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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Turbulent Times; JetBlues; Clinton vs. Obama; Religious Warfare, Secrets of the Delta
Aired February 21, 2007 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE HANNI, STRANDED PASSENGER: ... get us off the plane.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Conditions on board, Hanni recalls, became intolerable.
HANNI: We have no toilet facilities that are usable. We had one package of pretzels in 13 hours. And water from the sinks to drink.
KAYE: American Airlines says the plane was restocked with water and snacks and the toilets did not overflow. Not in dispute, passengers waited on the plane for more than eight hours.
HANNI: And I heard the pilots begging for gates and then summarily being told, no, you can't have a gate.
KAYE: The airport was overflowing with other diverted flights. In the end, it took her and her family 57 hours to get to Mobile.
She argues a passenger bill of rights would have changed everything. In less than two months, more than 12,000 people have signed a petition on her blog demanding one.
But even if Congress passes a bill of rights, critics say it won't change anything. The reason, weather.
JOE BRANCATELLI, TRAVEL EXPERT: The airlines will drive a 747 through the loophole and everything that goes wrong was weather's fault. Nothing that you've mandated in the law will actually happen.
KAYE: What would have happened in 1999 when Northwest passengers were stuck on planes in Detroit for 8-1/2 hours? Or this past December when 5,000 stranded travelers spent two days at Denver airport? And what about JetBlue's mess last week?
(on camera): Would a bill of rights really accomplish anything?
BRANCATELLI: They have no rights at all. Oddly, a pilot has more power than a policeman, a prosecutor and a judge put together. He is the absolute lord of that tube.
KAYE: So what exactly are your rights? We checked the Department of Transportation's Web site, where most major carriers list their contracts of carriage, a fancy name for customer service policy. While most promise to make a reasonable effort to meet passenger needs, not one of the airlines listed actually limits in writing the number of hours passengers can be made to wait.
(voice-over): After its problems in December, American says it won't keep passengers on the tarmac more than four hours. But that's not mentioned in the carrier's contract.
Senator Barbara Boxer is proposing a three-hour limit. JetBlue CEO, who just introduced the airline's own bill of rights, doesn't want Congress mandating one.
DAVID NEELEMAN, CEO/FOUNDER JETBLUE: And then at three hours and one minute, the pilot comes on and says, we're ready to go, all systems are go, we would have had you on your destination in two hours, but Congress has mandated that we take you back to the gate and cancel the flight. That would be absolutely a travesty and I hope they don't do that.
KAYE: Kate Hanni says something has to change. For her 57-hour ordeal, she got four flight vouchers worth $500 each. She would gladly have traded them for a trip back to the gate.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right. And that brings us to the question, Randi, why don't we have a passenger bill of rights?
KAYE (on camera): Well, Congress has tried in the past, several times actually. So it's not for lack of trying. I guess they came the closest really back in 1999 after that whole mess with Northwest in Detroit.
But the airlines actually squashed the idea. They said, hey, don't regulate us. We'll make it right. We'll self regulate. And so they came out with this customers first program.
And I want to get this right because critics call that program a bunch of unenforceable, unimaginative, impossibly vague promises. And that's because it just doesn't work. The airline really doesn't have any obligations. The passengers aren't even aware that these promises exist. And the airlines can get away with it all by just saying, oh, we're going to blame this on weather.
So you really do, as a traveler, check your rights at the aircraft door. So it's best if you actually check with the airlines, see what your rights are. For example, if you fly Delta Airlines and they're delayed and it's actually within their control, you can say, hey, wait, I invoke rule 240. And Delta actually has to put you on another flight. They have to give you other transportation. These are good things to know. So, there are promises out there that exist. They can work for you, so it's really best to actually read up on these customer first promises.
CHETRY: But hasn't it made all of us now think twice when it's bad weather and you're about to get on the plane, am I going to be trapped?
KAYE: Oh, yes. I'm going to carry those rules with me. Bring my copy of them.
CHETRY: Yes. And some granola bars.
KAYE: And water. Water is key.
CHETRY: We can't now. That's the problem.
KAYE: That's true.
CHETRY: Randi, thanks so much.
All right, well a week ago tonight, hundreds of JetBlue passengers were absolutely livid. They were trapped for hours on planes that became virtual prisons. Tonight, new photos and video from the ordeal. It's a 360 exclusive. Here's how it played out on one flight.
CHETRY (voice-over): Valentine's day, 7:45 a.m., the trip from hell begins. All aboard Flight 751 for an 8:15 a.m. departure from New York's snowy Kennedy Airport to sunny Cancun. Chris Deloge had just settled into seat 2A when the first bit of bad news arrived.
CHRIS DELOGE, JETBLUE PASSENGER: Within 15, 20 minutes as leaving the gate, they had told us that we were going to be grounded for a little while because of the weather.
CHETRY: The captain initially said they were waiting for a break in the icy conditions. A couple of hours later, the waiting is for an open gate to return to and deplane.
But during those hours, the plane's wheels became frozen to the ground.
From his exit row vantage point, passenger Sean Corrinet took these pictures.
SEAN CORRINET, JETBLUE PASSENGER: The pilot came on and said there was a mechanical problem. And at that point we knew this plane was not going to be taking us to Cancun.
ADELE SHAMI, JETBLUE PASSENGER: And all of a sudden, the air stopped working and the television stopped working. So we were like dying because there was like no air on the plane. They had to basically open the door just for us to have some air circulating onto the plane because it was so hot.
CHETRY: As the day went by, Flight 751 went nowhere. Toilets were backing up and people were understandably getting cranky.
CORRINET: They ran out of water at one point. All they were giving us was Doritos. And that was all the food that we had.
DELOGE: No one could give anybody answers and it really became a -- to a boiling point where people were trying to get answers.
CHETRY: But answers were in short supply and passengers said the crew was as clueless as they were.
SHAMI: I'd say in the -- into the fifth, sixth hour, we were like, just get us a bus and get us out of here because it was ridiculous.
CHETRY: But it wasn't until 3:00 p.m. that JetBlue finally called for help. And it was another hour before busses arrived, around 4:00 p.m., more than eight hours after Flight 751 boarded.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please ensure that you've got all your personal belongings with you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're not coming back on, so...
CHETRY: In all, hundreds of JetBlue passengers had to be rescued from at least 10 planes stuck on the tarmac that day.
The airline blamed the icy weather, congestion, poor communication and mostly itself. JetBlue says it's initiating a new policy to get passengers off of planes sitting on the runway for more than five hours. That's right, five hours.
But luring those passengers back in the first place may be the biggest challenge of all.
SHAMI: We were like hostages on that plane. It just wasn't right.
CHETRY (on camera): So there you have it, an inside look at that nightmare.
Well, JetBlue may be an upstart company, but it has a lot riding on its future. Here's the raw data.
It has a workforce of more than 10,000. JetBlue has a fleet of at least 115 planes with plans to buy 227 more. And more than 45 million passengers have flown JetBlue. The airline flies to 50 destinations.
Well, our next stop is the intersection of Hollywood and presidential politics. He is a Hollywood mogul, Producer David Geffen, a former friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, a rainmaker who raised millions for former President Clinton. But now he's raising money for Senator Barack Obama and blasting Hillary Clinton.
Here's what Geffen told "New York Times" Columnist Maureen Dowd. "It's not a very big thing to say. 'I made a mistake' on the war, and typical of Hillary Clinton that she can't." He also called Senator Clinton an "incredibly polarizing figure" and he described former President Bill Clinton as a quote, "a reckless guy" who "gave his enemies a lot of ammunition?" He also said this about Republicans. "I think they believe she's the easiest to defeat."
Here's how Hillary Clinton responded to those comments in Dowd's column.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to run a very positive campaign and I sure don't want Democrats or the supporters of Democrats to be engaging in the politics of personal destruction. I think we should say, focus on what we're going to do for America. And, you know, I believe Bill Clinton was a good president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: Clinton's campaign today called for Obama to denounce Geffen's remarks, and the Obama campaign refused.
So here's what Obama said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDETIAL CANDIDATE: My sense is that Mr. Geffen may have differences with the Clintons. That doesn't really have anything to do with our campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: All right, so what to make of all of this. Joining me and John is CNN's Dana Bash. And we start off -- and she -- Hillary Clinton did say the politics of personal destruction and she said Democrats. Is it worse coming from a Democrat?
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, some will say this is silly and it's just one guy in Hollywood running off his mouth, but this matters for a number of reasons.
She is the front-runner right now. She's ahead in the polls. She can raise more money than anyone else. The big fear among Democrats -- and most say this privately, even her own supporters, some of them say it -- is can she win the November election if she's the nominee or will she have the baggage of her husband's presidency?
So what does David Geffen publicly put on the table? She's a liar, raising questions about trustworthiness. That reflects in the polls as well. Bill Clinton's personal character baggage. He puts that on the table as well. He says she can't be trusted. She's a polarizing figure.
Those are the questions many Democrats are asking. Again, even Democrats who support her. Hillary Clinton wanted three to six months, essentially the nominating process, to redefine herself, to say, yes, I'm married to Bill Clinton, but I'm my own person. David Geffen has put front and center all of the issues she does not want to talk about right now.
CHETRY: All right. So, Dana it was David Geffen who took, you know, and went after the Clintons with those comments, but her response was actually squared at the Obama camp. Why?
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, remember, Barack Obama woke up this morning after a night last night of hobnobbing with the Hollywood glitterati at a fundraiser hosted by David Geffen.
So first of all, the timing of it worked well for the Clinton campaign in making their point. And the point that they want to make big picture when it comes to Barack Obama here is that they don't think that Barack Obama should get the free ride they think that he is getting, that he is considered somebody who basically walks on water in terms of his political rhetoric, but is it necessarily put to the test in terms what he says versus what he does.
They say in the Clinton camp that he talks a good game about the politics of civility, but then he hangs out with a guy like David Geffen who says these things in the newspaper.
So what they are trying to do is to try to essentially cut Barack Obama down to size and do it early -- Kiran.
CHETRY: All right. And so finally, Dana was talking about Barack Obama, his campaign did earlier take a shot at Clinton, though, John, saying it's ironic the Clintons had no problem with David Geffen when he was raising them $18 million and sleeping at their invitation in the Lincoln bedroom. He brought up the Lincoln bedroom.
KING: Of course he did because as Dana noted, Barack Obama can't wilt. Everyone wonders -- the question for her is, is she too partisan. Have we seen too much of her essentially. The question for him is, is he ready to be president? And part of being president is being tough. If he wilts when Hillary Clinton says denounce it, apologize, if he wilts, people will say, well, he's weak.
But there are some risks for him here. In allowing a supporter to criticize Bill Clinton and leaving that out there, Bill Clinton is a very polarizing figure in the public at large. He's still beloved by a lot of Democrats. So both Mrs. Clinton and Barack Obama are walking delicate lines and being tested very, very early.
CHETRY: All right. We'll see more of the fallout tomorrow, I'm sure.
Thanks so much, Dana Bash, and, of course, John.
And we brought you their story and it got a lot of action. Tonight, the 24 men held hostage by killers in the Niger Delta. They're finally free. Their emotional homecoming is still ahead. Also, these stories.
Holy attack. The bombing of one of the holiest Shiite mosques sets off waves of attacks and ignites sectarian violence. One year later, has anything changed?
Also, a seventh grade sex offender.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you're not 12 years old, are you?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: But his name isn't Casey and he isn't 12. He's 29. Hear from the child predator who fooled everyone and enrolled in elementary school. Ahead on 360.
KING: Killed in Baghdad, dozens more wounded. Plus, a suicide car bomb killed 13 people in the southern city of Najaf. All this on the one year anniversary of the bombing at the golden mosque in Samarra.
Tonight, a special report on the impact of that bombing. We want to warn you, some of this video is very graphic and can be difficult to watch. This attack at one of the world's most important Shiite mosques set off a wave of retaliation and sectarian violence that continues today.
CNN has chosen not to show any actual executions, but a warning again, this video may be difficult to watch, but it's critically important.
Here's CNN's Michael Ware.
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These men are going to die. Shia, accused of being militia members, executed by Sunni hardliners because they believe in a different brand of Islam.
Their deaths displayed in this slickly produced video by the Iraqi guerrilla group Ansar al-Sunna, loosely affiliated to al Qaeda. This footage, typical of images released by Ansar al-Sunna and seen on Iraqi TV stations, was distributed by the group in the last few weeks.
And as Sunnis kill Shia, so too, Shia kill Sunnis. Like these men, kidnapped, tortured, their bodies, hands still bound, dumped in a Baghdad neighborhood controlled by a Shia militia. Dozens of bodies appear on the capital streets every morning.
To Iraqis, this is civil war. What it looks like, what it is. A daily accumulation of terrible moments. Just like these. Born by families on both sides of Iraq's sectarian divide. Sectarian violence has plagued Iraq almost since the invasion itself. But its full fury was not unleashed until one year ago -- February 22, 2006, when this holy place was blown apart.
The golden dome shrine in the town of Samarra, north of Baghdad, one of the holiest sites in Shia Islam. Its bombing so incendiary, moderate Shia leaders who had managed to hold back their faithful in the face of violent provocation for nearly two years finally lost control.
The weeks after the bombing said to be by al Qaeda, though it never claimed responsibility, saw scores of Sunni mosques attacked. This one raked with machine gunfire. The blood of its attendants staining the floor.
What had been ad hoc sectarian attacks turned into systematic widespread campaigns of ethnic cleansing, roaming death squads and indiscriminate suicide bombings.
Included in the insurgent video, a sermon by a senior Shia cleric calling for revenge against Sunnis just days, says a Mehdi army source, after the Samarra bombing.
HAZIM AL-ARAJI, SENIOR SADR SHIITE CLERIC (through translator): If you want somebody to tell you to kill and there is no one, I tell you to kill. I take responsibility. Kill any Wahhabi. Kill any Baathist.
WARE: A top aide to the radical Shia militia leader Muqtada al- Sadr, the cleric's words used on this insurgent video as a warning to fellow Sunnis.
AL-ARAJI (through translator): It's your responsibility, my responsibility and the responsibility of every cleric and tribal leader to mobilize a devout Shiite army to kill Baathists and (UNINTELLIGIBLE). The Imam orders you to kill.
WARE: Though Mehdi army sources say he was quickly ordered to curb his public anger, the sentiment was widely felt.
This civil war, sparked by the Samarra bombing, defined by the bloodletting that followed is the legacy of this man, Abu Musab al- Zarqawi, the al Qaeda in Iraq leader assassinated by a U.S. missile in June.
He planned it from the beginning, as this letter, intercepted and released by U.S. intelligence agencies and the coalition administration in February 2004 clearly outlines.
Zarqawi, an extremist Sunni, described Shia as the most evil of mankind and believed only by provoking them into the kind of violence seen in the wake of Samarra would the slumbering Sunni nation awake and eventually emerge victorious.
One year on, death squads, the U.S. military says are protected by and hidden within Iraq's police forces, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to a terrified Sunni community.
Al Qaeda assassination teams and car bomb attacks slaughter Shia in their neighborhoods. Unknown bodies float down the Tigris River. And Iraq is much closer to what Zarqawi wanted it to be.
KING: Michael Ware joins us now live from Baghdad.
Michael, gruesome images of the toll of the insurgency there. You mentioned the letter the Americans intercepted from Zarqawi. How closely did it predict the state of Iraq today?
WARE (on camera): Well, John, it's chilling, actually, to read this Zarqawi document that he wrote way back in 2003. Was intercepted, handed to Western intelligence agencies and then made public in 2004 because it maps out virtually what we are seeing now here on the ground.
This was essentially what the then U.S. mission described as Zarqawi's action plan. He was spelling out to Osama bin Laden, this is how I see the situation. This is what I think we need to do. This is the way forward. Key to that was sparking civil war of a very kind that you have now in Iraq.
He also spoke about galvanizing the Sunni insurgency, infusing Jihad into it, bringing in the concept of suicide or martyrdom operations. He mapped it out. This is one of the most influential or significant documents of the war so far.
KING: Michael Ware, another fascinating glimpse for us. Gruesome, but very important to understanding the story.
Michael, thank you. Joining us live from Baghdad.
And just ahead on 360, Anderson, with another report from the Amazon.
Plus, 24 very lucky Filipino sailors. Their terrible ordeal is finally over. What they lived through deep in the Niger Delta and how CNN's Jeff Koinange found them. Next on 360.
CHETRY: That was the scene this past Saturday at Manila's airport as 24 Filipino soldiers arrived home.
We first brought you the dramatic video of the sailors being held hostage at gunpoint by Nigerian rebels earlier this month. Well, within a couple of days of our reports the men were freed.
We get more now from CNN's Jeff Koinange.
JEFF KOINANGE, CNN AFRICA CORRESPONDENT: We'd been approached by a mysterious e-mailer to visit these oil rich swamps and meet a rebel group calling itself the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND.
(voice-over): In a show of force, men who said they were MEND guerrillas met us in the middle of the Delta and eventually took us to a jungle hideout.
Then in a strangely ceremonial act of bravado, they paraded the 24 Filipino hostages. The militants allowed us to interview the hostages, all the while surrounding us. Weapons cocked and ready.
What message do you have for your families?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (expletive deleted) probably blow up your mother (expletive deleted).
RUBEN ROBLE, FORMER HOSTAGE: We are all OK here, but only we want to be free, yes. We want to be released.
KOINANGE (on camera): When we left, I worried about the hostages. They'd been there nearly a month. What would it take to win their freedom?
(voice-over): The next day, our report aired around the world. In the Philippines, families of the hostages finally learned what had happened to their loved ones.
The response was instant. From Nigeria and from the Philippines. Nigerian officials were furious. The information minister said CNN's reporting, quote, "sends the wrong signals to the international community about the state of affairs in the country, creates unnecessary panic, and fosters the feeling of insecurity."
The Philippine government demanded the hostages' release. And just days later, the MEND militants released all 24 Filipino hostages unharmed. According to the Nigerian government, without a ransom being paid.
Now Captain Ruben Roble and his crew are back home in the Philippines. At the presidential palace, he and his crew met the president.
Then finally, a reunion with their families.
The second engineer, Cirilo Nebit, back with his wife and four sons, suddenly found himself shaking hands with President Gloria Arroyo.
But the next day in their modest home, it all became overwhelming.
CIRILO NEBIT, FORMER HOSTAGE: I cannot say anything. I cannot express anything. I only cry.
KOINANGE: Cirilo (UNINTELLIGIBLE) but they didn't. Day after nerve-wracking day, the sailors lived in the bizarre mix of boredom and fear.
NEBIT: We were just tense. I read some books and playing cards and seeing television.
KOINANGE: All while a gun was pointed at his head. And yet, he said, they were treated humanely.
NEBIT: They told us that they are Latinos, they are nice people. They ate and slept together with us and they sleep together with us.
KOINANGE: But Cirilo and his crewmates know that it could have ended very differently.
CHETRY: It's such an unbelievable report, Jeff. It just makes your heart start beating fast when you see them, when you were trying to interview them and they were shouting in the background with the guns drawn.
So is this the end of the Niger Delta issue?
KOINANGE (on camera): Not by a long shot, Kiran. I'll tell you why real quick. The day after our report aired, two Filipinos were kidnapped from the town of Port Harcourt in southern Nigeria. They haven't been heard from since.
Just this past weekend, an American oil worker who had been held for the better part of three weeks was released, but the next day some militants kidnapped three Croatian oil workers.
Is this issue going away? No time soon unless all parties sit down at the table and talk about the issues. The issues being equal distribution of oil wealth, building of schools, hospitals, clinics, roads. Unless the parties sit down at the table and talk about the issues being. The issues being equal distribution of oil wealth, building of schools, hospitals, clinics, roads. Unless the parties sit down and talk, this issue is not going away any time soon -- Kiran.
CHETRY: But your report very likely saved those 24 lives. So, great stuff.
Still ahead on 360, the tale of the tape here. The police interview with a sex offender who posed as a 12-year-old boy and attended school. How did he get away with that?
Plus, this report.
CHETRY (voice over): Black and behind bars.
LAMEIK WILSON, CONVICTED FELON: Once you get in there, you're probably bumping into your whole block. So, you're like, "Damn, everybody's in jail."
CHETRY: Fathers, brothers, cousins, all locked up. The ones who get out usually end up back inside.
How can we stop the revolving door? Our special report.
Also, Anderson versus Goliath.
CORWIN: I am shaking with excitement.
I mean, I'm just shaking.
COOPER: You're just -- oops.
CHETRY: Face to face with a Goliath tarantula, the bigger spider in the world.
His report from the Amazon rainforest when 360 continues.
KING: We first brought you this bizarre story a few weeks ago. A sex offender posed as a seventh grader and enrolled in several schools in Arizona. The man he was living and having sex with believed he was a child. One even posed as his grandfather.
Tonight, for the first time, we're hearing from the 29-year-old man who stayed in character even after he was under arrest.
CNN's David Mattingly reports.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): He mumbles in a voice so soft and childlike, you can't understand what he's saying. But at the time, investigators clearly believed they were dealing with a frightened 12-year-old boy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your last name Casey... Price?
And your date of birth again?
NEIL RODREICK, POSED AS 12-YEAR-OLD BOY: 9-22-95.
MATTINGLY: The kid who called himself Casey Price had been a seventh grader bouncing from school to school in central Arizona. Looking old for his stated age, school officials became suspicious of his enrollment papers and called detectives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Explain to me what has happened. And you can use any words you want, because I've heard them all. MATTINGLY: On tapes just released to the public, you can hear the concern as detectives dug for evidence that Casey possibly had been abducted and molested by the adult men he reportedly lived with.
(on camera): The story of the kid who called himself Casey Price would soon come unraveled. And all of it caught on tape. It turns out they had all been taken in by a colossal lie.
BRIAN NELLIS, RODREICK'S FMR. CELL MATE: If you want his real name?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give me his real name.
NELLIS: Neil Havens Rodreick.
MATTINGLY: At first, detectives can't believe what they're hearing. Twelve-year-old Casey Price was, in reality, Neil Rodreick, a convicted sex offender from Oklahoma.
Listen as they continue to question Rodreick's roommate and former cell mate, Brian Nellis, for the biggest surprise of all.
NELLIS: That young man that just walked out the door, he ain't 12 years old.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How old is he?
NELLIS: He's 29.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty-nine?
NELLIS: He was born November 22, 1977.
MATTINGLY: It's hard to believe looking at the handcuffed adult in the orange prisoner jumpsuit that anyone ever believed he was only 12 years old. But Rodreick managed to pass himself off as an adolescent by shaving his body hair, wearing makeup, and keeping a cap pulled low over his face.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're kind of big for a 12-year-old, aren't you?
RODREICK: Just tall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just tall?
MATTINGLY: The lie had be so convincing, he tried to keep it going even as he was confronted by detectives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can see that you're shaving. You've got quite a bit of makeup going. That's why you look so freaking weird.
MATTINGLY: Rodreick has since entered a plea of not guilty on charges including child pornography, fraud, forgery, and failing to register as a sex offender. There have been no charges of sexual assault on children in Arizona. What the tapes do not hold is an explanation. Anything from Rodreick saying why he lived among children or what he did while he was in their confidence.
David Mattingly, CNN, Atlanta.
KING: Neil Rodreick got caught after Dawn Gonzales, the director of a school he was enrolled in, got suspicious.
Anderson spoke with Don when this story broke nearly three weeks ago.
COOPER: Dawn, thanks for being on the program and great work on your part.
How did you realize -- first of all, when you first met this guy, Rodreick, what did you think? Did he appear like a 12-year-old?
DAWN GONZALES, DIRECTOR, OMEGA SPRINGS CHARTER SCHOOL: I don't know that he appeared 12, but he did appear to be a teenager.
COOPER: What was he like?
GONZALES: He was dressed like a teenager. He is shorter than I am. I'm 5'6", you know, so it was -- he's a small person. He had a cap on. He left his cap pulled down very low. He had glasses, kept his head down a lot.
COOPER: And he tried to enroll in your school. While you guys were checking the paperwork, you allowed him into the school to spend the day, to take classes, to start taking classes. He claimed he had been home schooled.
Did you meet his -- was it his grandfather, his alleged grandfather or his pretend uncle who tried to enroll him?
GONZALES: It was his alleged grandfather, Lonnie Stiffler, that tried to enroll him in our school.
COOPER: And how...
GONZALES: I didn't ever meet him.
COOPER: You didn't meet him. But you saw him there.
GONZALES: Yes, he was there.
COOPER: How did you figure out something was wrong?
GONZALES: As parents, you know, we just questioned that. But as we started going over the paperwork that was provided for us, we found discrepancies in dates and names that made us start questioning. So we then, in turn, contacted authorities in other states that were listed on these...
COOPER: So you started checking up on his paperwork and you found out, what, that some of it was fabricated?
GONZALES: That's correct. They -- other agencies contacted us back after we faxed them the papers, and they said these are not ours. They are fictitious.
COOPER: And I understand...
GONZALES: So we immediately called our sheriff's office.
COOPER: You called the sheriff. I understand you actually might have thought at the time -- you didn't realize he was a 29-year-old. You thought maybe he was an abducted child, is that right?
GONZALES: That is correct. I never, in our wildest dreams, did we believe that he was an adult.
COOPER: And when you -- when it was all revealed, when the police came and told you, "OK, actually, this guy is 29 years old," what went through your mind?
GONZALES: Sheer amazement. Shock. We were just flabbergasted. It was the most bizarre thing we'd ever heard of.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, because you know, we all hear about predators, but the idea that someone would actually systematically try to enroll in school is just kind of shocking. For you the lesson is educators beware?
GONZALES: Yes, definitely. You know, we are always very cautious of adults coming on campus, but I think now every educator needs to be aware that we also need to be aware of the children that are coming on our campus and get to know them and their families and just make sure that they are who they say they are.
KING: That's a remarkable interview.
Up next, the revolving door. Why so many men who serve time end up back behind bars.
Plus, face to face with a Goliath tarantula, the largest spider in the world. An amazing discovery deep in the Amazon rainforest.
Anderson reports from Brazil ahead on 360.
CHETRY: This week we've been taking a look at life behind prison walls. And our guide is the award-winning documentary filmmaker Shola Lynch. And she joins us now again to talk more about this.
And yesterday we looked into the issue of women in prison. And today, the rate of repeat offenders.
SHOLA LYNCH, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER: Yes. Yes.
In fact, the U.S. is number one in the world in terms of our incarcerated, 2.2 million Americans. Forty percent are black, and for many it's a revolving door. This last, the third in our incarcerated series, takes a look.
LYNCH (voice over): One in every eight young black men in this country, a key study finds, is in prison or jail on any given day.
(on camera): So many young black men seem to be ending up in prison. They seem to be -- that's the final answer for them. And I wanted to know more.
(voice over): So I talked to Lameik Wilson. He was 20 when, after a party, he needed a ride home. The facts of the case are he and a friend were armed and stole a car. Lameik served four years in prison.
WILSON: Once you get in there, you're probably bumping into your whole block. So you're like, "Damn, everybody's in jail." You know what I'm saying?
But, you know, once reality set in, you're locked up, you know? You belong to them now. You're state property.
You're not a name. You're a number. Like, you identify yourself by a number. My number was 01R5103.
LYNCH (on camera): You think you'll remember that for the rest of your life?
WILSON: Of course. That was my name at one time.
JUDGE STERLING JOHNSON, U.S. DISTRICT COURT: I've seen people, I've seen sons and brothers and fathers, they're all going to jail. And it's not enough to support the family.
So maybe you cut a few corners. You get caught. You're going to get locked up again. So it is a revolving door.
WILSON: This is where it all started.
LYNCH: And Lameik is next in line. His dad, his uncles and his cousin have all spent time in prison. Mark Klass, Lameik's cousin and godfather, explains why.
MARK KLASS, CONVICTED FELON: All of my uncles at various stages of their life were -- went through the criminal justice system. Large portions of my life growing up, they were the only male figures that I really had. And most of them were in jail.
LYNCH: Mark thought he could get ahead by being a tough guy, an armed bank robber.
KLASS: Instead of learning a lesson from them the right way, "OK, they did it that way, but I think I can do it and not suffer the same consequences that they suffered."
You've got to have the same drive and determination.
LYNCH: After 15 years behind bars, Mark attended a re-entry program for felons called The Fortune Society. It inspired him so much, he's now a counselor there.
KLASS: I've got a job. I've got two jobs. What does that say to you? That says to you that you can do the same thing if you choose to.
The only real way that we're going to get to stop this cycle, this revolving -- we call revolving door -- is for -- to give them something else to emulate than images that they see. And it starts with one person.
LYNCH: Which is why Mark is working so hard to stop the revolving door, so hard to inspire his cousin Lameik.
WILSON: I'm going to see you.
KLASS: Keep (ph) it.
LYNCH: But there is this: 600,000 felons are released every year, 600,000 back into society. Half of them will commit another crime and end up in prison again.
Why? In large part because few employers will hire a felon. It took Lameik 18 months to find a job. He's now a messenger dispatcher.
WILSON: The most important part is now, like, when people don't know. You know what I'm saying? It's even harder when you come home. Like, I did the hard four years. I did the hard four years. Came home, it's even harder.
KLASS: If you supposedly pay your debt to society by going to prison, when you come out you need the opportunity to advance. Now, nobody asks for nothing extra. It's not the extra. We're not asking for nothing extra. We're asking for just a fair shot.
LYNCH: And why should we care?
JOHNSON: These are all brothers and sisters. And whatever happens to them, it also happens to us.
LYNCH (on camera): Think about that. There are seven million people in the whole system -- prison, jail, on parole, probation. Put another way, that is one in 32 Americans.
CHETRY: So Mark is this inspiration. How do we get more Marks? He said he had two jobs.
LYNCH: Yes, he had two jobs, and he worked really hard to do that. I mean, one of the things that's difficult for felons, you have to fill out an application. You check that you're a felon. So then that marks you.
Plus, after 9/11, there are background checks for everybody, and employers are resistant to take a chance. But these are the very people that need a chance.
And 50 percent go back. And when they do, instead of being taxpayers, they become tax burdens. We pay for them, $20,000 per person a year.
CHETRY: You're right, it's very expensive and it's a big problem. But you certainly shed some light on it over the past three nights.
Shola, thanks so much.
Coming up on 360, Anderson's report from Brazil. Wait until you see what he found in the Amazon rainforest. Or maybe it found him.
Also, your thoughts on his adventure from the 360 blog. It's what's on the radar when 360 continues.
KING: As most of you know, Anderson, wildlife biologist Jeff Corwin and members of the 360 team spent the past week and a half in the Amazon rainforest for the first of our year-long series of special reports we're calling "Planet in Peril."
On the trip they came across some amazing animals, including the largest spider in the world.
CORWIN: Wow. Look at -- look at this, Anderson. Just going to keep him at bay here.
COOPER: That's huge.
CORWIN: Isn't this unbelievable? This, for me, is just -- ooh, there he goes.
This, for me, is pure arachnid magic. This is the Goliath Tarantula, one of the largest spiders on the planet.
Now, just get over there -- just creep, because if you go fast he'll take off. We don't want him to take off.
Just keep it very, very cool. Just creeping very, very slowly. And what to do is just take a knee.
If we settle back and sort of blend in with the surroundings, this spider will settle down. I've got to tell you, I am shaking with excitement.
COOPER: I'm actually just shaking.
CORWIN: You're just -- oops. See how sensitive he is? He actually picked up my breath.
And he's detecting the movement around him by those projectile- like hairs around his body, especially at the abdomen. Those are called urticating hairs. But, I mean, this is just a glorious arachnid.
I mean, look at the size of him. I don't want to touch him. I don't want to alarm him. But just look.
From one finger to the next, that's the distance. This guy could be weighing a pound in size. My guess, by the shape of its abdomen, by the size of its cephlathroac (ph), cephamining (ph) head and thorax, meaning body, basically it's fused, right, by its size. I'm going to guess it's a female.
The other name for this spider besides Goliath is the Bird-Eating Spider. Oftentimes, this creature will stay perfectly still. The front arms will lift up. It blends in with the backdrop of forest and it waits.
When something creeps close such as a frog, a rodent, sometimes even small opossums, or even a bird, it strikes forward. If you look to the front, you can see it sports massive fangs.
But the other thing that makes me incredibly excited about this is that it's here. This spider is surviving and thriving in this ecosystem.
I have to tell you, they have become incredibly rare because of habitat loss and hunting. These spiders are readily collected for the pet trade and also for the ornamentation trade. They're often fixed and dried, OK?
This is a very long-lived animal. This creature may survive for 30, 40 years.
CORWIN: So when you take a creature like this out of the wild, it could very well take a forest like this decades to recover such a perfect specimen as this.
Awesome, huh? So you feel better about spiders?
COOPER: Well, a little better.
CORWIN: All right. Awesome. Shall we move?
KING: Feeling a little better about spiders, a little. Anderson and Jeff Corwin's trip to the Amazon has gotten a lot of traffic on our blog.
"On the Radar" tonight, Lisa from Norfolk, Virginia, writes, "Maybe someday we will all learn that everything and everyone is connected and when one tree, animal or person dies, even if it is what seems like a world away, it impacts us."
CHETRY: And Rachel from Philadelphia writes, "We could all impact our environment positively by following the Earth-Day mantra: Reduce. Re-use. Recycle."
KING: And this from Pamina in Pittsford, New York. "It really tells you something about us as a society that an indigenous group has thrived in the Amazon without all our technology."
CHETRY: Also, don't forget, Amanda Baggs (ph), the young autistic woman that you met tonight in Sanjay's report, s he's going to be answering your questions on our blog at cnn.com/360blog.
KING: More of 360 in a moment. Please stay with us.
KING: We want you to help us keep them honest. If there's a wrong that needs to be made right in your community, go online and tell us about it at cnn.com/360.
I'm John King.
CHETRY: And I'm Kiran Chetry.
Larry King is coming up next. He has the latest on the Anna Nicole Smith case. And as we said, Anderson Cooper is on his way back from Brazil.
I'm sure he's not bringing that tarantula with him.
KING: You wish.
CHETRY: No way.
KING: It's been a pleasure.
CHETRY: You too. See you tomorrow.
KING: Larry King is next.
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