half would depend on external help for organization, direction, support ... Two-thirds of the army would be in the same dependent position, and even the better- prepared one third would suffer significant limitations without foreign help." That's pretty damning.

FALLOWS: Well this is part of the four branch classification scheme the president was working from. And all discussion has been based on only one famous Iraqi battalion is the top, you know, level one, which is supposed to be entirely independent.

It's worth nothing that half of all the police forces, which are indispensable to anti-insurgency efforts, are in the category four, which is essentially worthless. What the president stressed was that a third of the Iraqi army is in category two, which is they can do something if they have significant U.S. support.

And the significant U.S. support is the crucial issue here, that for the foreseeable future -- and we're talking years -- they're going to need logistics help from the U.S. They're going to need advisors, they're going to need air support, lots of other things. There's no immediate prospect of their having on their own.

COOPER: Well, in terms of some sort of an end game, you again write in your article, and I'm quoting a lot, because it was just a very well researched and fascinating article. You write, "The United States can best train Iraqis, and therefore best help itself leave Iraq, only by making certain very long term commitments to stay." It sounds like a catch-22, though. FALLOWS: Well, there's a genuine dilemma here, which is the process of training an Iraqi force and if you're creating any army, it is a very slow process. Even the United States. It takes a long time to train a professional officer and doing it with the cultural difficulties of Iraq is quite difficult. That is a quite a long process and there is a sort of spelled out procedure for what the U.S. would do.

On the other hand, there are pressures, not simply the political pressures in the U.S., but also the resistance in Iraq to the occupation and the sustainability crisis for the military which make it seem that U.S. is going to have a hard time seeing this through as long as it would take to do it in a serious way. That's the dilemma.

COOPER: It certainly is a dilemma. And again, if anyone is out there, has not read this article, they should. It's in the "Atlantic Monthly." James Fallows, I appreciate you being on the program. Thank you.

FALLOWS: My pleasure.

COOPER: Coming up, the abortion case that all sides are watching and worrying over. It was front and center of the Supreme Court today. I'll tell you why the case is so important.

Plus, more questions about Scientology and a mysterious vault deep under the desert in New Mexico. And what are these markings? Do you see them sort of giant circles? They look like crop circles. They're actually made by Scientologists. We'll explain why, coming up.

Across the U.S. and the world, it's 360.


COOPER: That's Jeffrey Toobin playing the bass there. The Supreme Court jumps back into the abortion debate. That story in a moment. But first, Erica Hill from "Headline News" joins us with some of the other stories we're following. Hi, Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN HEADLINES NEWS CORRESPONDENT: That's good stuff. The AC-360 band is back. I'm glad to hear it. I'll get out my tambourine. But I'll read the headlines first.

Seventy-eight people under arrest tonight, accused of helping to smuggle drugs into the U.S. through artwork, of all things. The arrests are part of a year-long investigation aimed at a Colombian heroin ring. The DEA says in addition to the artwork, the ring also used furniture and clothing to smuggle drugs.

In New York, George Washington -- disappointing. A portrait of the nation's first president was sold at Sotheby's Auction for $8.1 million, which is a fair sum, but not exactly the $10-15 million Sotheby's was expecting. In the meantime, another Washington portrait didn't sell at all. In Hollywood, Actor Gregory Peck, back on the walk of fame. A new star for the late actor was unveiled today. Peck's original star, a staple of the walk for more than 40 years, was stolen some time in the past two weeks.

And in San Pedro, California, an assistant high school football coach, caught on tape, moving the first down marker in a critical fourth down play, during a game last month. Now, his team scored on that drive, went on to win the game by a point. The coach, not winning here. He's suspended for at least a year and because of his actions, the school district may change that win into a loss. See, it just goes to show cheaters never win.

COOPER: All right. Get out the tambourine, Erica Hill, we'll see you next.

It is one of the most divisive issues in the country. Today, for the first time in a long time, it was front and center in the U.S. Supreme Court. We're talking about abortion, of course. The justices heard arguments in a case that all sides in the abortion debate are watching closely.

Adding to the drama, the release of a memo written 20 years ago by Supreme Court Nominee Samuel Alito, a memo outlining ways to limit abortion rights without actually overturning Roe v. Wade. A lot of ground to cover in the next couple of minutes.

CNN's congressional correspondent Joe Johns is standing by in Washington -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, there were high expectations for today. It was the first time in five years that the Court has heard a major abortion case, and the very first time the Court has heard abortion cases with Chief Justice John Roberts in the center chair.

The case in question, a highly charged legal issue, whether and when parents should be notified if their daughter goes to the doctor asking for an abortion. More than half of the states have parental notification laws, and most include exceptions for the life and health of the mother. But the case before the Court today focused on a notification law in New Hampshire that had no exception for non life- threatening medical emergencies. The state said such situations occur rarely and that it would be able to handle it when it happens, but the justices really seemed to zero in on the system for dealing with medical emergencies.


STEPHEN BREYER, JUSTICE: There are people in good faith on both sides of this argument. And so how do we know that the New Hampshire statute is going to do for this particular woman what a health exception would do?

KELLY AYOTTE, NEW HAMPSHIRE ATTORNEY GENERAL: It's not whether or not the minor can have an abortion, the minor can always go on forward and have an abortion under these circumstances.


JOHNS: Several of the justices seemed to be reaching for procedural solutions that would not be condemned as legislating from the bench. Adding to the atmospherics, there's a lot of uncertainties swirling around the Court right now. That's because Sandra Day O'Connor, the justice, is leaving the court and Samuel Alito has been nominated to replace her. If Alito were confirmed quickly, there's at least a possibility the Court could rehear the New Hampshire case.

Today, documents released by the National Archives show writings by Alito, suggesting he was critical of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that defined the right to an abortion and recommended an incremental approach to limiting its reach -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, John, I want to talk to you about those writings. I want to bring in CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin into the mix as well. First of all, Jeff, any -- did we learn anything today about Justice Roberts that we didn't know before about which way he may lead?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you certainly saw what he was talking about in his confirmation hearings. About someone who did not wan to do big things, who did not want to reach out for issues. He was very concerned about making a narrow ruling in the case.

As Joe said, he was the one who was focusing on the procedural aspects. Very much seemed inclined to send the case back to the lower court, have them develop the facts more and then let the Supreme Court decide. He really didn't express any view on abortion itself. He was much more interested in keeping this ruling narrow, by the court.

COOPER: Joe, there was also a question, from Justice Scalia, that I want to play for our viewers. Let's play it.


JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA, U.S. SUPREME COURT: Let's assume New Hampshire sets up a special office open 24 hours a day, and this is the abortion judge, and he can be reached anytime, anywhere. It'll take 30 seconds to place a phone call ...


SCALIA: ... this is really an emergency situation?


COOPER: What exactly is he talking about? Why would that be necessary?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, Scalia is known for provocative language, all across the legal world. But what he was talking about there, is the possibility of even a short delay, a very short delay, for that young woman who goes to the doctor, asking medical help and needs an abortion, but is not necessarily life threatening. So, he's saying if we cut out all the time with this judge, who is able to rule very quickly as to whether this was a bona fide medical emergency, that was non life threatening. Would that be OK? Of course, counsel there was arguing even the shortest of delays would not be sufficient.

COOPER: Now, we're going to hear a ruling on this for many months. But I want to talk, briefly, Jeff, about these documents that -- from Alito that we've learned about today, from -- he wrote during the Reagan administration. Do they provide any glimpse?

TOOBIN: They provide a big glimpse. What's clear, without doubt, is that in 1985 this last -- the document that came out earlier when he was applying for a promotion at the Justice Department and the one that came out today when he was sort of plotting legal strategy, he was a committed foe of legalized abortion. He was someone who believed that the Constitution did not protect a woman's right to choose abortion.

He has said, apparently, in his interviews with the senators, well, that was 20 years ago. I've been a judge. I have greater respect for precedent now. But it will be interesting to see how he tries to finesse that argument -- or that issue -- in his confirmation hearings.

COOPER: You think that it will come up?

TOOBIN: Senator Specter said today it would be the first question he'd ask. And he's the chairman, so he goes first.

COOPER: All right. Jeff Toobin, thanks. Joe Johns, as well. Thanks very much, Joe.

There are some strange sighting out of New Mexico I want tell you about, bizarre land markings popping up in the dessert, linked to Scientology. They look like crop circles, but they're not. What are they doing there? We'll answer that question ahead.

Also, tonight, from one face to another, a landmark operation giving a patient a new face, a new identity, a face transplant. You are watching 360.


COOPER: Welcome back. We've talked a lot about Scientology and the battled Tom Cruise and the church is waging on psychiatric drugs. Last night Cruise told Barbara Walters he doesn't regret anything he said this past year, and claims since speaking out nearly half a million children have come off depressants. Clearly, the church doesn't shy away from the subject.

There is another topic the Scientologists are a bit touchy on, it involves a vault in the desert of New Mexico and some mysterious land markings nearby, markings that can only be seen from the sky. Scientologists say there is nothing strange about what's out there, but not everyone is convinced.

Richard Leiby is a "Washington Post" writer, he's written about those odd sightings and I spoke with him earlier.


COOPER: So, Richard, what do you know about this facility, this bunker, and these sort of crop circle-like markings?

RICHARD LEIBY, WRITER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": This is one of what I think has been reported to be three bunkers that the Church of Scientology uses to preserve against any catastrophe, nuclear war, whatever might happen, earthquakes, to preserve the sacred writings of L. Ron Hubbard.

COOPER: And then the markings outside, the crop circle-like things? What are those? What is the purpose of that?

LEIBY: That is a logo of the Church of Spiritual Technology, Inc. That corporation was created by the Church of Scientology, specifically for the preservation of Hubbard's materials.

COOPER: You mean for -- if you believe that people who follow this or are in certain parts of the organization, if they come back -- what, thousands of years from now, they'll be able to see this from space? Is that --?

LEIBY: Yes, well, the church believes in reincarnation and loyal officers of the church, loyalists known as the See Organization, sign a billion-year contract.

COOPER: And I guess, there is nothing unusual about a religious group wanting to protect the writings of the people who founded it, I suppose. What's raising the eyebrows of the people in the area?

LEIBY: This was first reported by a TV station in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which wanted to write about the vault. For the first time you could see these markings and you could see them from a high altitude. And why --

COOPER: I understand this local TV station -- according to the TV station, on their web site, they have said that the Scientologists tried to get them to stop going forward with this report by offering them a tour.

LEIBY: Offered them a tour and also they reported that the Scientologists worked very hard to stop the story from being aired.


COOPER: Well, here to give us more insight into the vault and these markings, is former Scientologist Michael Pattinson. He says he's filed two lawsuits against the church, both were unsuccessful. He joins me now from Los Angeles. Michael, thanks for being with us. What are those markings in the ground?

MICHAEL PATTINSON, FORMER SCIENTOLOGIST: Those markings on the ground are, as Richard Leiby said, they are the logo of the Church of Spiritual Technology.

COOPER: What is the Church of Spiritual Technology?

PATTINSON: It's basically the pinnacle of Scientology. It's the head organization from which all the rest flows, if you like. It's the holder of the copyrights and the technical works of L. Ron Hubbard. And it goes under the name of L. Ron Hubbard Library, as I understand it.

COOPER: It looks like it's two circles, basically, with sort of two diamond shaped objects in the center of them. What is that? Do you know what that means?

PATTINSON: No, I haven't had an explanation of that. I just know that it was a registered trademark.

COOPER: A logo.

PATTINSON: Registered in 1985 for SCT and it is a rather mysterious sign, it is like a crop circle with no crops.

COOPER: And it's only visible from the sky. Why would that be?

PATTINSON: Uh, well, you know they say that reality is sometimes stranger than fiction, Anderson and this maybe one of the cases where that is so. As you know, L. Ron Hubbard was basically a science fiction writer. And this seems to be along that same kind of thread, that kind of -- like of thinking if you like. It's designed to protect his technology in a vault and that's a marking, which shows the location of that vault from space.

COOPER: So, there is a vault nearby, I guess, in a bunker sort of built underground or into the side of a mountain. What's inside the vault?

PATTINSON: Inside the vault are many containers, very high-tech containers, full of L. Ron Hubbard's technology, his writings, which are put onto titanium plates and etched into the titanium plates. I actually held one of these myself, so I know what I'm talking about.

COOPER: So, actually, it's like a metal tablet with writings etched in it?

PATTINSON: That's correct. Yes. That's correct.

COOPER: And that so that it -- what? -- that it can withstand the test of time?

PATTINSON: Yes, it is designed to withstand the test of time for maybe thousands of years. It's on a rather extreme knowledge basis, if you like; where the belief is that if Scientology fails to eradicate completely psychiatry and psychology, then this civilization will perish.

And then they can come back. They're motto is, "We come back." And they can find Hubbard's writings again and take up Scientology again and start a new civilization. I mean, this is really what is believed.

COOPER: And who has access to this kind of underground archive? Is it only sort of top-level members?

PATTINSON: Oh, very much so. It's been very hush-hush. We knew, of course, about the donation program to finance this, very much. But we didn't know the specifics. I believe there may be even five locations for these vaults. Not just three, but we'll have to look into that.

COOPER: Michael Pattinson, it is good to talk to you. Thanks, Michael.

PATTINSON: Thank you very much.

COOPER: We should mention that we contacted the Church of Scientology about the vault. They didn't return our calls. They have in the past referred to Michael Pattinson as a disgruntled former member who couldn't live up to their high ethical standards.

Sometimes it is just too windy for washing windows, that's the lesson learned from this harrowing accident. Take a look at this. One left this building with fewer windows to wash. We'll tell you how this dramatic scene ended.

Plus, how to protect your valuables before you've even moved in. The battle against construction site thieves and why all of us might end up paying the bills. That's a head on 360.


COOPER: Well, sales of new homes hit a record high last month, again. The housing market still white hot, has been for five years now. When it comes to new construction, however, the building boom has given birth to a more troubling boom. One that is costing homeowners and builders alike.

Randi Kaye reports tonight on a disturbing trend that gives new meaning to the inspirational line, "If you build it, they will come."


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This crew is really cleaning up at this construction site near Houston, Texas. But they're not a construction crew, they're construction thieves.


KAYE: Houston private investigator Mark Stephens spends his nights huddled in the bushes or hiding behind binoculars in a car. He's built a business on the construction theft boom and has the tape to prove it.

STEPHENS: Really is a nationwide epidemic.

KAYE: Stephens' tape library will make any homebuilder cringe. Appliances furnishings, front-end loaders, plywood, there one minute, gone the next.

STEPHENS: I hid out in a house and watched them load 80 sheets of that plywood.


STEPHENS: Eighty sheets, it took them less than two minutes.

KAYE: Stephens caught this guy stealing a tree, then chased him. First on foot, then by car.

STEPHENS: They took a 30-gallon oak tree, and you notice it was raining. They dug it out of the ground. They got landscaping materials and they're just dragging it down the street.

KAYE: When it was over, Stephens got the tree back. The man was never formally charged, but he was fired from his job as a salesman for a homebuilder.

(on camera): Some of these thieves will pay the price in the end, but guess what? So will you. The National Association of Homebuilders says construction theft costs the industry $4 billion a year. That adds about 1.5 percent to the cost of building a home, money right out of your pocket.

(voice over): Michelle Ellisor's new home, outside Houston, was a target for construction thieves. Just before her family moved in their dream home was hit. They're air conditioner stolen.

MICHELLE ELISOR, HOMEOWNER: Yeah, we were like, really? Because they're so big and there's two of them. And so you're thinking, now how did they get that out and nobody seeing them?

KAYE: Like most construction theft cases the thieves struck in the middle of the night. No lights, no witnesses, no chance of getting caught. The contractor replaced the $3,000 air conditioners at his own expense since the Ellisors hadn't moved in yet. But the experience still haunts the family.

ELLISOR: I always have thoughts of maybe someone is lurking around.

KAYE: Stealing air conditioners isn't cool, and Mark Stephens, a 19-year veteran of the Houston police department doesn't like to see criminals get away. Watch this sting. Stephens set up nigh vision cameras and baited a trap at this construction site with two shiny new air conditioners. The bad guys bit the first night. STEPHENS: He came through the vacant lot and he walked underneath the camera. The camera was set perfect. Here goes one air conditioner. And they go back for the second one and then they're gone. Took them what, 20 minutes, 15 minutes?

KAYE: Turns out they install air conditioners for a living. Stephens tracked down one of the thief's addresses and caught him on tape again. Removing the stolen air conditioner from his own garage, preparing to install it at another home.

STEPHENS: They're selling it to, you know, families that, have no idea that's stolen. But the they're charging full price. So, they're making a killing, you know. They're really making a killing.

KAYE: Stephens' video tape landed the guy in jail, charged with theft.

STEPHENS: Open up the back for me.

KAYE: And jail is also where this yuppie couple spent the night, after Stephens caught them driving their Range Rover, stealing sod.

STEPHENS: You know this is stealing, right?


KAYE: The dentist and his wife had about $100 worth of grass in their SUV.

STEPHENS: You live in what, a $200,000 home, at least. And you're driving a Range Rover, but you're stealing grass? Why not just plant some more grass?

UNKNOWN FEMALE: Because we -- I know, there is no excuse. I just -- I've been buying (INAUDIBLE). I even talked to the Evergreen (INAUDIBLE) today. I know, I'm sorry. It's wrong. I'm sorry. I just -- can we write a check to the trim maker?

KAYE: Not even a check could buy them out of this trouble. They pleaded guilty to theft and go probation. Now stealing sod may sound trivial, but the cost of construction thefts add up. Georgia builder, Don Gale:

DON GALE, BUILDER: They broke into a house. They came in here about 10 o'clock at night. Broke into a house and they stole cabinets, countertops, light fixtures, some heating and air parts. It was probably a $12,000 to $20,000 theft.

KAYE: And it's not just the cost of replacing what is stolen. Builders like Gale also have to repair the damage thieves cause when they break into the home and rip out what they want.

(on camera): How do you feel knowing that people are coming in and doing this? Do you feel violated? Are you angry?

GALE: It could take somebody a small as myself and put us out of business. It's difficult, you can't claim virtually every theft on insurance or you're going to be uninsurable.

KAYE (voice-over): Some builders have resorted to electronic surveillance at construction sites and fancy gadgets and expensive equipment like front-loaders to prevent thieves from starting them up. But the fact this, more homes are being built everyday. That sounds like job security for construction crooks, unless of course, private investigator Mark Stephens is lurking nearby.

STEPHENS: The easiest way to catch a crook is to figure out where he's going and get their first, and that's what I do.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, Grayson, Georgia.


COOPER: Erica Hill from Headlines News joins us for the other stories we're following now.

Hey, Erica.

HILL: Hey, Anderson.

Good news, I know you're happy to hear this today. The last day of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season.

And we're also going to talk travel tonight. A change in rules means that you can once again take small scissors and other similar sharp objects onboard your flight. Why? Well, it is all part of a shift in focus by the Transportation Security Administration. A shift toward keeping explosives off airliners rather than trying to prevent another 9/11 style hijacking.

Denver, Colorado, where a high wind gave a couple of high-rise window washers likely high blood pressure today. But it really could have been a whole lot worse. A boom supporting their platform collapsed leaving the men hanging about 12 stories up. Firefighters broke through the windows to save them. Luckily, they were fine, likely a little shaken.

And it's that time again, the world's most famous Christmas tree, lit tonight, in New York's Rockefeller Center. It's been an annual event since 1932.


HILL: Good stuff.

COOPER: A beautiful tree, and they killed it.

HILL: Unlike you buy the live trees and then plant them on Long Island.

COOPER: Yes, I do. I buy a living tree and I plant it, the last few years it worked well.

I just want to take a look at that video again, if we have it, of the window washers. That is just incredible.

HILL: I would not deal well with that.


HILL: Heights, I don't really deal well with to begin with -- yes, so I give them a lot of credit just for washing the windows.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, I have a total fear of heights, but to think -- God, being stuck up there and that's happening. You always think about that happening and then you think, Oh, no. They have lots of safety systems. Apparently this time it didn't work.

HILL: And this is the second time in what the last month or two that we've seen this happen.

COOPER: I know I feel like there was something just recently.

HILL: Yeah.

COOPER: Erica, thanks very much. Have a great evening.

A vicious dog attack leads to a ground breaking operation. A woman has a new chin, nose and lips, and you won't believe how surgeons gave them to her, a face transplant.


COOPER: Medical history was made this week and it is truly a remarkable achievement. A woman who was severely disfigured in a dog attack has a new face. Incredibly it was given to her by someone who was declared brain dead.

CNN's Brian Todd has more on the historic transplant.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Until now it was the stuff of science fiction. Eight years after the movie "Face Off" popularized the notion of swapping face, doctors in France announced the world's first partial face transplant; replacing the nose, lips and chin of a 38-year-old woman who had been mauled in a dog attack.

The grafted tissue harvested from another woman had been declared brain dead. A procedure that has been researched extensively in the U.S., but not tried yet.

DR. JOHN BARKER, UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE: If a person, for example, a burn victim, who is -- you know, half of their face is burned, the procedure consists of removing what is burned and replacing it with transplanted tissue.

TODD: Doctor John Barker is director of plastic surgery research at the University of Louisville. His teams want to do a full facial transplant. But they're not as close as Doctor Maria Simino (ph) of the Cleveland Clinic. She heads the only team to have board approval for a complete facial transplant and she's now screening potential patients.

Neither Doctor Simino (ph) nor the doctors at Louisville would comment on the operation in France. But officials at the Cleveland Clinic tell CNN when a full facial transplant is done, an incision will be made around the entire face, the skin flap will be lifted and replaced with another face. They say initially they only plan on transplanting skin, not facial bones or muscles. And they only want to perform the surgery on patients who are burned or otherwise severely disfigured.

(on camera): In other words, officials at the Cleveland Clinic say they never want to see a facial transplant done as elective surgery; for someone who simply wants another face. Even if someone tries that, they warn you very likely will not look like your donor.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: That is remarkable. More of 360 coming up. Stay with us.


COOPER: Tomorrow on 360, Bill Clinton. Larry King is next.


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