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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
New York City Police Investigate Gruesome Murder; Fallout Over Dubai Port Deal Collapse; Interview With New York Senator Hillary Clinton and Mississippi Senator Trent Lott
Aired March 9, 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: We begin tonight with the latest developments in a crime that has shocked this unshockable city, the brutal killing of a graduate student, and a day in court for the sole person of interest.
Imette St. Guillen, a beautiful criminology major, was murdered in a manner -- well, it's simply unspeakable. Her body was wrapped in a quilt. She was bound with tape, a stock stuffed -- a stock -- a sock stuffed down her throat -- her hair had been cut -- tortured, raped, dumped, all less than a week before her 25th birthday.
Police are focusing on this man, Darryl Littlejohn. He's the bouncer at the bar where Imette spent her last hours. He's named a person of interest. He is a career criminal. But his rap sheet shows no history of violence towards women.
And then there are the results of today's police lineup, not for this crime, but for another attack on a woman. Mr. Littlejohn's lawyer says he is being scapegoated. We will talk with his attorney in just a moment.
But, first, the latest on the investigation.
COOPER (voice-over): Handcuffed and in leg irons, Darryl Littlejohn made his way into a Queens, New York, courthouse today. He was there under a judge's order to take part in a lineup for a sexual assault committed in Queens County nearly five months ago.
To the disappointment of detectives on the case, the assault victim did not identify him. His court-appointed attorney says Littlejohn is a victim himself of too much media scrutiny.
KEVIN O'DONNELL, ATTORNEY FOR DARRYL LITTLEJOHN: He absolutely maintains his innocence. He feels that he's a scapegoat. His picture has been all over the paper. It has been all over the media, nationally. So, he's the easy -- well, he's the easiest target right now.
COOPER: Littlejohn has made headlines, not for the October assault, but because he has been named a person of interest in the brutal murder of Imette St. Guillen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first forensic and DNA tests results they need to pin down the killer of Imette St. Guillen.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: New lead this morning in the gruesome slaying of a New York City graduate student.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New details about the investigation into the murder of a John Jay grad student.
WILLIAM SHERMAN, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": We have reporters who are talking to cops every day, whether it's homicide cops, major case squad cops, other detectives.
COOPER: The body of the 24-year-old honor student who was studying criminal justice was found by the side of a desolate Brooklyn street on February 25. She had been raped and tortured, then suffocated and strangled. She was out partying into the wee hours. And police say, the last place she stopped was here, The Falls bar in SoHo, the bar where Darryl Littlejohn worked as a bouncer.
The bar's manager waited a week before telling police he had Littlejohn escort Imette out of the Falls, making him the last known person to see her alive. And that put the New York press all over the story.
SHERMAN: Well, you have a good-looking, young, single woman, very bright, a grisly murder, a horrifying rape, where someone stuffed a sock in her mouth, and then bound her face with -- with -- with packing tape, and tortured her. That is the kind of story that -- that captures the imagination. And it -- it doesn't happen every day. It's particularly brutal, and it's very, very, very shocking.
COOPER: Police have been searching both the bar and Littlejohn's home, collecting evidence, even confiscating this van. But Pulitzer Prize-winning "Daily News" reporter William Sherman says, his sources tell him forensic tests have shown, no matter who the killer is, this won't be an easy case to make.
SHERMAN: The packing tape, reels of packing tape found at his house, tan tape, match the tape that was found wrapped around her mouth and parts of the rest of her body. And a fiber from the carpet in his house was found on that tape. Unfortunately, however, it's a very common carpet.
COOPER: The Falls bar hasn't fared well either.
The State Liquor Authority has already charged the bar with serving alcohol to minors and says it could broaden the investigation to look into why an uncertified security guard, with a criminal record, was manning the door. And that could end with The Falls losing its license and shutting its doors.
Darryl Littlejohn is still behind bars for violating his parole by working in a bar and missing his curfew.
O'DONNELL: His face is all over the place.
COOPER: Littlejohn's lawyer says there are very good reasons to look somewhere else for the killer.
O'DONNELL: Police are under a tremendous amount of pressure to solve this crime. And because he was there that night, and because of his extensive record, which includes no history whatsoever of abuse towards women, none whatsoever -- which is unusual for a 42-year-old man, to start doing something of this nature.
COOPER: All of this does little to help comfort Imette St. Guillen's mother, who lost her beloved daughter, and now can only wait for her killer to be caught.
COOPER: Joining me now is Kevin O'Donnell. He's the court- appointed attorney for Darryl Littlejohn. He was also present during the police lineup today.
Appreciate you being with us.
I just want to be very clear. The lineup today has nothing to do with Imette St. Guillen's.
O'DONNELL: No. One has nothing to do with the other.
COOPER: What were the charges that -- that precipitated -- precipitated the lineup?
O'DONNELL: The police suspected Mr. Littlejohn of committing a rape that occurred on October 16, 2005, which he maintained he never did. And he was eager to put himself in a lineup.
COOPER: So, the victim for that lineup was there today. And what was the result?
O'DONNELL: The result was, she couldn't identify anybody. Now, I was concerned, because of the extensive media coverage on this matter. His face has been in -- in every newspaper in the country for the last week. But, unbeknownst to me, the victim of the rape was a Japanese woman, who I can only guess has no -- no desire whatsoever -- or no interest in reading American newspapers. So, I can only imagine that she has never even seen his picture.
COOPER: Did you get any sense from police that there may be other past rapes that they are interested in having lineups for your client on?
O'DONNELL: From what I understand, there are other allegations out there, but, from what I know, he hasn't been charged. He's not even accused of anything.
And if there are any other lineups to be conducted, I will be notified.
COOPER: There -- I think you met with him for like an hour today. What's his demeanor? O'DONNELL: His demeanor is, he's confused. He understands that he's the logical suspect here, and he's in a position now where he has got to prove that he didn't do it, which goes against our Constitution.
You know, it's the DA's burden to prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt. And all there is, is conjecture and speculation right now.
COOPER: So, even though he's in prison, he -- he senses this sort of the -- media furor over this, the -- the attention of the police on this? He -- he senses that even in prison?
O'DONNELL: Absolutely. And he's very concerned about that.
COOPER: He feels -- you said he feels he's being scapegoated?
You know, unfortunately, he was the -- one of the last people to see him, from what I understand, if you believe what you read in the papers.
But because of his criminal background, he's the first target. He's the likely. And because of his parole violation, it was easy to arrest him, easy to imprison him. And, unfortunately, for the police and unfortunately for my client, there has been no evidence whatsoever, other than what the police have leaked to the media, which has not resulted in any type of charge.
COOPER: And you...
COOPER: You believe -- I mean, you -- again, you are only his attorney in -- in this matter of this lineup today. So -- so, that's not why I'm sort of pressing you on St. Guillen questions. But you believe he will be charged?
O'DONNELL: I would guess that he's being -- going to -- going to be charged. There is a tremendous amount of pressure on -- on the New York City Police Department to charge somebody. And they have done a good job of leaking a lot of the circumstantial evidence that they believes ties Mr. Littlejohn to...
COOPER: So, you're saying they're selectively leaking?
O'DONNELL: Yes. Absolutely.
I would like to hear why there hasn't been any DNA evidence that connects my client to the crime, or any eyewitnesses. There are no statements. There's nothing else, except for this insignificant piece of -- pieces of evidence that have been found.
COOPER: Appreciate you joining us, Kevin O'Donnell.
O'DONNELL: My pleasure.
COOPER: Thank you very much.
So, are police focusing on the wrong man, or is there enough evidence to link him to -- to murder?
Some different opinions coming up -- joining us now are crime expert -- crime scene expert Lawrence Kobilinsky. He's a forensic scientist at John Jay College. That is, of course, the same school where Imette St. Guillen was a student -- also with us, Court TV anchors Lisa Bloom and Jami Floyd.
Good to have you both on the program.
Jami, let me start off with you, since we haven't had you on yet.
You just heard Mr. O'Donnell saying that Littlejohn has no history of sexual assault or violence against women. How much can that help his situation right now?
JAMI FLOYD, COURT TV ANCHOR: I think that helps him tremendously.
Now, I agree with Mr. O'Donnell. He's likely to be charged. The pressure is intense. But anyone who is familiar with the criminal justice system, including prosecutors, who have to make the charging decision, know that it is unusual for someone to change their criminal nature.
In other words, those who are thugs, those who are robbers, who stick a gun in someone's face, that's one kind of criminal, in and out of the system. The sexual predator is a different kind of criminal. And, generally, the profile doesn't mix. And I think those in law enforcement know it. And, certainly, prosecutors know it.
And the cops have to make the proof to the satisfaction of prosecutors in New York. and that's what they're struggling to do.
COOPER: Well, Lisa...
FLOYD: So, that -- that is a hurdle.
COOPER: Lisa, even though the carpet fibers match, he is placed at the crime scene, he hasn't been charged. What does that indicate to you? Are they -- are they -- I mean, can they charge him?
LISA BLOOM, COURT TV ANCHOR: Well, that's not the whole story.
We also have cell phone records that put him two-and-a-half miles from where Imette's body was found, Anderson. We have the red fiber that was found in the tape on her face that matches the red carpet, which I confirmed today with family members of Darryl Littlejohn, that he did have a red carpet in his home. It was a new carpet. It was a freshly cut carpet, so it would tend to shed fibers. That makes sense. And we also know that he's a very meticulous and fastidious man. He's the kind of man, in other words, who would clean up carefully a crime scene. That may be why there isn't any DNA.
You know, the other victims who claim that he raped them say that he swabbed them down afterwards. He was so careful not to leave any evidence. The police are still investigating.
BLOOM: They don't have enough yet. They need that DNA evidence.
But I think, ultimately, if they get the DNA evidence, they will have enough to charge him and probably enough to convict him, too.
FLOYD: Just -- just one quick thing: There aren't other victims claiming that this man raped him (sic). There are none.
And the one woman who came in today on that I.D. didn't make it. So, there are some concerns by law enforcement -- and I will assume, for the moment, genuine concerns, not -- you know, not an opportunistic effort to sweep away some old cases -- there are some concerns by law enforcement, but no other woman has yet accused Mr. Littlejohn of sexual assault.
COOPER: I want to bring in Dr. Kobilinsky.
The perpetrator, whoever it is, did make a concerted effort, apparently, to clean up. The body wasn't found for some 17 hours. Forensically, what -- what are the biggest pieces of this puzzle?
DR. LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC SCIENTIST, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Well, I think one of the pieces is -- is the sock, that athletic sock, that white sock, that was shoved down her throat.
If that was actually worn by the perpetrator, there may be skin cells on that. And, similarly, even if she were cleaned up, there may be traces of the perpetrator's tissue, what we call touch DNA, that, when your fingertips touch an object, you leave behind cells that contain DNA.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is now doing a procedure called low-copy-number DNA, in which even six or seven cells can produce a profile.
COOPER: And just by touching something.
KOBILINSKY: That is correct.
And it is -- you know, we know that the fingernails contain tissue. We know that they -- it was analyzed for DNA. We know that there was an inconclusive finding. What was found was female DNA, presumably, the victim's.
But there may very well be traces of male DNA. And I think the next step is to repeat the procedure and increase the testing to include what we call white chromosome STRs, which would specifically look at male DNA. Now, if they find that DNA, and they get a profile, that will go a long way in determining whether Mr. Littlejohn is falsely accused or was the perpetrator of the crime.
COOPER: Lisa, how do you think that -- the New York police are handling this case? I mean, as Mr. O'Donnell points out, this thing is -- is leaking like a sinking ship. I mean -- and it is seems -- does seem to be very selective leaks, which -- which kind of, you know, clearly build a damning case against -- against this person of interest.
BLOOM: Well, I will tell you this. Littlejohn's family feels that they have been harassed, that they have been gone after, older women in the family even implicated in this by the police.
And they're really shocked and outraged. This is a community that feels that the police, in many situations, have betrayed them, has rushed to judgment against members of their community.
But having said that, Anderson, this is a crime, I can tell you, as a mother of a teenage girl, as a single woman myself here in New York, this is a crime that hits us here in this city. And we want answers. Especially women and girls in this city want answers.
And, so, it doesn't surprise me that the police are leaking information to the media, because we won't to know who did this. We want the guy to get caught, but we want the right guy to get caught. We don't want a false arrest. That's an injustice to him. And, certainly, it would be an injustice to the rest of us, because then the bad guy would still be out there.
COOPER: Well, Jami, what about that? You have heard this guy Littlejohn thinks he's being scapegoated.
FLOYD: Yes. I -- I think there's something to it. There is intense pressure here.
And I -- I have to say that, when we question the responsibility of someone like Littlejohn in a case like this, it does not in any way dishonor the memory of the victim. And that's a -- a part of the dialogue that gets very confused.
What we want to make sure is that there's not another tragedy and that there's not the real perpetrator out there, while the wrong man is sitting in prison.
The black community, of course, has been scapegoated. And it is very easy. We have seen it over and over again in this country, Anderson, recently down south, recently in Boston, the Michael Stewart (ph) case, but also throughout out history, where black men have been immediately scapegoated and named as suspects in cases, only to learn later that they indeed were not.
People know that, if you want to cast suspicion away from yourself, it is best to name a black man, because the public, and perhaps even the authorities, are more likely to believe it. BLOOM: Having said that, though, Anderson, where was this man from 4:00 a.m., when Imette went missing and he was last seen with her, until 9:00 p.m., when he showed up at work the next day?
There's not a single family member that I have spoken to yet who can say that they were with him during that time frame. And many of them did spend time with him when he was off of work. Sure, he was sleeping for part of that time.
FLOYD: Yes, indeed, he was.
BLOOM: He lived alone.
FLOYD: Indeed, he was.
BLOOM: But what about noon or 1:00 a.m., when he wakes up...
FLOYD: You know, many...
BLOOM: ... until 9:00 p.m. that day.
FLOYD: Many of us would find ourselves...
BLOOM: Not a single person has come forward to say that they were with him during that time. That's very suspicious.
FLOYD: Many of us would find ourselves in very difficult straits if we happened to in any way associated with someone who either went missing or who died in such a horrible way.
And, of course, there's a clamor for answers. But just because the man was sleeping and doesn't have someone in bed next to him doesn't mean that he committed this terrible crime.
BLOOM: He wasn't sleeping for 17 hours.
COOPER: I'm going to have to -- I'm -- I'm going to have to leave it there.
Lisa, appreciate -- appreciate you joining us, Lisa Bloom, Jami Floyd as well.
BLOOM: Thank you.
FLOYD: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: And, Dr. Kobilinsky, always good to have you on the program.
COOPER: Thank you very much.
Just ahead, a defeat for President Bush -- how the port deal fell apart.
But, first, Erica Hill from Headline News joins us with some of the other top stories right now -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson.
And we begin tonight in Madrid, where, exactly two years ago this Saturday, terrorists carried out a series of train bombings that killed 191 people and wounded 1,500 more -- and now the Associated Press reporting investigators have concluded that those terrorists were, in fact, homegrown radicals, acting on their own, with no discernible ties to al Qaeda, no phone calls or money transfers.
Shortly after the bombings, a man who identified himself as al Qaeda's European military spokesman claimed responsibility in a video.
In Kansas today, a fast-moving grass fire burned several thousand acres, forcing the evacuation of a school and several homes. Strong winds and unseasonably warm weather have been fueling fires in South Central Kansas recently. Now, by sundown, firefighters had contained the latest blaze.
Director of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff says a deadly strain of bird flu could appear in the United States within just the next few months, as wild birds migrate from infected nations. The H5N1 strain of bird flu has killed at least 95 people since 2003. For now, though, we should point out, it does not pass between people.
And, on a light note, this little guy first made headlines last year, when biologists claimed they discovered a new species nicknamed the Laotian rock rat. Well, surprise. It turns out the little guy, not so new after all. Scientists, using fossil records, discovered the animal, which, also, by the way, not a rat, actually belongs to a species that was believed to be extinct, you know, for like 11 million years. So, it might explain the mixup.
COOPER: Yes. It's actually a New York...
HILL: Hadn't seen one in a while.
COOPER: It is a New York City park squirrel. That's what it is, basically.
COOPER: Erica, thanks.
On next to the politically radioactive port deal -- it may be over, but the end wasn't pretty. How much damage has it done to the president? And what happens now with the ports? We will look at that.
Also, later, making sure, when the next hurricane hits, FEMA's going to be ready -- that crusade is bringing Senator Hillary Clinton and Trent Lott, of all people, together. We will have an exclusive interview with the two of them.
And trouble at Neverland -- say it ain't so. Why -- why was Michael Jackson's ranch shut down today? We will get some answers when 360 continues.
COOPER: Well, the president got a gift today. He can send the thank-you note to Dubai.
After facing public outrage and a GOP rebellion over the deal he championed to let the Dubai-owned company run major American ports, he now, apparently, is off the hook. The company today said it no longer wants the job. You can call it cover. You can call it convenient. What happened today spares the White House even more political damage, on top of the damage that has already been done. That said, it is anything but a win.
More now from CNN's Dana Bash.
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He pretended not to hear the questions, but the political reality was loud and clear. In a defiant standoff with his party on his signature issue, the president lost.
The drama's climax came two hours earlier...
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: We have to act now.
BASH: ... with the Senate floor crackling with outrage that the president supporting allow an Arab company to control U.S. port terminals. Then this:
SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: D.P. World has decided to transfer fully the U.S. operation of P&O Ports North America to a United States entity.
BASH: Republican Senator John Warner, up late into the night trying to save the deal, stunned the room and the town by declaring it dead, reading a statement from Dubai Ports World that they would sell off control of six U.S. ports involved in the deal to an American company.
Just a few hours earlier, an intense meeting at the White House -- Republican leaders told the president there was no way to overcome the enormous opposition. Sources involved in the Oval Office session say uncertainty only added to the tension.
D.P. World was sending mixed signals. Neither the president, nor top congressional leaders knew what the company would do.
REP. PETER KING (R-NY), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: If Dubai ports is divesting itself of all American aspects of the contract, this is over. We can all go forward. There's no acrimony. There's no more problem.
BASH: By day's end, "Move on" was the view of most Republican critics. But some Democrats say, not so fast. Key details, like which American company might step into the picture and whether it has any ties to Dubai Ports World, are still up in the air.
SCHUMER: How thick is the wall? And until we have all of those details, we can't say anything.
BASH: It is a chapter the White House is eager to close. Mr. Bush not only backed the deal, but did so with a veto threat that only exacerbated a GOP revolt that caught the White House off guard.
REP. MARK FOLEY (R), FLORIDA: I supported them wholeheartedly on so many positions. On this one, they're wrong.
BASH: Republicans like Mark Foley broke with the president in droves, worried about their own reelection, with poll after poll since this issue exploded showing at least two-thirds of the country oppose the sale of U.S. port operations to an Arab company -- and the president's low approval rating may be more tempting for his party to break ranks.
Republicans viewed this Democratic ad in a Tennessee Senate race as an early warning sign: They could not side with the president on this one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, HAROLD FORD JR. FOR TENNESSEE AD)
REP. HAROLD FORD (D-TN), TENNESSEE SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: President Bush wants to sell this port and five others to the United Arab Emirates, a country that had diplomatic ties with the Taliban.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: And risk ads like this against them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, HAROLD FORD JR. FOR TENNESSEE AD)
FORD: I'm running for the Senate because we shouldn't outsource our national security to anyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Now, the official White House line is that the fact of the UAE pulled the plug on this reflects the importance of the special relationship between the two countries. But, Anderson, one source says that the fact of the matter is that the Dubai government is furious. And Bush aides are telling us that they are worried about a backlash across the Arab world, because they already feel slighted, in general, by the U.S. policy in the Middle East.
COOPER: Interesting. All right, Dana, thanks -- Dana Bash reporting.
As Dana mentioned, the port deal drew fire from both sides of the aisle, of course, from Senators as far apart politically as Trent Lott and Hillary Clinton. They sat down with us today -- or, actually, stood up with us today for an exclusive interview, just as the deal collapsed and the story broke.
COOPER: I have got to put this question to both of you.
Senator Clinton, I will start with you.
You have been very outspoken about the Dubai ports deal. We just learned today, the Dubai company is going to transfer port operations to a U.S. entity. Is that good enough for you?
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Well, we don't know the details, Anderson.
We got a one-paragraph report that said that there was going to be a transfer, but the devil's in the details. I think all of us are waiting to see exactly what that very brief description means.
COOPER: Senator Lott?
SEN. TRENT LOTT (R), MISSISSIPPI: I think we need to know more about the details. Is this some sort of a transfer? Is it an actual complete letting loose of the government control of this company?
But I think we need to do more than that, too. I still think that the -- the CFIUS, or the review process, needs to be looked at. We have found that there are some gaps there. Again, the legislation did not include the Department of Defense. I -- I think they should be in that.
I also think this is an opportunity for us to take another look at what we want to do about port security. And then the -- what happens with the company itself, I think we need to ask ourselves, do we think it's a good idea for a foreign-owned company from any country to operate our terminals?
I don't think you can reverse a contract, or lease arrangement. But, prospectively, I think we have -- we would be within our rights to have some ground rules on all of that. And that's what we should do. We should have -- we should think about this and have some intelligent legislative thought. And I think that kind of action is going to be required.
COOPER: It's fascinating to see them standing there, agreeing with each other. On that, they agree.
That is not all they agreed about today. They're also potentially on a collision course with the administration on fixing FEMA, so that this, that kind of damage, never happens again.
We will talk about it in the second part of our exclusive interview coming up. And, later, a FEMA red-tape outrage -- surprise, surprise, badly needed cadaver dogs being taken off the search for bodies because of a paperwork snafu. The state is involved. FEMA is involved. We are going to see what's really being done to try to get around the bureaucratic red tape.
COOPER: More now from our exclusive interview with Senators Hillary Clinton and Trent Lott.
On a personal level, they get along just fine. Most Senators do. But, politically, they're usually about as far apart as New York -- as a New York Democrat and a Mississippi Republican can be.
They do agree on this, however: FEMA needs fixing. And they're co-sponsoring a bill to fix it, one the White House may not especially like.
COOPER: Senator Lott, you proposed this legislation to take FEMA out of the Department of Homeland Security.
Michael Chertoff, the current head of Homeland Security, says this is a bad idea, that, basically, it will be disruptive, with less than 10 days -- less than 100 days to go before the hurricane season.
LOTT: I found that, after Hurricane Katrina, that we really had serious problems with FEMA. Now, we had an overwhelming event, but we also had an agency that had sort of been neglected.
It was undermanned, underfunded and bureaucratic, huge problems. I'm not, you know, complaining about Chertoff or the Department of Homeland Security. I just think it's another layer of bureaucracy that's not necessary. And FEMA has a unique, separate from Homeland Security, mission. So, that's why I have introduced this legislation.
And I'm glad to join with Senator Clinton in proposing that.
COOPER: Well, Senator Clinton, Republican Senator Susan Collins from Maine said -- and I quote -- "This was a failure of leadership. If you still have Michael Brown making bad decisions, it wouldn't matter if FEMA were in or out of the department."
CLINTON: Well, Anderson, the legislation that Senator Lott and I are proposing does three things.
It does make FEMA independent again. And it does give the director of FEMA direct authority to report to the president. But it also puts in qualifications and credentials that the high-level officials in FEMA have to meet.
COOPER: Senator Clinton, you know, Katrina was really the first test of this new massive Homeland Security Department. And -- and, you know, most people agree it -- it failed on -- on many levels. Why should taxpayers have any confidence in the rest of the Homeland Security Department that really hasn't been tested so far?
CLINTON: Really, we kind of mixed apples and oranges.
We have a -- a disaster-preparedness task that needs to be fulfilled that has to deal with terrorism and natural disasters. And I think that FEMA was functioning well during the '90s.
I actually warned against putting FEMA into the Department of Homeland Security at the time the department was formed because I knew that post-9/11, the new department would necessarily be focused on terrorism. And I have no argument with that. And I didn't want to see FEMA, which has to respond to floods, hurricanes and everything else, become a stepchild.
So that's one of the reasons Senator Lott and I want to take it out of the Department of Homeland Security. We believe that then we have a better chance to, you know, really put it back in the shape it was in the '90s and earlier, when both of us had previous experiences.
COOPER: But Senator Lott, I mean, shouldn't it worry some people that -- that really the first test of this department, basically, you know, FEMA, at least, seemed to fail? And that there all these other branches of this new department that haven't been tested? I mean, should Americans have a lot of confidence in it?
LOTT: I do think FEMA is unique in its role and its mission. That's why I think it needs to be separate.
Like Senator Clinton, I raised reservations when we were creating this new huge behemoth of a department, where we put a whole lot of different agencies and departments, parts of departments all in this new department. I mean, organizing a department like that is a challenge. And I think that Secretary Ridge and Secretary Chertoff have been wrestling with the requirements and I think have been doing a good job.
I just think in the case of FEMA, they just kind of got overlooked, shoved aside. A variety of reasons why it was caused. But, now look, we did this. We created this new department.
We can't blame this on somebody else. We were there at the beginning. So my attitude is, when you find there's a problem or you find you made a mistake, correct it.
LOTT: I'm not -- I'm not so worried in trying to fix blame for -- even for last week. I just want to know how it's going to be better next week and how are we going to be ready for the next natural disaster or terrorists.
COOPER: Can you guys actually get this legislation passed?
CLINTON: Well, we're sure going to try, because we're, what, three months from hurricane season. According to the latest reports, the Gulf is warmer than it's ever been before.
Many of us believe that the frequency and severity of storms along our coastline -- and I include all the way up to New York, because, you know, we're not exempt from our concerns about what can happen with this kind of storm -- that we need to move as quickly as possible. So we're going to do our best.
We're going to try to convince our colleagues on both sides of the aisle. We know that there is resistance to this. But I don't think we can wait.
COOPER: Is this the start of a new relationship for you two?
LOTT: How do we look here?
COOPER: I'm telling you, you can take this act on to the road. It's good.
LOTT: Well, the important thing is to work with people...
CLINTON: That's right.
LOTT: ... that will help you get things done. And I am a firm believer that you need to work across party aisles.
I was trying to do that this very week, working with Senator Chris Dodd. Senator Clinton and I have worked on other issues together involving the defense industries.
Look, I'll take allies anywhere I can find them. We're -- I'm not here to make a statement. I'm here to try to make a difference. And I'm glad to work with any senator that will join me in a cause that I think is the right thing to do.
COOPER: Senator Lott, Senator Clinton, appreciate it. Thank you.
CLINTON: Thank you.
COOPER: Well, everyone knows there still are bodies in the ruined houses of New Orleans. So why are the dogs that are trained to find those bodies, why are those dogs being sent home? You are not going to believe the answer to that question. We're keeping them honest tonight.
And it's nice to get those extras at the hotel, isn't it? Well, actually, not those extras. This story will have you scratching your head and maybe -- maybe some other parts of your body as well. Ugh, that's an ugly thought.
Around across -- around America and across the world, you're watching 360.
COOPER: Well, this is a story now from New Orleans that's going to make your blood boil. Some of the teams, those teams you're seeing right there that have been down there, teams of specially-trained dogs and their handler, teams that have successfully been doing the sad, thankless, absolutely necessary work of finding bodies, well, they've gone home. Well, you might ask, are there no more bodies to be found? There are.
Have the dogs or their handlers been injured or grown too weary to go on? They haven't.
So why are they pulling out, you ask? Well, that's the part of the story that is guaranteed to make your blood just boil. We've been closely following this story.
Keeping them honest tonight, here's CNN's Sean Callebs.
SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Buddy and Raider (ph), Minka (ph) and Dox (ph), they all should be looking for bodies today, bodies buried in the rubble of New Orleans. Instead, they're heading home.
WAYDE CARTER, GAME WARDEN, STATE OF MAINE: I feel for the people down here, and there's definitely a job to be done. And we just -- we're unable to do that job, and -- because of no support, we've been asked to return home.
CALLEBS: By no support, Wayde Carter, one of the game wardens from Maine, says promises were broken. Chiefly, for the past two days, the dog handlers were told they would lose their rooms at the DoubleTree hotel on Friday, that the state had not secured them for the long term.
Also, that the state was supposed to supply a vet for the dogs. It didn't happen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go to work.
CALLEBS: They sound like trivial matters, things that should not get in the way of the serious business of body recovery. But they have.
DR. LOUIS CATALDIE, MEDICAL EXAMINER, STATE OF LOUISIANA: I'm not going to point any fingers at any agencies. I don't have all the specifics. I just know that we certainly stepped up and tried to remedy and put a Band-Aid on the thing until we could get it resolved. It didn't work out.
CALLEBS: Who is at fault? The dog teams say it's clear the various government entities, federal, state and city, are not working together. BRIGITTE BASEY, SOUTH GEORGIA SEARCH DOGS, INC.: We feel kind of betrayed. Maybe abused. But we didn't come for the politics. We just came to help.
CALLEBS: FEMA has a block of rooms at the DoubleTree but says it was up to the state to secure accommodations for the teams. A FEMA spokeswoman says on Monday the federal government offered to supply hotel rooms for the handlers, but somehow that offer slipped through the cracks.
But a FEMA employee told the handlers if they wanted to stay at the hotel, they must sign this form saying they were displaced evacuees. The officers refused, saying it would be fraud. A FEMA spokeswoman says it was a new employee who simply made a mistake.
There are 1,700 people still listed as missing following Katrina, 1,700 potential victims Buddy and Raider (ph), Minka (ph) and Dox (ph) should today be looking for. But somehow, these dogs themselves got caught in the bureaucracy that has again stalled a critical mission.
Sean Callebs, CNN, New Orleans.
COOPER: It just -- it's mind-boggling when you think about it. I mean, we're talking about four hotel rooms and a vet to, you know, occasionally check on these dogs. And the number of people they potentially could have found is limitless.
We've heard that Louisiana has made arrangements to bring two other cadaver teams to New Orleans. One is coming from Shreveport, supposedly arriving tomorrow, another is from South Carolina, is due on March 20. Let's hope somebody has secured hotel rooms for those two.
Still, on the sad subject of the missing, you must remember the case of Viola Eden (ph). Her furious and desperate daughter, Suzie (ph), had been unable to find her or to find out anything about her fate ever since the devastation of Katrina. Well, Viola Eden's (ph) body has been finally identified. This was confirmed to us by Louisiana state medical examiner Dr. Louis Cataldie, with whom we spoke earlier this evening, both about the shocking matter of those cadaver dogs leaving New Orleans -- he's upset about it -- and about how things stand there from his point of view.
Tonight, keeping them honest from New Orleans. Take a look.
COOPER: Dr. Cataldie, when I heard that these dogs had left with their teams, I mean, I found it shocking. It's just got to be incredibly frustrating for you.
CATALDIE: It was most upsetting. It certainly caused a lot of frustration, a lot of anger. And...
COOPER: How big a setback is it?
CATALDIE: I don't know that it's a great setback. These guys were great, I hate to lose them. But we've already got things in place to bring another dog in from Shreveport hopefully tomorrow. We have three dogs coming in from South Carolina March 20.
But these guys were a great team and they're going to be missed.
COOPER: And everyone says these guys are some of the best in the country. They -- you know they'd come all the way down here. I mean, do you -- to me, I still don't quite get what the problem was.
CATALDIE: I'm not sure what the problem was either. On the surface, it was funding for the rooms, but I think it may have gone deeper than that. I think, bottom line, the problem is the system wasn't working like it should. And all systems throughout weren't working like they should to keep these guys there.
COOPER: To the outsiders, it sounds just like kind of red tape, and I guess that's something you have been knocking your head against now for quite some time.
Where does the process stand? I mean, how many people have you been able to identify? How many people are still missing?
CATALDIE: Well, Anderson, I literally just left the FAC, Family Assistance Center. We have -- we feel that we have 300 to 400 people truly missing at this time.
That doesn't mean they're necessarily deceased. It simply means we haven't been able to find them. And we're working over 1,400 cases right now, but some of those we have insufficient data for.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, I guess for -- you know, for a lot of families who are out there and still waiting that horrific wait -- and you know some of what it's like for them because you deal with them all the time -- what do you say when you get those calls? What do you tell them about the chances of actually finding people at this point?
CATALDIE: Well, I think we're going to find people. Unfortunately, I think we're going to find them deceased as we continue the mission there searching for -- with the dogs.
We may not find some people, Anderson. They may have washed out into the Gulf. They may be in the marshes.
And that's going to be very much a heartbreaker for lots of folks for lots of different reasons. There won't be much closure if I can't ultimately give you your deceased person or find them your missing person.
COOPER: Do you have any sense of how many -- I mean, there's no way to know, and, I mean, how many bodies may still be out there underneath the debris?
CATALDIE: Anderson, I don't know that. We have over 100 addresses that we have a high index of suspicion on. Please, that doesn't mean there are 100 bodies out there. It simply means those are definitely residences or ex-residences, unfortunately, that have to be searched thoroughly, especially before they're bulldozed.
COOPER: And it is possible that the bulldozing will begin at some point and people will literally just be picked up by bulldozers and disappear into rubbish bins?
CATALDIE: I will do everything in my power to prevent that.
COOPER: But it could happen, I guess?
CATALDIE: Well, I'll do everything in my power to prevent it.
COOPER: We will continue following this story and track the progress of those dogs in trying to find as many people as possible.
Coming up, a shutdown at Neverland. Why the state of California is barring workers from Michael Jackson's ranch. And what does that mean for the embattled pop star? We'll try to get some answers on that one.
Plus, the latest on the 13-year-old who was missing and had sent text messages to her mom calling for help. She's safe now, but there are questions about her story.
All that ahead on 360.
COOPER: Well, there is new trouble tonight for Michael Jackson. Authorities are shutting down Neverland. We'll have the latest on that.
First, Erica Hill from HEADLINE NEWS has some of the business stories we're following.
COOPER: Coming up, Michael Jackson, he's back in the news tonight. The story is taking shape in California as we speak. Jackson's Neverland Ranch has been shut down by California authorities. We'll have the latest on that.
Plus, Americans popping prescription drugs just to get through their to-do list. How safe is that? We'll take a look at the potential problems when 360 continues.
COOPER: There are apparently some new troubles for Michael Jackson tonight. His beloved Neverland Ranch -- I'm not sure how beloved it is -- has effectively been shut down by California authorities. Employees were ordered to stop reporting for work after officials discovered Jackson's ranch had no workers' compensation coverage.
CNN has learned that workers at the sprawling ranch are owed at least $300,000 in unpaid back wages. Jackson has not been living at Neverland in recent months. He relocated to Bahrain, a small nation in the Persian Gulf, shortly after he was acquitted on child molestation charges back in June.
Court TV's Lisa Bloom joins us once again.
OK. So, Jackson reportedly let his workers' compensation policies lapse. We're talking about, like, $300,000. How serious is this?
LISA BLOOM, COURT TV ANCHOR: It's very serious. He may have beat back the Santa Barbara D.A., but don't mess with the Labor Commission. They're very serious in California.
Wages have to be paid on time and in full. And apparently, he's got two big problems here.
One, is he hasn't paid his workers' comp insurance, which all employers are required to do. So, if somebody gets hurt on the job, that's how they get paid. Right now, the employees would be -- they wouldn't have any protection.
And not paying the employees, that's the second problem. He has to pay fines now in order to bring this thing, you know, back up to speed.
COOPER: So what if workers keep showing up for work? Is that -- they've been told not to.
BLOOM: Oh, they can't. They've been barred from the ranch. Nobody's allowed to work there as of this moment. If they show up and start working, that would be criminal penalties against the ranch operator and potentially against Michael Jackson.
COOPER: So everyone, like household help? I mean, everyone?
BLOOM: Everyone, including those who care for the animals on the ranch.
COOPER: Yes, what happens -- OK, so there you go. There's the next question. What happens to all those giraffes and whatever else is there?
BLOOM: Local animal control has been called in to make sure that the giraffes and the elephants and the orangutans and the snakes and all the animals live at Neverland will be taken care of.
COOPER: You're telling me they have local animal control who's experienced in giraffe handling?
BLOOM: I'm not telling you that they are experienced with the orangutans, but they will go in and take care of them. They'll make sure that they're protected. COOPER: But, I mean, he can basically just pay this fine, if he's able to, and get this thing reopened.
BLOOM: Pay, and the penalties, and the workers' comp insurance. And he's got to make sure that stays current, Anderson.
I mean, this is serious business. I used to do labor law in California. You cannot mess around with employee wages.
You can't take improper deductions. It's all considered a very serious infraction by the state authorities.
COOPER: We had just -- trying to reach spokespeople for them, I guess, and we have learned that he's actually in London recording a Katrina relief album. And so I guess he's not in Bahrain right now.
We'll see how he deals with this. Lisa Bloom, thanks very much.
BLOOM: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: I want to thank our international viewers for watching.
Coming up next on 360, though, a SOS from a cell phone, a child's text messages. She says she was kidnapped, held against her will. She said terrible thins were being done to her. But was she telling the truth?
Also, President Bush's port deal, it's over, or it is? And where does that leave the president?
Also ahead, if you're watching this in bed, you're not alone, maybe. Bed bugs. Oy, I don't like this story. They're returning and on the attack, apparently. You'll hear one woman's nightmare story and what you can do to get rid of some bed bugs.
COOPER: Good evening. A child's plea from a cell phone keypad, begging to be saved from kidnappers. Was it a cry for help or just a terrible hoax?
ANNOUNCER: Chilling text messages from a 13-year-old girl using her cell phone to tell her mom she was kidnapped. Today she's found and tells investigate her tale of capture and rape. But questions continue.
Who took her hostage? And does her story add up? 360 investigates.
A political firestorm leads to a port pullout. Dubai Ports World now says it will hand over its operations to a U.S. company. Did the White House force their hand? What's sleeping in your bed? Tonight, meet one woman who found out the hard way. How she says her resort getaway turned into a bed bug attack and why she's suing for $20 million.
ANNOUNCER: From across the U.S. and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.
Live from the CNN studios in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.
COOPER: And good evening. Thanks for joining us.
It is the kind of text message you would never want a child to send. A New Jersey girl tells her mother, "They're taking me, making me do disgusting stuff I don't want to do."
In the end, the girl who claimed to be kidnapped and raped was found. She's alive. Tonight she's back with her family, but police aren't so sure if her story is fact or fiction.
CNN's Alina Cho investigates.
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Less than 24 hours ago, no one knew if this 13-year-old girl would come home again. Why she disappeared for three days is still a mystery. Here's what we know.
Police say the girl, a good student, skipped class Monday to meet with a 20-year-old boy she had met at the mall.
ROBERT BROWNE, FATHER: Even though your -- your daughter is a good student in school, she -- and you trust her, you raised her well, oh, my kid wouldn't do that, you know, you have to be aware -- who, what, where, when, why? Ask them where they're really going and who they're going to meet.
CHO: Later that morning, her mother tried to reach her. The girl responded with a desperate cell phone text message to her mom.
STELLA BROWNE, MOTHER: "Help. I'm scared. I don't know where I am. I know I'm in a house. Someone was following me and I just don't remember what happened."
CHO: There were several more, including this one sent later that day.
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