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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Vice President Cheney's Misfire; Alabama Authorities Investigate 10 Church Fires; Pocket Pornography
Aired February 13, 2006 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again, everyone.
So, here's a question that millions of people are asking: When was the last time a vice president of the United States shot anyone? Do you know the answer? Two hundred and one years ago, when Vice President Aaron Burr killed Alexander -- Alexander Hamilton.
This time, around, it was a hunting accident, not a duel. And the victim is recovering. It happened on Saturday, but is causing a big stir now, today, over why it took nearly 24 hours for anyone to mention that the vice president of the United States had actually pulled the trigger and shot a guy.
From the White House tonight, here's CNN's Dana Bash.
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vice President Cheney came back to work today to find a White House under fire over why it took nearly 24 hours to alert the public that he shot a man.
SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You can always look -- you can always looks back at these issues and look at how to do a better job.
QUESTION: It's not really a hindsight issue here.
BASH: It was 5:30 p.m. Saturday when Mr. Cheney, quail-hunting in Texas, accidentally shot Harry Whittington. But it did not become public until Sunday afternoon, and not by the vice president's office.
KATHARINE ARMSTRONG, RANCH OWNER: Mr. Whittington was in the -- in the line of fire and got peppered pretty well.
BASH: But by his host and an eyewitness, Katharine Armstrong, because, the White House insists, the vice president himself personally made a decision to defer to her.
MCCLELLAN: And the vice president felt that Mrs. Armstrong should be the first one to go out there and provide that information.
BASH: They did not even discuss making the incident public until Sunday morning, when Armstrong says she told the vice president she would call her local paper, and he agreed. The story appeared on the "Corpus Christi Caller" Web site Sunday afternoon. The Associated Press got wind about 3:00 p.m. Sunday, and it was not until about a half-an-hour later, nearly a day after the incident, Mr. Cheney's office confirmed he shot Mr. Whittington, and gave CNN and others Armstrong's number for details.
MCCLELLAN: I think that the first priority was making sure that Harry Whittington, Mr. Whittington, was getting the medical care that he needed.
BASH: In a highly contentious briefing, the president's spokesman tried to explain why the White House did not release the information itself and sooner. But, in a striking move, Scott McClellan made clear it was not his call or how he would handle it.
MCCLELLAN: ... position like mine, I was urging that that information be made available as quickly as possible. And the Vice President's Office was working to get that information out.
BASH: The president was informed at about 8:00 p.m. Saturday night. But, in fact, McClellan himself did not know the details of the incident until Sunday morning.
Longtime friend and former Senator Alan Simpson concedes, it is a window into how Mr. Cheney operates.
ALAN SIMPSON, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: He has always been tight- lipped with the media. He -- he has never been expansive with the media. What is new?
BASH: In fact, the vice president's office routinely refuses to say where he is or provide details even of regular workday meetings or recreation trips out of Washington, and have waited hours to acknowledge he has been hospitalized.
BASH: And, this evening, two days after the incident, the vice president's office released its first official statement about the shooting incident. And that was to say, Mr. Cheney actually was hunting illegally, because he did not have a required $7 stamp on his Texas hunting license.
Well, he's getting a warning from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department -- no fine, but he has apparently already sent them a $7 check for the missing stamp -- Anderson.
COOPER: How -- how often does he go hunting?
BASH: Often. He actually goes to this particular ranch, the Armstrong ranch, once a year. He goes and he shoots pheasants in South Dakota. He goes to Arkansas as well.
He's -- he's a sportsman. And talking to Alan Simpson, his friend and former senator, he just basically -- basically says that the vice president is from Wyoming. This is a way of life. You grow up with -- with a hunting rifle in your hand, and this is something that -- really, that he likes to do. And it's part of his recreation.
But they -- as I mentioned, they don't ever really announce the he's going to do this. He -- but he does do it several times a year.
COOPER: Dana Bash, fascinating. Thank you.
Seven-dollar license or not, paperwork or not, Mr. Cheney knows his way around a shotgun, as Dana just mentioned. So, should he have known better this weekend?
We sent CNN's Rick Sanchez out into the field with hunters today to get their take on what happened and why it happens a lot -- Rick.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We got a pretty good perspective, Anderson, as we talked to a lot of the hunters out here today, especially in terms of what we're talking about, as far as the weapon is concerned.
There's been a lot of confusion about this. So, let me try and clear this up for you, if I possibly can. This is buckshot. All right? Take a look at it. You can see it in my hand right there. You see the size of those pellets? All right. That is what they call buckshot -- called buckshot, because, oftentimes, it's used to shoot bucks.
So, it's obviously a lot bigger than what I'm about to show you right now.
Go ahead and take this, if you can, Benji (ph).
This is what the vice president was most likely using. This is the birdshot. Take a look at it.
Go ahead, if you can, Callaway (ph).
See the shot right there? Now, you see, that's an eight. It's a much, much smaller pellet. Some people call them BBs. Essentially, it's a shot. This would be the birdshot that would be used.
Now, really, if -- if you're looking at that big buckshot that I showed you just a little while ago, just one of those can obviously do an awful lot of damage.
Thank you, sir.
If you're talking about, in that case, the birdshot, it all depends on the pattern that you shoot it in. In fact, I'm going to give you an example of what I'm talking about right now.
We're doing to shoot into that target there. I'm standing about 15 yards away. And you will get a sense of exactly what kind of damage it can do.
The first thing I'm going to do is, I will make sure I remove the safety. I'm going to take it off, and I'm going to go into that -- Callaway (ph), I'm going for the pattern on the left, the target on the left.
SANCHEZ: You see it right there. Now, that one came down. I'm going to show you something else.
Callaway (ph), if you can, let's back up a little bit now. All right? See if we can -- I know we have got a couple of wires on us. And be real careful. But I'm going to take 10 steps back and I'm going to stop right here.
The first thing I'm going to do is make sure I put my -- my microphone back off, because it stood off.
If you would, Benji (ph), hold this real quick.
I'm going to show you, Anderson, now the difference in the pattern, because, really, it's all about distance. The further you go back, obviously, the less of a pattern, or the -- the wider the pattern, which means you will do a little less damage.
I'm going to remove -- remove the safety. And now we are going go for that other target over there.
Callaway (ph), target on the right.
SANCHEZ: See the difference?
In fact, let's go over there.
Benji (ph), I'm going to put the gun right there. Let's go ahead and take a look at it.
And -- and -- and this is crucial to what I'm we are talking about in this case, because it's that pattern that shoots out. If, as reported, the victim in the vice president's accidental shooting case was actually about 30 or 40 feet away, we would be talking about a pattern like that. You see it?
When you put it in light, you actually see the holes, those little birdshots that actually go through. Obviously, that can do a lot of damage. There are some reports the say, well, it looked like he almost had some kind of an abrasion in his face -- big difference, obviously, than using buck.
Now, when you go over here, now we are another 10 yards away. It's a different pattern. And, as you can see, if you look on the left right there, you see right there that it's actually a wider pattern. As a result, less injury would result. So, really, it's all about the pattern. That's what they're talking about when they are talking about the birdshot in these cases. And we have been getting a real good example, as we have been talking to some of these hunters today, about what you have to do out there to make sure that you're safe. And one thing we learned in talking to these hunters today, Anderson, was -- just by watching them, as a matter of fact -- is, more often than not, they had shots that they wanted to take, because they thought they could bring a quail down, but they wouldn't take it, because there were many things that came into play that they thought was just a little too dangerous at the time.
So, that's when you go out with experienced hunters and with a good guide in a real preserve, as was the case as we saw out here today -- obviously, a lot of question in this case, though -- Anderson, back to you.
Rick, the hunters you -- you were talking to today, I mean, how far apart are they spaced? Do they -- do they all stay together? Do they -- do they space out far -- far from each other?
SANCHEZ: Great question.
Usually, the guide stands between them. You have one hunter over here to my right, another hunter over here to my left. They say, the smaller the hunting party, the safer you're going to be. Remember, you're going out there. You have to account for everything around you. There's going to be a dog that is going to be chasing the quail in front of you.
There's going to be vehicles that are going to be parked to one side. And there's going to be other hunters and the guide. So, what they do is, if you can follow me right now -- and I don't have the gun, but the guy on the right would usually shoot only in this direction. That's as far as he wants to go. He never wants to, like, turn the axis 360, so to speak.
Same as the one over here -- he wants to stay about 135 and only go this way. They never go beyond that. And they're real careful to make sure that they stay within that axis. If they ever go beyond it, that is when they often get themselves in trouble -- Anderson.
COOPER: I -- I like the 360 reference there, Rick -- very -- very clever.
SANCHEZ: I thought you would.
COOPER: Yes. No -- it was fascinating. I appreciate that. It -- it actually clears up a lot, being from New York, never having been hunting. Haven't had the pleasure yet.
Safe to say, comedy writers dream of stories like this one. No one's dead, and everyone is talking. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN")
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": We have finally located weapons of mass destruction. It's Dick Cheney.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO")
JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": I tell you, although it is beautiful today here in California, the weather back East has just been atrocious. Unbelievable. There was so much -- so much snow in Washington, D.C., Dick Cheney accidentally shot a fat guy, thinking it was a polar bear.
LENO: Oh. Well, that is...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That was Letterman and Leno from their monologues tonight, though the morning papers saw the situation a little bit differently.
Do we have some of those morning papers? There -- we do.
"The Daily News" said, well, "Duck. It's Dick." "The New York Post" said "Big Shot." There you go, pretty clever. "The Washington Post," I think," played it much straighter, and can't even read it. So, there you go.
COOPER: So, accident -- companion apparently didn't signal.
Whether it was funny or not, whether you thought it was funny or not -- you got a taste of this in Dana Bash's report -- for this vice president, who likes to stay out of the spotlight, the best headline seems to be, well no, headline at all.
Here's CNN's Tom Foreman.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For a man in one of the nation's most public jobs, Dick Cheney often leads a pretty private life. That's remarkable, when you consider the history of vice presidents.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: They all run for president. That's what vice presidents do. That's their job. That's their business, so, they're totally political. We have known from the outset, Dick Cheney isn't interested in running for president. He says he's not going to run. He's never entertained the thought. He's never encouraged it. And he's not behaving as if he expects to be president. That's why he's so different.
FOREMAN: With no need to court voters, Vice President Cheney has done things other might consider politically risky. He's gone hunting with Supreme Court justices, cursed out a senator on the Senate floor, and treated the media with, if not disdain, at least disinterest.
Reporters often don't know where he is, who he's with, or what he's doing. And he can be brutally blunt with the opposition. The private ways of Vice President Cheney, along with his disappearance into a secret bunker during at least one national emergency, have fed Democratic suspicions that he is the power behind the presidency, shaping decisions, pulling strings.
For Republicans, however, Cheney is quietly reassuring, especially to conservatives, when the president runs afoul of their views on issues like foreign affairs and immigration.
SCHNEIDER: Well, they like Dick Cheney, simply because they think he's reliable. He's reliably conservative. He will make sure the administration is on the straight and narrow.
FOREMAN: Because of his age, 65, and a history of heart trouble, the vice president's health has been followed closely.
(on camera): Almost every time he goes to the hospital, an army of reporters follows. But, inevitably, he is released. A few details are, too, and that's that.
(voice-over): No wonder even the cartoons online now portray him as a squinting puzzle of a person -- in public office, yes -- in public life, even now, not so much.
Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Well, coming up ahead, we are on the trail of a mystery.
Ten fires, 10 churches all in the same state -- what would make anybody do this? Investigators think they are closer to an answer, tracking two men who are working together, and trying to understand their motive -- what may be their motive -- to burn the -- we will have latest on the search. Also, how would you like getting stuck in this record-breaking snowfall? A lot of people did. We will see how things are tonight all along the East Coast.
Plus, they mutilate their bodies, but don't feel pain. Why and how do they do it? We will show you a rare and secret ritual -- when 360 continues.
COOPER: Well, the images are startling. It is hard to imagine why anyone would burn down a church, never mind 10 churches. Investigators in -- in Alabama think that two men, still on the loose, may have done just that. Ten Baptist churches have caught fire there since February 3, the latest this past Saturday in Beaverton -- all fires deliberately set. And investigators say they may be related.
Now they just have to figure out who did it and how to catch them.
CNN's Rusty Dornin is following the investigation.
RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Ten fires at 10 churches -- a mountain of evidence left in some, bits in others, each one telling a different story.
By the time firefighters got to the Morning Star Baptist Church in Boligee, Alabama, there was nothing really left to save. When there is only soot and ash, the arson dogs can prove invaluable.
The same night the Morning Star Church was destroyed, so was the Galilee Baptist Church, about 30 miles away.
Ricky Farley trains law enforcement dogs to sniff out arson evidence. He came with us to Galilee.
(on-camera): When you bring the dogs into a church like this that is completely burned to the ground, what are -- what are they looking for?
RICKY FARLEY, ARSON DOG TRAINER: Just any minute traces of sediments that may not have burned during the fire. You know, a dog can detect one-fifth of a needle drop of accelerant. So, these flags could represent where a dog may have indicated the arson investigators may have saw something that they marked.
DORNIN (voice over): Galilee mystified investigators because it was so remote, only one way in and one way out -- no easy getaways here. That was another reason to believe the arsonists are locals, well acquainted with the back roads.
In the wee hours the same night Morning Star and Galilee burned, a fire started at the Dancy Baptist Church about 10 miles away. (on-camera): Investigators believe this is the footprint of one of the arsonists, that they kicked the door open to the church, which triggered the alarm and saved this church from burning to the ground.
(voice over): It also allowed investigators to find a lot of evidence intact.
REVEREND WALTER HAWKINS, DANCY BAPTIST CHURCH: They believe it started from the pulpit area, which is right here.
DORNIN: Reverend Walter Hawkins knows more than many of the pastors about what happened at his church.
(on-camera): Have they told you anything about how this started?
HAWKINS: No more than it just started from the pulpit area. There was a communion table that was along the back of the -- the -- the chairs, which is no longer available. So, we don't know -- they...
DORNIN: That's where it started?
DORNIN (voice over): But one of the most intriguing clues came after the arsonists lit the blaze. Investigators believe they tried to escape out the front door.
HAWKINS: Apparently, they came out this way, tried to push on the door, but it wouldn't open because it was a deadbolt, and they couldn't get out. So, they apparently had to go out the other door, where the other handprint was.
DORNIN: Two handprints cut out by ATF investigators, not just physical evidence. Authorities used the incident in appealing to the arsonists to contact them, telling the suspects they understood. Things must have become very frightening for them inside the church that morning.
JIM CAVANAUGH, BUREAU OF ALCOHOL, TOBACCO AND FIREARMS INVESTIGATOR: We think they might have been caught in there, probably slow to get out. I think it might have got a little smoky on them, a little hot. You know, some -- some evidence in there that maybe a door stuck, and maybe they were in there longer than they thought. These things can flip on you. They could be trapped and killed.
DORNIN: Investigators say they're looking for two men in their 20s or 30s, strong enough to kick down a door, agile enough to escape a raging fire.
Authorities admit it is a struggle to decide which clues to release to the public and which ones they need to keep close to the vest, as they try and solve this puzzle and stop these crimes before someone gets hurt. Rusty Dornin, CNN, Dancy, Alabama.
COOPER: Well, in Rusty's piece, you heard a bit there from ATF Agent Jim Cavanaugh. Earlier, I talked with him about the investigation.
COOPER: You -- you said you think whoever is doing this has a message, and you want to hear it. What do you mean?
CAVANAUGH: Well, you know, people do these things because there's some -- something driving them to do it. I mean, there's a feeling, an anger, a -- a stress, that they want to act out and get this done.
We have -- we -- our witness descriptions and our assessment of the crime scenes, we believe these guys are 20 to the early 30s. They are a team. They're buddies. They're partners. They're basically inseparable.
And when -- when anybody would notice them, they would say, you know, when you see one, you see the other. They're always together. Those guys are always together, like a team. And something is stressing one or both of them that's causing them to do this.
So, we think they do have a message. They are doing this for a reason, a feeling. And, so, we have opened up some channels, when they can talk with us, communicate with us, especially for them. And we're genuine in that. We do want to hear why this is going on. And, certainly, we want to stop it.
COOPER: How -- how -- I mean, what do you know about how these fires have been started? Do you think they -- do they do a lot of reconnaissance? Do they watch the church for a while?
CAVANAUGH: I think, in -- in the initial churches, Bibb County, they -- the feel I have, when I went there, was that they had been there before.
And we feel like they probably live closer to the Bibb cluster than they do to the western Alabama cluster.
COOPER: What was it that gave you that feeling?
CAVANAUGH: Just the remote nature of the churches. They would be very difficult to find at night, and very difficult in the dark.
These are -- some of these roads are dirt roads, way back in the woods. And there's no street lights. To be able to even find these five churches would be difficult in the daytime, let alone at night. So, I think they have been there before. They may be night hunters. They may go back there and drink beer. There may be a lot of reasons they're just familiar with the area. They could have worked around the area for some reason.
COOPER: You helped investigate the -- the rash of church fires in the South during the '90s.
In -- in your experience, I mean, why is it that people burn churches?
CAVANAUGH: Well, in the '90s, you know, we had a variety of motives.
We certainly had hate and -- and organized hate, and bigotry, isolated bigots. You know, in South Carolina, the grand dragon of the Klan, we captured for burning churches over there. So, we had all that activity, which opened the wounds of the '60s, but we also had other motives.
I mean, we had arson to cover burglary. We had embezzlement of church funds. We had volunteer firefighters setting fires for thrill. We had -- just across the board. We had a devil worshiper named Ballinger who set 26 churches on fire from Indiana to Georgia to Alabama to Tennessee.
COOPER: Well, Erica Hill from Headline News joins us with some of the other stories we are following right now -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson.
We start off with some new information now about the British man charged with murdering his wife and baby. According to search warrants, Neil Entwistle used the Internet to find out how to kill people and how to commit suicide. And, in the days just before killings of his wife and his daughter, he allegedly used the Web to seek out sexual partners.
Entwistle is expected to be flown back to the U.S. later this week.
Houston, Texas, now -- the U.S. attorney's office says two federal air marshals agreed to smuggle cocaine on a flight to Las Vegas. They were arrested last week. Investigators say the man supplying them the drugs was actually a government witness.
Along parts of the East Coast, the snow falling, and so do the records. This weekend's blizzard left New York City under 26.9 inches of snow. That's the most ever for the Big Apple -- much of the Northeast and Atlantic also blanketed. The storm also forced hundreds of flight cancellations and left thousands without power.
And, if you think everyone is pining away for a Valentine, get this -- most single Americans, perfectly happy being unattached. Thank you very much. That is the finding from a new survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Only 16 percent of those asked are looking for love. Fifty-five percent say they have no interest in a romantic partner. So, take that, Cupid and Hallmark.
COOPER: Yes, Hallmark.
COOPER: All right, Erica, thank you.
HILL: Here comes the hate mail.
COOPER: I know.
COOPER: Or we just lost the Hallmark sponsorship.
HILL: We did.
COOPER: But that's all right.
Coming up soon, to a tiny screen near you, pocket porn, on the cell phone, or iPod, and it is hiding in plain sight. Now that you can easily take steamy videos with you, what parents need to know -- coming up.
And, from biting lightbulbs to whole -- take a look at that, a guy who just crunches on a lightbulb -- a whole lot worse than that. The mystics called Sufi seem able to transcend pain. Are they oblivious to it? And is there a lesson in this for the rest of us? Dr. Sanjay Gupta investigates.
Across America and around the world, you're watching 360.
COOPER: Well, file this one under hiding in plain sight, a category of report we do from time to time on developments that people can't seem to see, even though they're smack-dab in front of them.
This one really is smack-dab in front of them, right there in the palm of one hand, on the tiny screen so many of us carry around these days. Cell phone screens, iPod screams -- screens -- all of them now can be, and often are, X-rated.
Once again, tonight, CNN's Tom Foreman investigates.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Three things Americans generally agree on when it comes to porn: It's improper. It's immoral. And it's impossible for some of us to get enough of it.
And, in Miami, at the Mobile Adult Content Congress -- that's a porn convention -- all the talk was about how this business is getting much bigger because porn is getting smaller, with the help of these, personal video players in mobile phones, iPods and PDAs. Call it pocket porn.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, it's a huge -- it's a really huge topic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I talk to people about it. They're like, yes. We -- we want to get access to it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's flesh-colored crack. That's all that really is.
FOREMAN: Harvey Caplan (ph), a pocket porn marketer, says, for the first time ever, consumers aren't being embarrassed by walking into adult video stores, renting movies in hotels, or even having porn stored on their home computers. This technology puts downloads into the consumer's pocket fast and anonymously.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a device where people can download their content, feel safe and secure that no one else is going to gain access to it.
FOREMAN: This is huge. Since the video iPod was unveiled in October, Apple says 12 million regular videos have been downloaded on their Web site.
But, in the same period, this skin site called SuicideGirls, says they saw 10 million downloads, about one a second. Some videos are free, some for sale. So, it's not an apples-to-apples comparison, but how about that them apples?
RON JEREMY, PORN STAR: It's just between you and your little cell phone, you know? It sounds like a marriage made in heaven.
FOREMAN: Porn legend Ron Jeremy used to be known only to the late-night adult theater crowd. Not anymore. Pocket porn has him being mobbed.
JEREMY: The market has gotten 10 times bigger. And it's affecting a much different group. Now we have a lot of college kids and young couples that you would not see going to an adult theater.
FOREMAN (on camera): Certainly, this is terrible news for those who oppose pornography, who say it degrades people and promotes violence. But this trend is undeniably real. It's unsettlingly rapid. And it may be unstoppable.
(voice-over): Because some of the biggest communications companies in the world are getting involved.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is about hard, cold dollars.
FOREMAN: And they're expecting profits that are almost obscene.
Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Do you ever wonder how Ron Jeremy became a huge porn star? I don't know -- one of those mysteries.
Ahead on 360, pushing the limits of pain. A rare look inside a secret ritual that to an outsider's eyes seems horribly painful. But the mystics who practice it say they feel no pain at all.
How can that be? That man is building a light bulb. Yikes.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta investigates a mind-body mystery.
Also, those thousands of trailers meant for Katrina victims just sitting -- sitting there empty in Arkansas all these months, remember them? Well, the story gets worse. Tonight we'll tell you why those trailers may end up in a dumpster. That is right, trashed, coming up on 360.
COOPER: We're about to take you on an extraordinary journey to the outer limits of pain where the mind and body merge. Our guide tonight is 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta.
The journey begins in Kurdistan, with a ritual rarely seen by anyone outside the mystical branch of Islam called Sufism. Some of its followers attempt to connect directly with god through meditation, dancing, and other rituals, including self-mutilation.
I want to stress that not all Sufis practice what you're about -- what we're about to show you. And a warning as well. What you are about to see is hard to watch. The images are extremely graphic, but Dr. Gupta's report may also change they way you think about pain and the connection between the mind and the body.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's after midnight in a mosque in Sanandaj. Dr. Kaveh Alizadeh, a plastic surgeon from New York, is here among a Sunni sect of Sufis. He came to Kurdistan to perform cleft lip and palate surgeries, but a Kurdish colleague has brought him to see a secret ritual that Westerners rarely, if ever, are allowed to see.
Inside the mosque it's all men and boys. Women aren't allowed here. By day these men hold jobs and have families, but once a month they gather to do something only extreme Sufi sects do, mutilate themselves.
Their ritual begins with the driving drum beat and chanting to Allah. DR. KAVEH ALIZADEH, PLASTIC SURGEON: They started mentioning lines from the Koran which essentially -- as it relates to Mohammed being the prophet of god and there is no god but god. So they started taking those sequences of the Koran and essentially making it shorter and shorter as they started increasing the pace of the -- of the chants as they started getting into the trance itself.
GUPTA: It's rare to even see a Muslim man's hair, but during this ritual they remove their turbans. The spell deepens as they begin their journey to show their god the power of their faith, their minds over their bodies.
ALIZADEH: It was almost as if they wanted to be more liberated. So this sense of taking the turban off and losing that sense of identity that they have and becoming who they are -- really are. As we were standing there, we felt drawn into this, the passion of what was going on there. It's pretty intoxicating.
GUPTA: Dr. Alizadeh is transfixed as the ritual takes a shocking turn. The self-mutilation begins.
This man bites into a fluorescent light bulb, outwardly showing no pain.
ALIZADEH: He walked towards us, sort of almost an act of defiance to say that, look at me, and look at what I can do to myself. And that's when he broke the fluorescent light bulb and he started chewing it in front of us. And he very much wanted us to know that he doesn't feel anything.
GUPTA: The men are in a frenzy. Several have taken these skewers and thrust them right through their face, in one side, out the other. No hesitation and no apparent pain.
Of course I was left wondering why. Why do this? Dr. Alizadeh says this is how they explained it to him...
ALIZADEH: The idea behind at least this sect of Sufis is to show that by proving to themselves that they don't feel pain, they prove that they don't have the human experience at that moment. And they have detached themselves from the sense of the self. And therefore, they can enter their spiritual self.
GUPTA: Now the chief appears. He deftly pulls skewers from this man's face. There is no blood.
And this old man barely flinches as two skewers pierce his chest. Remarkably, he doesn't bleed as the chief pulls them out. After the ritual we spot this man again with only drops of blood dotting his white shirt.
ALIZADEH: From a medical perspective, I was constantly trying to understand, how can you actually train yourself to, within minutes, to be able to be in a phase where you don't feel pain as much and you don't have as much bleeding? GUPTA (on camera): We wanted to show you this incredible footage, not because it's something you should ever try yourself, but to understand whether we as humans can control the way we feel pain. For some answers, we turn to Dr. Herbert Benson, one of the company's top researchers in the mind-body connection.
This is some of the most remarkable, dramatic stuff.
DR. HERBERT BENSON, PRESIDENT, THE MIND BODY INSTITUTE: Isn't that painful just to imagine what that's like? Our mind is an incredibly important medical tool that can certainly counteract the harmful effects of stress, but often extend itself into these remarkable feats such as we're viewing here.
GUPTA (voice over): Our first question, how do the Sufi mystics control pain?
BENSON: The peripheral nerves are, of course, transmitting painful stimuli but the interpretation aspects of the brain are shut off. So you feel no pain.
You see this in athletes, often, that they can perform under what would be tremendously painful stimuli for others. They just ignore it and keep on going, often injuring themselves in the process.
GUPTA: So the mind can turn off, not registering pain. But explaining the lack of bleeding is harder to do. It could be all the adrenaline surging through their bodies, or it could be that they will themselves not to bleed.
(on camera): I mean, to a lot of people listening, this sounds outrageous, this sounds like quackery. How can your mind not only control pain but control bleeding?
BENSON: I don't know that. But clearly, we are seeing mind-body effects that traditionally medicine does not teach us.
GUPTA (voice over): Dr. Benson has spent 40 years looking beyond traditional medicine to the mind for answers. He conducted landmark research showing Tibetan monks who, while in frigid conditions, could generate enough body heat to dry wet bed sheets just by using their minds.
Benson says this is something the rest of us can learn to do as well through meditation. New neuroscience research shows brain scans of people who meditate actually show less aging than people who don't.
BENSON: I would approach a patient...
GUPTA: Meditating, as Dr. Benson showed me, is something we can all learn to do. Choose a word or phrase you're comfortable with. I chose the word "gentle."
BENSON: Gentle. OK. Let me show you how to do this.
GUPTA: Each time you exhale, repeat this word to yourself. Try not to think of anything else. After about three minutes, Dr. Benson observed my facial muscles were far more relaxed.
Given 60 percent of all trips to the doctor are stress-related, Dr. Benson insists shutting off the mind like this helps the body revert to its innate healing state.
BENSON: We can effectively treat many forms of hypertension, anxiety, mild and moderate depression, insomnia, PMS, many aspects of infertility. They all can be effectively treated by a mind-body component to our modern medicines when needed.
GUPTA: So, yes, take medicine and see doctors. But the rest of the time, take care of your body and relax your mind.
ALIZADEH: We're realizing as doctors that not only can we control the body in terms of the processes of the bodies, but we can actually help our patients mentally to control the physical and physiological aspects of the body.
GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.
COOPER: That is just extraordinary. I've never seen anything like that.
If hurricane victims need them and your tax dollars paid for them, why might thousands of FEMA trailers actually be thrown away? I don't know if you remember this story from last week we told you about. That was a field of trailers that have been sitting there unused, empty. A startling new development today you will not believe, we didn't believe that the Department of Homeland Security is saying about these necessary shelters.
What is going to happen to them now? Tossed out.
Plus, so much for the mild winter. The Nor'easter -- well, the Northeast, I should say, the Nor'easter whacked the Northeast by a monster -- became a monster storm, broke a record. But that's not the only thing that made it so unusual. We'll have the latest on that.
And a reminder. Dr. Sanjay Gupta wants your medical questions. He'll answer some of them in the next hour. Just log on to our Web site, CNN.com/360. Click on the e-mail link.
360 continues in a moment.
COOPER: Keeping them honest tonight.
It's a question we've been asking for a while now, what has happened to the trailers that were promised to hurricane victims along the Gulf. Today on Capitol Hill we got an answer, one that is sure to make a lot of people angry.
Get this, according to a Homeland Security official, more than 25,000 temporary homes built for victims but never delivered are now unusable because they've been sitting around sinking in the mud. So they're -- they're unusable.
CNN Gulf Coast Correspondent Susan Roesgen shows us some of these trailers in tonight's "Keeping Them Honest."
SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It looks like a mirage, nearly 11,000 mobile homes neatly lined up and ready to roll. It turns out it is a mirage of sorts. These are mobile homes, but they aren't going anywhere. And the longer they sit, nearly six months already, the less mobile they get.
RICHARD SKINNER, HOMELAND SECURITY INSPECTOR GENERAL: Since they were not properly stored, as you can see from this second picture, the homes are sinking in the mud and their frames are bending from sitting on trailers with no support.
ROESGEN: Homeland Security Department inspector Richard Skinner told the Senate today what FEMA official in Arkansas already knew, the soil under the mobile homes is so soft that every time it rains the mobile homes sink.
Arkansas Congressman Mike Ross is fed up.
MIKE ROSS, ARKANSAS CONGRESSMAN: If you can believe this, they're delivering something like 44,000 jacks to that cow pasture near the Hope airport so they can jack up each corner of all 10,777 manufactured homes.
ROESGEN: Congressman Ross invited CNN to meet him last week at the Hope Municipal Airport, but FEMA refused to let us see the mobile homes for ourselves.
ROSS: Is there any way that they can join us for the tour?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not allowed -- we haven't allowed any public on to the site because it is a secure federal facility.
ROESGEN (on camera): But the congressman has asked CNN to be his guest here today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I heard you. Thank you.
So, would you like...
ROESGEN: So you won't allow us on the property?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just -- excuse me one second.
You want to...
ROESGEN (voice over): Bottom line, no. FEMA rep David Passy (ph) wouldn't let us pass the gate and the guards. But later, Passy (ph) showed us around inside one mobile home removed from the rest that FEMA uses as an office.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So there's a living area, an eating area.
ROESGEN: It's big and roomy, just the kind of place that an awful lot of evacuees living in tiny hotel rooms would love to have. According to the Homeland Security inspector, they may never get the chance.
Not only did FEMA spend more than $300 million in taxpayer money to buy these mobile homes, not only are they empty and immobile, but because they are sinking they are falling apart. And now these 11,000 brand-new mobile homes may wind up in the dumpster.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Insofar as many of these homes failed to meet FEMA specification requirements, or FEMA has no qualified prearranged site location to place them, they may have to be disposed of.
ROESGEN: Congressman Mike Ross says that's gross mismanagement.
ROSS: FEMA should have never purchased these homes. It's a failed policy. It's a failed plan. And it's just -- it's just been a total disaster.
COOPER: Susan, you know, I was going to say I can't believe this report, but unfortunately I think we all can believe it. I don't think this -- I mean, this is just the latest in a long line of outrages.
I mean, as -- we talked about this last week. These trailers, they knew -- they say they couldn't send these trailers to the Gulf where they're badly, desperately needed by thousands of families because they're not the right kind of trailers for that kind of marshland, but they went ahead and bought all these trailers.
ROESGEN: Right, Anderson. It's incredible.
These are mobile homes. They are too heavy and to bulky to be in a floodplain, which, of course, leaves out most of southeast Louisiana.
And I think one of the bloggers on our CNN Web site made a good point today, Anderson. This person said, you know, why are they all of the way up in Hope, Arkansas? Why don't we move them at least closer to New Orleans, maybe between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, an area that is not a floodplain where they might be able to do some people so good?
COOPER: So let me just get this straight. It's $300 million they spent for these? Is that correct?
ROESGEN: That's what the inspector general says for the Homeland Security Department. But also, Anderson, you've got to add on the $25,000 a month that FEMA is paying the Hope Municipal Airport for the next two years with a two-year extension after that. But even the people in Hope who are getting the benefit of this extra money are saying, hey, we feel awful about this, these mobile homes should be down with the people who need them.
COOPER: And now they are sending out 85,000 jacks to jack up every corner of every home that is just sitting there?
ROESGEN: And they're also laying about four inches of gravel down, Anderson. The congressman said that will cost another $6 to $7 million to try to keep these things from sinking, when why isn't FEMA just moving them out? So far, not one has gone to anyone who needs one.
COOPER: It's incredible. And on top of that, they were rude to you when you went there, which I don't like.
Susan Roesgen, appreciate it. But you weren't rude back, which is nice, Susan.
ROESGEN: It's my job.
What's ahead for the north -- we're going to have more about -- about what's going on with FEMA in the next hour, so stay with us for that.
What's ahead for the Northeast after that record-setting blizzard? That is coming up. But first, Erica Hill from "Headline News" with some of the business stories we're following -- Erica.
COOPER: From the warmest January on record to a record-setting February, a snowstorm for the ages leaves millions under more than several feet of snow. New York, the snow is already turning yellow. I don't know why.
A lot of people trying to dig out when 360 continues.
COOPER: Well, the last time it snowed this much in New York -- well, actually, according to the recorded history, it's never snowed this much here ever. Yesterday, to be exact, two feet and 2.9 inches of snow fell in Central Park. But the blizzard of 2006 didn't just turn the Big Apple into a winter wonderland, it brought the season back, and in a big way.
From Maryland to Maine, thousands left without power, hundreds of flights were canceled, including mine.
CNN's Rob Marciano has the reality of the record.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The classic Nor'easter roared up the coast over the weekend, with snow falling up to four inches an hour and winds over 40 miles an hour. Even the skies lit up with thunder and lightning, a rare phenomenon called thunder snow.
The blizzard of '06 is one for the record books, the most snow ever recorded in New York City, with 26.9 inches piling up in Central Park.
In Hartford, Connecticut, a record 21.9 inches.
In Boston, not a record, but still, 17.5 inches.
And to the south, Columbia, Maryland, more than 21 inches.
Luckily, it was the weekend. Families could actually enjoy the season's first major East Coast snowfall, sledding, skiing even running through the storm.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The best way to get around the park? Slowly. Skis probably. Maybe snowshoes.
MARCIANO: What little traffic there was moved slowly on the slippery roads. Some mass transit also had trouble.
The storm wreaked havoc for plane travel, shutting down airports throughout the Northeast, stranding tens of thousands of passengers, and disrupting air travel nationwide. When JFK reopened Sunday night, a Turkish jetliner skidded off the runway. Luckily, no one was hurt.
MARCIANO: Even after getting the most snow ever recorded here in Manhattan, the city really recovering pretty well. Today temperatures were in the mid 30s. A little sunshine helped melt some of that snow.
Tonight, temps will be below freezing. So there will be a little bit of a problem with -- with, say, black ice tomorrow morning. But bigger problems when you get two feet of snow in a limited real estate environment like Manhattan. Where do you put the snow?
Well, one solution is to get it into staging areas and take front-loaders out and scoop up the snow, and then those front-loaders dump the snow into essentially what is a giant -- a big dump truck or a big crock pot. That dump truck you see back there that's steaming is actually snow that's being melted by that dump truck, and then that melted snow is dumped directly into a sewer drain which goes to a water treatment plant and then eventually out into -- into the river.
So very impressive. About 20 of those around all the boroughs of Manhattan, and they can -- they can melt up to 60 tons of snow per hour. Very, very impressive.
Also going to get a little help with Mother Nature over the next couple of days. Tomorrow, temperatures will be around 40. On Wednesday, temperatures will be around 50 degrees. So conceivably, Anderson, not all of this snow will be gone, but quite a -- quite a bit will be gone come Wednesday with the help of this device and also a little sunshine, which I don't think after this dumping of snow many people are going to argue with.
That's the latest from here. Back to you.
COOPER: All right, Rob. Thanks very much.
We want to thank our international viewers for watching. We have a lot coming up, though, on 360.
He shot a fellow hunter. Talking about vice president, of course. But is the vice president shooting straight about -- about the incident with the American people?
Also, more on the pocket porn. You've heard of podcasts. Get ready for porncasts, a growing problem that your kids might already be carrying around.
And ask Dr. Sanjay Gupta. "Is breast cancer common in men?" "Is Type II Diabetes hereditary?" Just some of the questions we've been getting in the 360 mail bag -- ahead.
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