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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Mexican President Backs Off Drug Decriminalization Bill; Zacarias Moussaoui Gets Life Sentence

Aired May 3, 2006 - 22:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
Breaking news tonight in the battle on the border: Mexico's president steps back from the brink, backing down on a plan to legalize small amounts of cocaine, heroin, even LSD. The decision could have an impact on anyone who travels south of the border. We will have the latest.

And a jury hands Zacarias Moussaoui the ultimate defeat, denying his wish to become a martyr.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): Life in prison, how jurors decided, and this. We have got Moussaoui's bosses in custody. So, why aren't we trying them?

Immigrant impact -- after the marches, what millions accomplished, and what they didn't.

Will you be left on your own? The new plan for dealing with a deadly flu epidemic from the people who brought you hurricane relief. We're "Keeping Them Honest."

And tired of both parties trying to buy you off on gas prices and more?

SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), MAJORITY LEADER: We will get consumers relief at the pump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One hundred dollar rebate.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Every one of us drove...

REP. RAHM EMANUEL (D), ILLINOIS: Right here?

SCHUMER: ... fuel-efficient cars here.

ANNOUNCER: New calls tonight for a third way, a third major political party. It may be needed, but will it fly?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Across the country and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.

Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: Thanks for joining us.

We begin with breaking news that every parent of a teenager needs to know about. If your son or daughter goes to Mexico, the country was on the verge of making it legal for them to possess marijuana, cocaine, even heroin. Mexico's president, Vicente Fox, made it clear he was going to approve the bill. Tonight, it seems he caved to pressure from Washington.

CNN's chief national correspondent, John King, is monitoring the situation from New Orleans tonight -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, no official reaction from the Bush administration as yet, but I just received an e-mail from a senior administration official, who calls this retreat by the Mexican government helpful, says the administration -- quote -- "appreciates" President Vicente Fox's decision to reconsider his position on this issue.

As you noted, the Mexican president indicate -- had indicated -- excuse me -- he was prepared to sign legislation that decriminalized possession of small amounts of drugs, marijuana, LSD, other drugs. And the official position of the United States, the State Department and the Office of National Drug Control made this very clear to Mexican officials, they thought that was incredibly damaging to U.S.- Mexico relations, because, they said, it would encourage drug tourism, Americans going south of the border to buy and use drugs south of the border in Mexico.

That was the main official complaint of Washington. But we also know from administration sources that the State Department made clear that it also did not view this as a helpful step at a time there is this huge debate in the United States about immigration reform. Many of those who oppose letting more illegal immigrants, those illegal in the United States, stay in the United States long have been critical of the Fox administration in Mexico, saying it needs to do more to strengthen border security, needs to do more to strengthen its economy.

And those critics of President Fox were using his position on this drug bill to intensify their opposition to this legislation -- the Mexican president's office issuing a statement tonight, saying he will reconsider, he will not sign that bill, he will ask the Congress to make clear that drug possession and use will remain criminal in Mexico -- so, Anderson, a retreat from the president of Mexico, and an embrace of that position by the Bush administration.

COOPER: And just so clear what we are talking about, we're talking about, like, four lines of cocaine would have been legal, like, four joints would have been legal, an unspecified amount of LSD, a small amount of heroin.

The -- the Mexicans were saying, look, this actually is going to toughen our own laws, in a way. It's going to make clear to judges here in Mexico what -- what deserves criminal offense, what doesn't. Do we have any sense of how much pressure was put on by U.S. government authorities?

KING: Well, we do know that the State -- State Department officials personally called their counterparts in Mexico. The Office of National Drug Control Policy, which is the drug czar, works out of the White House, also voiced concerns directly to Mexico.

And the State Department does say there are positive steps in this legislation that would strengthen fighting cartels in Mexico, the bigger problem, if you will, but they said it was just an incredibly dangerous signal to send and that it would encourage especially young Americans to go south of the border to try to obtain drugs.

And, so, they voiced their objections on that ground. But, again, it's a tense moment in U.S.-Mexico relations, because of the immigration debate as well. So, the White House tonight, no official statement as yet, but, again, in conversations, e-mail conversations with senior officials, they say they view this as a very positive step.

COOPER: And no doubt a lot of mayors of towns along that border are very relieved, and a lot of law enforcement on the U.S. side are relieved as well.

John King, thanks tonight.

We turn now to a federal jury's decision to spare the life of Zacarias Moussaoui, the al Qaeda terrorist who boasted of training to fly a plane into the White House. He spewed hatred and even taunted the families of 9/11 victims. If anyone was asking for a death sentence, this guy was. But after seven days of deliberations, the jury said no, life without parole in the country's toughest prison, near complete solitary confinement every day until he dies.

All the angles tonight, starting with the legal angle -- how the jury reached a decision, what they considered, and what happens next.

Also, the big picture, what many would call the bigger fish -- why hasn't the government tried any of Moussaoui's bosses, bosses the U.S. has in custody?

First, we begin with CNN's Kelli Arena.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On his way out of the courtroom, Zacarias Moussaoui yelled, "America, you lost." Defiant until the end, he never expressed any remorse for 9/11. Still, the jury decided, Moussaoui will not be executed. The 37-year- old is expected to spend the rest of his life in a maximum-security prison.

Carie Lemack lost her mother on September 11.

CARIE LEMACK, DAUGHTER OF SEPTEMBER 11 VICTIM: He's an al Qaeda wanna-be. And he does not deserve any credit for 9/11, because he was not part of it. And I'm so glad the jury recognized that.

ARENA: Other 9/11 family members were disappointed.

MARGARET POTHIER, FAMILY MEMBER OF SEPTEMBER 11 VICTIM: I think he deserved the death penalty, and I'm sorry he didn't get it.

ARENA: Three jurors said on the verdict form they believe Moussaoui's role in the 9/11 conspiracy was minor and that he had limited knowledge of the attack plan.

The jury rejected the government's claim that Moussaoui's actions resulted in nearly 3,000 deaths on 9/11.

PAUL MCNULTY, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: We respect that, and we accept that. But accountability for the crimes committed has been achieved through the prosecution. There's no doubt about that.

ARENA: No jurors were swayed by the notion that executing Moussaoui would make him a martyr for al Qaeda. They also weren't convinced he was mentally ill, although the majority accepted the defense's argument Moussaoui came from a dysfunctional family with a violent father.

EDWARD MACMAHON, ATTORNEY FOR ZACARIAS MOUSSAOUI: The court charged us with defending Mr. Moussaoui's constitutional rights, and we have done so to the best of our abilities.

ARENA: Even though the four-and-a-half-year legal drama did not end with a death sentence, President Bush defended the outcome.

BUSH: And they spared his life, which is something that he evidently wasn't willing to do for innocent American citizens.

ARENA (on camera): What remains to be seen is how this administration handles the al Qaeda higher-ups in U.S. custody who are more culpable for the September 11 attacks.

Kelli Arena, CNN, Alexandria, Virginia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, more on those big fish now and more the legal side of this extraordinary case with CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and terrorism analyst Peter Bergen. We spoke earlier tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So, Jeff, the government put a lot into this case, a lot of time, a lot of money. Was it a defeat for them?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I think you have to conclude that it was.

They -- there were only two possibilities. The government wanted one. The defense wanted the other, and they picked the defense option. And... (CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Why -- why do you think they did that?

TOOBIN: I -- I think the defense argument, that this was a small fry, that this was a wanna-be, that this was a crazy guy, whose importance was being inflated by the government, persuaded at least one juror that this was not a death penalty case.

We don't know what the split was. But we do know that it was not unanimous for the death penalty.

Peter, is this guy just a small fry?

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: No doubt.

I mean, some of the testimony we heard in the case -- well, it wasn't testimony. It was summary interrogations of some of the al Qaeda leadership that is in American custody. And they were talking about, this is a guy they wanted to cut loose, somebody who was a pain, who they didn't appreciate the fact that he didn't behave in a very rational manner. And they kind of cut him out of the plot.

COOPER: So, as -- you mean, as a terrorist, he's kind of a loser?

BERGEN: Completely.

COOPER: Why is that? I mean, how can you be a bad terrorist?

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: What, he's just a loose cannon?

BERGEN: Well, you know, al Qaeda's leadership is a fairly rational group of people, and they don't want people on the team who have got personality problems.

You know, the jury did not find, in the mitigating factors, that Zacarias Moussaoui is actually psychotic. But, clearly, his behavior during the trial, the way he behaves with anybody he deals with, indicates that you wouldn't -- you wouldn't want him on your team, running whether you're running a business or a terrorist organization.

TOOBIN: And -- and, Anderson, he may have wanted to be a terrorist, but the government couldn't point to any terrorism that he did. This is a guy who was in prison as of the middle of August 2001. He got caught before he could even attempt to do anything.

So, the argument that he was dangerous and wanted to do something was all theoretical. They couldn't point to anything he actually did.

COOPER: Peter, you talk about this testimony that they did point to, testimony from other higher-level terrorists, who are in custody in undisclosed locations. Any chance that they are going to be brought to court? BERGEN: Well, to me, the real tragedy here is that I think it's very unlikely that the people really responsible for 9/11, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh, who were the operational planners -- it was their idea, their execution -- they're in American custody, and I don't think they're ever going to see the inside of an American courtroom.

I think most Americans would be surprised by that. Why will they not be put inside -- why will they not see inside an American courtroom? Very possibly because they have been treated in such a way that their evidence would be inadmissible. "The New York Times" said that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed has been water-boarded, which is technique that is somewhere between abuse and torture, where you make somebody put -- you put somebody's head into the water, and you make them think they're drowning.

And I -- I wonder what Jeff's opinion is here in terms of why they won't be inside an American courtroom.

COOPER: Yes, Jeff, I mean, will these guys just be sort of disappeared?

TOOBIN: I -- I think they are going to be disappeared. I think they will never return to American soil, for just the reasons Peter was suggesting, that, you know, the -- the protections of civil liberties that are enshrined in our system are not something that have been honored in these cases.

And maybe they should not have been honored. Maybe the circumstances called for it. But these -- the -- the treatment is indefensible. The evidence was collected in a way that comported with military and intelligence procedures, but not with criminal justice procedures, and our government would prefer not to deal with them.

COOPER: All right, Peter Bergen, Jeffrey Toobin, thanks.

BERGEN: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Well, Zacarias Moussaoui will likely serve his life sentence at the nation's super-maximum security prison in Florence, Colorado. It's also known as the Alcatraz of the Rockies. The prison already has several infamous inmates.

Here's the raw data. Unabomber Ted Kaczynski is serving four consecutive life sentences in Florence-- also facing life behind bars, Terry Nichols, the co-conspirator in the Oklahoma City bombing, and shoe bomber Richard Reid, who, during Moussaoui's trial, denied having a role in the 9/11 attacks. In testimony, Moussaoui called Reid "my buddy."

At this prison, they're in solitary confinement 23 hours a day. They get one hour a day of solitary outside exercise in a yard. But they have no interaction with each other.

The other big story today, the White House unveils a battle plan to tackle a possible bird flu pandemic. That's if the disease starts moving from person to person. That is the worst-case scenario. And in that scenario, an estimated two million Americans might die. Fifty million would become infected.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, WHITE HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: If this develops into a circumstance where there is efficient human- to-human transmission, we will take immediate action to prevent or to slow the spread of the infection.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So, what is that action and what's the plan? And does it make sense?

We asked CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta to investigate. He joins us now from Atlanta -- Sanjay.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson. Good evening.

Really remarkable, actually, the White House actually laying out more than 300 different recommendations, specifically, at federal, as well as the state and community levels as well, specifically talking about vaccines. We have been talking about vaccines for some time, stockpiling them and also developing new vaccines, should this virus mutate, which is the big if that everyone's been talking about, also possibly mandatory evacuations -- this certainly was alarming to some people -- and even deploying the National Guard.

The big part of the plan, though, that they kept talking about was that everybody was going to have to be a part of this, not just the federal government, but also states and communities. This is how they laid it out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOWNSEND: We depend on everyone outside of the government to take this serious, as seriously as we do and to put systems in place to reduce the transmission of infection and to put plans in place that we can -- that will mitigate the impact of a pandemic on human health.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: And let me be more specific even, Anderson.

We're talking about hospitals actually beefing up the amount of supplies they have to be able to deal with a pandemic. Schools, they may have to cancel classes or sporting events. Business travelers would have to practice something called social distancing, meaning, instead of having meetings in person, they might have meetings on the phone.

They have not talked about closing the border, saying that probably wouldn't have a big impact. But, Anderson, you get a sense of just how big a plan this might potentially be, in terms of trying to curb the impact of a -- of a pandemic.

COOPER: And -- and what are the chances we will see a pandemic any time soon?

GUPTA: You know, Anderson, that -- that is the hard question, for sure. And you and I have been talking about this for some time.

We talk about the fact that, if you look at the 1918 flu virus, that was a pandemic at the time. And then the virus changed in some ways to the virus -- flu virus that we see today. So, now you have a flu virus out there that could mutate and become more easily transmissible to humans. A lot of people say that will happen.

But, in the tradeoff for it becoming more contagious, Anderson, it will probably become less lethal as well. I think that's what's going to happen. You know, but it's -- it's just a part of the natural history. We will have to wait and see.

COOPER: We will have more from Sanjay in a moment, as we continue to look at the makings of a possible pandemic. Sanjay will have some bird flu tips that you and your family should know before it may be too late.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. NICOLE LURIE, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT, RAND CORPORATION: At the height of this, we expect, for example, that, you know, 30 percent or 40 percent of people may be infected or out of work. And that has pretty big implications for how our society runs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Forty percent of the population with the bird flu, the impact for the country would be catastrophic -- a what-if scenario coming up.

And, later, protest problem -- how Monday's mass immigration demonstrations may have actually been counterproductive for immigrants, illegal immigrants' dreams of amnesty -- that ahead on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: More now on the bird flu and the staggering possibility that, at any given moment, as many as four in 10 Americans might be ill, and, needless to say, out of circulation.

Governments, businesses, hospitals, schools, everything would be affected.

CNN's Tom Foreman reports on the potential chaos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than wars, more than crime, more than natural disasters, disease is the great killer of humankind. And pandemics are the nuclear explosions of disease. The impact of a pandemic here could be massive, according to infectious disease experts like Dr. Nicole Lurie of the RAND Corporation.

DR. NICOLE LURIE, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT, RAND CORPORATION: At the height of this, we expect, for example, that, you know, 30 percent or 40 percent of people may be infected or out of work. And that has pretty big implications for how our society runs.

FOREMAN: The best guesses about worst cases suggest, a catastrophic flu outbreak would begin in a few cities, and then be spread by travelers in a series of infectious waves over months or even years.

LURIE: It has implications for whether people can get the medical care that they need. It has implications for whether schools stay open, whether there's food in the supermarkets, whether the transportation is running, whether law enforcement is up and active. It has all those kinds of implications.

FOREMAN: In other words, you may not be able to count on all the services you routinely count on now. And if infections and fatalities shot up too quickly, it's possible whole neighborhoods could be quarantined.

(on camera): The most extreme measures are, of course, also the most unlikely, in part because they're difficult -- it's hard to corral people in a place where they may not want to be -- but also because simpler measures may be more effective.

(voice-over): Officials say, if people will just wash their hands well, give each other some space, stay home if they feel sick, and prepare emergency supplies, so they can stay inside for a few days, a pandemic may not wreak such havoc.

DR. GEORGES BENJAMIN, AMERICAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION: The big problem here is that, if we don't prepare, that's what will happen. And I think the initiative here is to make sure that we do prepare.

FOREMAN: The lessons of recent disasters, they say, are clear: Don't get scared. Get ready.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Alexandria, Virginia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So, how can you get ready?

Joining me now again from Atlanta, 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, what exactly is a pandemic? Let's start with that.

GUPTA: Well, it's -- very simply, it's -- it's when society sees a type of virus that we have never seen before, so, we have no natural immunity to it. You know what seasonal flu is? It's a familiar virus. You get the fever, the cough, the muscle aches. With a pandemic flu, it's a new virus, so, all the similar sort of symptoms, but much more severe, and in many more people as well -- Anderson.

COOPER: So, the -- the White House basically made it clear that the federal government can't handle a pandemic alone.

What can actual individuals or families do to prepare for it?

GUPTA: Well, let me say a couple things about that, because, I mean, a lot of people talk about this.

The important thing, I think, first of all, is that we will probably have some warning. It's not like it's going to happen tomorrow. We will start to hear that it's starting to spread among humans, probably in other parts of the world, and then we will get some sense that it might start to do that in the United States as well.

You just heard from Tom Foreman. I mean, there are some basic tips that you can do, in terms of just washing your hands. And if the pandemic is coming into your area, you probably don't want to be going to school. You probably don't want to stay -- you want to stay at home from work as well, just not coming into contact as much with people.

The real hard part about all this, Anderson, is that, you know, people are going to be scared. Stores will probably shut down. Gas stations will probably shut down. So, people have talked about stockpiling some basic necessities as well. Those are the dos.

Some of the don'ts, you probably don't want to be going out and buying Tamiflu and stockpiling that. That may not do you much good. And, also, masks, you may want to have a few of those around, but you probably don't need to go run out and buy that kind of stuff right now either. Again, you probably will have some warning -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Sanjay, thanks.

More tips on how to prepare for bird flu, you can log on to our Web site, CNN.com/360 -- CNN.com/360. It rolls off the tongue.

Unlike bird flu, skyrocketing gas prices are already here. You all know that. They could spell disaster for politicians, Republicans and Democrats. From the president on down, Republicans and Democrats are showing up at the local gas pump -- the politics of gas prices heating up, pandering at the pump. We will see if there's light beyond all the heat.

Plus, that enormous tunnel we showed you back in January, remember, built by drug runners underneath the -- the border there in San Diego, well, we are going to tell you what is happening to it now.

That is all coming up on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Anxiety over sky-high gas prices reaches a fever pitch on Capitol Hill. Two words explain it: midterm elections -- that politics of the pump next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We are back at the gas pump tonight and all the fury surrounding it. Regular gasoline is now averaging just a hair under $3 a gallon. In some cities, that is a bargain.

Today, the House of Representatives approved jail time and fines of up to $150 for energy companies caught price-gouging. The measure passed with broad bipartisan support -- no surprise there. Don't let that fool you.

With the midterm elections looming, Democrats and Republicans are resorting to a time-honored strategy: blaming the other guys for everything that's going wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: The bottom line is very simple. This president believes what's good for ExxonMobil is good for America.

REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R-IL), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We have passed legislation time and time again, with Democrats blocking it. But that was history. Now this is the future. And we need to move forward.

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: What oil company likes lower prices? And we have two oil men in the White House. So, they understand that oil men don't like lower prices.

REP. ADAM PUTNAM (R), FLORIDA: But we also want to make sure that we're preparing this nation for the future and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

JOHN CRANLEY (D), OHIO CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: These gas prices represent the failure of my opponent, Steve Chabot, and George Bush to fight for the middle class.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: What's amazing is that those are often word-for-word talking-point memos that go out from -- from Democratic congressional groups and -- and Republicans as well. And all these people just are told, go stand in front of a pump and -- and say these things. And, like lemmings, they all do it.

Beyond taking swipes at each other, Democrats and Republicans have been scrambling to come up with ways to show Americans they feel their pain at the pump.

"New York Times" columnist Tom Friedman, author of "The World Is Flat," wrote about all this in his column today. I talked to him earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: When you see Democrats grandstanding in front of gas pumps and talking about a gas tax holiday, and you see Republicans wanting to give a $100 rebate to everyone, an idea which they have since slinked away from, basically, in embarrassment, I mean, are -- are -- do you think either of these parties are really trying to wean us off what President Bush himself has called an addiction to oil?

THOMAS FRIEDMAN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": No.

In fact, both proposals would actually be exactly the kind of proposal that an oil pusher would like to see America adopt. After all, if we pass out $100 bills to Americans, so they can continue to buy oil at the present price and stay addicted to oil, that's -- that's exactly what our oil pushers would like. That's a -- that's a policy design by OPEC for OPEC.

COOPER: You write in -- in today's "Times." You say: "We now have a Congress proposing to do exactly what our worst enemies would like us to do, subsidize our addiction to gasoline by breaking into our kids' piggy banks to make it easier for us to pay the prices demanded by our oil pushers. With a Congress like this, who needs al Qaeda?"

I mean, this is a national security issue.

FRIEDMAN: Yes. For me, it is, Anderson. And I have -- I have always tried to frame it that way.

First of all, we are -- we're funding both sides in the war on terrorism, the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force, with our tax dollars, al Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, Hamas. And the charities support them our energy purchases.

You know, with the money that some of the worst regimes in the world have now, thanks to our energy gluttony, basically, Iran, Nigeria, Venezuela, you know, they're really going to have a lot of money to do a lot of bad things for a long time, if we don't take on this issue.

COOPER: But isn't that the way it has always been with this energy crisis? I mean, there's -- there's hand -- there's a crisis. There's hand-wringing. There's talk about alternative fuels. And then, as soon as gas prices drop again, so does government interest.

FRIEDMAN: And that's what OPEC has counted on.

And that is why, you know, what one hopes for is some third-party politician who will stand up and tell the American people the truth. It would be nice if it would be the president of the United States. After all, he's not running for reelection. He has nothing to lose.

This is the natural Nixon-to-China issue for him. But he -- he won't go to China. He's sort of done Nixon to New Mexico. He's talked about the problem, but not really addressed it. And the only way to address it is with a gasoline tax, in my view, that fixes gasoline in this country in that $4 range, so investors know that, if they want to invest in alternatives, the price isn't going to go back down. They aren't going to be undercut again.

COOPER: It is interesting, though, as you point out, though, because this president gives speeches about this. I mean, he says we're addicted to oil. He says that the only solution is ethanol, greater fuel efficiency in cars. Does it go much beyond rhetoric? I mean, the Republicans are saying, look, part of their -- the problem is, there hasn't been a refinery built here in, you know, more than 20 years.

FRIEDMAN: Yes. Well, you know, that -- refineries are part of issue, but there are so many things, Anderson, that we could be doing today.

I mean, how many times have you heard George Bush or Dick Cheney, you know, talk about simple conservation, using the bully pulpit of the presidency and the vice presidency to get people to use less energy? They can barely get the word c-c-c-c-c-conservation out of their mouth, OK?

(LAUGHTER)

FRIEDMAN: I mean, there are things we can do today. We could -- we could encourage every American to buy a hybrid car. Congress could pass a huge tax on people who want to drive Hummers that drive from gas station to gas station, and a huge rebate for people who want to buy hybrid, efficient cars.

We could be doing so much more on ethanol. We tax ethanol imported from Brazil. How smart is that? We -- we don't tax oil imported to this country, but we tax people who want to import ethanol into this country. That's just nuts. Those are things we can do today, now.

COOPER: It's a well-written op-ed. It's in "The New York Times" today.

Thomas Friedman, thanks for joining us.

FRIEDMAN: Pleasure.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Rising gas prices aren't the only thing causing heartburn this election year. Immigration reform is close behind. The battle at the border has spread into the heartland and across the country. Some politicians already paying the price. Ahead, we'll get a reality check from the best political team around.

Plus, a brazen break in the border. They've actually poured concrete here and they've formed steps which makes it easier for whoever was bringing drugs into the United States, actually climb up through the tunnel.

Tunnel built by drug runners. We showed it to you back in January. Now there's a new development in the story. What's going to happen to the tunnel? We'll bring you the latest next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Those pictures, of course, from Monday's massive immigration demonstrations. Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants and their supporters in the streets. They wanted to show their economic power. They hoped that would translate into political power. But now some critics are saying it's actually had the opposite effect, creating a backlash. And in at least one city so far the issue has already cost a Mayor his job. Here's CNN's Candy Crowley.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is where day laborers, mostly immigrants, legal and not, hang out looking for work in Herndon, Virginia. It may not look like an election issue, but last night, voters threw out their mayor and two city council members who pushed for the day labor center. This is the new mayor.

STEVE DEBENEDITTIS, HERNDON VIRGINIA MAYOR-ELECT: Welcome immigrants, but they have concerns, valid concerns, about illegal immigration.

CROWLEY: Fewer than 3,000 people voted in Herndon. Just about 24 hours after the nation watched hundreds of thousands of immigrants, legal and not, demonstrate across the country.

FRANK SHARRY, EXEC. DIR., NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM: I've never known a politician who wasn't attracted to a large crowd. And these have been some pretty large crowds.

CROWLEY: True enough, it was evidence that the immigrant community can galvanize itself. The question is, to what end? Congress is reading the tea leaves.

SEN. HARRY REID, (D) MINORITY LEADER: I personally believe very, very fervently that they have helped, helped picture this issue in the minds of the American people in a positive fashion.

CROWLEY: Tea leaf reading is not an exact science, particularly in an election year where frankly democrats would be better off if the republican-led congress did nothing.

SHARRY: I think the congress is going to have a lot of explaining to do if they don't end this session with a good comprehensive bill.

CROWLEY: Republicans desperate for something to tout as accomplishment, anxious not to alienate core conservative voters, are afraid the demonstrations harden conservative opposition to anything that smacks of a break for illegals. SEN. MEL MARTINEZ, (R) FLORIDA: I believe at the end of the day we'll see that it really had a negative effect and it backfired on those of us who are trying to move forward something that is comprehensive but yet in middle course.

CROWLEY: Senator Mel Martinez of Florida says since Monday's demonstrations calls to his office have run 10 to 1 against his bill providing tougher border security and a pathway to citizenship after hurdles are jumped.

JOHN FUNU, WALL STREET JOURNAL: The boycott has so heated up the measure that we're not going to have any bill this year. It's simply poisoned the well.

CROWLEY: As Washington lawmakers struggle with the political weight of all those demonstrations --

SEN. JOHN CORNYN, (R) TEXAS: It wasn't clear exactly what the message was. And I think in some ways it tended to polarize people.

CROWLEY: Herndon, Virginia, is already discussing changes to ensure the day labor center cannot be used by illegals. The problem with tea leaves is, you never know which ones to read. Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, earlier I spoke with Candy Crowley along with John Roberts and John King, part of the best political team on television.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: John Roberts, what are the prospects for getting immigration reform this year?

JOHN ROBERTS, SR. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That would depend on who you talk to. Some republicans who want to put a good spin on this say that it's possible that they can get it done. It might even be possible that they could get it done by the August recess. Other people including the White House are much more pessimistic about it saying they don't expect anything to happen until after the November election.

COOPER: Candy, I mean could these demonstrations really have backfired and derailed a compromised deal, even among those who support some sort of reform?

CROWLEY: Absolutely. I mean, the problem really is, first of all, the politics are that the democrats would rather have the issue at this point because it's an election year than a bill. The republicans would like a bill because it will be an accomplishment, but they have problems with their conservative core. And the people we talked to said listen, the demonstrations backfired. It left -- people looked and said well they're not working, and they're out demonstrating. You know, fair or not, the conservative core sort of toughened up. It seemed to have hardened both sides of this debate. COOPER: John King, a lot of talk, too about all the Mexican flags out in the street. Obviously there were a lot of American flags where organizers really tried to get American flags out there. But that certainly angers a lot of people. What are you hearing from the people you talked to in Washington?

JOHN KING, CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that tactic, as Candy just noted, there is a backfiring from these demonstrations. And that tactic in particular has emboldened conservatives. Remember the key question here is, if they can get a bill through the senate, can they then get the house to embrace a more liberal immigration policy? The house members, most are from safe conservative districts. And back home in their districts they didn't feel all that much pressure to begin with. And what they are saying now is that this sends an anti-American signal.

If these people want legal status in the United States, they should be holding American flags, they should be demonstrating for rights in the United States not celebrating Mexico or El Salvador. So to that degree, while the masses in the streets certainly showed the emerging political power and potential political power of the Latino vote, that symbol has helped the opponents of this measure especially in the house. It has simply stiffened the resolve of conservatives who say no to any new broad immigration reform.

COOPER: John Roberts, what do you make of this breaking news tonight that Mexican President Vicente Fox has apparently backed off a bill that would have decriminalized possession of small amounts of drugs, talking about heroin, cocaine, marijuana, even LSD? Did he bow to U.S. pressure?

ROBERTS: Sounds like he finally saw the light, the very bright light that was being shined in his face by U.S. officials who were saying to Mexico, look, we're spending almost $20 million this year alone in fighting the war on drugs. The states kick in about another extra $30 billion a year. And what are you trying to say to Americans? Come down here for a drug holiday? It's just not the sort of thing that we want to see along our borders.

COOPER: And Candy, of course, this comes at a time when you not only have this drug bill in Mexico, you also have the singing of the national anthem in Spanish by a record label. Certainly for those who want some sort of immigration reform, those two incidences, though unrelated, not anything that they had control over for organizers of these demonstrators could not have come at a worse time.

CROWLEY: No it couldn't and they're symbolic. I mean look, you know the fact of the matter is the country is still pretty divided on how to go about immigration reform. What to do with the illegals? And that's really what the crux of this problem is. Everybody thinks there ought to be border security. The problem is what do you do with the illegals? How do you deal with those that are already in this country? So these are so tangential. You know the anthem in Spanish and what sort of flags they're flying, but all it did was harden how people already felt. It was a Rorschach's test when you looked at those demonstrations and it just didn't help politically on Capitol Hill, any of those that were trying to push for something in more moderation.

COOPER: And the divide just seems to deepen. Candy Crowley, John Roberts, John King, thanks.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: No matter where you stand on illegal immigration, it is hard not to be disturbed by the discovery in January of that massive tunnel under the U.S. Mexican border, it was like 2400 feet long, it was a drug tunnel well financed, high quality, first-rate construction. We'll show you what is happening to it now.

Plus, First Lady Laura Bush bringing a badly needed gift to the gulf coast region. We'll tell you what it was and we'll hear what she has to say about illegal immigration when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: In the next hour, the girl who became a poster child for cyber predators.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Her journey began in 1998. When Masha was adopted from a Russian orphanage by this man, Matthew Mancuso. For five years she was forced to share his bed, touching led to sex. This is how Masha remembers it.

MASHA: We left Russia and traveled to his house outside of Pittsburgh. The abuse started the night I got there. Matthew didn't have a bedroom for me. He made me sleep in his bed from the very beginning. He molested me all the time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: As for Masha, it only got worse. Today she testified before congress about her young life as a victim of internet porn. So did CNN's Nancy Grace. We'll hear from both of them in the next hour.

Right now back to border issues, into a new development in a story we have been following. It involves that giant tunnel under the U.S./Mexico border. Yesterday customs officials began the process of plugging it up. Plans call for completely filling the half mile that extends into the U.S. side from Tijuana. There you see them feeling it up. According to published reports, only one person on the U.S. side has been arrested in connection with this. No arrests have been announced in Mexico.

Shortly after the pathway was discovered last January, we took a guided tour.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: The tunnel isn't much to speak of, it's basically a 3 by 3 foot hole that's been knocked in the floor of this industrial warehouse south of San Diego. There's this concrete piece of tiling. It was removed. And they found the tunnel here. When you go down the ladder, you enter another world.

So this is the tunnel. It's 2400 feet. All the way through to Mexico. It's the size of about eight football fields in length. Seven of the football fields are underneath U.S. territory. One football field is in Tijuana. It goes from this warehouse here all the way to a warehouse in Mexico. The tunnel immediately starts to slope down. From ground level, it goes down about -- to about 60 feet. If you look down at the ground here, this is all concrete. The walls down here is, it's a soft rock. They don't know exactly how this tunnel was dug. But you can tell some sort of a drill was used. You can actually see the markings here on the side of the wall. They also don't know how long it took to actually carve out this tunnel. But they found out about this operation about two years ago. There's no doubt it took years to dig a tunnel like this.

As you walk deeper down into the tunnel, it really slopes down -- it gets to about 60 feet deep here, on the Mexican side, gets as far as 90 feet down and 90 feet deep. They've actually poured concrete here and they formed steps which makes it easier for whoever was bringing drugs into the United States to actually climb up through the tunnel. It's a really sophisticated tunnel though. There are also electrical cables running all through the length of it. If you look over here, there's a light bulb. These are actual light bulbs that U.S. authorities have put in. They've removed the original ones to fingerprint them all.

But there are light bulbs all throughout the tunnel. Those were put in by the cartel or whoever it was who built the tunnel. There's also some support beams every now and then to just try to make sure the wall and the ceilings don't collapse. All throughout the tunnel, can you still find these ropes. Immigration and customs enforcement agents believe that these ropes were actually used to help carry the bales of marijuana that they found. They would wrap it around the bale and maybe put it on their back like this or somehow use it to just carry it. But the ropes are spaced out all throughout the tunnel.

Also, there's this, which is a -- it's actually just another sign of how sophisticated this tunnel is. This is a pipe used to pump in fresh air. The pump was all the way over in Mexico. This would be used to pump in fresh oxygen. On the U.S. side, this is about the deepest part of the tunnel. It's probably estimated at about 60 feet deep. As can you see, it starts to get very slippery here. There's a lot of water, a lot of condensation on the ground. It's actually coming from the ceiling. Water's become a real problem for federal authorities. They've actually installed these pumps to try to get the water out.

This is an intersection in the tunnel. They're not quite sure exactly what happened here. That way is Mexico. And as far as the eye can see, if you look down, the tunnel just goes straight ahead. But it also goes for a couple dozen feet over in this direction. And they're not sure if the people who were tunneling it, if the smugglers made a mistake and just tunneled off the wrong direction and had to backtrack and tunnel this way, or if they were originally trying to find a different warehouse or had a different warehouse in mind. At this point, they simply don't know. They're hoping to bring some miners in here who can examine the way the tunnel was made and that might give some clues about what the smugglers were thinking and also when this tunnel was built.

Immigration and customs enforcement agents have issued a warning to anyone who was involved with the construction of this tunnel or the operation of the tunnel itself. They're warning them that their lives could be in danger. In past tunnels that they've discovered, the cartel has tried to kill the people who built the tunnels that the information about the construction and who built it doesn't leak out.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, as we said earlier, according to published reports, only one person has been arrested in connection with that tunnel construction.

Another day of anguish for the families of the Sago Mine victims. Today the hearings into the tragedy continued with gut-wrenching testimony from one of the first rescuers on the scene.

Also, a special mission for the first lady who traveled to the gulf coast to help the victims of Katrina. We'll take you there when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Along the gulf coast today, First Lady Laura Bush was a very big hit. The one-time librarian zeroed in on an enormous need. Katrina destroyed library collections throughout the region. Mrs. Bush came with a gift of half a million dollars from her foundation's gulf coast library recovery initiative. CNN's John King caught up with her. They talked polls, anthems and immigration.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING: One of the debates in the country right now is about immigration reform, illegal immigration. And one of the controversies is this new Spanish language version of the national anthem. Your husband the president said he thinks it should only be in English. But if you go to the State Department website, you can find it in I think four languages. Secretary Rice said she's heard a rap version of the national anthem.

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: We've all heard a lot of different versions like at the Super Bowl every year. I don't think there's anything wrong with singing it in Spanish. The point is it's the United States' national anthem. And what people want is it to be sung in a way that respects the United States and our culture.

KING: Is that an issue on which you disagree with your husband, he says it should be sung in English?

BUSH: Well I think it should be sung in English, of course.

KING: But you also said it -- BUSH: But you know it's like reading hymns in the hymnal. I love it when I look at the bottom of "Amazing Grace" and there are the words in the Methodist hymnal in Swahili. I think that's great.

KING: Another by product of these demonstrations has been crowds of tens of thousands, many of them holding the Mexican flag. Even supporters of their cause say they find that offensive. That it's the United States of America, if you want rights, if you want status in the United States of America, don't be waving a Mexican or an El Salvadorian, some other country's flag in our face. Do you agree with that?

BUSH: I think this is a very, very sensitive issue that immigration is. A lot of people have stood in line for a long time and done everything they can do to be accepted as legal citizens of the United States. And it's unfair to think that other people will have the chance to get in front of them when they've abided by the rules.

KING: As you know, voter anger, the country's anger at what they perceive to be a slow federal response is one of the reasons your husband's poll ratings have slumped considerably. He's now in the mid-30s in most poll ratings. They're using the term in Washington, many are, "lame duck." He can't like that.

BUSH: No I'm sure he doesn't like. I don't like that either, obviously. When you're elected for a second term, and there are term limits, then of course you start off in some ways as the lame duck. I still know that my husband's going to be very effective and has been very effective and that his agenda that he ran on in the last election in 2004, he will be able to get through. We have a lot of problems. We have -- there are a lot of challenges facing our country. Besides, obviously, this major challenge of the devastated gulf coast.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: In a moment, the shot of the day, but first, Erica Hill from "Headline News" joins us with the business news tonight. Erica?

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Hey Anderson. U.S. stocks slipping a little today after strong economic data. Renewed concerns about rising interest rates. The Dow fell just over 16 points, the S&P lost more than 5 while the Nasdaq Composite dropped nearly 6. The biggest loser in the Dow, Procter & Gamble whose shares fell more than 3 percent. But Starbucks, bucking the trend reporting a 27 percent increase in its second quarter earnings. The coffee retailer made $127 million in profits. That's about 16 cents a share. And that's above what analysts had predicted. Starbucks said demand for its spring line of green teas helped to drive sales.

And some of the biggest U.S. beverage companies agreeing now to stop most soda sales in schools. They will also reduce the calories and serving sizes in other drinks sold to kids. The landmark deal was brokered by former President Clinton, a self-described former fat kid. Yesterday a government report said an estimated 16 percent of children between 6 and 19 are obese. Those new limits on drinks will begin in most schools in the fall of 2008. So, start rolling it out maybe a little earlier if you're lucky, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Erica Hill, thanks.

Time now for the shot, our favorite image or video of the day. Tonight the shot is this. A turtle. It's called a loggerhead. That's the wrong sound effect. It's called a loggerhead, and it's big, 500 pounds big. I guess we don't have a turtle sound effect. It's lucky to be in these good hands. The turtle had a cracked shell, was rescued from the waters off Georgia, it was taken to Sea World in Orlando for much needed patching up.

Bigger news ahead in the next hour, Nancy Grace's day in Washington on behalf of a young girl who was adopted by a pedophile, dragged into a life of child pornography. We'll talk to Nancy and we'll hear from the very brave young woman herself.

Plus the latest on the race to save miners trapped deep below the earth down under in Australia. You're watching 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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