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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

NSA Spying On Americans; Two Faces, Two Choices; Iraq Today And Tomorrow; Secret Lives of Teens; Katrina Victims Still Homeless, Still Feeling the Chill; New Orleans Politics, Accusations Of Race And Class Discrimination, Blocks FEMA Trailers For Homeless Louisianians; Genetic Eating Disorder Keeps Victims Starving All The Time As They Battle Obesity

Aired December 16, 2005 - 23:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: remarks by its president, about Israel and the holocaust were misunderstood. On Wednesday the Iranian president sparked international outrage when he called the holocaust a myth and said Israel should be moved to Europe, the United States or Canada.
Today, Iran's interior minister said the president only meant that the people who committed the crime should pay for it. This, as European leaders said they would review diplomatic options for possible sanctions against Iran. Does that make sense to you?

The commander of U.S. forces in Iraq says he believes American troop levels will drop by early February to around 138,000 people. Right now there are about 150,000 troops in Iraq.

And the House of Representatives today passed a bill that tightens border controls and prevents illegal immigrants from getting jobs. The bill doesn't address the guest worker program that President Bush says must be part of the solution to the immigrant crisis. The Senate is expected to take up the issue in February.

We begin the hour with a how to -- how to spy on your own citizens in the shadow of 9/11. According to a report today in the "New York Times," spies for the National Security Agency have been doing just that, tapping phones and opening e-mails by order of the president for the last three years without the approval -- without the approval of a secret court that normally handles those cases. A court, by the way, that rarely says no.

The story is causing an uproar among Democrats and Republicans alike. Senator Arlen Specter wants to hold hearings. The bloggers are going nuts.

Some of the questions about where to draw the line between national security and civil liberties are tough ones. But when it comes to how it's actually done, the answer is simple. In fact, it's down right easy. CNN's Tom Foreman takes a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Privacy advocates say the door opened wide for domestic electronic surveillance a dozen years ago. And fear of international terrorism and crime prompted a new law. Phone companies, internet providers and others had to give police ready access to their networks which handle virtually every call and e-mail in America. And while members of the intelligence communities say once those domestic communications were considered off limits to the, times have changed.

STANSFIELD TURNER, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Today the emphasis is more on getting the information because we're so determined, of course, to defeat the terrorists.

FOREMAN: So how does tapping into a phone or computer work? Very well, says a former NSA employee and author of the book, "Spies Among Us" Ira Winkler.

IRA WINKLER, AUTHOR, SPIES AMONG US: Depending upon the methods going in and the specific communication provider, it can be a very, very quick thing.

FOREMAN: Winkler, while admitting he has no specific knowledge of what is allegedly going on at the NSA right now, says it could work like this. Imagine a terrorist captured overseas has a cell phone and a laptop showing suspicious communications with someone in the U.S.

With the right authorization, Winkler says and NSA employee could simply type a command into a computer, which would link to the networks handling the calls and e-mails from that targeted address. Then, the NSA computer would begin watching that phone number and that computer, digitally recording everything that happens. On the way, perhaps targeting other phones and other computers within America for the same treatment.

WINKLER: Technologically, this is simple. It's fast. It happens automatically. There doesn't necessarily have to be a man in the loop.

FOREMAN: Analysts would later decide which communications should be examined more closely.

(on camera): The technical ability of police or intelligence officers to read e-mails or listen to phone calls is, of course, never supposed to be activated without the proper authorization.

(voice-over): And it is always highly sensitive work. The NSA and the White House will not talk about any particular methods that may or may not be in use right now.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: Because they're classified, I'm not able to get into discussing those issues from this podium.

FOREMAN: But there will certainly be more talk in days to come about when spying for Americans means spying on them. Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Well, whatever you think of the agency or the mission or what the president may have ordered the agency to do, most of the men and the women of the NSA are simply doing a job. It's a job we don't often get to see.

But before the latest controversy, CNN's David Ensor got this unprecedented look inside the NSA.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It could be any office building, but Everette Jordan's workplace is one of the most unusual in the country. He cannot take his office keys home. He must punch in a code to get them each morning. Everette Jordan is a spy. But not in the way you probably imagine. Everette Jordan listens.

EVERETTE JORDAN, LINGUIST: That particular style is calling "rocking." It's called rocking on a word. And so you'll hear a word that you don't quite get and you go back and forth over it a couple times until you get it.

ENSOR: He demonstrates with a Russian news broadcast, but the conversations he listens to, picked up by the NSA's worldwide array of powerful surveillance technology, could involve a Russian general, an Iraqi nuclear scientist or a terrorist.

JORDAN: You have to listen for irony. You have to listen for sarcasm, for tension. You have to listen for rhetorical statements being made. You also have to listen for humor.

ENSOR: He is a gifted linguist, fluent in Russian, Spanish, French, German, Arabic.

JORDAN: (SPEAKING IN ARABIC) which means the name of God, the merciful and compassionate, in Arabic.

ENSOR: What does he listen for? First and foremost, for threats to the U.S.

(on camera): Have you ever had the sense that you translated something that was of critical importance to U.S. national security?

JORDAN: Absolutely. There have been many cases. And that's one of the fun things about being a linguist and knowing that the work that you've done has gone right downtown to the president of the United States.

ENSOR: Have you ever found yourself listening to an American, a U.S. person, on a tape?

JORDAN: No.

ENSOR: And what do you do -- what are the instruction -- no, you never have?

JORDAN: No, I haven't. ENSOR: What are your instructions in the event you should find yourself listening to an American, a U.S. person on a tape?

JORDAN: We have very strict protocols towards handling that -- those sorts of situations. And really, we erase the thing, but we also report that thus and such has happened.

ENSOR (voice-over): To say NSA employees are security conscious, is putting it mildly. Everette Jordan is the first NSA listener ever to give a television interview. Everywhere we filmed in the vast NSA complex, employees were warned. Most heeded the warning.

(on camera): Most of your colleagues would probably not be willing to give an interview like this.

JORDAN: You got that right.

ENSOR: Tell us why not. What would be the downside for them?

JORDAN: One of the ways that we are very successful is that the work that we do is very quiet. And in some cases -- actually in many cases, our workforce has been indoctrinated not to draw attention to themselves because in some cases they would be traveling on official U.S. government business. And to sit here in front of a camera as an NSA employee is something like killing one's career.

ENSOR: But after appearing at job fairs and recruitment drives for the NSA, Everette Jordan is not living in the secret world anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have noticed a high frequency hearing loss in the high decibels.

ENSOR: The price of years of listening past the pops and screeches on surveillance tapes -- his frequent hearing checks and some minor hearing loss. But Everette Jordan, though he hopes soon to move into management, says he wouldn't have wanted any other career up to this point. Protecting the nation with his ears, his gift for languages. David Ensor, CNN, Fort Meade, Maryland.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, here in Baghdad, of course the story is the elections. A tale of two Iraqs is playing out as the ballots are being counted. One, is secular by and large; the other, overtly Islamic, with closer ties to Iran than Washington might like. We'll know the answer in a couple of weeks or so. Until then, here are the leading faces, if you will of the two Iraqs. Their story now from CNN's Aneesh Raman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The two leading candidates for prime minister are sharply divided over religion and politics. Ayad Allawi, a familiar face, the former interim prime minister thought to be hand-picked by the U.S. and seen as one of America's closest friends in the Iraqi leadership.

A year ago, September, Allawi addressed Congress to thank the U.S. for its support. In a post-Saddam transitional government, though, Allawi fell out of power and has since been planning a comeback. He is fiercely secular, a moderate Shiite who enjoys support among both the minority Kurdish and Sunni communities because of his opposition to allowing Shia religious leaders into politics.

AYAD ALLAWI, FORMER INTERIM PRIME MINISTER: We project ourselves as Iraqis -- secular Iraqis. We would like to see no interference or no getting political parties to use the religious names of religious colors in their campaigns.

RAMAN: With so much turmoil, for many, his forceful no-nonsense approach sounds good. In fact a rumor he actually killed jailed insurgents in the days before he became prime minister only added to his appeal. Allawi denies the rumor.

The other front runner is this man, Adel Abdul Mehdi. He's also Shiite, but he represents the alliance of Shia religious parties. He is the interim vice president and looks and talks like a national leader.

ADEL ABDUL MEHDI, INTERIM VICE PRESIDENT: I feel very confident, very optimistic about those elections. This people would vote not only for the slates (ph) they think they represent them, but also against terrorism, against terrorism and insurgency.

RAMAN: As prime minister, Mehdi would be the political face of a religious party led by Muslim clerics. He lived in Iran, as the party's representative from 1992-96, and would no doubt push for better relations between Baghdad and Tehran. In his government, clerics could play a significant, maybe even dominant role, with religious rules controlling daily life. And that religious hard line could be difficult for not only the U.S., but also Sunnis.

SALAH AL-MUTLAG, LEADING SUNNI: That's the sectarian part of the political process is again to govern the country again. I think (INAUDIBLE) the situation and the subjects who are involved.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAMAN: So Anderson, essentially two men. You've Allawi pushing the secular democracy, one American envisioned probably from the beginning; and then you've got Mehdi, democratically elected, guided by clerics, not the necessarily the democracy that Americans who have sacrificed their lives here had envisioned or hoped for.

COOPER: And we won't know results really for several weeks.

RAMAN: Yes, two weeks until the election results are certified and then weeks or a month or two of wrangling before one of these two men likely emerges.

COOPER: Alright, Aneesh, thanks very much. With us now, John Burns, who has more or less seen it all and written about most of it in the pages of the "New York Times." John, thanks very much for being with us.

What are the two -- you've said that the two really biggest stories out of election day are the high Sunni turnout and the relatively low level of violence. Where does this story go now?

JOHN FISHER BURNS, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think we could follow where it's going to go, where the United States would like it to go. In the statements made in the last 12 hours by Ambassador Khalilzad, the American ambassador and the American Military Commander General George Casey, who both issued statements, saying on Friday that they wanted the politicians -- the Iraqi politicians not to squander this opportunity, a peaceful election, an election in which all communities participated.

They want to see a government formed as quickly as possible and that it be a government -- a broad national unity government that can then begin to attend to the problem of drawing those insurgent groups that are prepared to barter, to parlay into the political process.

COOPER: But that is -- I mean there is a very difficult road ahead. In particular, negotiating over this constitution, the U.S. ambassador, in order to get Sunnis on board, the Shia had to agree to basically renegotiate the constitution. Is that going to happen?

BURNS: There's a major problem ahead. The renegotiation of the constitution will go to some very, very divisive issues. Control of oil revenues, the degree to which the government will be decentralized to give the northern Kurdish provinces and the southern Shiite provinces more autonomy. Both things on which the Sunnis feel very strongly.

And then, of course, the question of American troops here and the Sunni demands for a fixed time table for their withdrawal, which will be inevitably opposed by the Shiite and Kurdish groups. So those negotiations are going to get tangled up with the formation of the new government. We're going to have a very divided parliament anyway.

As your reporter just said, the Allawi group -- the seculars' interest group, against the Shiite religious parties and their alliance. It looks, from what we can see in partial returns, as if those two groups are going to be very, very closely balanced in the parliament. There will be a tremendous struggle for positions in the government. And as I say, that will get complicated by the parallel negotiations of renegotiating the constitution. So there's plenty of leeway here for a deadlock, precisely what the Americans do not want.

COOPER: And this effort to drive a wedge between different insurgent groups, between the Sunni-based insurgents and foreign fighters, has that been successful?

BURNS: Well, General Casey spoke about that yesterday. And he told us that the al Qaeda-linked insurgent groups in Anbar Province -- that's the, if you will, the heartland of the insurgency. It's west of Baghdad, a Sunni Arab province that covers much of the western desert.

That the al Qaeda groups had wanted to disrupt the election and that other groups, linked to the former ruling party, the Baath party, the, if you will, the Saddam restorationists, that they prevented the al Qaeda groups from effectively disrupting the election there.

The Americans see in this an opportunity to try and draw those Baathist insurgent groups into the political process. At the moment, they're in what the Americans call a fight/talk mode. They'll go on fighting, they will possibly talk through some of the representatives who have now been elected to parliament. What they want to do, of course, the American commander and indeed Iraqi politicians in the main want to shift those insurgents to a talk/talk, instead of a fight/talk mode. That's not likely to happen for some months, I would say.

But talking to Ambassador Khalilzad and General Casey, one gets the impression that they think the critical moment for all of this will come sometime in March or April. They would like to see a real shift by then, but crucially, they first have to get a broad-based government and a government which can agree on an approach to the insurgents.

COOPER: John Burns, from the "New York Times." John, thank you very much.

Thousands of mobile homes sitting empty while Katrina evacuees wait. And deadlines loom. What's behind the delay? And what's being done to fix it? We're keeping them honest, ahead.

And a bizarre and devastating disease. Those who have it are always hungry, so hungry they're in danger of actually eating themselves to death. The drastic measures two families have had to take. Coming up next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As we reported earlier, David Ludwig, the 18-year old accused of murdering his girlfriend's parents, could be sentenced to death if he is convicted. Both Ludwig and his girlfriend, Kara Beth Borden, kept web logs -- or blogs. And when police looked for clues after the killings, a darker side of both teens came out online.

It's an extreme case, of course, but millions of teens have secret lives online; and what many write about, would likely shock their parents. Here's CNN's David Mattingly.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She was only 15, but for years, Caeli had been living a double life. To her parents, she was the typical smiling teenager, but in the secretive world of blogging, she was known as a partier.

CAELI HIGGINS, TEEN BLOGGER: Everyone who has a blog, does sort of live a separate life because by making a blog, you create this whole image of yourself and most of the time it's not actually, you know, what you come off as or who you seem to be, but online you can be anybody.

MATTINGLY: Online, Caeli was blogging about real-life experiences, of smoking pot, getting drunk and passing out. She found plenty of others who claimed to be doing the same, validating her own destructive behavior.

HIGGINS: It sort of desensitized you to it, especially when you're reading about a million other people doing it. You don't look at it as something that's so uncommon or bad anymore because you see everybody else doing it, so.

MATTINGLY: And her parents had no idea. It is a password- protected, no grown ups allowed party, where 60 percent of online teens say they share personal information they would never share with their parents.

With dozens of blogging sites to pick from, a teen could choose to be faceless, anonymous and almost untraceable by the people closest to them.

(on camera): How easy is it to hide from your parents in here?

HIGGINS: Really easy.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): The Peer Research Center estimates 4 million teens have a blog, 8 million teens read them, and 3 million read the blogs of strangers.

Before 18-year old David Ludwig allegedly murdered the parents of his 14-year old girlfriend, Kara Borden, police in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania believe the two developed a relationship while blogging on a church network.

DR. SUSAN BARTELL, PSYCHOLOGIST: Because it's unsupervised and because there's no guidance from adults, the kids don't really necessarily make the right decisions when it comes to the people that they're meeting through their blogs.

MATTINGLY: Studies find most teens become interested in blogs as early as the seventh grade. Caeli was 13 when she started. By 15, she was spending up to four hours a day online, blogging, messaging, and withdrawing from her family. All the while, reading about the darkest exploits of her circle of friends.

HIGGINS: Drugs and drinking and parties and stuff that went on at school, like, you know, people -- girls like having sex and all this stuff, just all like the really bad details of high school life.

MATTINGLY (on camera): About half of parents in a recent national survey say they electronically monitor their children's access to the web. But if Caeli's mother hadn't decided to investigate last year by clicking on one of her daughter's open journals when she wasn't looking, then Caeli's substance abuse could have remained a secret.

PAT HIGGINS, CAELI'S MOM: The worst thing was when I found in a journal that she wrote online that she and a bunch of kids had gone to -- one of the kids had a boat -- his family had a boat out in the bay, and it was February. And apparently she was so drunk, she passed out and they tucked her in on a bed on the boat and then they all left her. I just couldn't believe, you know, how terrified I was when I read that. And I though, my God, she could have died.

MATTINGLY: And the confrontation that followed was traumatic. Caeli's parents were devastated by the years of deception. Caeli, herself, felt betrayed by the intrusion into her private world.

HIGGINS: She made me go to this therapist in my town and then she printed out my whole journal and highlighted everything and gave it to my therapist. And that's when I got really mad.

MATTINGLY: The family then agreed to some changes. Now 16, Caeli's in a new school. And her online activity is closely monitored at home. Pot and alcohol are in the past. But the blogging she shows us is as feverish as ever, giving her parents still plenty of reasons to worry. David Mattingly, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: That's frightening. Virginia Shaw (ph) from "HEADLINE NEWS," joining us now with some of the other stories we are following tonight. Hi Virginia.

VIRGINIA SHAW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello there, Heidi.

Well, "West Wing" Actor John Spencer has died of a heart attack in Los Angeles. Spencer won an Emmy for his portrayal of White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry. He got his break in the Harrison Ford thriller, "Presumed Innocent," then went on to star in the TV series "L.A. Law." John Spencer was 58.

Well, a man who allegedly posed as a New York City firefighter, to commit sexual assault, stabbed himself in the neck as police approached him in Tennessee. Peter Braunstein is hospitalized in fair condition. Police want to speak to him in connection with the 13-hour assault of a woman in her Manhattan apartment on Halloween.

Okay, so it's winter, the time most of us put on a few pounds. And that also goes for the king penguins at Asahiyama Zoo in northern Japan. Now the zoo's answer, the penguin workout -- a 500-yard walk twice a day. The zoo says in the summer the birds can swim off their excess weight. But come winter, they don't move much to withstand the cold. I guess pretty soon they'll be doing penguin treadmills.

COLLINS: Yes. Five hundred yards is pretty had and pretty long to walk when you only take steps that big, right?

SHAW: That's true.

COLLINS: Virginia, thank you. While FEMA trailers sit idle and vacant, hurricane evacuees shiver in tent cities. So why is this happening months after Katrina hit? We'll go beyond the finger pointing.

And a rare genetic disorder that leaves victims feeling like they are always hungry. How can they possibly control their appetites? That story and more when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, Katrina left America's Gulf Coast residents homeless before Labor Day. Now it is nearly Christmas and they are still feeling the chill. Who should they turn to? The local government? To FEMA? There's a lot of finger pointing going on and some charges of racism. In tonight's "Keeping them Honest," CNN Chief National Correspondent John King visits a Vietnamese community, still looking for a home.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A crackling fire to warm a December night. A crowd huddled around, yet another reminder. Nearly four months after the devastating summer storm basic help for those in dire need remains a glaring problem.

This is tent city at Mary Queen of Vietnam Church in New Orleans East, home to as many as 100 people some nights, including young children and the elderly. A few space heaters and a blanket, their only shield from nighttime temperatures, now dipping close to freezing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have to stay here and sleep in here at night. At daytime, we come back to repair our house.

KING: The scene is sad enough. But add in this. FEMA approved the church's request for 200 trailers two months ago. But the mayor hasn't signed the necessary paperwork.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not asking for any handoffs from the city, just a signature.

KING: Father Vien Nwin (ph) initially gave grace to an overwhelmed city government. Now he worries there's more at play here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I normally don't want to mess around with the racial card, but at this point I'm wondering. I'm wondering why is it that in this Vietnamese community that hasn't been -- our needs hasn't been responded to by the city government.

KING: Asked by CNN to explain the two-month delay, Mayor Ray Nagin blamed paperwork and would still not commit to a firm timetable.

RAY NAGIN, MAYOR, NEW ORLEANS: That's a good site and we probably will approve it, if we haven't already done that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to ask these guys who's in charge.

KING: Whatever the reasons for that delay, race is also an undercurrent in the debate about this and other unoccupied trailer parks just across the river from New Orleans in Jefferson Parish.

LARRY CORVILLE, FEMA CONTRACTOR: Realistically, you could put six people in here.

KING: One hundred empty trailers here and FEMA says it has 31,000 more waiting to be delivered, hostage to the political debate.

R. DAVID PAULISON, ACTING FEMA DIRECTOR: We have a lot of people that want to come home, they want to go back to Louisiana.

KING: Thirty-two parishes, or counties, in Louisiana have said no to FEMA trailer parks, eight yes, and 25 others, including hardest hit Orleans Parish, yes, but only under certain conditions.

FEMA Chief David Paulison says Houston and other Texas cities have been more compassionate to Katrina evacuees than many communities in their own home state.

PAULISON: Some of the conditions are, yes, we'll let you put up a trailer park in our parish, if only our parish people stay in those trailer parks. You know, I think that is unreasonable.

KING: Jefferson Parish is 70 percent white. Byron Lee is the only African-American on the parish council and acknowledges race is an issue as his colleagues and constituents consider where to put trailer parks.

BYRON LEE, COUNCIL MEMBER, JEFFERSON PARISH: The difference between me and my council colleagues is that I have approved larger sites. I don't have the fear that perhaps others may have.

KING: But Lee himself was criticized when he pushed FEMA to cut by half the number of trailers at this still unopened site. He said it was too crowded. "The New Orleans Times-Picayune" suggested Lee was trying to satisfy residents who complained the more trailers the more people from across the river.

(on camera): "Maybe he'd rather curry favor with racists than stick up for those who look like him." When you read an editorial like that, what does it do to you?

LEE: Why, it angered me.

KING (voice-over): Stop by a New Orleans city council meeting and there are many more examples of a housing crisis that is a frustrating stew of emotion, bureaucracy, finger-pointing, and increasingly, many say, racism and class wars.

Councilwoman Renee Gill Pratt says she does not object to trailers in her district, just to the mayor's plan to place them in city playgrounds. RENEE GILL PRATT, NEW ORLEANS COUNCILMEMBER: There are some people who don't want certain people to live in their neighborhoods, and you can't do that.

KING: But some housing activists are skeptical even of African- American officials like Gill Pratt. Noting her effort to get trailers out of Annunciation Square, in the 89 percent white garden district she represents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we get it done --

KING: With Gill Pratt, Councilwoman Jacquelyn Clarkson led a successful effort to override a mayor veto and let council members pick trailer sites in their districts. She also wants to give police and firefighters priority, but insists that is not a back door way of keeping poorer African-Americans out of the 67 percent white Algiers neighborhood she represents.

JACQUELYN CLARKSON, COUNCIL MEMBER, NEW ORLEANS: The majority of our first responders are minorities, so we certainly haven't been discriminating against minorities. We've been discriminating for first responders.

KING: The once certainty is that trailers sit empty while the politicians bicker, or in the case of Mary Vicker (ph) of Vietnam Church, no trailers at all as Christmas approaches. The same city beau racy slow to act four months ago, now leaving people out in the cold.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: And Mayor Nagin, insisting today, he has signed stacks of papers authorizing trailer parks. The mayor says he's not the problem. That paperwork often has to go back to the city council, the city council, in turn, saying no, it's the administration causing the delays by not acting quickly and not putting a plan that the council can accept.

Anderson, it's a big like groundhog day, political in-fighting, finger-pointing, people waiting.

COOPER: It is just incredible. I mean, you know, all these people talking about what -- who are these people? I mean, they're all Americans and they need a place to live. It is incredible, John. You say in your report, just some 30,000 trailers just sitting empty waiting. It is outrageous. John, thanks very much for that. John King keeping them honest tonight.

Coming up next on 360, she was a baby who didn't grow at first, but soon she was eating everything in sight. Now her family has to find a way to save her from her insatiable appetite, before it actually kills her. That story is coming up next.

Plus a terrifying simulation of disaster that geologists say is bound to happen, a tsunami hurtling toward the Pacific Coast. How bad could it be? Coming up next on 360. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: It is 7:35 here in Iraq. Here's what's happening at this moment.

President Bush says he's protecting Americans and their civil liberties, that, after "The New York Times" reported today that following 9/11 Mr. Bush authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans without a warrant. The White House has refused to confirm the story.

In a vote today, the House of Representatives approved a resolution that expresses it commitment to achieving a victory in Iraq. Fifty-nine Democrats joined 220 Republicans in voting yes. Resolution rejects calls for a U.S. withdrawal. Critics call the vote a political stunt.

Count Mississippi Senator Trent Lott among the victims of Hurricane Katrina who are suing their insurance companies. At issue, were their homes destroyed by wind driven storm surge or by flooding. Insurers say they shouldn't have to pay if owners didn't have flood insurance.

Let's go back to New York for the day's other top stories with Heidi Collins.

Hey, Heidi.

COLLINS: Hey, Anderson.

Imagine if your child were always hungry, not because you couldn't provide for her. Constantly hungry because of a genetic defect that keep her from feeling full no matter how much she eats.

Your child is a prisoner of her appetite. And you must become her guard, locking up food, keeping her from eating herself to death. It is a rare and strange disease that makes life hell for those who have it. Here's CNN Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No! Wait, wait!

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The sound of local ice cream truck makes most children smile, but that sound is torture for Maribel Riviera.

She's desperate for ice cream, or anything else to eat, tormented by a constant hunger that never ever goes away. And it's not all in her head. Scientists have discovered that people like Maribel are missing a piece of genetic material. They're mentally challenged and they're always hungry.

Ronnie Mawer's (ph) son, Andy, lived with that non-stop hunger since he was a child.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you think I have to go get something to eat, they're never without that feeling.

COHEN (on camera): What's it like being hungry all the time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's terrible, I don't know anything else. (INAUDIBLE)

COHEN: Some people might think, why can't you just control yourself? If I see a doughnut, I just don't eat it. Why can't you do that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can't, because it's there. It's compulsion, the need, the urge to get the food.

COHEN (voice-over): After 46 years, he's finally begun to learn how to live with that urge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of the time I can control it.

COHEN: But Maribel's long difficult journey might never reach that point. Her mother, Mercedes Riviera had two normal pregnancies, gave birth to two healthy children. But the third child was different. When Maribel was born was didn't cry and she didn't nurse. Doctors struggled with what was wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said, what is wrong with my daughter? And I said, nobody has really said anything to me. Well, you're daughter's retarded and that's how she said it, like, just blunt like that.

COHEN: All signs pointed to a genetic disorder called Prader- Willi Syndrome, that affects one in 15,000 people. Doctor Suzanne Cassidy (ph) is a medical geneticist and a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco.

DR. SUZANNE CASSIDY, MEDICAL GENETICIST, UCSF: Individuals with Prader-Willi Syndrome have a period of what we call failure to thrive. They tend to have very poor grow first in weight, then in length for a number of weeks or months in infancy. And sometime between one and six year's of age, it seems all of a sudden one day the child starts eating whatever they can get their hands on.

COHEN: Maribel was a classic case. She had a low IQ, she was late to walk, and even later to talk. She was shorter than average. And from age of five, Maribel gained weight fast.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was eating more than usual, or asking for more. Or she had just probably had a meal and she wanted to eat again.

COHEN: The Rivieras had to change the way they lived to keep Maribel from eating herself to death.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sometimes we even had to like rush ourselves to eat, because if we kind of do it slow, she'll start looking at everybody's plate to make sure that nobody is looking and she will steal from other family member's plate. COHEN: Food had to be locked up and the Rivieras had to put a fence around their house to keep Maribel from getting out and finding food on her own. But it didn't always work.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you buy me a hot dog please?

COHEN: Maribel's older sister made a documentary about her 24- year struggle with Prader-Willi Syndrome. She caught this startling moment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you buy me one hot dog, please? I'm so hungry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where are your parents?

MARIBEL: I don't have no parents. Please.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.

MARIBEL: Please. Thank you. Thank you. I want ketchup.

COHEN: By the time Maribel was 23, she stood 4 feet, 10 inches and weighted 235 pounds. She had trouble breathing and was diagnosed with diabetes. Her parents checked her into a hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When she first was admitted into the hospital she was stealing from the patients. She was stealing, even, from the trash.

COHEN: In the hospital, she gained 20 pounds. Her parents brought her home and put her on a strict diet. That sparked a rage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was something I couldn't even handle. In fact, my husband had to actually take over because of the strength of her tantrums and her -- became really strong and violent, that I wasn't able to handle her. As she got older, it's got worse.

COHEN: There's no cure for Prader-Willi Syndrome. The Rivieras realize that the only place that could regulate Maribel's disorder, was a group home where she could be watched around the clock.

CASSIDY: When such individuals get put into a group home for adults, especially with Prader-Willi Syndrome, this is when I've seen the most amazing weight loss and increase in fitness. The food is locked up. It's not available between meals and snacks. Everybody in the home is on a diet, not just that one person.

COHEN: It worked for Andy Mawer (ph). He lost eighty pounds when he moved into this group home. He got a job at a recycling plant. Spent a lot of time riding horses and even started dating.

(on camera): Now, I hear you have a girlfriend?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I have -- maybe a couple. The only way I go on dates is if I give my mom my money, so I won't go get -- so I won't go out and get food. COHEN: Why couldn't you just keep Andy at home?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because who would care for him when we're gone? It was very difficult, but I knew it was the right thing to do.

COHEN: And how is that, living with other people with Prader- Willi?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like it, because I need people around me. Because I need the companionship. Like -- it's like our house it's -- we're a -- staff included, we're a family. Problem is you have to keep busy so their minds won't be on food all the time.

COHEN (voice-over): Maribel's family knows that living in a group home won't take away her hunger, but they also know it's the only way to control her behavior. As they go to her new home in Wisconsin, they're full of hope.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you excited about, Maribel? What are you going to do there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Watch movies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Swimming, exercise.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exercise.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make new friends.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Friends.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lose some weight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Weight.

COHEN: The adjustment to this new place will be difficult, but the first signs are good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I want to stay here!

COHEN: Leaving Maribel behind will be hard for her family. But they know that this decision could save her life. Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Columbia, South Carolina.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Maribel has been at the group home in Wisconsin now, for nearly two weeks. And we're told she talks to her family every other day, and while she misses them, we hear she is losing weight and is enjoying making new friends.

Well, nearly a year after the devastating Asian tsunami, we asked could it happen here? The killer wave, it's impact felt around the globe. Tonight we hear from scientists who have a good idea of how it would really feel if the tsunami hit our shores.

And we go back to Iraq. How will this week's election shape a nation's future. That's the world in 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: It was a disaster that was felt everywhere. These were horrifying images of the Asian tsunami that stunned the world nearly one year ago. Tonight, a question most Americans don't want to think about, could it happen here? Some scientists say it is a scenario that needs no stretch of the imagination.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATE MORAN, OCEANOGRAPHER, RHODE ISLAND UNIV.: It's eminent, it could happen any time. It could happen today.

COLLINS (voice-over): As oceanographer Kate Moran hooked up with the Discovery Channel and led a group of scientists out to the Indian Ocean to find out what exactly happened on the sea floor. Could it help them understand and predict other tsunamis around the world? Could it help them predict an earthquake in the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which lies just 50 miles off the northwestern coast of the U.S.

MORAN: Cascadia is a perfect example. It's like the twin sister of the earthquake that happened on December 26. Same length of fault system, same estimated magnitude that could happen at this location, very proximal to the coast line, populated coastline.

COLLINS: From their findings they were able to simulate a magnitude 9.2 earthquake on the Cascadia Subduction Zone. But the model shown in the documentary does not come without controversy.

CHRIS GOLDFINGER, MARINE GEOLOGIST, OREGON STATE UNIV.: A real magnitude 9 earthquake and a tsunami are plenty scary enough that really sensationalizing it isn't necessary.

COLLINS: Marine geologist Chris Goldfinger says the model lacks peer review and doesn't use all of the geological data available for Cascadia, causing skepticism on what he says is an extreme model.

But there is one thing most of the science community does agree on, a tsunami hitting the Northwestern Coast is inevitable. Primarily because it already happened about 300 years ago, in 1700.

GOLDFINGER: We can predict that this is going to happen, there is no doubt about it, but it will be a surprise when it happens.

COLLINS: So then, are we prepared?

GOLDFINGER: The answer is really, no. Today, we've really just started up the ladder of being prepared.

COLLINS: States are starting to take more steps in preparing their coastal communities, by updating alert warning systems and having evacuation routes and signs to direct people to safer locations.

JIM MULLEN, WASHINGTON STATE, FEMA DIRECTOR: We can't stop the wave, but we can get people out of the way if we train them and work with them to make sure that they know where to go.

COLLINS: But because Cascadia is so close to the coastline, the timeframe for people to react will be short.

GOLDFINGER: For people who live right along the coast in the Pacific Northwest, essentially the warning is the earthquake. There won't be any other warning that's fast enough to really do any good. The time that people have, locally, is a little as 10 or 15 minutes to really be -- to get moving.

COLLINS: After that, there will be, essentially, no escape.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: The documentary, "America's Tsunami: Are We Next?", airs this Sunday on the Discovery Channel. Certainly not very nice to think about.

Anderson?

COOPER: Yes, remarkable that. Heidi, thanks.

Here in Iraq, history in the making, Iraqis of all stripes turning out in strength for Thursday's election. I'll tell you what its been like, seeing it first hand, next, on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER (voice-over): Most soldiers don't live in tents in Iraq. They live in what are called CHUs, the Army has an acronym for everything. A CHU is this, it is a container housing unit; basically, a metal box, protected by these sandbags.

Now a lot of soldiers will add a porch onto their CHU that they build themselves. They get some chairs. This one even has a kind of a rug. This CHU belongs to Master Sergeant Martin Lake (ph). He told us we could come in here.

Two sergeants live in here. Master Sergeant Lake has a television. He's got a DVD, and well, like a lot of soldiers, he's got a reminder of home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Anderson returned to Iraq at a crucial time of course this week. To witness history being made.

So, Anderson, you just spent quite a bit of time with the troops. What was it like living with them?

COOPER: You know, it was a remarkable experience. I was up in Baquba with the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry, some 2,000 troops. They're going to be returning home in about a month. You know, the more time you spend with them, you really see how committed they are to this mission here. They've been here 11 months, they know Baquba well. They have seen progress on the ground. And you hear a lot of frustration from them that more stories don't get out about what they're lives are like. What their day-to-day life is like and the progress that they see being made.

It's one of those things, you know, yes, there are bombs and there are bullets and there is death nearly everyday. But there is progress being made and they want that story out and we've been trying to tell that story, as well, this week, Heidi.

COLLINS: They are incredibly persistent. You know, one of my favorite moments of the week, having you there was, certainly, election day. And you found the Iraqi school teacher, who teaches English to her students. She was so enthusiastic. And her optimism, just incredible.

COOPER: Yes.

COLLINS: What was it like actually being there to watch those Iraqis go through the door, and place their vote?

COOPER: Yes, it was a great day. And you know, I've been at a lot of elections, both here back in January, but also in Soweto in South Africa, when Nelson Mandela became the president for the first time, and in Cambodia when they voted for the first time. It is so moving on election day to see people casting a ballot. Iraqis now -- this is kind of old hat for them -- they've done this three times in the last year, but every day -- every time it is special. And that teacher, in particular, was just thrilled to be there.

We'll be right back with more from Baghdad.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're from Charlie 511 Phantom, based out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Hunter 1st Airborne Division, Air Assault. We're stationed out of Tikrit, Iraq. And we'd like to wish everyone a happy holidays.

ALL: Happy holidays!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: It has been an extraordinary week here in Iraq. Want to thank the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry for hosting us, Colonel Salazar up in Baquba. For Heidi and myself, thanks for watching. Larry King is next.

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