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Desperate Search Continues in Ohio For Missing Pregnant Woman; Suicide Attackers Targeting America?

Aired June 18, 2007 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
We have breaking new developments in a story that, any way you look at it, raises a chill: a missing pregnant mom, a ransacked home, a frightened toddler babbling words that conjure up fears of foul play and violence.

We will bring you the latest on a search growing more desperate by the hour tonight.

Also ahead in the hour: A tape surfaces on ABC News, on it, self-proclaimed suicide killers who say they are heading to Canada, Germany, Great Britain, and America. We will look at the evidence.

And lawmakers spending your money, billions of dollars on pet projects, they promised to come clean and say who is spending how much on what. So, we called them on it, literally, each and every one. Find out how your congressman is spending your money. We're "Keeping Them Honest."

We begin tonight with late new developments in the search for Jessie Davis. She is nine months pregnant. Her disappearance from her home in north Canton, Ohio, is a mystery -- the evidence so far troubling, no doubt about it, the early facts pointing to violence, to some kind of struggle that might have been witnessed by her 2-year-old boy.

A few moments ago, we got word from our local affiliate WKYC in Cleveland that the FBI has just wrapped up a search of her boyfriend's home. Bobby Cutts Jr. is the father of her two children. She is not -- he is not a suspect, we should repeat, not a suspect, according to the police.

Tonight, all the angles, starting at the beginning -- here's what he know.


COOPER (voice-over): For Patricia Porter, the pain is unbearable.

PATTY PORTER, MOTHER OF MISSING PREGNANT WOMAN: It feels like you have fallen into hell, and you're hanging on, trying to crawl back out, believe you cannot believe anything could happen to such a beautiful girl. COOPER: But something did happen to her daughter, 26-year-old Jessie Davis. Nine months pregnant, Jessie's due date is July 3. Late week, she and her unborn child vanished.

Here's what we know from her mother and police. Wednesday night, Jessie and her mom talked on the phone. It was the last time anyone heard from her. On Thursday, at 8:15 a.m., a worried co-worker sent Jessie a text message, but got no reply.

Throughout the day, Jessie's mother repeatedly tried to reach her daughter. By Friday, growing increasingly concerned, Jessie's mother headed to her home. What she saw there led to this 911 call.


PORTER: We need help at 8686 Essex.

911 OPERATOR: Eighty-six, eighty-six what street?

PORTER: Essex.

911 OPERATOR: What's the problem?

PORTER: My daughter's gone. She's due in two weeks, and my grandson is here alone. And this whole house has been ransacked.

911 OPERATOR: How old is your...

PORTER: My grandson's 2.

911 OPERATOR: And he's gone?

PORTER: He's here alone.

911 OPERATOR: And how old is the child that was left alone?

PORTER: She didn't leave him alone. My God, something's wrong. She's -- she's due in two weeks. And she's just missing. Her car is here, her purse. The house is trashed. And she's not here.


COOPER: This is Jessie's son, Blake. He was found by himself on the first floor. Upstairs in the master bedroom, the scene was chilling.

PORTER: Her comforter was off, and her mattress was pushed over. Her nightstand was knocked over. The lamp was knocked over. And somebody had poured bleach all over her carpet.

COOPER: The evidence is disturbing. So are the words of 2-year- old Blake.

During a local TV interview with the grandmother, Blake can be heard in the background saying, "Mommy's in the rug."


PORTER: The smell was really strong in the house.

BLAKE, SON OF JESSIE DAVIS: Mommy's in the rug.

PORTER: Mommy's in the rug, he keeps saying.

COOPER: Police are still treating the case as a disappearance, but say foul play is suspected.

WHITNEY DAVIS, SISTER OF JESSIE DAVIS: There's a hole there. And it just -- it hurts my heart, because I -- I mean, you know, she's the one you look up to. She's your big sister. And she's such a strong person. And you can't imagine that anything would ever happen to her. You know, she didn't have any enemies. She didn't -- she's never done anything wrong.

COOPER: By Saturday, volunteers were out looking for Jessie, putting posters up across the neighborhood.

On Sunday, the search continued, and officials said the father of the boy and the unborn child, police officer Bobby Cutts Jr., as well as his estranged wife, are cooperating with the investigation.

Tonight, there is still no sign of Jessie, and, as the desperate hunt goes on, a plea no mother should ever have to make.

PORTER: I just want my daughter to come home.


COOPER: Well, making that happen may not be easy. We will talk more with Jessie's mom in a moment.

Experience frequently shows that, the longer this goes on, the worse the outcome. As it stands, police say they have no suspects. They are neither mentioning what might have happened nor why, only that they are still treating this as a disappearance, not yet even an abduction.

But, again, there's that late word of the search of officer Cutts' home.

More on that from CNN's Jim Acosta, who is live in Canton.

Jim, what do we know?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we don't know much at this point.

What we do know is that police officers showed up earlier this evening. You can see in this video that there's still some daylight -- police officers and FBI agents going through that home. At least one FBI agent is seen coming out of the house with a bag. We're not sure exactly what they found there. This will probably have to wait until tomorrow, potentially when a press conference could be held by local authorities.

But that's what makes this case so baffling. There are no suspects, only a few clues. And the only potential witness in this case isn't even old enough to read.


ACOSTA (voice-over): In her first frantic call alerting police that her daughter had vanished, Patty Porter makes it clear her grandson, Blake, was home alone.


911 OPERATOR: And how old is the child that was left alone?

PORTER: She didn't leave him alone. My God, something's wrong.


ACOSTA: That makes this 2-year-old boy the only known witness in the disappearance of his 26-year-old mother, Jessie Davis, who is just a few weeks from delivering her second child. Blake did see something. He's been talking about it ever since.

BLAKE: ... in the rug.

PORTER: Mommy's in the rug, he keeps saying.

ACOSTA: What Blake is referring to, his grandmother says, is the comforter that's now missing from Jessie's home.

PORTER: He wouldn't know the word comforter. That wouldn't -- that's not a familiar word for a 2-and-a-half-year-old.

ACOSTA: Porter believes a stranger wrapped Jessie up in that comforter and carried her out of the house.

PORTER: That's the only way that I can deal with this at this moment, is that I have to believe that this is someone that we don't know.

ACOSTA: Police say they have all but ruled out several people Jessie does know, including Bobby Cutts, the Canton police officer and father of Jessie's son and possibly her unborn child. Seen here in these photos breaking down after learning of Jessie's disappearance, Cutts is married to another woman.

But authorities stress, Cutts and his current wife, who are reportedly estranged, are not suspects.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this time, we have no people -- persons of interest. We have no suspects.

ACOSTA (on camera): Late in the day, Canton police took officer Cutts off his shift as an overnight patrolman, and placed him on administrative leave, because, his supervisors say, he's been traumatized by the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's indicated that he's having a difficult time coping with the circumstances.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But Canton's public safety director did say he wants to see the case solved before putting Cutts back to work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We would like for the investigation to take its course. At the point in time that the investigation is complete, we are hopeful that that will make officer Cutts' situation clear.

ACOSTA: With few clues about how a pregnant woman could vanish without a trace, clarity is something this case sorely needs.


COOPER: Do -- what do we know about the relationship between Jessie Davis and this police officer, Bobby Cutts?

ACOSTA: Well, right now, the family just won't comment about that relationship.

We do know that Bobby Cutts did father that son, Blake, and is believed to be the father of this unborn child. But, beyond that, the family won't talk about it. The police won't talk about it. And we have tried to reach out to both Cutts and his estranged wife for comment, but they are not making themselves available for comment -- Anderson.

COOPER: We may not know this. Do you know how long they have been estranged? Was this an affair that they were having -- that -- that officer Cutts was having, or do we simply not know?

ACOSTA: You know, we just don't know.

And -- and, as far as the relationship between Cutts and his current wife, that is also sort of a mystery. They are just both not talking about it right now. And the police have said, you know, despite the appearances and the dynamics of this unusual family relationship, they have said time and again that both Cutts and his estranged wife are not suspects in this case.

COOPER: All right, but they -- the FBI has searched their house, searched the house of officer Cutts?

ACOSTA: That's right. That did happen earlier this evening. So, obviously, there's something in that house that they want to -- that they want to take a look at. And this may just be part of the -- the routine, you know, features of an investigation at this point, where they are just leaving no stone unturned. So, they figure, well, let's go to the house and see what we find there.

COOPER: Jim Acosta, appreciate the reporting. Thanks.

Earlier this evening, I spoke at length with Patty Porter and Jessie's sister, Whitney. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Patty, you last spoke to Jessie on Wednesday evening. What was it that she said?

PORTER: Well, what she said was, you know, we talked -- we just talked. We just talked about the baby, how excited she was about having the baby, and that, you know, the baby's dad would have him the next day. And that was pretty much all we talked about.

COOPER: So, it was just a normal conversation, no indication that anything might have been wrong?

PORTER: No, there -- there was nothing wrong.

COOPER: All Thursday, you were trying to reach her, weren't you?

PORTER: On Thursday, we -- my daughter tried to reach her during the day numerous times, probably four or five times, which was unusual, and was not able to contact her.

COOPER: So, Friday, when you went over and you went to the house, when did you first realize something was wrong when you walked in the house? What did you see right away?


When I went in the house, the -- her purse was emptied out on the kitchen floor. And then I -- my grandson came towards me. He came from upstairs.

And I said, "Blakey, where's mommy?"

And he -- he had -- he had a dirty diaper on. So, the whole downstairs was smelling, which was unusual itself. And he didn't say anything.

Oh, he said, "Mommy broke the table and mommy was crying."

And then I ran upstairs at that point.

COOPER: And what did you find in the bedroom?

PORTER: When -- when I got up to the top of the stairs, I looked in the bathroom, and everything was neat, as it normally is, like no one had used it. And I turned the corner and looked in the -- went to the bedroom, and the comforter was gone.

It was just the bottom white sheet. There was -- the table was knocked over. The lamp was knocked over. The mattress was partially off the bed. And there was bleached poured all over the floor.

COOPER: Patty, the -- I understand the police are still considering this a disappearance. They suspect foul play, but, officially, it's still a disappearance. Is that frustrating to you?

PORTER: It's not a disappearance. Somebody has taken her.

COOPER: You're -- you're -- you know -- you're convinced of that?

PORTER: I know -- I know that.

COOPER: How is it that you know that?

PORTER: Because I know my daughter. We -- we are -- my daughter is my best friend. We talk on the phone all the time. It's just not in her character. She would have never, ever left my grandson alone, unless somebody had either threatened him or she was just not able to do anything.

COOPER: In your gut, what do you think -- I mean, do you have a sense of what you think happened?

PORTER: I think somebody came in and took her. I think somebody came in and took my daughter.

COOPER: Do you think it was somebody she knew?

DAVIS: We don't -- we don't know. It...

PORTER: We don't know that. I -- I just...

DAVIS: It's -- it's hard to imagine that anybody that you have ever met would be capable of doing this to Jessie. You know, everybody that ever met Jessie loved her.

And it's hard to imagine that anybody that she has ever come in contact with would have done anything to her. You know ,it would be easier to believe that it was a stranger, honestly.

COOPER: Patty and Whitney, stay strong. We -- we appreciate you talking. And, hopefully, you know, somebody may see this, and -- and it may jar a memory or somebody may have seen something.

We appreciate you being with us. And stay strong.

DAVIS: Thank you, Anderson.

PORTER: We appreciate all the help. Thank you so much.

DAVIS: Thank you.

COOPER: You take care.

DAVIS: Thank you.

PORTER: Thank you.



COOPER: We will have more on this in our next hour of 360.

Straight ahead, though, tonight, we are going to take a closer look at a chilling tape that surfaced on ABC News, video that seems to show Taliban fighters, fresh from training, getting ready to leave and start killing here.


COOPER (voice-over): Graduation day at a school for suicide bombers, trained to kill. The key question: Are they headed here?

Also tonight, lawmakers spending your money on their pet projects, they promised to come clean. We put them to the test.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was calling because we were trying to obtain a list of the congressman's earmark requests.

COOPER: So, how did they do? We may not like the answer, but we're still "Keeping Them Honest."



COOPER: If what you're looking at pans out, it could be the most chilling graduation ceremony of the season. Apparently taken on the 9th of this month, and airing tonight first on ABC News, it purports to be of Taliban fighters pledging to kill and die in the West.

The tape shows four groups bound, they say, for Germany, Canada, Great Britain, and America. Some of the fighters speak English -- in attendance, Mansoor Dadullah, brother of the late and notorious Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah.

The tape is propaganda, of course, no doubt about it, meant to rally the faithful and strike fear in the West. But, if it is accurate, it could also be an important warning.

Joining us now is Peter Bergen, CNN terrorism analyst and the author of the book "The Osama bin Laden I Know."

Peter, when you see this tape, it's clearly propaganda. Do you take it seriously?

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I take it seriously that these guys are being launched on suicide missions, but I'm skeptical that they are going to be able to effect suicide missions in the United States, Britain and Canada, because most of the people -- most of these kinds of people don't speak English.

Obviously, you need to speak English if you're going to be an effective terrorist in the West. Certainly, these guys could be used in attacks against American troops, Canadian troops, British troops, and other NATO forces in Afghanistan. That's very plausible.

The fact that we're seeing -- the number 300 is also a plausible number. We had 139 suicide attacks last year in Afghanistan. There have been something like 60 already this year. So, certainly, there are hundreds of these kinds of guys standing by to do suicide operations.

But I think these people are really going to be employed in Afghanistan, mostly, and maybe, to some degree, in Pakistan. One or two may be able to try and get out on a mission in the West, but it's not like we are going to have hundreds of Taliban suicide bombers arriving at JFK any time soon.

COOPER: A lot of these tapes get disseminated by al Qaeda-linked groups. But, in this case, they invited a Pakistani journalist to record the ceremony. Why not just tape it and disseminate it themselves, like normal?

BERGEN: Yes, I don't really know. Maybe they feel it gives it more credibility if an outside journalist has come in.

We have had members of the Taliban give interviews to Al-Jazeera on a number of occasions in the past year. So, it's not unusual for them to ask outsiders in. But they are quite careful about who they ask in. They wouldn't ask Western reporters.

And, of course, Western reporters, it would be a very, very, potentially suicidal mission now to go and interview the Taliban, after the execution of an Afghan reporter recently by the Taliban itself.

COOPER: On this tape, they are divided in different groups, one group allegedly going to America, one group allegedly going to Germany, another group allegedly headed to the United Kingdom. And one of the alleged graduates in that group actually does speak English.

Let's play some of what he had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me say something about why we are going along with my team to have a suicide attack in Britain.


COOPER: He -- he does not sound like a native English speaker, certainly.

BERGEN: Yes, but, I mean, he probably speaks English good enough to potentially do some damage.

And, of course, I mean, arguing against the idea that this is all propaganda, Mohammad Sidique Khan, who was the leader of the London attacks on July 7, 2005, killing 52 English commuters, he trained very much in a similar situation on the Afghan-Pakistan border in the 2003- 2004 time frame.

So, you know, it's not completely implausible that a few of these guys will be sent on missions to the West, but it's quite implausible that hundreds of them would be sent, because they just don't have the technical, the linguistic abilities, the ability to get through, you know, fairly rigorous customs controls, these sorts of things.

COOPER: The man who is running the suspected graduation ceremony is Mansoor Dadullah. We see him in the video. He's congratulating the guys. He's hugging them.

What do we know about him?

BERGEN: Well, he's basically new -- the new Taliban commander. His brother was killed in Afghanistan a little -- a few months ago. He's taken over.

His brother was a very bloodthirsty guy who would personally behead captives, and was kidnapping Western journalists, and had killed a lot of Shia Muslims when he ran -- when he was part of the Taliban.

So, I don't know much about his brother, to be honest, other than the fact that he is his brother, and he's presenting himself now as the leader of the Taliban in southern Afghanistan -- Anderson.

COOPER: They refilled their ranks.

Peter Bergen, thanks for your expertise.

Erica Hill joins us right now with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we begin in Iraq, where the U.S. military released video of an Apache helicopter crew targeting insurgents who fired on Iraqi troops. Four were killed. Several surrendered. At least 20 others died in a similar air raid today. The attacks are part of a new offensive outside Baghdad in the so-called Triangle of Death, and comes as the U.S. military completes its self-described surge for the fifth and final extra brigade now in Iraq.

To north Texas and deadly flooding -- at least four people killed after heavy rain soaked the area. A 60-year-old woman and her granddaughter are two of the victims. They died when their mobile home was swept away -- and, today, more than 300 people rescued in Grayson County, along the Oklahoma border.

In Selmer, Tennessee, an investigation is under way now to determine just why a drag racing car spun out of control, crashing into a crowd, and killing six people. Twenty-three others were injured in Saturday's accident. Witnesses have questioned why there were no guardrails at the event. And the DA says he is still deciding whether to press criminal charges in that case -- Anderson.

COOPER: Erica, thanks very much.

Now here's John Roberts with what's coming up tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING."


JOHN ROBERTS, CO-HOST, "AMERICAN MORNING": Anderson, once a teacher, always a teacher?

We're talking with a middle school principal busted for dealing drugs right out of his office at the school, the bust caught on tape. He threw his career away for $20 worth of crack cocaine, or so you might think. He says his educating days are not over.

We will talk with him tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING," beginning at 6:00 a.m. Eastern -- Anderson, back to you.


COOPER: A principal dealing crack out of his office?

Up next: "Raw Politics." Tonight, who is sorry for what and where the candidates stand in new polls.

Also ahead: some of my interview with Angelina Jolie about the people whose plight she has made her mission.


COOPER: It is the Rudy and Hillary show, at least for tonight. Both are taking the lead in the race for '08, with one of them surging ahead of the pack.

Meanwhile, the candidates are on the campaign trail. And, when they are not pressing the flesh, some are, well, fessing up.

CNN's Candy Crowley has more in tonight's "Raw Politics."


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, in "Raw Politics," being a politician means sometimes having to say you're sorry. And have we got apologies tonight.

(voice-over): Barack Obama says it was dumb of his campaign to take out after Hillary Clinton's financial and fund-raising ties with the Indian community. Last week, Obamaville quietly circulated a critical paper on the Clinton, calling her the senator from Punjab.

Obama says, the criticism was unnecessarily caustic.

Presidential candidate Sam Brownback made his apology on the phone. He called Mitt Romney to say, sorry about that forwarded e- mail from an interest group asking help fact-checking negative statements about Mormonism. Mitt Romney being a Mormon, it had more than a whiff of oppo research. A Brownback staffer was reprimanded for circulating the document.

Guess who is going to Iowa for the Fourth of July? Bill and Hillary Clinton, together, campaigning, for her, for the first time in Iowa. Asked why he was going, a campaign staffer replied, "Because he wanted to." OK, then.

Also, get ready for a spate of "She's unstoppable" stories. Hillary Clinton is 13 points ahead of Barack Obama in the latest "USA Today" Gallup poll. Cautionary note: Barack Obama is ahead by nine points in South Carolina.

And lookie what's happening on the Republican side. The not-yet- running Fred Thompson comes in second in the national polls and first in South Carolina, making it, we are sure, the most successful non- campaign to date.

Thompson will be in South Carolina next week, but he's in London this week rubbing shoulders with former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Make that conservative former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, a fave among U.S. conservatives.

Commencement speaker John McCain confessed to the graduating class of the Merchant Marine Academy that he was a discipline problem at the Naval Academy. He says, the problem was, he didn't like discipline. Ba-dum-bump.

(on camera): Students thanked McCain by giving him what every 70-year-old wants, an iPod, full of patriotic music to get down with on the campaign trail.

And that, Anderson, is "Raw Politics."


COOPER: And now he can download the 360 podcast.

Presidential candidates will have to answer your questions at the CNN YouTube debates. I don't know if you have heard about this, but Democrats face off July 23, Republicans September 17.

This is really your chance to get the candidates' attention, make your own 30-second video asking whatever question you want.

You can learn more about how to submit your questions at

It should be pretty cool.

We want to tell you, also, about a special honor for CNN's Christiane Amanpour. She's not just our chief international correspondent. Over the weekend, she was named a commander of the Order of the British Empire by the queen of England for her services to journalism.

As they say in Britain, simply smashing. Congratulations, Christiane.

Here at home, it's the continuing saga of our elected representatives spending our money, well, like lords. And 360 is calling on -- calling them on it, quite literally.


COOPER (voice-over): Lawmakers spending your money on their pet projects, they promised to come clean. We put them to the test.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was calling because we were trying to obtain a list of the congressman's earmark requests.

COOPER: So, how did they do? We may not like the answer, but we're still "Keeping Them Honest."

Also: a woman on a mission.

ANGELINA JOLIE, ACTIVIST: I'm not a politician, but I do know that it's been about half-a-century where these people have not had a real solution. So, I think that's the -- the -- obviously, the bigger question, and -- and the bigger thing that needs to be addressed.

COOPER: Angelina Jolie on the global struggle to bring a voice to millions torn from their homes -- ahead on 360.



COOPER: About 200 Palestinians were allowed to return to the Gaza Strip today. They were shut out when the border was closed during intense fighting between Hamas and Fatah. Hamas now controls the region. The clashes which killed 110 Palestinians prompted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to form a new government in the West Bank yesterday.

Today the White House and European Union leaders restored direct aid to the Palestinians in a show of force. There are more than 4 million Palestinian refugees in the Middle East and some of the camps have become recruiting grounds for Muslim extremists including al Qaeda.

I talked about that recently with Angelina Jolie, a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Here's some of what she said.


COOPER: You've been to some of the Palestinian camps in Jordan I know. There's obviously been problems in some of the Palestinian camps in Jordan that we've seen, al Qaeda groups, al Qaeda-inspired groups sort of sowing the seeds of hatred. How do you stop that? How do you prevent that?

ANGELINA JOLIE, ACTRESS: Find solutions for the people and the families. I'm not an expert on these situations. I'm not a politician, but I do know that it's been about half a century where these people have not had a real solution, so I think that's obviously the bigger question and the biggest thing that needs to be addressed, and we should not be so surprised to see pockets of such extremism and anger. I went to a Palestinian camp in Jordan and saw a man who set himself on fire because he had been waiting a year to try to get a meeting and he wanted to be listened to and heard and was so desperate and was worried about his son not getting medical attention and the only thing he could think to do was set himself on fire. And he was sitting in this desolate camp, they actually have a camp that's desolate called No Man's Land and it is -- you ask the kids what they are afraid of and they said dust storms or the cold nights and there's nothing there.

And it is -- You know, it's going to breed instability, and it's going to breed anger.


COOPER: You can hear more of my interview, all of my interview with Angelina Jolie this Wednesday on World Refugee Day. It's a special edition of 360, "Without a Home, Refugees in Crisis."

From Iraq to Darfur to Sudan, should more be done to help the world's refugees? Try to look for solutions. That's what we'll be doing on Wednesday. Hope you join us.

Now it a promise we made and try to keep every night. A pledge to hold people in power accountable, especially our elected officials. In that vein CNN has made phone calls to every member of the United States House of Representatives, 435 calls. It got a lot of attention apparently on the Hill. Our sources say an e-mail even circulated warning that CNN was asking questions. That's because the questions were about your money, your tax dollars and the pet projects that members of Congress like to spend it on. CNN's Drew Griffin tonight "Keeping Them Honest."


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Earmarks, those pesky pork barrel projects members of Congress quietly slip into massive spending bills. Before they came to power Democrats vowed to fix the broken earmark process. They promised complete transparency, no secret spending, no backroom deals.

REP. DAVID OBEY, (D) HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS CHAIRMAN: I'm now trying and so it our leadership to reduce earmarks by at least 50 percent.

GRIFFIN: So has anything changed? "Keeping Them Honest" we put our intrepid CNN interns on the case. They called the offices of every single member of Congress asking just one question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm calling with CNN, and I'm trying to see if we can get a copy of the congressman's earmark request for this year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was calling because we're trying to obtain a copy of the congressman's earmark requests for the 2007 budget. GRIFFIN: What they found wasn't exactly a show of complete transparency.

RACHEL REYNOLD, CNN INTERN: At first I got quite a few yeses and so I got excited and oh, yay, Congress is being nice to me and they said they would e-mail back or call back and by the end of the day I had nothing.

GRIFFIN: Here are the results. After three days of actually calling each and every House offers, 31 members of Congress, just 31, send us their earmark requests. Sixty-seven flat out refused and seven told us they did not request any earmarks, but the majority, 330 never responded. Some we called were downright hostile.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was really mean about it though.

GRIFFIN: Not even letting us finish the question, like an aide to New York Democrat Charles Rangel.

TODD SCHWARZCHILD, CNN ASSOCIATE PRODUCER: When I called Congressman Rangel's office I got one of his press aides who before I could even answer the question said, no, I know what you're going to ask me no, and he said good day and then hung up on me.

GRIFFIN: Word of our requests apparently traveled fast in the halls of Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I called and asked for the earmark requests he was like no, and he was like just like no one else is going to give it to you. I knew about you. I heard about you. I was waiting for you to call me.

GRIFFIN: "As long as we're not required to release them, we're not going to," said an aide to Louisiana Republican Jim McCrery.

But some didn't need our prompting. Maverick freshman Democrat Nancy Boyda, New York Democrat Kirsten Gillebrand and Republican John Campbell of California all had already had posted their earmark requests on their Web pages. Last week Speaker Nancy Pelosi hailed a new open earmark process saying finally the American people will know where their money is going, and then she said this.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) HOUSE SPEAKER: If I just might direct the record to another place, why don't we just leave this room today forgetting the word earmark? This is legislatively directed spending as opposed to executive spending.

GRIFFIN: And Ms. Pelosi, for the record, a member of your staff told us you would not reveal your "legislatively directed spending requests."


COOPER: "Legislatively directed spending requests," just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? More from Drew Griffin coming up next, including a $240 billion (ph) earmark buried in a defense bill, plus dramatic new video of a Black Hawk crash. It is our shot of the day, ahead.


COOPER: We're still on the earmark trail for this next part of our "Keeping Them Honest" segment we start with a riddle. In Washington where's the best place to hide eight military cargo planes that the military says it doesn't need? The answer, in the fine print of a defense authorization bill. This is about pork that flies. Once again here's CNN's Drew Griffin.


GRIFFIN: The C-17 cargo plane is a winner, a $200 million workhorse delivering troops and supplies around the world since 1993. The Air Force has 190 of the Boeing-made jets in its fleet or in the pipeline, and this year the Air Force has asked Congress for another two, but only two. After that, the C-17 assembly line can shut down for good. So why did these members of Congress want to give the Air Force 10 more C-17s than military officials say they need?

TOM SCHATZ, CITIZENS AGAINST GOVERNMENT WASTE: It is pork, and it's the worst kind of pork.

GRIFFIN: Tom Schatz and his analysts at Citizens Against Government Waste found a $2.4 billion earmark for 10 additional C-17s buried in this defense authorization bill, way down here in the really fine, fine print on page 561. Shads thinks he knows why Congress is trying to force more planes on the Air Force.

It turns out the seven members of Congress fighting for the C-17s each have a piece of the plane being built in their home district, like these two Missouri lawmakers, Republican Todd Akin and Democrat Russ Carnahan.

REP. RUSS CARNAHAN, (D) MO: Clearly this creates job.

GRIFFIN: Republican Aiken says he's actually looking out for the Air Force. If Congress doesn't keep ordering C-17s the assembly lines could shut down, and if down the road the Air Force changes its mind and wants more of the planes, says Akin, the costs could be astronomical.

REP. TODD AKIN, (R) MO: Ultimately what we're doing is saving money because if we come back and don't have enough C-17s it's going to cost a tremendous amount more to build the next ones because you have to get all new subcontractors, all new tooling, all new people to build this aircraft over again.

GRIFFIN: What's more, he says, the Air Force actually does want the 10 additional planes. They just don't want to ask for them in their budget.

AKIN: They will put their top priority things in the budget, and they know that the congressmen think these other things are priorities, too, so if they can, they will load the budget up with what their top priorities are hoping that the congressmen will then add to that a couple of extras so they get a couple of freebies that way, so the budgeting process is a political one.

GRIFFIN (on camera): This is where it gets tricky. You see, even though officially the Air Force guys at the Pentagon have not asked for any more planes according to the guys here in Congress, the Air Force actually does want those planes but will not ask for them because they are being pressured by the budget guys at the White House don't want the Air Force to ask Congress for too much money. Knowing all along that the guys in Congress will actually vote to give the Air Force the planes it says it doesn't want. Follow?

For the past three years, the Air Force has been telling Congress it really doesn't need any more of the planes. In 2005, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs told reporters, "We have sufficient airlift if we stay on a funded program that we currently have. No more are needed."

Which is why Tom Schatz is so troubled by the $2.4 billion C-17 earmark hidden deep in the very fine print of the defense bill.

SCHATZ: It doesn't matter whether it's a C-17 or a bridge to nowhere or a local museum, all of this funding, every earmark is done in a way that circumvents the normal process of consideration of federal spending.

GRIFFIN: And right now, according to the Democratic leadership, there are 32,000 earmark requests submitted in Congress buried in bills.


COOPER: Drew, it's just amazing that nothing has changed. What happened to all those promises about transparency, about having this whole process be open? I can't believe you had all those interns calling for days and some 330 lawmakers said they just wouldn't even give out the information.

GRIFFIN: Anderson it's mind-boggling. One congressional aide even sent us an e-mail saying, listen, my congressman is an advocate of the open process and at the same time said we're not going to release our earmark requests.

It's just been an eye-opening experience, but quite frankly the more we're doing this, the more we're keeping them honest and other groups are, the more open they are grudgingly becoming so tonight we have posted at the results of our surveys. We're going to show you who did send us the earmarks and their earmark requests, who said no, who wouldn't respond and even, Anderson, who was rude to those poor little interns when they called asking what Congress wants to do with our money.

COOPER: The fact that people would be rude, that is really annoying, you know. This is -- this is, A, what journalists are supposed to be doing but it's also what citizens should be able to do, you know, to the people who represent them.

GRIFFIN: Clearly it's annoying to them. They don't like to be called on the carpet, especially, I mean, I hate to get political here, but have you to. The Democrats promised in December open, transparent process. Now they are being called to come up with that open, transparent process and it's been difficult because for so many years and decades, quite frankly, business as usual has been slipped in those earmark requests and we'll continue to pay for them.

COOPER: Well, kudos to the congressmen, Republican and Democrat, who have published their earmarks and who sent our interns the results. Go to to check it out. Drew Griffin, keeping them honest. Thanks, Drew. Great report.

Well, we keep hearing talk about lawmakers dealing with earmarks as pork barrel projects just keeping piling up. Here's the raw data. In 2007 this is what Congress set aside for the defense budget, $5.5 million for the Ernest Gallo and Clinic Research Center to study the effects of alcohol and drugs on the brain, $5.3 million was allocated to research marine mammals and $1 million was earmarked to help fund a telescope that searches for extraterrestrial life. All three supposedly for our nation's defense.

Up next, how to stay alive when your life depends on a lake that's literally vanishing in front of our eyes and what it means for all of us living on a "Planet in Peril" in our next hour.

Tonight, also these stories.

A mother, nine months pregnant, vanishes. Her mother calls 911.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My daughter is gone. She's due in two weeks and my grandson is alone and the whole house has been ransacked.


COOPER: Did the grandson witness a gruesome crime? Tonight, his chilling words and the search for Jessie Davis. Her mother and sister talk to 360.

Also, it's supposed to help track hurricanes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going down the road without a spare tire.


COOPER: And it's in danger of failing with no backup. With you and your family at risk when the next hurricane hits, how could this happen? We're "Keeping Them Honest" when 360 continues.


COOPER: There is a natural catastrophe unfolding right now. It is happening in central Africa where Lake Chad was once as big as Vermont. This satellite image was taken in 1963. A drought that began in the '60s reduced its size to this by 1972, and in 1987, once one of the world's largest bodies of fresh water was withering away.

Today it's all but dried up. 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta is reporting to us from Lake Chad. It is part of our ongoing "Planet in Peril" series. Tonight he shows us the heavy price being paid by everyone and everything. Here's Sanjay's report.


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Four countries in as many days and more than a thousand miles. That's how long it takes to get around Lake Chad.

Hints of the lake's former greatness dot the landscape.

(on camera): I wanted to bring you here because at one point this was the deepest part of Lake Chad. The water here was over 10 meters and the fish could get up to 120 kilograms in size. The fish are obviously gone, and so is an entire industry. The fish catchers, the fish processors, the fish freezers and the fish sellers. All those jobs lost.

(voice-over): So the people adapt and find other ways to survive, like 65-year-old Mamadou Ari (ph). He's lived in Nangimi (ph) his entire life. He remembers when the water was plentiful.

(on camera): What was this town like when there was water here? He tells me that his village was once vibrant, robust. Fish, milk and meat, part of everyday life. Now the streets are desolate, food hard to find.

(voice-over): According to Ari, the lake disappeared slowly. For years the water would recede and come back, but every year it brought less and less water, and when the water dwindled, so did the people. This large dilapidated building is just a glimpse of what this town once was.

The only way to survive here is to find another way of life. Today Nangimi (ph) has one of the largest livestock markets in the country. More than 3,000 camels are bought and sold here every week.

Many people, though, rely on government handouts for basic food. Even the animals are suffering.

(on camera): Let me show you, this is not something you typically think of when you think of the water receding, it's a camel, it's a desert animal.

(voice-over): Floppy humps means this camel has lost its fat, fat that can usually be converted to water when resources are scarce.

And look here. The tall desert is just a few kilometers away to the north. The sand dunes may be beautiful, but they are growing and relentlessly burying Lake Chad. (on camera): So we've been hearing a lot about the fact that there might be some water underneath all the sand and if people dig enough, in fact, you can find some wet sand, like I found here, which means if you dig deep enough, you might actually find some water.

(voice-over): Not today though. Scientists do say that the waters may come back to the desert some day, but not in our lifetime. At the end of our journey around what was once a grand lake, we can't say exactly why the water is disappearing. It might be climate change or dams or consumption. Most likely a combination of all three.

Whatever the cause, Lake Chad is in steep decline with those who depend on it following close by hind. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.


COOPER: Coming up, the shot of the day, a tragic crash at sea. An Australian helicopter bouncing off the ship, prompting an investigation. We'll have more on that in a moment. First Erica Hill joins us with a 360 news and business bulletin. Erica?

HILL: Anderson, a man who posed as a firefighter to bluff his way into a woman's New York City apartment and then sexually tortured her for 13 hours has been sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.

Peter Brownstand (ph) once worked with the victim at a fashion magazine and claims he's mentally ill. He asked for leniency in a letter to the judge for that attack which happened on Halloween Night in 2005

At Duke University school officials say they have reached a financial settlement with three former lacrosse players who were falsely accused of rape. The amount is not being made public. The D.A. in the case, Mike Nifong, was disbarred on Saturday for his handling of that case.

And on Wall Street stocks falling as oil jumps to a nine-month high. The Dow lost 26 points to close at 13,612, the NASDAQ fell slightly to finish at 2,626. The S&P basically flat. It dropped just a point.

And if you get a job transfer to Moscow, you want to ask for a big old pay hike. For the second year in a row Moscow tops a list of the most expensive cities in the world by Mercer Human Resource Consulting.

Coming in second London followed by Seoul, South Korea, Tokyo and Hong Kong round out the top five. As for U.S. cities, well, only New York and Los Angeles cracked the top 50 coming in at 15 and 42 respectively, Anderson.

COOPER: Not so bad. Erica, thanks.

The shot of the day is a tragic one. An Australian Black Hawk helicopter slamming off the deck of a Navy ship and then falling into the ocean off the coast of Fiji. The video is released today as the Australian military started an investigation into this crash which happened seven months ago. The pilot and a crew member died in the crash, amazingly eight others survived.

You can send us your shot ideas at We'll put some of your best clips on the air.

Coming up next, trained to kill. Chilling new images of what are reported to be Taliban suicide bombing teams training for what they say are attacks in the U.S. and Europe.

Also ahead, breaking news in the case of a pregnant woman who seemingly vanished. Police searched the home of the father of her unborn child and son. What did they find, and what does the two-year- old know that may help police find her? We're live with the latest next on 360.


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