Skip to main content
U.S. Edition


Return to Transcripts main page


New White House Chief of Staff Announced; Electric Shock Treatment For Kids?; French Youths Protest New Employment Law

Aired March 28, 2006 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again, everyone.
Take a moment now, and take a look at this.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I strapped one here to my arm just to see how powerful the shock is. It's delivered with a remote control.

Oh! Oh, man.

That hurts.


COOPER: That is CNN's Randi Kaye. Now imagine the same thing done to your child -- it looks like torture to some. Some parents call it that. Yet, others say it's a godsend for stopping kids from hurting themselves or others. What it is, indisputably, is controversial -- electric shock aversion therapy for kids. We will take a closer look a bit later on the program.

We begin, however, with a shakeup at the White House. The chief of staff, Andy Card, is out, resignation accepted, replaced with another Bush insider. The reaction? You need a bigger shakeup, said one former White House insider we talked to. He said, start with Dick Cheney and go all of the way down to Barney the dog.

Now, those words came from Paul Begala, a liberal Democrat who worked in the Clinton administration. But plenty of Republicans agree on the need for some kind of drastic action -- all the angles tonight on the White House shakeup. Is it really a shakeup or just a new face for old policies? Will more White House officials be replaced? And does the president get it? Or, as a lot of Republicans up for election this fall are complaining, has the White House been deaf to their needs?

We will also investigate what awaits a former top dog at the White House. Here's a hint: not exactly a life of misery. Money, yes. Misery, no.

We begin with the shakeup. Here's CNN's Suzanne Malveaux.



SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He held the job longer than anyone in half-a-century.

BUSH: He came to me about two-and-a-half weeks ago -- two weeks ago -- and said: "I think it may be time for me to go on. I have -- you know, I have given it my all."

MALVEAUX: Chief of Staff Andy Card wanted to leave after Mr. Bush's 2004 win, and had told him so. But it was this weekend in Camp David, according to the White House, when President Bush accepted his resignation.

Budget chief Josh Bolten is now in.

BUSH: Now Josh's job is to design a White House staff that meets the needs of the president.

MALVEAUX: A shakeup at the White House? Hardly.

CHARLIE BLACK, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think what has occurred today is, a very fine public servant decided to retire and was replaced by another Bush insider.

MALVEAUX: And that's the way the president likes it. Despite strikes by terrorists and hurricanes, bruising legislative battles, war, and sagging poll numbers, President Bush's team continues to defy history by remaining almost entirely intact five years after the president first took office.

BLACK: He's a demanding boss. He's -- he's demanding of those people. And what he demands are -- are loyalty and teamwork.

MALVEAUX: Charlie Black, who has advised Presidents Reagan and both Bushes, says those demands have worked in this president's favor.

BLACK: This White House staff has been more unified and had less infighting and less freelancing than any White House in modern history.

MALVEAUX: But critics, now including some top Republicans on the Hill, believe the president's leadership style has ultimately hurt him, isolating him from fresh ideas and bad news.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It has been an administration that -- that -- that has prided loyalty, and -- and, also, just hasn't been that congenial for the independent voices who are out there, striking notes discordant from the general themes the administration wants to press.

MALVEAUX: The president's inner circle remains small. Aides say, his Oval Office door is open to just a handful who have been with him since he came to Washington in 2001 -- among those, Vice President Dick Cheney, political guru Karl Rove, White House counsel Harriet Miers, and others. BLACK: If he has no suspicion whatsoever that they have their own agenda, then, it allows him to trust them and become completely comfortable with them.

MALVEAUX: And those who have departed generally have not.

BLACK: If there is a common denominator, it seems to me that this sense of loyalty and teamwork that the president demands, that folks who left might not have adhered to that, or at least he didn't perceive them to be complete team players.

MALVEAUX (on camera): But Bush aides say that is not the case with Andy Card. But the big question remains whether or not his departure will help rejuvenate President Bush's agenda. Some GOP strategists are skeptical -- one of them telling me that a White House staff change will not bring victory in Iraq any time sooner.

Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, the White House.


COOPER: Well, that, of course, may be the bottom line. If things were going well, no one would be demanding changes. As long as things keep going poorly, no amount of bloodletting will be enough for some.

That said, compared to other shakeups in other administrations, this one is pretty tame, leaving for a lot of people looking for the next shoe to drop.

CNN's Ed Henry reports.


ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After White House Chief of Staff Andy Card's resignation, the question now, is this the end of the shakeup or just the beginning?

QUESTION: Mr. President, will you make more staff changes?


QUESTION: ... staff changes?


QUESTION: ... more staff changes?

HENRY: With Republicans calling for an infusion of new blood, someone to reinvigorate the White House's agenda on Capitol Hill, amid plummeting poll numbers, the president tried to sell budget chief Josh Bolten, who has had close contact with congressional leaders, as just the man to replace Card.

BUSH: No person is better prepared for this important position. And I'm honored that Josh has agreed to serve. The next three years will demand much of those who serve our country. We have a global war to fight and win.

HENRY: But, like Card, Bolten has been at the president's side since day one of the administration, and served as policy director in the 2000 campaign -- hardly a newcomer. And senior Republicans privately say, a broader shakeup is need, a notion welcomed by some outside activists.

BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: I do not think that changing -- changing the chairs between Card and Bolten changes anything.

HENRY (on camera): While White House spokesman Scott McClellan did not rule out more changes, he said it's premature to speculate on the fate of other top aides -- not good enough for some senior Republicans, who are demanding a bigger shakeup.

Ed Henry, CNN, the White House.


COOPER: Well, the White House may not want to speculate about what comes next, if anything comes next. But that is not stopping our correspondents, of course, from working their sources.

CNN's John Roberts and John King sat down with me after a long day on the phones.


COOPER: John King, a lot of critics baying for fresh blood in this White House. Will this satisfy them?


In fact, I talked to a very senior Republican strategist very close to this White House, and he called this replacing Tweedle-Dee with Tweedle-Dum.

Republicans say, this is not enough, Anderson. And their main point is that the president needs a new -- a new person, a new person of stature in his inner circle. Josh Bolten for Andy Card replaces one longtime Bush adviser with another longtime Bush adviser. It is not enough to satisfy the Republicans. You can only imagine, the Democrats want more, too.

COOPER: John Roberts, what about that? When Ronald Reagan got in trouble in his second term, he brought in Howard Baker, who had a -- you know, former Senate. Should -- should -- should this Bush have brought in somebody with connections to -- to -- to Capitol Hill?

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A lot of people I talked to today say that it's -- it's pretty much a wash.

Andy Card and Josh Bolten, I mean, they're somewhat interchangeable. Andy Card perhaps has a little bit more experienced in the public sector than does Josh Bolten. Josh Bolten is a -- a brilliant guy, a terrific manned manager, but, as John King said, a -- a longtime Bush insider. He's a guy that likes to keep a low profile.

COOPER: John King, do you think this is the last change we're going to see?

KING: I do know this.

Josh Bolten has already signaled to the Republicans around town that he wants to listen to their concerns. This is what he will hear, Anderson. He will hear them say, the president needs to change his management style. The president needs to think whether he wants to have Karl Rove, Dan Bartlett, and the other Texans who have been him since day one in his inner is circle, or whether he is willing to bring in somebody new to the inner circle.

Now, I know the president's thoughts on this from talking to those senior aides. They say the president believes he has precious time to waste here, and he doesn't want to have to get used to somebody new.

COOPER: John Roberts, I mean, Cheney and -- and Karl Rove both have so much power in this White House. Was Andy Card in that inner circle that John King talked about?

ROBERTS: Oh, Andy -- Andy -- Andy Card was the anchor of the center of the circle. He was the -- the -- the pinnacle of stability at that White House.

He was the guy who made the trains run on time. And you had the personalities like Dick Cheney and Karl Rove operating around that. But he was at the very center. And he's the guy that really kept the president grounded.

Josh Bolten is cut from very much the same cloth. As I said, he's a tremendous manager. I don't know that he will have the same sway over the president as Andy Card did, simply because, you know, Card is -- Card is -- Card is a wise fellow, who was there for Bush 41. Josh Bolten, while he's very close to the president, may not carry that same sort of credibility.

COOPER: Well, John King, I mean, if -- if -- if the president's biggest problem is -- is Iraq, how much can this move help the White House on that issue? It doesn't seem like much.

KING: Well, that is the view of the White House, Anderson, in that they don't think changing the personnel is going to change their fundamental problem, which is the war in Iraq.

They did realize, though -- and they give Andy Card credit. They say, he realized that, we were going to keep asking this question.

Republicans were going to keep demanding change at the White House, until there was some change at the White House. Will this be enough? Most Republicans at this point say no.

COOPER: John King, I'm interested in something you just said, though, that the White House acknowledging the problems they have with Iraq. What -- what do they see the problems with Iraq as being? Is it -- is it a perception problem? Is it the -- the media's reporting? Is that the problem? Or is it just events on the ground not going their own way? I assume it's not a policy -- a policy problem that they see?

KING: They -- they think it is mostly events in Iraq and media coverage.

They -- they -- look, they blame the media. They say the media is not covering the positive stories. They also acknowledge that the only way you're going to convince the American people progress is being made is to pull the U.S. troops back, let the Iraqi troop do the most -- most of the security work, not just some of it, not just this raid or that raid, but most of it, and get a government up and running, get the unity government.

They have been bickering about this for months. The Bush administration realizes, that is the only way. They're hoping that, between now and the November election, they can make substantial progress. But Republicans are increasingly nervous.

COOPER: John King, John Roberts, thanks.


COOPER: Well, we talked about Howard Baker a moment ago with them.

Ken Duberstein -- Duberstein -- worked alongside him. He knows better than most what it feels like to arrive at a White House under pressure. This was during the Reagan years.

We spoke earlier today.


COOPER: Ken, back in November 2005, you said -- and I quote -- "I think that they need to bring in some new blood, but new blood that would give the president differing opinions, not somebody who has been burned out for four or five years."

Did the president do that this time?

KEN DUBERSTEIN, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: I think today's move, with Andy Card resigning and Josh Bolten coming in, is both change and continuity, change in the sense of replacing Andy, who, clearly, is tired, having done an absolutely first-class job, but tired, five-and- a-half years in a pressure cooker of 18-hour days, not five days a week, but seven days a week.

COOPER: Yes. I read he got up at 4:30, would be...


COOPER: ... in the White House by around 5:30, and...


COOPER: ... often stay until 8:00 or 9:00, which is just...


COOPER: ... unbelievable.

DUBERSTEIN: Well, Anderson, I used to kid that, before I became chief of staff, I was 6'4'', and now I became 5'9, when I finished.


COOPER: But that's the kind of job it is.

So, you know, Andy deserves a break.

COOPER: For outsiders, I think it's hard to -- to comprehend the scope of this job, chief of staff.

I mean, we talked a little bit about the hours already.


COOPER: But -- but the wear and tear, I mean, what is it like -- what was it like for you? What was it like for Andy Card?

DUBERSTEIN: You know, when the phone rings in the middle of the night, as it often does for a White House chief of staff, somehow, it's never good news.

But everything falls on you. You're the javelin catcher. You're not the javelin thrower. You're the person who decides and helps the president decide who he sees and who he doesn't, what he says, how he says it, to whom he says it.

You're always there. And your constituency is a constituency of one -- well, actually, one-and-a-half, because the first lady is also part of the equation.

COOPER: What should outsiders, all of us, be looking for in these coming weeks? I mean, will there suddenly be new life? Will there be any visible change, do you think?

DUBERSTEIN: Well, I think President Bush's policies will remain the same, but the question is whether Josh Bolten, with the staff, is -- there's a new -- little, new sense of energy, of encouragement.

That's not to dis, in the slightest, Andy Card -- he has done a great job -- but, rather, to say, let's renew that spirit. Let's start spending some more of those chips. Let's get up in the morning and start smiling.

And, you know, that is very contagious. When I came back with Howard Baker -- when Howard was chief of staff and I was deputy chief of staff -- Ronald Reagan was at 37 percent in the polls, just where George W. Bush is now. And Ronald Reagan, through a number of policies, wound up at 68 percent, the highest job approval of any two- term president at the end of his presidency.

But when he came, everyone was demoralized. At 37 percent, it's tough to go true those gates at the White House every morning.

COOPER: Gosh, I thought politicians didn't pay attention to polls.


DUBERSTEIN: Some do, and some don't.

COOPER: That's what they all say, at least.


COOPER: Ken Duberstein...

DUBERSTEIN: You got that.

COOPER: Yes. Appreciate your perspective.

Thank you very much.

DUBERSTEIN: Anderson, my pleasure.


COOPER: Isn't it nice to hear someone from a White House saying that they actually do pay attention to polls?

Well, the long hours, the critics, the burnout, it strikes Democrat and Republican alike, of course.

Our political contributor Paul Begala was counselor to President Clinton. And, as we mentioned at the top of the program tonight, he isn't shy about offering advice to presidents of either party.


COOPER: Paul, Senator Chuck Schumer said that Bolten replacing Card -- quote -- "is simply rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. If the White House is looking to change course, they picked the wrong person to toss overboard."

How much of a difference will Bolten make, in terms of policy?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, none, apparently. We don't really know.

But he -- Bolten has been there from day one. So, he's as exhausted as Andy Card is as Andy goes out the door. He's not fresh blood. And he has never been a man accused of heretical thinking or challenging basic assumptions. the president likes a tight circle. And, frankly, he likes a lot of yes men and women. And that's his style. And, you know, he has a right -- he won the election. He has a right to have whoever he wants, even if people like me don't like it.

COOPER: Our old friend Bob Novak said that Karl Rove is the one basically in charge, and that what the Bush team needed wasn't a -- a new chief of staff, but, really, a new concept of chief of staff. Do you agree?

BEGALA: I -- I suspect Novak is a lot closer to Rove these days than I am, although...


BEGALA: I have known Karl for a long time. But I think that's probably true, and that Karl is the power behind the throne there -- a very able guy, a very smart guy.

I'm one of the few Democrat who would say this, but I actually kind of like Karl. You know, he is fine. The problem is, he has been in there -- he went -- he -- he got President -- Governor Bush elected in '94, got him reelected in '98, did the presidential in 2000, then the recount, then 9/11, then the midterm. Somewhere in there, we had a couple of wars.

So, he's completely exhausted. He is toast. I think he's just a very happy man that he's not indicted. And that's not the standard to be the most important person in the White House. I -- I -- if it was me, I would start with Dick Cheney and finish with Barney the dog, and fire the lot of them.

COOPER: Yes, but you -- I mean, you're a -- a Democratic strategist. I mean, isn't some of that just -- just, you know, your natural aversion to these guys? I mean, what is...


COOPER: What -- what do you -- just, what is really the problem, as you see it? Apart from policy disagreements that you may have, are -- are they all just tuckered out?

BEGALA: Right.

COOPER: Is that what you're saying?

BEGALA: That's what I'm saying.

There are a whole lot of energetic, principled, free-thinking, right-wing conservative Republicans who could step right into that job. And I think that's what -- that is what the president needs. It is, frankly, in the Democrats' political interest for Bush to continue the status quo, because that's what they want. They want to have a change election. And they're going to have a change election.

And if the president fails to let off some of that steam, bleed off some of that energy for change, it's actually very good for the Democrats. So, if I swap and put my partisan hat on, I would say Bolten is great for the Democrats. But, as somebody who used to work in the White House, I know, you get worn out. Look, I turned in my notice, my two-weeks notice, the day after Clinton was found not guilty in the Senate impeachment trial. I was toast. I was through. And these guys have been through three or four versions of the impeachment. And, so, many of them are very able. Many of them are friends of mine. But I think they're tired.

COOPER: But your criticism seems to be that this president does not surround himself with people -- you know, he -- he surrounds himself with too many like-minded people. Does any president -- has any president in the past really wanted to surround themselves with -- with people who disagreed with him?

BEGALA: Oh, sure.

I mean, you can go back in history and read Doris Kearns Goodwin's wonderful new biography of Abraham Lincoln. I have actually had the honor, the -- the pleasure of interviewing a whole lot of the senior Reagan people, including Secretary Weinberger and Lyn Nofziger, both of whom passed away in the last few days.

Ronald Reagan had a lot of very strong people around him. Certainly, Clinton did, a lot of strong people. They fought a lot. They disagreed a lot, God knows. So, yes, I think, in fact, Bush is the aberration here, and -- and not -- and not the rule. Most presidents, and, frankly, the successful ones, have had a lot of strong people around them.


COOPER: Well, being an ex-White House staffer is an exclusive club, and membership does have its privileges.

Coming up, we are going to show you why Andy Card's future may be brighter and, well, way richer than ever.

Plus, have you seen what is going on in France? Outrage on the streets, some of the largest protests the country has seen in decades. What is behind them? We will take a look.

Also, the latest in child discipline -- shocking kids until they behave, literally shocking them. Is it safe? Is it civilized? Does it work? Inside the controversial treatment -- when 360 continues.



SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He has been an inspiration to all of us here at the White House through his leadership. He represents the best of public service.


COOPER: That was Scott McClellan, talking about Andy Card, who has tendered his resignation. It has been accepted. After more than five years as White House chief of staff, having the ear of the most powerful man on the planet, the question is, what is next for him? Well, the answer is probably a heck of lot of job offers.

CNN's Tom Foreman reports on how former White House staffers spin their inside access into gold.



UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Everybody, get down on the floor now!


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The number-one new movie in Hollywood is the tale of a bank robbery led by an inside man.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have decided to step down.



TOMMY THOMPSON, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: It's a -- obviously, a very difficult decision.


FOREMAN: But Washington insiders have, quite legally, been making out like bandits for years, especially insiders who are getting out.

ANDREW CARD, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I was a staffer. And now I look forward to being your friend.

Thank you, Mr. President.

FOREMAN: Andy Card made $161,000 a year in the White House. But he could rake in a bundle if he becomes a consultant for big business, according to CNN political analyst Bill Schneider.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: As a private consultant, your income will go into the millions, probably a couple of million dollars, maybe more.

FOREMAN: That's the price tag business will pay for two things, inside knowledge of plans being considered at the highest levels of government, and connections that only a recent insider can deliver.

SCHNEIDER: They grease the wheels. They make things happen. They are the interface between the private sector and government.

FOREMAN: Jennifer Palmieri worked in the Clinton White House and can still call her old boss.

JENNIFER PALMIERI, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Oh, yes, I could get Bill Clinton on the phone. You want me to call him now?


FOREMAN (on camera): That's cool. Let's give him -- yes, give him a call. Call him.

(voice-over): But, she says, the value of being an ex-insider is stronger if your connection or your party is still in power, or if you have built a sustainable worldwide reputation, like Henry Kissinger, out of office for many years, still a high-priced player.

PALMIERI: My sense is that businesses are getting a little more savvy, and they're not particularly impressed about who you can get on the phone. They want to know -- you know, their very bottom -- you know, this is a very bottom-line...

FOREMAN (on camera): Can you produce results?

PALMIERI: Can you produce -- can you produce results? And, you know, that's tougher to do.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Still, ex-insiders can find plenty of other work, in TV, giving speeches. Want Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, at your next convention? That will be $25,000 to $40,000, according to his agency. And on it goes for the ex-insiders, writing books, think tanks, and political punditry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Democrats are going to lose the dog vote.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: That's not going to happen.

FOREMAN (on camera): Hi. I'm a consultant. Can I offer you some advice?

(voice-over): Advice is hard to even give away in the nation's capital, because there's so much competition.

(on camera): Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a consultant, too.

FOREMAN: You're a consultant, too.


FOREMAN (voice-over): But, for ex-insiders, Washington is always a seller's market.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: I would pay for free advice from Tom Foreman. Why not?

Well, some sad news to report -- Caspar Weinberger, veteran of a former Republican administration, died today of pneumonia. He was best known, of course, as Ronald Reagan's secretary of defense.

Weinberger presided over a massive Cold War military buildup in the 1980s, particularly the anti-missile system known as Star Wars. He also served in several positions under Richard Nixon. President Bush described Weinberger as an American statesman and a dedicated public servant. Caspar Weinberger was 88.

In France today, it seemed, at times, as if the entire nation had hit the streets -- protests there intensifying. Some encounters were downright ugly. And there were arrests. What is causing all the anger? We will take you there.

And we will show you what's behind this.


KAYE: I strapped one here to my arm just to see how powerful the shock is. It's delivered with a remote control.

Oh! Oh, man.

That hurts.


COOPER: That was our correspondent. Imagine the same on your child. Using electric shocks to get kids to behave -- some people wouldn't do this to a dog, but proponents believe it is the best thing for some very troubled children. You can judge for yourself. We will look at all the angles.

Across America and around the world, you're watching 360.


COOPER: Massive protests in France.

Plus, shocking kids to make them behave, a good idea, or is it the adults who are out of control?

Next on 360.






COOPER: Those are some images from the massive protests going on in France, some of the largest the country has seen in decades.

Now, in central Paris, police fired tear gas. Nationwide, though, protests were largely peaceful. Estimates of the number of marchers vary, but some opinion polls suggest that two-thirds of the country support the demonstrations.

So, what is getting all these people so upset?

With that, here is CNN's Paula Hancocks.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is how the French unions hoped their protests would not end -- a day of peaceful and well-attended demonstrations across the country degenerating in Paris into a standoff between riot police and hard-core protesters.

With tear gas and water cannons, police were determined to keep the situation from getting completely out of hand, as it did last week, when violent youths attacked police, torched cars, and mugged peaceful protesters.

There were hundreds of arrests across the country today. Police tried to remove troublemakers early.

(on camera): What the riot police appear to be doing now is, they're trying to contain particular groups and move several groups into different parts of the square, to try and split them up, and then try and disperse them and make sure they go home.

(voice-over): After the demonstrations, about a million peaceful protesters went home, hoping they have shown Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin just what they think of his new employment law, which, if it withstands a court challenge, it would let companies fire new workers in their first two years.

Students want the job security that the government had guaranteed their parents and their grandparents.


SUSANNE DUFOUR, PHILOSOPHY STUDENT: I don't think that you will listen today, so I think that you we will have to continue the -- the fight.

HANCOCKS: Some U.S. commentators call the protesters misguided, one saying students are -- quote -- "too busy burning cars to look for jobs."

French politicians say they need to give employers more flexibility, so they will create more jobs, and cut an unemployment rate of nearly 10 percent nationwide, more than 22 percent among youths, and more than 40 percent in poor suburbs.

JACQUES CHIRAC, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): And we will create new jobs for the unprivileged youth, who are the main victims of the labor market.

HANCOCKS: But with the prime minister refusing to drop his new law before it takes effect next month, and unions refusing to negotiate with them until he does, France remains stuck in a stalemate.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Paris.


COOPER: Well, a controversial therapy for kids, does it work? And even if it does, does that make it right?


KAYE: It's a therapy almost as old as electricity itself, banned as barbaric at a far higher voltage, illegal in some states. To Evelyn Nicholson (ph), it is "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" for kids.


COOPER: It is fanny pack that packs a punch -- next on 360.


COOPER: Well, a controversial therapy for kids, does it work? And even if it does, does that make it right?


KAYE (voice over): It's a therapy almost as old as electricity itself, banned as barbaric in a far higher voltage, illegal in some states. To Evelyn Nicholson, it is "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" for kids.


COOPER: It is the fanny pack that packs a punch next on 360.


COOPER: Well, we want to warn you, some of the images that you're about to see in this next report are pretty rough. That said, imagine if your child were like this child, so out of control that he was in danger to himself and others. How far would you be willing to go to keep him and others safe? What if the only treatment left to try was guaranteed to be painful, in fact, was designed to be painful?

That, in simple terms, is what this next story is about, troubled children, very troubled children, their desperate parents, and a highly controversial treatment paid for with tax dollars that critics say amounts to torture. Decide for yourself.

Here's CNN's Randi Kaye.


KAYE (voice over): Antwone Nicholson's school looks more like Disneyland than a place for kids with special needs. There are pinball machines and cartoon characters, wax figures and artwork punctuate with cornflower blues and vivid pinks. Each student has a computer, healthy food, plush quarters, heavy supervision, and constant attention.

Why then would Antwone's mother, Evelyn Nicholson, be fighting like mad to get him out of this place?

EVELYN NICHOLSON, ANTWONE'S MOTHER: He would call me up crying and say, "You've got to get me out of here. I can't take this."

KAYE: Because along with the perks at this center for troubled children come the punishments. The Judge Rotenberg Center claims to be the only one in the country using electric shock aversion therapy. They call it the Graduated Electronic Decelerator, the GED. And half their students go to school each day tethered to electrodes housed in a fanny pack.

(on camera): Really bad pain on a scale of one to 10, what would you say? Ten is really bad.


KAYE (voice over): It's a therapy almost as old as electricity itself, banned as barbaric at a far higher voltage, illegal in some states. To Evelyn Nicholson, it is "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" for kids.

Child psychiatrist David Fassler.

DAVID FASSLER, M.D., CHILD PSYCHIATRIST, UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT: This is clearly an intervention which is out of the mainstream. Personally, I worry about the ramifications and the implications long term for the kids.

KAYE: Yet, Evelyn signed a legal consent form that allowed them to strap electrodes on Antwone that deliver 65 volts of electricity by remote control. He got them one at a time each time he cussed, hit, threatened, or frightened someone.

(on camera): You still signed it?


KAYE: How come?

NICHOLSON: Because that was the only -- that was the only place they had for Antwone. KAYE (voice over): Now she's suing her New York school district for sending Antwone out of state so they could, in her words, torture and abuse him for engaging in aggressive, unfocused behavior.

Dr. Matthew Israel has been under fire from parents and doctors and psychiatrists since he invented the electric shock device 16 years ago. Dr. Israel calls it behavioral skin shock, a bee sting, a prick, an electric spanking, nothing like the convulsive shock treatments demonized in films.

DR. MATTHEW ISRAEL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, JUDGE ROTENBERG CENTER: Children who otherwise might blind themselves have been able to stop that behavior and become a much more normal life.

KAYE: Dr. Israel says he has treated 226 students on the GED. The 24/7 program costs taxpayers $213,000 per child each year.

(on camera): If you hadn't come here, what where would you be today?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would be dead or in a hospital doped up on Thorazine.

KAYE (voice over): The key to his credibility, he says, are students and parents. Inside his own colorful headquarters, Dr. Israel refused to speak to CNN without them, and his lawyers, staff, cameras, and recording devices.

(on camera): When you hear people or critics of this therapy say, this is like child abuse, this is inhumane, this is torture, does it make you all very angry?

(voice over): These parents say their kids are the worst of the worst, head-bangers and biters, obsessive compulsives, out of control. A danger to themselves and others. That the GED, which is only administered with court and parental approval, saved their children's lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My daughter was punching herself constantly like that in her eyes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thank god for the GED.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She wouldn't be alive today.

KAYE: According to his medical records, Antwone could also be one scary kid. He stole things, hit people, tried to sexually assault a girl.

NICHOLSON: He's 17, but he's really in between the age of a 4 and a 5-year-old child. And he can't -- he really can't function, he can't think. And he's really constantly repeating himself.

KAYE: When Antwone first arrived at the center, Dr. Israel says he acted out constantly. Mouthing off got him a reprimand, physical aggression was punished with a zap. Dr. Israel says after many zaps that number dropped to near zero.

(on camera): Your mom told us that you told her it was very painful. Is that true?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. It was painful.

KAYE (voice over): Dr. Israel says his treatment is also about rewards. Kids who behave well get treats and games. Bad behavior brings a single two-second skin shock.

So how much does it hurt?

(on camera): A student can wear up to five electrodes strapped to their arms and their legs. I strapped one here to my arm just to see how powerful the shock is. It's delivered with a remote control.

Oh! Oh, man! That hurts. That hurts.


COOPER: What did it feel like? Obviously it looked like it was very painful.

KAYE: It was really painful. The folks at the center told me it would feel like a bee sting, and that's what Dr. Israel had told us as well, but it feels far worse than that. It feels like a constant bombardment of pin pricks. It only lasts about two seconds, but you lose complete control of the muscle.

I couldn't control my arm anymore. So I could see why it would stop these kids, young kids, even, to stop them in their tracks. I can also see why now New York State is considering banning this treatment for any of the children that they send to this center up in Massachusetts.

COOPER: It's such a tough call. I mean, there are arguments to be made on both sides of it. How old are the kids at this school?

KAYE: Some of these kids are as young as 5 years old. And this device is used, this chock treatment is used on these kids. And it's the same amount of zap, the same amount of voltage, these 65 volts, whether you're an adult like myself or a 5-year-old child.

COOPER: Randi Kaye, thanks for the report.

Now, this is clearly not a simple story. Joining me now to talk more about it from Chicago is Dr. Bennett Leventhal, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the University of Illinois. And in Boston, Matthew Israel, the executive director of the Judge Rotenberg Center -- the school the center of the story that you just saw.

Gentlemen, appreciate you being on.

Dr. Leventhal, let me start off with you. You just heard the report. We saw a roomful of some 200 parents who think this treatment is working for their kids. What's your objection to it?

DR. BENNETT LEVENTHAL, CHILD & ADOLESCENT PSYCHIATRIST: Well, that it works isn't simply the whole answer. The question is whether there are other things that work that could be safer and more effective. And, in fact, there are.

It's very well established that positive reinforcement or reward is a far better behavioral management strategy than is negative reinforcement or the punishment that Dr. Israel is using.

COOPER: But the school says, look, this is -- the school says this is the last resort, that they do have positive reinforcement and they only use the shock on the kids with -- who don't respond to that.

LEVENTHAL: Well, I think it's very well demonstrated in the scientific literature that if you properly do behavioral analyses, you can use positive reinforcement much -- at least as effectively. And at the end of the day, it's actually even better.

COOPER: Dr. Israel, what about that? I mean, your critics say you've done no long-term studies to see if this works, no other school uses this, and it hasn't been validated by peer-reviewed scientific papers.

ISRAEL: Well, I agree that the first approach should always be the use of rewards. And we have the most densest and wide-ranging reward system of any program in the country.

It's only if a powerful reward program, an educational program doesn't work that then we would bring in and supplement that with the use of skin shock.

COOPER: And who's determining who -- I mean, who shocks the kids? And how do you decide when a kid deserves to get shocked?

ISRAEL: Well, the psychologist is in charge of a treatment team that identifies the behavior problems. You have to realize how serious the children are that come to us.

A child comes to us, for example, with blinded already in one eye, having detached retina in the other eye, and is now within one more head punch of losing total vision. Now, in that situation, you need treatment that's clean, that's effective and powerful, and quick.

COOPER: Dr. Leventhal, what about that? I mean, is shocking kids any less humane than medicating them or restraining them or warehousing them in a psychiatric ward?

LEVENTHAL: Well, I think that's really not a very good comparison. I think the better comparison is to say you can slap and beat children and get them to stop misbehaving as well. Is that a better way to go about it? And the answer is clearly no. And there are plenty of studies that show that punishment has long-term deleterious effects on children, whereas.... COOPER: So can you treat a child who is poking out his eyes or beating his head? I mean, you say positive reinforcement can work in that child?

LEVENTHAL: Yes. Absolutely, definitively. It's been demonstrated to be effective in self-abusive behavior and has repeatedly been demonstrated to be effective. And there are long-term studies that show that when you use positive reinforcement, the rate of maintaining the good behavior is sustained far better than in the cases where you use negative reinforcement or punishment.

COOPER: But Dr. Israel, a review in 2004 "Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions" is highly critical of your work. It says that the use of aversives like electric shock is not only ineffective but also inhumane. And we've just seen some of this before and after videotape you supplied.

Do you have any proof that long term this actually works?

ISRAEL: The proof is how many of our students are able to graduate. You know, the treatment is so effective. Excuse me.

As time goes on you're able to diminish its use, to remove the device, the students are able to often get out and to live and work in a normal environment outside the school. And best of all...

COOPER: But you do say -- you do say on your Web site that behavioral skin shock treatment, that it may have to be used repeatedly throughout -- you know, for many, many years.

ISRAEL: Look at the alternatives that most parents face who don't have this choice. This is a choice of treatment where you don't need psychotropic drugs. Psychotropic drugs are the real abusive treatment, and many children who have to have them...

LEVENTHAL: I think Dr. Israel is mischaracterizing the situation here.

ISRAEL: Let me finish, please.

LEVENTHAL: Quite dramatically.

ISRAEL: May I finish, please?

LEVENTHAL: There are centers such as the...

ISRAEL: Can I finish?

COOPER: Just let Dr. Israel finish, and then, Dr. Leventhal, you'll be able to respond.

ISRAEL: If you don't have successful treatment, you have a child that's going to be drugged into a zombie-like condition for the rest of his or her life and end up in a psychiatric hospital.

COOPER: Dr. Leventhal? ISRAEL: This is -- this is an alternative. The parents need to have the right to choose.

LEVENTHAL: This is a complete misrepresentation.

COOPER: OK. Go ahead, Dr. Leventhal.

LEVENTHAL: There are centers, for example, such as the Kennedy Krieger Institute at Johns Hopkins which uses a positive reinforcement center and in six to eight weeks has children reduce these very behaviors. They disappear, the patients are discharged, and rarely need to be continued with the treatments like -- and never need to use aversives like shock treatment.

And they've been studied and are well established. That's exactly why the scientific literature is contrary to what Dr. Israel is saying.

ISRAEL: Well, let me tell you something.

COOPER: Well, Dr. Israel, if this works so well, why not have it peer reviewed? I mean, this is -- you've been doing this for now 16 years. Why not have -- why aren't there studies?

ISRAEL: Yes, there's 111 articles in the professional literature on skin shock, peer-reviewed articles. And on the device that we use, a very similar device, (INAUDIBLE), is the subject of about eight or 10 articles.

Let me just talk about the point about whether positive procedures are successful by themselves. The leading researchers in the field who believe in positive procedures did a comprehensive review of over a hundred articles in the literature. And what they found was that positive procedures alone, they do work in 50 percent of the cases. Now, I'm dealing with the other 50 percent.


Dr. Leventhal, a final thought from you?

LEVENTHAL: Well, I think that -- that -- the question isn't just whether it works. The question is whether it's the best way to go about doing this.

And I think the scientific literature would say that it clearly is not. That you sustain learning better with reward systems rather than punishment systems, and that there are successful treatments of the most severe disorders, just like Dr. Israel is talking about. By the way, often without the use of medications and with successful behavioral treatment.

COOPER: Well, my heart certainly goes out to the families who have to deal with this.

And gentlemen, I appreciate both of your perspectives. There's more about this on our blog on the CNN Web site. I don't think we solved anything, but we gave people some stuff to talk about and think about.

Dr. Israel, Dr. Leventhal, thank you.

What you just saw is a very different form -- is very different, I should say, from electroshock therapy. Ahead on 360, we're going to show you just how much different.

For many depressed people, electroshock therapy is a last resort. Tonight we take you inside the treatment room for a very rare look at how the shocks can actually help reset a brain.

Also, from the tap to your lips, it is just a beer. But once it hits your bloodstream the alcohol begins its work. What really happens inside your body when you drink. All this week we're looking at alcoholism in America hiding in plain sight, next on 360.


COOPER: Well, before the break we told you about controversial therapy that uses electric shocks to try to change the way very troubled kids behave. Now, the whole point is to cause pain. It's a punishment, a form of aversion therapy.

In that respect, it is nothing like electroshock therapy, which is used to treat depression in a very small number of cases. Tens of thousands of people undergo this kind of shock therapy each year. And for them it is often the final option.

CNN's Gary Tuchman investigates.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A life spent in misery.

DAVID SCHAAT, ECT PATIENT: I'm bipolar, so I have manic depression.

TUCHMAN: David Schaat has considered killing himself. He's now in a Utah hospital as a last resort about to undergo a psychiatric procedure that has long carried a stigma. It's best known as electroshock therapy. Electrically shocking the brain to produce a seizure.


TUCHMAN: A procedure many only know from it's portrayal by Jack Nicholson in the movie "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

DR. LOWRY BUSHNELL, UNIV. OF UTAH, NEUROPSYCHIATRIC INSTITUTE: It's understandable to see why people might think that this is a bit like the Frankenstein monster in the castle on the hill. We have an image problem, but the reality is not that at all. TUCHMAN: This is the reality say the doctors treating David Schaat.

BUSHNELL: This will be the stimulation itself, and his face will flinch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it's proving the direct muscle stimulation in the face.

BUSHNELL: Now he's having a seizure.

TUCHMAN: The seizure lasts just over 30 seconds. Anesthesia stops David from convulsing anything like Jack Nicholson. Doctors aren't exactly sure why the treatment, also called electroconvulsive therapy or ECT works, but...

BUSHNELL: It seems as though the closest thing it is, is the equivalent of rebooting the brain's operating system.

CHERYL SHERMAN, ETC PATIENT: I've been on medication for years and it just doesn't work.

TUCHMAN: Cheryl Sherman is also undergoing ECT.

BUSHNELL: She's having her seizure at this point.

TUCHMAN: The Wyoming resident says she once bought a machete to end a life she felt was no longer worth living.

BUSHNELL: ECT is done on over 100,000 people a year in the United States. Many, many of those people would not survive without it, and those that did, most would have tragic lives.

TUCHMAN: Leonard Roy Frank doesn't buy any of it. He was forced to undergo ECT 42 years ago when the shock was harsher. He says years of his memory were completely erased.

LEONARD ROY FRANK, FORMER ECT PATIENT: This is an effective way of destroying personality, destroying consciousness, stripping consciousness.

TUCHMAN (on camera): State legislators throughout the country, including here in Utah, have received proposals asking for electroconvulsive therapy to be banned. Bills have been passed imposing some limitations. But so far, no state has declared ECT as illegal.

(voice-over): Cheryl Sherman says she has some minor memory loss, but feels better than she can ever remember.

(on camera): Does it scare you that you feel so good?

SHERMAN: It's kind of unnerving, because you expect the other shoe to drop and have it all go to hell on you.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): This is also strange territory for the Schaat family.

SCHAAT: It's brought a lot of new emotions, a lot of euphoric feelings, happy feelings that I'm not used to having.

TUCHMAN: The treatment does not come with a lifetime guarantee. It does come for many, though, with a great deal of hope.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Salt Lake City, Utah.


COOPER: So much suffering.

The British man accused of murdering his wife and baby girl today, he was back in court. We'll tell you why and what happened.

And will millions of illegal immigrants in the U.S. be given amnesty and should they?

All that and more when 360 continues.


COOPER: Well, the Senate tackles immigration. We'll have the latest.

But first, Erica Hill from HEADLINE NEWS joins us with some of the stories we're following tonight -- Erica.


COOPER: I want to thank our international viewers for watching.

Ahead on 360, though, a lot more to cover. Are millions of illegal Americans on the verge of becoming full-fledged American citizens -- or legal aliens, I should say, on the verge of becoming full-fledged American citizens? We'll look at that.

And later, the science of alcoholism, why getting drunk may have a lot to do with DNA. We're taking your calls on this subject. Alcoholism in America, a problem hiding in plain sight, next on 360.


COOPER: Deep divide. The Republican Party and the battle over illegal immigration. Is this the ticking time bomb Democrats have been waiting for?


ANNOUNCER: Border battle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think if you reward illegal behavior you'll get more illegal behavior.

ANNOUNCER: The white-hot debate on immigration, what it means to jobs, national security and for the president. We're joined by Lou Dobbs as we cover all the angles.

White House shakeup. The president's chief of staff calls it quits. Was he sacrificed for the critics? Who's next?


CNN TV E-mail Services CNN Mobile CNNAvantGo Ad Info About Us Preferences
© 2007 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines