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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Bush Bounce?; Border Agents Accused of Aiding Smugglers

Aired June 13, 2006 - 22:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It is a beautiful day here in L.A. We're on the road tonight. And so is the president -- his surprise visit to Baghdad and the welcome surprise about Karl Rove, the White House adviser that the left loves to hate.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: The president makes a top-secret trip to Iraq, as his top adviser, Karl Rove, is cleared of any wrongdoing in the CIA leak case. Is this the beginning of a Bush bounce?

Underground passage, vast and deadly -- a 360 exclusive look at the network of tunnels smugglers use to get thousands of illegal immigrants into America.

And fast and furious -- buckle up for the ride of your life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We come into some of the courses at -- at 95 plus mile an hour sideways.

ANNOUNCER: It's the newest car craze, coming to a corner near you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360, "Keeping Them Honest on the West Coast."

Live from Los Angeles, here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: And thanks for joining us.

We are in Los Angeles tonight, the first stop on our West Coast road trip. Later on this week, I will be in San Francisco and then Seattle.

Over the next few days, we are going to be covering a lot of interesting stories, "Keeping Them Honest" and giving you exclusive reports.

We begin tonight, however, with the president in Baghdad. It was a brief trip, just a few hours long, but dramatic nonetheless, and comes as a grand jury decides not to indict White House senior adviser Karl Rove on charges stemming from the outing of a CIA officer -- all the angles tonight, behind the secret visit to Baghdad, the president's mission to Iraq, what it means to Iraq's future and the president's future and the 130,000 American troops on the ground. It is a question we all want to know. When are they coming home?

Also, with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, dead and Rove off the hook, does this signal a resurgence for Mr. Bush and the GOP? Our experts weigh in.

We start with CNN's John King, who was with the president on Air Force One.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Air Force One arrived in Baghdad after a secret overnight flight -- first up on the president's surprise trip to Iraq, a heavily armed helicopter ride into the heart of the city's fortified Green Zone. The daylight arrival only added to the security concerns.

Iraqi officials were kept in the dark, Prime Minister Nouri al- Maliki receiving a five-minute heads up that the president of the United States was here to see him. Mr. Bush's official schedule called for him to be on the other end of this meeting, at cozy Camp David back home for a second day of Iraq planning meetings -- instead, this first face-to-face meeting with Iraq's new leader and his key ministers, the culmination of top-secret planning, dating back almost a month.

Facing critical decisions about U.S. troop levels, reconstruction spending, and a host of other issues, aides say Mr. Bush wanted to meet the Prime Minister Maliki in person as soon as possible after the completion of the new Iraqi cabinet, and wanted to visit Baghdad as a gesture of support.

Secrecy was paramount. Monday's planning session was organized at remote Camp David, instead of the White House, to allow the president and a handful of top aides to leave undetected after dinner.

Of the top-level team on hand, the White House says only Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Rice, and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld knew the president wouldn't be there for breakfast and would surprise both the Iraqi and most of the U.S. Cabinet by joining Tuesday's session from the Baghdad end of the video link.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And, Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for this opportunity to visit with your cabinet.

KING: Iraqi officials have talked of dropping U.S. troop levels from more than 130,000 now to below 100,000 by the end of the year. While the White House would welcome that, previous Iraqi governments have struggled.

So, one goal of the visit was to get a personal confidence level in the new prime minister and his national security team, and a face- to-face assessment from the U.S. military commander, General George Casey.

BUSH: The fate and future of Iraq is in their hands. And our job is to help them succeed, and we will. KING: This is the second Bush visit to Iraq. The first was for a surprise Thanksgiving meal back in 2003, eight months after the war began, when the president was on the ground for three hours and did not leave the airport.

BUSH: I was just looking for a warm meal somewhere.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: That trip gave the president a bounce in the polls heading into the 2004 reelection campaign. A look at the numbers then and now is a telling snapshot of Mr. Bush's political troubles.

(on camera): Back then, in late 2003, six in 10 Americans said they supported the war. Now 55 percent call the invasion a mistake. Again, back then, Mr. Bush had a 55 percent approval rating, roughly 20 points higher than it stands now.

And when Mr. Bush was last in Baghdad, Thanksgiving 2003, the U.S. death toll was just shy of 450. It's at the 2,500 mark now.

(voice-over): The president's caution about promising troop reductions or sounding overly upbeat is one legacy of setbacks and disappointments -- this trip, under extraordinary security, designed for a firsthand assessment of whether he might finally have reason to turn more optimistic.

John King, with the president in Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Make no -- make no mistake. Polls show the president, his policies in the war, still unpopular with most Americans. He's had a rough second term so far. But, then, of course, came the news about Zarqawi. And now with Karl Rove off the hook, some see a Bush bounce under way.

CNN's John Roberts takes a look at that angle.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was just the sort of bold political play Republican faithful had been wishing for and one they hope could be a game-changer in this election year.

ED ROGERS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Well, I don't want to overstate it. And, under normal times, maybe this wouldn't be that big a deal. But this is the closest thing this White House, this administration, has had to being on a roll in two years.

ROBERTS: The stroke of luck that a pre-planned trip would coincide with Zarqawi's death, and on the same day Karl Rove received his get-out-of-jail-free card, it was, according to some analysts, a set of headlines the White House itself couldn't have written better. MICHAEL TACKETT, "THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE": Definitely a trifecta of good news for the president here. But that's the good news. The bad news is, it's early June.

ROBERTS: Four-and-a-half more months until the election in a business where a week is forever. No Republican expects the bump from Zarqawi's demise to last, but they do see a White House more willing to take the initiative.

ROGERS: The president is out there more. He's more visible. A grand gesture, in going to Iraq, is a big deal. And, so, rather than just sit back and take the pounding, the -- the White House is controlling their own fate a little bit better, a little bit more aggressively.

ROBERTS: It's still too early, they say, to tell whether a White House mired in bad luck has really found its footing or if the president can get Republicans in Congress on the same page.

Don't forget, Brian Bilbray won the recent California special election by challenging the White House on immigration. But with Congress set to open debate on Iraq and troop deployments Thursday, the White House couldn't have handed Republican lawmakers a better gift.

TACKETT: This is very good news for Republicans who want to control that debate, because now they can go in there with a full head of steam, with very credible good news to tell about Iraq. That's something they couldn't have done even a week ago.

ROBERTS: Definitely a more cooperative environment. And with the so-called architect now free of distractions to focus on November, Republicans are actually feeling optimistic. But the White House, they add, may have to work at staying out of trouble.

ROGERS: This administration has been snake-bit for a while. You know, don't let Cheney go hunting. Again, be very sure-footed, no self-inflicted wounds.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: The thing to remember, say partisans and analysts alike, is that Zarqawi's death was out of the White House's control, and that President Bush was simply the beneficiary of fortunate timing with this trip to Iraq.

The political pendulum may have swung, they say, but there is every expectation that something else out of the White House's control could easily swing it back -- Anderson.

COOPER: That, of course, is the reality.

John, stick around.

Joining us with John, more members of the best political team in the business, CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley and CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux.

Suzanne, let me start off with you.

How optimistic is this White House that this trip to Baghdad, the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi death, could actually be the beginning of a bounce, of a turning point for them?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's a little too soon to tell whether or not it's a turning point.

Clearly, they hope that things will continue to go their way. But what you're really seeing, Anderson, here is a change in strategy. What you have is a White House that's trying to seize the initiative, build on the momentum, put President Bush out in Baghdad.

You're also seeing a couple of other things happen here, a White House, a president that is more likely to admit mistakes and missteps. We saw that with the Bush-Blair press conference a couple of weeks ago, not a change in policy, but a change in tone.

And, then, finally, you're actually seeing new voices being brought in. We had experts that were brought to Camp David outside of the administration to talk about counterinsurgency in Iraq. You have got these Truman balcony teas that the president is holding here at the White House with members of Congress.

And, tomorrow, you will have lawmakers here meeting with the president to discuss his Iraq trip.

COOPER: Candy Crowley, it's interesting, though, I mean, all those things that Suzanne mentions, I mean, those are really all show things. They're -- they're things which the media is told about, and -- and they're big public press events. There are no real policy changes.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this point, when you look at Iraq or when you look at the economy, these aren't things where the president's going to change policy.

It was interesting that -- that Karl Rove, who, last night, after learning that he was not going to be indicted by this special counsel, gave a speech to New Hampshire Republicans, and said, look, and sort of gave them this template as to how to conduct the election. And it was, go out there and sell this economy, because it's good, and we have nothing to apologize for by bringing down Saddam Hussein.

So, this is definitely a group that is not going to change on those two major things. But a couple of breaks along the way, like Zarqawi and like this cloud being taken away from -- from Rove, certainly help.

COOPER: John Roberts, I'm not sure how -- how fearful Democrats are of a Karl Rove now fully focused on this upcoming election may be. How do they think -- the Democrats -- think they can get momentum back and -- and put the Republicans, keep them on the defensive?

ROBERTS: It's going to be pretty difficult for them to get momentum back.

There are some Democrats who say, well, wait, this is just a little bit of a flash in the pan. But I got to tell you, Anderson, the Republicans have been very effective at putting Democrats in a box. They're trying to do it again this week on Iraq. And, so far, they seem to be getting traction.

But if I was a Democrat, I would be pretty worried about the fact that Karl Rove got that get-out-of-jail free card that we talked about, because I think Karl Rove looks at that more as a license to kill, metaphorically, when it comes to political machinations in this election year. And the Democrats, I think, are fully in his -- his sights. And he is going to do everything he can to pummel them politically between now and November.

COOPER: And, Candy, of course, these midterm elections are -- are congressional elections. So, all the action is going to be on the Hill. How are those on the Hill, Republicans, going to be trying to differentiate themselves and then hammer home those differences from their Democratic counterparts?

CROWLEY: Well, you know, district by district.

I mean, in some ways, this is a national election, because it is a referendum on the party in power, which is Republicans, obviously. But each district has its own peculiarities. And what Republicans are saying now -- and they really do feel a little bit more heartened after the past seven days -- which also included that election in California, which, you know, put one in the Republican column, even if it was one they were supposed to win.

And, so, they're feeling better. And they're also really liking the way Josh Bolten is handling the White House and relations with Congress. So, there's also been, behind the scenes, in addition to this sort of weeklong series of positive events for the White House, behind the scenes, there has been real effort to reach out to some members of Congress.

They're not always going to agree, but they're going to be careful about disagreeing.

COOPER: Suzanne, I seem to recall this White House several months ago talking about putting the president out there, getting him out on the road, speaking a lot more, sometimes, even more extemporaneously, or at least to -- to sort of not pre-approved crowds quite so much.

Did -- did was the feeling that that wasn't working, and -- and this is the other avenue to go, these kind of press orchestrated events?

MALVEAUX: Well, the White House is very good at these press orchestrated events. Basically, I don't think there's a change in terms of bringing him out there, putting him out there spontaneously.

But what they are doing is kind of combining these two approaches here, because, on the one hand, he is very good, very personable when it comes to one on one, these kind of informal gatherings that he has. But, on the other hand here, I mean, this is a president who -- that, thanks to his new chief of staff and his new spokesperson, his press secretary, is being put more out in the public before the media, before reporters, to ask and sometimes answer those questions that we have.

So, I think it's really kind of a dual track that they're taking here. They're trying to see which one really sticks.

COOPER: And we will -- we will be watching.

Suzanne Malveaux, Candy Crowley, John Roberts, thanks.

Coming up, former presidential adviser David Gergen weighs in on president's -- on the president's political fortunes and on Karl Rove.

Plus, Florida takes its first hit this hurricane season from Tropical Storm Alberto. The first named storm of the season came ashore. We will show you what it has left behind in its wake.

Also, an exclusive look at a new battlefield in the border war, 23 miles of sewer pipes deep below the ground. They are filthy, pitch black, filled with deadly gases, to those desperate enough, a passage to freedom.

And this: It is the latest car craze, high-speed skids the whole point. For better or worse, it is about to burst onto main street, maybe near you -- coming up on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, that's what Tropical Storm Alberto, the first named storm of the 2006 hurricane season, looked like as it made landfall on Florida's Gulf Coast early today.

Alberto is more really, well, midget than monster, falling short of hurricane. Tonight, right now, it's cruising towards South Carolina with 40-mile-per-hour winds, after soaking Florida, sparing it, however, major damage. In what is expected to be a very busy hurricane season, it could have been so much worse.

CNN's John Zarrella takes a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Watching the rain fall and the water rise, for folks in Crystal River on Florida's Gulf Coast, the A. in Alberto stood for annoying. Some folks stacked sandbags, hoping to keep the water out. It seems like every year lately, in this flood-prone town, the storms come and the water rises.

For Jo Becker, it is getting old.

JO BECKER, RESIDENT OF CRYSTAL RIVER, FLORIDA: I'm moving out. That's the different thing I'm doing. I'm moving out to another location.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We're seeing no signs of strengthening.

ZARRELLA: Tropical Storm Alberto never made it to hurricane status before coming ashore near Tallahassee. It won't be remembered for its winds, but it will for the storm surge it pushed ashore in coastal communities from Cedar Key to Crystal River.

Charles Slider runs a dive shop on the edge of King's Bay.

(on camera): I'm sure you are a bit concerned. When we take a look, I mean, the water is right up against the side of your -- your business here.

CHARLES SLIDER, BUSINESS OWNER: Yes. I have done moved everything that's -- that would be hurt if it got wet. I have got all of the electrical stuff up that is already -- computers and everything, I have done moved to higher ground or moved out.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): As storms go, Alberto let Florida off easy, compared to others of recent memory.

In Tampa, a barge broke loose and got stuck under a bridge. A few trees went down, and power was out in spots. What might have been a tornado roughed up an area near a water park in Jacksonville. State officials say, it is way too early to assess the damage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go.

ZARRELLA: Emergency planners say Alberto was, in a way, beneficial, giving them an opportunity to put into practice what they learned from mistakes made last season.

Authorities were happy with the smooth evacuation of thousands of people, as well as the pre-positioning of supplies and National Guard troops. There is no alternative, Florida governor's says, but to be prepared.

GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: If these hurricanes and these -- and these weather systems are a way of life of our state, I think it is our responsibility to be not only the best, from an emergency operations point of view -- and -- and I hope we, and I believe we are -- but from a citizens point of view and from a business point of view and from -- you know, from every aspect of our society here in the state, this -- this needs to be who -- this defines us.

ZARRELLA: And after two seasons of being pummeled by storms, people in Florida are getting used to it, or perhaps numbed by it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: John Zarrella joins us now live from Crystal -- Crystal River.

John, I mean, this was kind of a dry run for what's to come. Is the state happy with -- with how things worked out?

ZARRELLA: Yes, they seem to be.

You know, there were some issues, Anderson, as you know, during Hurricane Wilma last year, where some of the problems -- the response wasn't as quick as they would like. Ice -- people were standing in lines for ice and water and gasoline within 24 hours of the storm.

So, the state really wanted a shot early on to see if they could iron out some of those problems. And they think they did. And they think they will be better prepared than they were last year if we get a big one again this year.

And, Anderson, I have got a spot reserved right here for you for the next storm.

(LAUGHTER)

ZARRELLA: It -- we missed you out here. Have fun in L.A.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Well, let's hope that doesn't happen.

John, thanks very much. I will be there if it does, though.

ZARRELLA: Sure.

COOPER: It may seem early in the year to be talking about a tropical storm landfall, but Alberto is not the earliest storm on record, you might be interested to know, not even close.

Here's the "Raw Data": 1978 saw the earliest formation of a tropical storm. Subtropical Storm One -- that's what they called it -- emerged on January 18 back then. The earliest hurricane on record, well, that formed March 6, 1908, before hurricanes even got names. Neither of those storms hit the U.S.

Hurricane Alma did. It is the earliest hurricane to make landfall on U.S. soil, struck Northwest Florida June 9, 1966.

And then there's Hurricane Katrina, a storm that really continues to victimize in more ways than one -- tonight, details of widespread fraud, from both Katrina and Rita. Federal investigators now say the government was cheated out of more than $1 billion. That's your taxpayer money. The money was supposed to assist the victims. Instead, officials believe, it was used to pay for -- get this -- season football tickets, a 70-day Hawaiian vacation, a divorce lawyer. Someone even bought the "Girls Gone Wild" video with the money. We will have more on the story in the days to come.

In a moment: They were supposed to be protecting the border. Now they're accused of taking bribes to turn the other way.

First, though, Erica Hill from Headline News joins us with some of the other stories we're following -- Erica. ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Israel's defense minister today denied that Israeli soldiers were responsible for the blast that killed eight Palestinian civilians picnicking on a Gaza beach last week. He said an Israeli investigation found the blast was caused by an explosive buried in the sand, not by Israeli shelling. Palestinians dismissed the claim.

Justin Berry, the teenager who testified before Congress about being lured into Internet child porn, has been hospitalized for emotional problems. That's according to the Michigan attorney general's office and two defense lawyers for the man accused of sexually abusing Berry. Calls to Berry's attorney were not returned. A probable cause hearing in the case has been rescheduled for Friday.

In a Washington, D.C., courtroom today, Representative Patrick Kennedy pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of prescription drugs. He was sentenced to undergo court-ordered drug treatment and a year's probation, and also ordered to pay at least $350 in connection with that car crash in the middle of the night last month near the Capitol.

And this may look like a rescue mission, but it is not. They're not firefighters. Those are police officers removing protesters from a tree. And you might recognize the blonde woman there. It is actress Daryl Hannah. She climbed the tree to protest the closing of a community garden in Los Angeles. At least 39 protesters were arrested, including Ms. Hannah -- Anderson.

COOPER: Erica, thanks very much.

Two border agents are accused of taking bribes, tens of thousands of dollars' worth, all so they would look the other way while smugglers whisked illegal immigrants across the Mexican border. We will look at that story.

And it could be one of the most dangerous ways of getting into the U.S. There is certainly no question that it is the dirtiest. Take a look. We will show you down deep into the depths, literally, that some people will go to enter this country -- when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Two border agents accused of taking bribes and turning their backs on illegal immigration -- next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Some of the many ways illegal immigrants try to enter the United States.

About 150 Arizona National Guard troops are expected to begin work along the U.S.-Mexico border by Thursday to try to stop what you're looking at right there, people doing anything they can to get into America. The troops mark the start of President Bush's Operation Jump Start, which calls for up to 6,000 troops on the border. They will do backup work, which will free up Border Patrol agents to concentrate on enforcement. That's the plan, anyway.

Meanwhile, in California, two border agents have been accused by federal prosecutors of accepting bribes from smugglers.

CNN's Chris Lawrence joins us now from San Ysidro, California, with more.

Chris, what is going on?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson, two corruption arrests in the last two weeks. And officials tell me, the more troops crack down on the illegal crossings out there in the desert, the more money smugglers are willing to pay to sneak through here at the port of entry.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE (voice-over): Richard Elizalda is a Vietnam vet who served nearly 20 years in the Marine Corps, another 10 protecting the border. But prosecutors say he became corrupt, taking a car and cash in exchange for waving smugglers through his inspection lane.

GENE IREDALE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR RICHARD ELIZALDA: But he's depressed. He's sad. He's worried.

LAWRENCE: Elizalda's attorney says officers here inspect millions of cars each year. San Ysidro is the busiest port of entry in the world.

IREDALE: If somebody got through, that doesn't mean that he knowingly permitted contraband into the United States or permitted illegal aliens into the United States.

LAWRENCE: Prosecutors say, officers like these only work each lane for 20 minutes at a time. Yet, the same people kept driving through Elizalda's lane. And they found $36,000 cash in his briefcase, even though Elizalda only makes $65,000 a year.

STEWART ROBERTS, FBI: Mr. Elizalda sold out his country for between $500 and $1,000 per smuggled alien.

LAWRENCE: Officials say almost all Customs and Border Protection officers are honest, and apprehensions are up 10 percent from last year.

JIM HYNES, CALIFORNIA BORDER PATROL: We find illegal aliens concealed in quarter panels, in dashboards, in gas tanks.

LAWRENCE: Michael Gilliland is the other officer charged with taking bribes. Prosecutors say he would call smugglers during his breaks and talk about seeing movies at certain times, and asking how many tickets they would need, a not-so-sophisticated code for when he was working, and how many illegal immigrants were coming through.

A judge allowed both men to post bond before trial. But both will be constantly tracked by a GPS monitor. (END VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE: Now, so far, we have tried, but haven't reached Gilliland's attorney.

Both officers will be placed on indefinite suspension, even though both have pleaded not guilty -- Anderson.

COOPER: Chris, thanks very much.

Some illegal immigrants trying to hide from the Border Patrol are actually going through storm drains and into the sewer system. We are going to take you deep down inside their dangerous journey. And you will see firsthand what they go through, what it's like down there, and the life-threatening hazards they face.

Plus: It is an island paid for with your tax dollars, so, should it be a members-only club? "Keeping Them Honest" -- when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: They've actually poured concrete here and they've 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That was back in late January. A look at the largest drug smuggling tunnel ever found. Eight football fields in length between Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego. Now no one knows if people were also smuggled into the U.S. in that tunnel. But tonight we show you one way people are definitely getting in here, by using another dangerous underground route. CNN's Rick Sanchez takes us underground.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You wouldn't think that underneath this 90-pound manhole cover, hundreds, maybe thousands of people are sneaking into the U.S. Through sewer pipes so filthy, so dangerous, city workers won't go inside them without first dropping a hazardous chemical detector to check for methane and other deadly gases. Yet dangerous as they may be, these subterranean tunnels offer huge rewards for smugglers who know them well enough to escort as many as 30 immigrants per trip. Charging up to $1,500 per person, for their expertise in avoiding border patrol agents like Kurstan Rosberg.

KURSTAN ROSBERG, BORDER PATROL: This is ultimately where the smugglers come out. They enter through a manhole to the north inside the U.S., crawl through the pipes and ultimately come out here.

SANCHEZ: Here in these rancid waters which lead to a grated opening. This is where smugglers use blow torches to bust through.

ROSBERG: They've got time to work in concealment here, cut the grate, and the people just run over and hop in.

SANCHEZ: The fence they jump is only 20 feet away. That's how close the Mexican border is. And you see these tall reeds? Agents say immigrants use these as hiding places before heading into the sewer pipes. But then what? What's it like to actually go inside the sewer? For those answers, we contacted the San Diego Streets Department Supervisor Aaron Snelling. At 6'5", he barely squeezes through an open manhole to show us the way. I follow behind. 15 to 20 feet underground, I find concrete pipes four feet across. Too small to get through without crawling or slouching. And there is no visibility down here.

AARON SNELLING, SAN DIEGO STREETS DEPARTMENT: No visibility at all.

SANCHEZ: The smuggler leading the way may use a cigarette lighter but for the rest of the immigrants, including women and children, it looks like this. We're in total darkness just to show you what it's really like for these immigrants as they try and get in here. Go ahead now and turn on the light, Orly. This is how they have to go through these pipes, literally feeling their way because they're not able to see anything. You can see the smudge and the dirt and the mud that you have to walk through to get through this thing. What makes it worse oftentimes they come into these pipes thinking they're only going to be in here a few minutes. But it turns out, one of these manhole covers will be shut and they'll have to go to the next one, or worse, a smuggler will simply lie to them. We could be walking down this tunnel for a couple of blocks.

SNELLING: Yeah. A good seven to eight blocks, over 1,000 feet.

SANCHEZ: That's a long way.

SNELLING: Yes, it is.

SANCHEZ: To walk in the dark in a tunnel.

SNELLING: By just touch and feel, yes.

SANCHEZ: That's got to be real creepy.

SNELLING: Real creepy.

SANCHEZ: Look at the size of the cockroaches. They attract rats, and they attract snakes. But Snelling says the biggest danger is simply running out of air. That's why he and his workers only come down here with one of these.

SNELLING: This detects flammables, carbon monoxide or anything that's going to deplete the oxygen.

SANCHEZ: Undocumented immigrants who have been caught in these tunnels say they're taught to travel like a human chain. What, do they just feel their way around?

SNELLING: Normally they're just holding on to the person ahead of them and just touching the walls and feeling their way out until they get to a point where somebody's tapping on the street.

SANCHEZ: But too often the way out is no way out. This is their escape hatch. Imagine if a car or truck passes over as someone tries to get out. That's why in some areas, border patrol agents now seal the manholes or place sensors around them.

ROSBERG: The sensor will pick up the vibration and send a signal to dispatch. Dispatch will in turn call our agents in the area and they'll respond.

SANCHEZ: If they get there in time. For now, with a 23-mile network of sewage and drainage pipes snaking under the U.S. border, and 500 manholes, the serious border crisis has turned into a deadly subterranean game of catch me if you can. Rick Sanchez, CNN, San Diego.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Next on our west coast tour we'll take you up the coast and take you offshore to a dispute over an island paradise. U.S. taxpayers paid for this island preserve. One congressman is fighting to keep people off the island so that hunters can hunt there. We're keeping them honest ahead on that story.

Plus a new driving thrill known as drifting. Threatening, death- defying and it may start popping up all across the country. Details when this special edition of 360 live from L.A. continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back. We're live in Los Angeles. You know for a lot of people California ends where the surf meets the beach. But that's actually deceiving. Over the horizon from L.A. are the Channel Islands, five of them make up a national park, amazing nature preserve with thousands of species of plants and animals. Santa Rosa Island in particular offers something special to hunters. So special that a California congressman wants to give hunters access even if it means keeping you out. Hear Joe Johns keep them honest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 25 miles off the coast of Santa Barbara, more than triple the size of Manhattan, the crown jewel of the Channel Islands National Park. The remote and largely untouched Santa Rosa Island. Canyons, coastline, chaparral and pines and you own it. Taxpayers pay $30 million for Santa Rosa Island. A treasure trove of ancient artifacts.

TORREY RICK, ARCHAEOLOGIST: It's incredible. I mean you don't get this kind of stuff anywhere else in the world, really.

JOHNS: Human bones found here date back 13,000 years. It's also unique for its inhabitants. The little island fox, endangered but so far not extinct. With all this at stake and more, the question before congress is whether this park should be protected and open to all Americans year-round. Or should it also be used as a place where disabled veterans can come to hunt deer and elk? Which means tourists have to be kept safely out of the crossfire. Congressman Duncan Hunter, the powerful chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has been pushing for months to give the vets special privileges on Santa Rosa.

REP. DUNCAN HUNTER, (R) CALIFORNIA: I was driving south with a bunch of marines, some guys fresh back from Iraq and one of them said, there's Santa Rosa Island and they're going to close it and they're going to wipe out the entire deer and elk herd.

JOHNS: But the idea of handing over hunting rights on an island that's supposed to be for everybody has infuriated some democrats from California, who say it's like telling the public you bought it, now keep out.

REP. LOIS CAPPS, (D) CALIFORNIA: It's outrageous and I told him so. This is a republican leadership that wants to kick taxpayers off a national park that they paid $30 million for. Makes you wonder, first it's Channel Islands National Park, is it going to be Yellowstone, is it going to be the Shenandoah's?

JOHNS: It's not that disabled veterans aren't important. It's just that there are plenty of good hunting spots that aren't in national parks. For instance, military bases in remote areas. It's a battle playing out all over America but especially in the west, over how best to use national parks. In this case whether to restore the park to its pristine condition or to allow other uses.

Much of this is about the animals. The park service only wants animals here that are native to Santa Rosa. So the deer and elk shipped in nearly a century ago by the family that used to own the land must now go. So what about a compromise? Why not allow both hunting and tourists full-time? Well hikers and bullets are not a great trail mix. So long as there's hunting here, the park service has to keep the public out. The park service says the game needs to go.

RUSSELL GALLIPEAU, U.S. PARK SERVICE: I'm not against providing access to anybody. I just think that hunting and public use of this island are not compatible. And it's not a purpose for which this park was set aside.

JOHNS: So as taxpayers you paid for a remote national park, but now a powerful congressman says it should be managed as a place for disabled war vets to hunt deer and elk. For $30 million, Santa Rosa may well be the biggest game trophy out there. Joe Johns, CNN, Santa Rosa Island, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well as Joe just mentioned Congressman Duncan Hunter is the force behind the move to keep the elk and deer on the island for hunting. We spoke earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So Congressman Hunter, you know your critics say look, taxpayers spent $30 million to buy Santa Rosa Island. But as long as there's hunting there, 90 percent of it's closed to non-hunters for about half of the year. They say that's unfair.

HUNTER: Well, let me -- let's put this in context. My son, who's a marine, did a couple of tours in Iraq and when he came back, he and I started taking wounded marines and soldiers hunting. We went to Arizona, Colorado, lots of good places. We had one hunt we took a person with a spinal disability. That is, a paralyzed veteran into Colorado, into the big national forest. And it's very difficult for them to have a real quality experience. Now, this island, Santa Rosa Island, which is off the California coast, which is 52,000 acres, has a very small number of public visitors. About 15 a day from the statistics I've seen.

COOPER: But the reason that there are only 15, the national park says about 5,000 people a year visit Santa Rosa Island. The reason more people aren't able to do it is because they can only visit about 10 percent of the island for half the year because of this hunting. If you close down the hunting, then the whole island basically would be open to visitors and to taxpayers who paid for it.

HUNTER: Listen, here's all we want. All we want is about two weeks a year for the paralyzed veterans to come over. I would be happy to stipulate that no congressman come over, no VIPs. Only people who are paralyzed veterans, who are very disabled veterans. And actually the reason most people don't go over to Santa Rosa Island is because it's a major boat trip or a plane trip. And tourists who are driving down the coast of California don't want to take a plane or a boat to simply get to another island. So we could easily accommodate the paralyzed veterans, they could have a great time. They could have the adventure of a lifetime.

And you know something, they may be wheelchair-bound but their spirits are free, they like adventure. This is a great place to take your family. And this could be a special niche for those people. And you know something else, the people of the United States, if the taxpayers knew that this was going to be used by paralyzed veterans, they'd say fine. This is the park service that says, we want to wipe out this deer and elk herd because they're not native. They just want to do it because they've got the power to do it. They could easily accommodate our veterans.

COOPER: Is this the role of a national park? The national park service which runs this, basically would be subsidizing a hunting program. They say and critics say, look, there are other places for people with disabilities to hunt. We talked to the Paralyzed Veterans Association they say you know some states even allow those with disabilities to hunt from their cars.

HUNTER: Listen, the reason the national park people have their nice jobs and the reasons we as members of the American public get to enjoy national parks is because of people who wear uniforms who go out in dangerous parts of the world and secure our freedom. So let in some paralyzed veterans, many of whom have been injured in combat, to come have a small piece of this island that almost nobody goes to anyway, is a small repayment for their service to our country. I think the taxpayers would appreciate that.

COOPER: Congressman Hunter, appreciate you joining us, thanks.

HUNTER: Cooper thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: We'll continue to follow the debate. Well maybe soon coming to a road near you, it is called drifting. Take a look. It's called drifting, it is dangerous, spreading like a virus authorities say. We'll put you in the driver's seat.

Plus the flip side, car chases, a California tradition. Part entertainment to some, deadly to others. Is the push to contain them picking up speed? That when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: This is not your parents' drag race. It is an extreme underground motor sport called drifting. Japan started it, young Californians have embraced it. Definitions vary, just look on the web. But it all comes down to the seemingly suicidal act of driving a car sideways at very high speeds and loving every death-defying moment of it. CNN's Peter Viles takes a look.

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PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Do not try this at home. It's called drifting. Throwing your car into a controlled skid at high speeds and then sliding around a race track, never fully regaining traction.

NADINE TOYODA, PROFESSIONAL DRIFTER: Drifting is a big rush for me. That feeling that you get right before you got into like a car accident on the street. I have that feeling the whole time when I'm drifting.

VILES: Nadine Toyoda is an accountant. She's also driving the pink Nissan in this video. How fast are you driving?

TOYODA: Probably about 85. But 85 sideways.

VILES: Born in Japan, drifting is now spreading in the United States. There are drifting clubs, drifting DVDs, TV coverage on the cable network G-4, drifting events with drifting fans.

TANNER FOUST, PROFESSIONAL DRIFTER: I think it's kind of like the Howard Stern of motor sports where -- whether you love the concept or hate it, once you start watching it you can't take your eyes off of it. You get this emotional connection to it and you just want to see what's going to happen next. VILES: Against better judgment we strapped in with pro drifter Tanner Foust.

FAUST: Okay are you ready to rock 'n' roll?

VILES: I'm ready to rock 'n' roll.

If you think drifting is easy, watch Tanner's hands. Now watch his car. Looks rough but it's a surprisingly smooth ride. Now as a competitive motor sport, drifting is only in its third year in the United States. Think of it as NASCAR's younger and crazier cousin. But the sport is about to get a huge publicity boost from Hollywood. The movie is the third in the "Fast and the Furious" series called "Tokyo Drift". And it will likely bring controversy if not ignite a new fad. Let's face it, drifting is extremely dangerous.

HUMBERTO JIMENEZ, CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL: A vehicle at high speed and putting themselves in a deliberate skid is just a recipe for a traffic disaster. It definitely is. It's just very unsafe.

VILES: Pro drivers strongly discourage what they call street drifting.

TOYODA: It can be very dangerous. It worries me when I'm out in the mountains doing a photo shoot and I see these kids like trying to skid their Honda Civics down the mountain.

VILES: Beyond safety, street drifting is a huge financial risk. Serious drifters spend tens of thousands of dollars on everything from racing tires to high-powered engines.

JULIO SANCHEZ, AMATEUR DRIFTER: Well I work at a used car dealership so we have a big lot. When we have a lot of space I be drifting with my own car. So it's just pretty fun you know, you have to do it where it's safe to do it, you know.

VILES: Fun until the drift hits the wall. Peter Viles for CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Man.

The shot of the day is coming up. But first, Erica Hill from "HEADLINE NEWS" has some of the business stories. Erica?

HILL: Anderson, stocks took yet another hit today on Wall Street as falling oil and gold prices fueled jitters about inflation. The Dow Jones wiped out any gains it made this year when it plunged 86 points to close at 10,706. The NASDAQ lost nearly 19 points. And the S&P 500 was down by 12. As for those oil and gold prices, oil fell nearly 3 percent today settling at $68.56 a barrel. Gold closed at a ten-week low tumbling below $600 an ounce. A precious metals trader in London says there are no clear signals that the fall is over yet.

And KFC is being sued. A retired Maryland doctor and a consumer group have filed a lawsuit against the fast food chain in an effort to try to get it to stop cooking with a particular high-fat oil. They want a judge to force KFC to use other types of cooking oils or to let consumers know about the trans fat content in their products. KFC is calling the lawsuit frivolous and says it does plan to fight it, Anderson. Probably not the last we've heard.

COOPER: Probably not, Erica. Thanks.

Time now for the shot of the day. This one means a lot to us. Today journalist Bob Woodruff paid a brief visit to ABC News, it was the first time that he set foot in the newsroom since he was severely injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq four and a half months ago. He told his colleagues about his first thoughts after waking up from unconsciousness.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB WOODRUFF: I looked up and I just thought about you guys. And I thought about everything that I wanted badly to come back to.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Woodruff says he was "asleep for 36 days" after the explosion. He's been recovering from head injuries and broken bones. Unclear when exactly he'll return to work but we hope to see him on the air very soon indeed and we wish him and his family all the best.

Iraq of course is the make or break issue for President Bush and the GOP. And today, a dramatic effort to shore up support in Baghdad. President Bush met Iraq's new president and later talked to American troops. Coming up, what it took to pull the top secret mission off and why it was so dangerous.

Also, take a look. Karl Rove, he may be the happiest man in America tonight. Back in the game again. Free and clear to focus on the elections. How his luck changed and what it means for the White House.

And they happen every day. High-speed police chases and they often end like this, or worse for innocent bystanders. Coming up, one family's fight to make these chases safer when 360 live from L.A. continues.

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