Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Unstoppable Hillary?; Marathon Meltdown; Unstable Ground; University Scandal
Aired October 8, 2007 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: And sinkholes and landslides, they are happening everywhere. We're going to show you the hidden ways that you and your house might literally fall victim.
First, though, a question that seems almost as strange to be asking this early in this year as it is to be running your air conditioner this late in the year. Can the leading Democratic presidential candidate be stopped?
The Iowa caucuses takes place come January. New polling gives Senator Clinton the lead there for the first time. Of course, anything could happen between now and then. It might even snow, and she might fade.
But for now, as CNN's Candy Crowley reports, Hillary Clinton is hotter than August in Iowa or October.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She is rolling through Iowa on a bus and making more headway in the polls, far enough down the road to ignore her Democratic rivals and assault George Bush.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: America's middle-class families have been invisible to the president. It's as if he's looked right through them.
CROWLEY: It's been a pretty easy ride for Clinton so far. She began with name recognition, her husband's rolodex and a formidable campaign machine.
Now, 12 weeks away from the start of the primary season, she leads in national polls and in the early-voting states, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina. And the greatest of these is Iowa. The Clinton campaign is full of probability, but Iowa is full of possibility. It can be a launching pad or a crash pad, and the caucus system can defy predictions. Iowa votes first. The polls are close here, and, because voters have to devote a cold January evening to caucus, the depth and breadth of your organization matters.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I need you to fill out one of these Obama supporter cards.
CROWLEY: Barack Obama and John Edwards have put together Iowa machines as good or better than Hillary Clinton's. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they have the money and they have put in the time to put together these organizations. So, I think they will able to turn out their people on caucus day.
CROWLEY: The Edwards campaign has organizations in other early states, but much of his time and money has gone into Iowa. He has been here longer and more often than the other leading candidates.
Barack Obama, from neighboring Illinois, has out-visited Clinton. He is counting on years of stagnation in Washington to turn voters in his direction. Obama is upping his game this fall, challenging her ability to change a system she is part of.
OBAMA: I know that change makes for good campaign rhetoric, the word change on a bumper sticker. But, when these same people actually had a chance to make change happen, they didn't lead.
CROWLEY: The Clinton campaign will tell you she takes nothing for granted, that despite the polls and the money and a well-oiled organization, she does not assume she will win.
They have to say that to avoid looking smug. But she knows and her rivals know, if someone is going to stop her, it has to start where the voting starts, and the voting starts in Iowa.
O'BRIEN: Candy is with us, also Gloria Borger.
Candy, let's start with you. Mrs. Clinton now leading in those Iowa polls, how significant is that, really?
CROWLEY: Well, look, if it becomes a couple of polls, three, four polls, if it stays that way, it tells you something. But what we don't know is, who are those people that are going to come out? Who really does have the organization that's going to get the vans to the right place to say, come on. Let's go on over to the caucus? Whose people are going to show up?
So, it's significant, if it continues like this. But it certainly is not definitive. I mean, these things can change. Twelve weeks, as you know and as we say all the time, is still a lifetime.
O'BRIEN: All right, Gloria, well, Candy says it can change. And, if you think about it, we're really three months from the start of the start. Do you really think it really is an open race here?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I do think it's an open race. And I think, in fact, if you talk to some people in the Clinton campaign privately, they now worry that she's got a big target on her back, because suddenly, she's become the front-runner in Iowa, which is not really where they want to be this far out.
And they know that Obama has a great organization in Iowa. So does John Edwards. So, you know, they realize that it's a long way between here and there.
O'BRIEN: If you think back, not so long ago, to Howard Dean, and you think of a guy who really had the whiff of inevitability at one point, and then, suddenly, the bottom fell out, what -- what lessons are the campaigns taking from that experience, to apply to themselves?
Gloria, why don't you take that one first?
BORGER: Well, I think, first of all, it's organization.
The -- the mistake that the Dean people made was, when people told them they were going to be with him at the Iowa caucuses a month or so before, they believed them. And they didn't follow up on it. And they didn't go back to those people and get them to the caucuses.
And, so, their organization really failed them. And I think that both the Clinton campaign, Edwards, Obama, all of them are saying, we're not going to let people go and get out of our sight. We're going to make sure they get there to participate.
O'BRIEN: Candy, when you look at Hillary Clinton's campaign, I mean, she's been ahead nationally for quite awhile, I mean, and, strong. Why has it been such a struggle in Iowa?
CROWLEY: Well, listen, because Iowa and New Hampshire, in fact, are very different.
They see these candidates, three and four, sometimes five times. So, up close and personal, you see Barack Obama, and you actually know him. I mean, Hillary Clinton had name recognition. She had a lot of money, and was able to raise a lot of money. She had the structure that her husband had in place.
Barack Obama, nobody had heard of him, you know, four years ago. John Edwards is less of a name. But, in Iowa, they all kind of start on that even playing field. People know them. And, in fact, you know, Joe Biden, or Bill Richardson, or Chris Dodd, a number of the Democrats that come through here, these people really know them, and it makes the dynamic different.
O'BRIEN: Obama, for example, since you raised him, Candy -- let's ask Gloria this -- third in that Iowa poll.
So, his supporters known to be younger, as a group, well, does that help his chances or hurt his chances?
BORGER: It really actually hurts him in Iowa, because over half of the Democratic caucus-goers in Iowa are over the age of 55.
That's not exactly the demographic that Obama has been really reaching for nationally in his campaign. So, what they have to do is get those young voters actually to participate in the Iowa caucuses. And he's got another problem, which is, over 60 percent of the Democratic caucus-goers are women, and over half of those women like Hillary Clinton.
So, he's got to kind of balance that out. So, it's all about organization, as I was saying before.
O'BRIEN: Before I let you guys go, I want to ask a final question.
And, Candy, we will start with you. Talk about what is at stake for everybody.
Edwards, does he have to win? I mean, he's put his time, his money into Iowa. If he does not win, does that mean his campaign is over?
CROWLEY: Yes, pretty much. Pretty much. Look, they will tell you, we have got campaign structures in all these places. But the fact of the matter is, he's really tried to stake a claim here. He runs third, as you know, in the national polls. He would have a tough time going into New Hampshire having lost here in Iowa.
O'BRIEN: How about -- Gloria, and final word from you -- Clinton, Obama, does each of them have to win or their campaign takes a serious, serious hit?
BORGER: I don't think they have to win, but one would like to beat the other. So, if John Edwards won, I think that would be OK with both of them, but they would like to be number two. However, if they're neck and neck, maybe it won't even matter.
O'BRIEN: Hmm. I guess we will have to wait and see, as we always end these things.
Gloria Borger and Candy Crowley, as always, thanks, ladies. I appreciate it.
O'BRIEN: Have you already decided who you are going to vote for? We want to hear from you. Go to CNN.com/360. Link to the blog and post your comments. We are going to read some of them coming up.
Now we turn to Iraq. Today, Britain's prime minister said his country is going to cut its troop commitment there in half by next spring. As for American forces, more than 5,000 troops are due home by Christmas, thanks to the success of the so-called surge. That's the White House line and the White House math.
CNN's Jamie McIntyre is "Keeping them Honest" for us.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Remember this? Just over three weeks ago, President Bush delivered welcome news to a war-weary nation.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because of this success, General Petraeus believes we have now reached the point where we can maintain our security gains with fewer American forces. It will soon be possible to bring home an Army combat brigade, for a total force reduction of 5,700 troops by Christmas.
MCINTYRE: Listen to that again.
BUSH: Because of this success, it will soon be possible to bring home an Army combat brigade by Christmas.
MCINTYRE: So, "Keeping them Honest," we have been asking the Pentagon a straightforward question.
(on camera): Which brigade is that precisely that would be coming home by the holidays because of the success of the surge?
MAJ. GEN. RICHARD SHERLOCK, JOINT STAFF OPERATIONAL PLANNING DIRECTOR: That decision has to get made by General Odierno and General Petraeus.
MCINTYRE (voice-over): But Pentagon and U.S. military sources tell CNN the decision has already been made to accomplish the president's troop reduction with a little slight of hand, requiring no adjustment to the original troop rotation plan from August.
(on camera): CNN has obtained that deployment plan, which predates General Petraeus's September recommendations. Take a look. Is shows that in December four brigades are already coming home from Iraq, and only three are replacing them, because this one, from the 1st Armored Division in Germany, is not going in November as originally scheduled.
Is that because of the success of the surge? No. It's because Defense Secretary Robert Gates laid down the law that every soldier gets 12 months off the battlefield. And this brigade didn't get its 12 months.
ROBERT GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The truth of the matter is, it has been difficult for the -- particularly for the Army to meet my policy decision with respect to 12 months at home for the active force.
MCINTYRE: The Pentagon counters, there are other brigades available, for instance, from the 4th Infantry Division based in Fort Hood Texas. But sources say they were never in the plan.
(on camera): Bottom line, despite the impression the president gave, it appears that no U.S. troops are leaving Iraq early, and the ones that aren't being sent in to replace them, it turns out, weren't going anyway.
(voice-over): And here's the kicker. Thousands of support troops sent in with the surge brigades are still needed. So, when the surge ends in July, there will actually be more U.S. troops on the ground than there were when the surge started.
(END VIDEOTAPE) O'BRIEN: All right, Jamie, then, is the White House being manipulative? Would you say this is creative math? Is it just a purely numbers game? How would you put it?
MCINTYRE: Well, manipulative might be a little strong. They are clearly putting the best face on the existing facts.
I mean, the White House could have said, hey, we never said anybody was coming home early.
That's not actually what they said. What they actually told us when we asked for comment was, the president made this recommendation based on what commanders in the field said. And this is what commanders in the field recommend.
But, you know, you can be forgiven if you watched that speech back in September and thought that troops were coming home early, because that's sure what it sounded like. But when we went back and -- and checked everything, it turns out, as I said, nobody is actually coming home early.
The question is, was somebody going to be sent in that didn't get sent in? And it turns out that's not the case either.
O'BRIEN: Sure sounded like the first way you put it to me.
Jamie McIntyre for us this morning (sic) -- thanks, Jamie, as always.
Up next, the heat wave and the casualties.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN (voice-over): Marathon Meltdown.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please stand by. You will not be able to finish this route.
O'BRIEN: What went wrong on the streets of Chicago? As the sun beat down, runners dropped, and one man died.
Later, you take it for granted, until it vanishes under your feet, your car, your home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The asphalt that should be under my feet was eight feet in the air.
O'BRIEN: Sinkholes and landslides all across the country. See why you could be living on shaky ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: It was supposed to be a show of physical endurance and strength. But instead, it became a fight against nature. The 30th running of the Chicago Marathon will go down in history as the first marathon in the Windy City cut short because of the heat. As thousands of runners fought record-setting temperatures and suffocating humidity, the race itself seemed to spiral into a medical emergency.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): This is how Chicago's marathon ended on Sunday -- ambulances racing, fire hoses and hydrants shooting water on participants, and police shouting through their bullhorns, telling runners that the race was over.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We ask you to stop running and start walking for your own safety.
O'BRIEN: This is not what runners and organizers expected just three and-a-half-hours earlier, when the race began on an unusually warm Chicago morning.
At 8:00 a.m., some 35,000 runners set off on the 26-mile course. That's about 10,000 fewer than the number who registered. Many didn't show up because forecasters predicted hot weather. The temperature at the time of the start was already 69 degrees. And it quickly rose into the 80s, on its way to a record high of 87 degrees. And the air was thick from the humidity.
That, combined with the temperature, made it feel even hotter than 90 degrees. And that's where the problems began.
MARK COLLANTES, CHICAGO MARATHON RUNNER: I saw people sitting by the side of the road. I started seeing and hearing, you know, ambulances.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How you feeling?
O'BRIEN: About 300 people needed medical attention. Most were treated on site. But at least 49 were taken to local hospitals. There was one fatality, a 35-year-old Michigan police officer. An autopsy today revealed that he died from a heart condition.
Those who did not need medical attention trudged on. But many complained there wasn't enough water at the aid stations throughout the course. The sheer volume of people needing water at once was a major factor.
BETSY ARMSTRONG, CHICAGO AREA RUNNERS ASSOCIATION: It's hard to imagine what it's like to have tens of thousands of people coming at you, wanting water, you know, grabbing for it. And, if earlier runners had really depleted what was laid out, it would be hard to catch up.
O'BRIEN: Organizers say they will take a hard look back at the race operations, but they insist there were enough liquids for the runners. CAREY PINKOWSKI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CHICAGO MARATHON: At no point did we not have fluids. There were some places that -- that -- from what I hear, that the cups were out. But we poured. Runners stopped and got water.
O'BRIEN: Organizers say the heat was simply too much. And, at 11:30, for the first time in the Chicago Marathon's 30-year history, they stopped the race. And participants were advised to walk or take an air-conditioned bus back. Many runners, though, were determined to finish, some angry that event was canceled.
This is how one I-Reporter reacted to the news.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, they stopped the race. It's officially over. My first marathon, and they stopped the race!
COLLANTES: I don't think people quite understand that, four months of training, five months of training, you are not about to just say, oh, it's a little hot. I'm going to sit down.
O'BRIEN: But, for many people, there was no choice. And nearly 11,000 people who started the race were not able to finish it.
O'BRIEN: Chicago's 87-degree temperature was 21 degrees higher than normal.
Chicago wasn't the only city breaking records yesterday. Here's a look at the "Raw Data."
Grand Rapids, Michigan, also hit 87 degrees, breaking an October record that stood for nearly 100 years. Indianapolis set a new one- day record of 90 degrees. Washington, D.C., also hit a record. Reached 92 degrees there. The normal October high in these places is somewhere between 65 and 70.
Now, not every place was hot. Blue Mesa Lake in Colorado, which is about 100 miles from Grand Junction, hit a record low -- 15 degrees yesterday. And Colorado's cold weather is heading east.
Coming up next, a small town, major crime. An off-duty cop opens fire inside a high school party. Six people are dead. Tonight, the question is, why?
And just days after admitting she used steroids, Olympian Marion Jones makes another major announcement. We will tell you next on 360.
O'BRIEN: As we told you at the top of the hour, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is making gains in Iowa, moving ahead of her opponents in a new poll.
But there's also news tonight from the other side of the political aisle, a little conflict over money between two top Republican candidates.
CNN's Tom Foreman has the "Raw Politics."
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A firefight is raging among the Republican contenders, not over moral values, not over the war, but over something near and dear to many conservatives -- their wallets.
(voice-over): Sparks are flying between Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani. Romney says Rudy is irresponsible for opposing the line- item veto to fight pork spending. Rudy says, yes, well, Romney opposed tax relief while governor of Massachusetts. Some might call this dull as dirt, but this really matters to fiscal conservatives. So watch the other contenders start talking tax and spend soon.
Democrats want a big increase in health care for low-income kids. The president wants a smaller increase. They're trying to override him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
NARRATOR: George Bush just vetoed Abby and Josh.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: The "Raw" read, it's not so much about the kids anymore. Democrats know the Repubs are looking bad in the polls over this. And they are beating them senseless with it.
He's a deep-red Republican. He's a true-blue Democrat. Both want to be president. But Sam Brownback and Joe Biden, together, are promoting legislation to get peace in Iraq by loosely slicing the country into ethnic regions.
(on camera): Seriously, pay attention to this. For all this talk about ending the war, analysts say this has political legs, and it might actually work.
(voice-over): And lights, cameras, practice. Fred Thompson is rehearsing for his debate debut, taking mock questions, and sparring with former Senator Alfonse D'Amato playing Rudy Giuliani. The hottest question outside the room -- does Thompson really want the job?
"SNL" has an answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How badly do I want to be your president? On a scale of one to 10, I'm about a six.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: And that's "Raw Politics."
O'BRIEN: We're following several other stories tonight as well.
Erica Hill joins us now with a 360 bulletin.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Soledad, in Crandon, Wisconsin, investigators say an off-duty sheriff's deputy fired about 30 rounds of ammo when he killed six people yesterday. A seventh is in the hospital. Twenty-year-old Tyler Peterson was killed later in an exchange of gunfire with police. Investigators say Peterson got his gun from his truck, forced his way back into an apartment -- he had been at the party earlier -- and opened fire. The victims were high school students and recent graduates.
A Missouri judge has sentenced Michael Devlin to life in prison for kidnapping one of the two boys police say he held captive in his apartment and sexually abused. Devlin pleaded guilty to charges related to the January kidnapping of Ben Ownby. The former pizza shop manager also faces charges for the kidnapping of Shawn Hornbeck, who was held for more than four years.
In Paris, jurors in a British inquest now retracing the last moments of Princess Diana. Today, they walked through the tunnel where she died in a car crash just over 10 years ago. The judge asked the jury to look at the dented pillar where the accident occurred and also at the traffic patterns into the tunnel.
Back here in the States, disgraced track star Marion Jones has returned the five medals she won at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Australia. On Friday, Jones pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators about using steroids.
That was a tough one for a lot of people to stomach, too. It's just so sad.
O'BRIEN: Oh, it is. That's a disappointment.
HILL: It absolutely is.
So, we will move now to "What Were They Thinking?"
This one, whew, a lot of people wondering tonight. Embattled Senator Larry Craig will be inducted into the Idaho Hall of Fame next week. This is, of course, the same Senator Craig who was arrested and pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after a sex sting at a Minneapolis airport bathroom. Well, a judge, of course, refused to withdraw the guilty plea -- Craig, though, still vowing to fight that.
Meantime, organizers at the Hall of Fame say Craig was selected for that honor months before he made headlines, and they add, recent events don't change the fact that Senator Craig has made a great contribution to Idaho over the past few decades -- some, though, wondering if maybe they should wait for the induction for maybe just a little while, let things quiet down.
O'BRIEN: Hall of Fame, hall of infamy, such a fine line...
HILL: Indeed it is.
O'BRIEN: Thanks, Erica.
O'BRIEN: Now here is John Roberts with what is coming up tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN ROBERTS, CO-HOST, "AMERICAN MORNING": Tomorrow, we bring you the most news in the morning, including the story behind an unforgettable image -- a robbery suspect on the run, and a news photographer in the right place at the right time. The photographer's work wasn't done there. We will meet him and hear how he went from observer to crime-fighter.
Get the most news in the morning, beginning at 6:00 a.m., Eastern on "AMERICAN MORNING."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: And lots more to bring you tonight as well, including an unholy mess at a devout university founded by one of the best-known men of God since Billy Sunday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN (voice-over): His father said he might die if you didn't fund his college.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we don't do something soon, then God's going to call me home.
O'BRIEN: Now his son is accused of using the college as his personal piggy bank, using college money to live like a king. We're "Keeping them Honest."
Later, you take it for granted, until it vanishes under your feet, your car, your home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The asphalt that should be under my feet was eight feet in the air.
O'BRIEN: Sinkholes and landslides all across the country. See why you could be living on shaky ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Imagine coming home to that. Incredibly, nobody was hurt in the landslide in La Jolla, California. When the ground gave way, it left a 50-yard chasm in the middle of a four-lane street, plus a trail of other damage in the upscale neighborhood, totaling an estimated $48 million.
Engineers had warned residents that they were in danger just hours before the collapse. And that got us thinking about how many other neighborhoods might be at risk at this very moment across the country. The answer, it turns out, is pretty scary.
Here's CNN's Dan Simon.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Summer Gergus (ph) and her 3-year-old daughter Isabella got out at the last moment, before their house slid down the mountain.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hadn't yellow-tagged us or red-tagged us. And we assumed that we didn't need to get out until that had been done.
SIMON: No one here expected the land to crumble beneath them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They got (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It's solid. We were on solid ground.
SIMON: Or so they thought. Geologists say landslides like these happen all over the country where homes are built on mountain slopes.
PROF. PAT ABBOT, SAN DIEGO STATE UNIVERSITY: The cause is 100 percent natural. It's the weak rock, steep slope, pull of gravity.
SIMON: The government doesn't keep statistics on landslides, but published reports show at least 20 in the last year alone. In Wisconsin, in Colorado, and now here in Southern California.
Geology Professor Pat Abbott says there will be more.
ABBOT: We're putting houses into more and more unlikely, undesirable places, and we're paying more and more prices, as nature rejects some of those sites.
SIMON: Like La Jolla's Mt. Soledad, with million-dollar-plus homes with breathtaking views. The area is still being developed. Concrete slabs dotting the landscape. People here say they were never told about the risks.
CINDY GOODMAN, LA JOLLA RESIDENT: When we bought it, we were told it was on bedrock, never a problem. You may lose your street some day, but your house will be fine.
SIMON: Professor Abbott showed us why no one should have been told that.
ABBOTT: When you hit it with a hammer, it's -- it's hard, dry stuff. SIMON: This is the dirt that makes up Mt. Soledad, a durable clay when dry, but when wet, in some areas...
ABBOTT: Now it becomes a gooey kind of a mud that's quite slippery. And, this is the underlying weak rock. You take this kind of stuff, the gooey stuff that turns to slippery mud, put that on the hillside as a slope for a whole rock layer, with gravity pulling on it. This is going downhill, and any house built on top of it is going along for the ride.
SIMON: La Jolla hasn't had any rain. So, why a sudden collapse?
ABBOTT: We're living here in a coastal desert. Yet, thanks to homeowners, they're -- you're actually turning to the sub tropics. They put tens and tens of artificial rainfall per year on those properties. You don't need the rain, because the homeowners add to the instability of their own sites.
SIMON: Combine that with 1960s engineering that wouldn't be approved today, a recipe for disaster.
Mt. Soledad still appears shaky. Check out this hole opening up in another street.
O'BRIEN: Mt. Soledad looks like a big mess, Dan. Let me ask you a question. How many homes right now have been affected?
SIMON: Well, right now, they're saying as many as six homes could be destroyed. That's been downgraded somewhat. But at this point, you have 15 homes unoccupied because it's just too unsafe to go back into those homes.
Meanwhile, crews haven't figured out a cause yet for this collapse. They're still investigating. But they think that the mountain has stabilized, at least for the time being. Residents can only hope -- Soledad.
O'BRIEN: Stabilized for now, I guess, is the big way to put it.
Dan Simon for us tonight. Thank you, Dan.
And it turns out that landslides are just part of the price we may pay for choosing to live in places that Mother Nature really never intended.
For more perspective on all this, let's turn to Stephen Flynn. He's the author of "The Edge of Disaster: Rebuilding a Resilient Nation." He's also a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
It's nice to see you, as always.
Twenty-one. Twenty-one, when you count how many of these landslides or sinkholes have happened so far this year. Why so many, do you think?
STEPHEN FLYNN, AUTHOR, "THE EDGE OF DISASTER": Well, it's part because, of course, the environment always in North America is moving around, but we're building our homes and living in places that Mother Nature probably didn't intend us to live.
And while engineers can do a lot to reduce the risk, the fact is, we're basically inviting ourselves to live in -- inviting disasters, basically.
O'BRIEN: Do you blame infrastructure? The way the people built into the mountains? Or do you blame, you know, geological structure, in that that's the way the mountain was made? Or is it a little bit of both?
FLYNN: It is definitely a bit of both. I mean, what seems may have been a variable -- and obviously some more work needs to be done here -- but water mains that break. And that may have been because the ground moved, or it may be the water main broke and caused the soil to saturate, led to this.
But we're pushing the envelope where we live. You know, more than half -- 50 percent of Americans live within 50 miles of the coast, and coasts are pretty exposed places. On the East Coast, on the Gulf Coast, that's where hurricanes most likely to visit.
And as we forecast out, the 100-year storm will be a ten-year storm by 2050, by the current modeling, climate changes adding to that.
In the West Coast, we get a seismic risk, which is the earthquake. And then it's just the usual rain, fire and so forth here. So, we've got to be willing to think, as a society, are these the best places for us to live? Are we willing to take the risk?
O'BRIEN: But a lot of these risks and mistakes have been made time and time again. I mean, the last time this happened was, I think in 1961. It's not the first time.
And, you know, a few years later, they were back building. Who do you blame for that?
FLYNN: Well, it seems -- that seems to be a new phenomenon. Actually, just last year we celebrated the -- celebrated -- we marked the 100th year anniversary of the earthquake in 1906.
And one of the things that came after that happened in San Francisco is we're not going to build buildings the same way again. You know, we're going to put new requirements in and we're going to change the way in which we use to learn from disasters. And say we have to take them into account as we think about where we live and how we live.
But it seems over the last 30 years, in part because Mother Nature was pretty kind to us here, didn't shake the ground in the West Coast much. We didn't have the major hurricanes. But now, we're in a cycle where we're likely to see more of that. At the same time, the infrastructure is aging. And there's more of us in the country. You know, 1967, we were 200 million Americans, now there are more than 300 million.
O'BRIEN: But it also sounds as if the rules were a little more stringent back then. And now, almost, as much as they're building more earthquake-resistant structures or whatever, at the same time, it seems that, at least in this area, people were really pushing. They wanted to live with an ocean view and, no matter what, that's where they were going to live, regardless of what the paperwork said.
FLYNN: Yes. And, I think to some extent Americans should be free to do that, as long as engineers can meet the need. But part of the problem gets a little murky is when we have to basically backfill by insurance, for people taking those risks.
O'BRIEN: Forty-eight million dollars. Who's paying that?
FLYNN: Well, the city is going to -- in San Diego is going to ask for federal and state money to rebuild the roads, to rebuild the infrastructure. That may not help the home owners, but you know, some of these roads probably shouldn't be there because homes shouldn't be there.
And so we have to be wiling to think through. And if you look in other places, like the Sacramento Valley, which is below the surrounding water level, depending on levees, much like New Orleans, but we're pushing housing into those areas.
And developers want to do it. Property values, the property bases are improved for taxes. But we're taking risks that may have real -- have a real heavy price tag for us at the end of the day.
O'BRIEN: Will people learn the lessons, do you think? I mean, I'm not just talking about sinkholes. But as you say, you build in areas where really homes shouldn't be.
FLYNN: Well, we should look at -- certainly at least the events of the last year. And while each one deserves their own investigation. But we have a bridge collapse in Minneapolis. We have the power grid that goes down when it gets hot. We have landslides where people are living.
These should be wake-up calls for Americans, that we can't keep taking for granted our infrastructure, nor that we can live just anywhere we want. There are costs and there are risks, and we have to debate these as a society.
O'BRIEN: You and I have covered a bunch of those stories. Yes, that's a bunch of wake-up calls all in a row.
Stephen Flynn, always nice to see you. Thanks for talking with us tonight.
FLYNN: Thanks for having me here. O'BRIEN: My pleasure.
Coming up next, it was born in controversy. Now, the allegations about Oral Roberts University, taken to a different level entirely. We're going to tell you about the lawsuit and the accusations now leveled at oral Roberts' son.
You're watching 360.
O'BRIEN: That 60-foot sculpture towers over the campus of Oral Roberts University, the Christian college that televangelist Oral Roberts founded 20 years ago.
At the time, Roberts claimed that God appeared to him while he was reading a spy novel, told him to raise $8 million, and build the school. And he did.
Today, the university is one of the most successful evangelical empires in the country. Its deep pockets may come in handy, because now the school is facing a lawsuit, and a developing scandal, as well. And once again, there are claims that God's weighing in.
CNN's David Mattingly is "Keeping them Honest".
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Prayer is a staple of life at Tulsa, Oklahoma's Oral Roberts University. Maybe even more now than usual.
JOHN SWAILS, FORMER ORU PROFESSOR: We thought, oh, no. We thought, maybe this isn't true.
TIM BROOKER, FORMER ORU PROFESSOR: We hope this isn't true.
SWAILS: So, we began to pray.
MATTINGLY: Tim Brooker and John Swails are among three former ORU professors who tell CNN they were fired after reporting information that, if true, could cost the university untold millions.
BROOKER: It could easily lose its tax exempt status.
MATTINGLY: Brooker says University President Richard Roberts ordered him to use students and the political expertise of his government studies program to support a family friend running for mayor. The candidate lost, and Brooker says he was ordered to take responsibility when the IRS investigated complaints.
But that was nothing compared to what the professors say happened next. They claim it started with a computer belonging to Roberts' sister-in-law.
BROOKER: She loaned her computer to one of the students to use during the campaign. And it was while he was in possession of the loaned computer that he discovered these files which were stored on the hard drive.
MATTINGLY: The contents of those files are described in a lawsuit that portrays Richard Roberts and his wife, Lindsay, as big spenders, using the school's resources for personal luxury.
Allegations listed include using the university jet to send a daughter and friends to the Bahamas; remodeling the Roberts' home at university expense 11 times in 14 years; spending $51,000 on clothes; and renovating a spacious home office into a massive walk-in closet.
But it doesn't stop there. A house, cars, and thousands of dollars in cell phone bills, all allegedly paid for by the university and the evangelical ministry. And the professors claim some things in the files, even they don't want public.
BROOKER: We're interested in truth and we're interested in justice, and the things that were in those files, if untrue, would be so damaging that they could never recover. I just am not comfortable going any further. That's why we didn't put them in.
MATTINGLY: The suit also accuses Lindsay Roberts of cell phone bills exceeding $800 a month with more than 800 text messages, many, quote, "from Mrs. Roberts were sent to underage males, often between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., who had been provided phones at university expense."
We contacted ORU officials for comment, but there was no reply. In a statement last week, the university said the allegations were based on unsubstantiated rumors and innuendoes, and that it will deal with them through the legal process.
RICHARD ROBERTS, PRESIDENT, ORAL ROBERTS UNIVERSITY: We live in a litigious society. Anyone can get mad and file a lawsuit against another person, whether they have a legitimate case or not.
MATTINGLY: At chapel services last week, Roberts also responded, saying, God had given him these words.
ROBERTS: It is about intimidation, blackmail and extortion. Make no mistake about it, this suit is about money. I am confident that when the real truth is known, there will be no more questions.
MATTINGLY: Roberts' accusers are seeking unspecified damages for breech of contract and defamation. They say the lawsuit is not about money.
(on camera): What is God telling you?
SWAILS: He's telling us that he put us in this position, and he's directing us to make a stand.
O'BRIEN: So, is what happened here essentially, David, that the professors who are bringing this lawsuit got mad, filed lawsuits, going forward with blackmail, as we just heard, or, do they just want their jobs back?
MATTINGLY: They do not want their jobs back, Soledad. They feel like their careers are essentially over here, and I actually put that directly to them, saying, "Are you just disgruntled employees, as some people are describing you?"
And they say they wish they could have avoided this, but they feel like they were compelled to bring this to the attention of the university, and when it didn't get the attention they felt it deserved, that's when they felt like they had to file the lawsuit.
O'BRIEN: David Mattingly for us tonight. Thanks, David.
Coming up next, 10 innocent people gunned down by two snipers who terrorized a nation. Who were they? Why did they do it? We're going to take you inside the minds of the D.C. Snipers, straight ahead.
Plus, what caused a freak accident at a hot air balloon festival? Up next.
O'BRIEN: It was five years ago this month that 10 people were marked for death and murdered by the D.C. Snipers. Now, in an exclusive in-depth investigation, we take you inside the deadly shootings, talking to the people closest to the two men who put innocent lives in the scope of a rifle.
Our special is called "The Minds of the D.C. Snipers" and it's going to premiere this Wednesday at 8 p.m., Eastern. Here's a preview.
O'BRIEN (voice-over): This is where John Allen Muhammad resides now, on Death Row at Sussex One State Prison near Richmond, Virginia. He is still defiant.
JOHN ALLEN MUHAMMAD, CONVICTED OF SNIPER MURDERS: Hello, everyone. I guess y'all thought I was finished. I'm still on Death Row fighting.
O'BRIEN: This is a one-minute, 23-second videotape made inside Sussex One State Prison and handed to CNN during the course of our reporting in the Caribbean. A shackled John Muhammad talks to the camera in the presence of two unidentified women.
What he wants, he says, is to establish accurate information about the time he spent with Lee Boyd Malvo in the Caribbean.
J. MUHAMMAD: So that they can get a better understanding of our relationship with each other. Not to distort our relationship, as it has been told to the news media.
O'BRIEN: He ends the video on a note of gratitude. J. MUHAMMAD: Thank you for your patience, kindness and your sacrifice that you have always made. Peace, and may God be with you all. Thank you.
O'BRIEN: In suburban Maryland, Mildred Muhammad and her three children are getting by, barely. She's begun a nonprofit website, called AfterTheTrauma.org, to call more attention to victims of domestic violence.
Mildred still believes that her ex-husband can somehow reach out and harm her, that John Allen Muhammad can do anything he puts his mind to, even convince a smart, gifted teenager to become a cold- blooded killer.
(on camera): Did John have the personality where, if he wanted to brainwash someone who was a young man, he could do it?
MILDRED MUHAMMAD, EX-WIFE OF JOHN ALLEN MUHAMMAD: Yes, ma'am.
M. MUHAMMAD: Yes, ma'am.
O'BRIEN: No doubt in your mind?
M. MUHAMMAD: That boy was a victim before he even knew it. His life was over when he said hi.
O'BRIEN: We'll have much more on the teenager turned sniper, Lee Malvo, tomorrow night.
Again, our entire investigation, "The Minds of the D.C. Snipers," airs on Wednesday night, 8 p.m., Eastern right here on CNN.
Erica Hill joins us once again with a "360 News and Business Bulletin."
HILL: Soledad, a new report by the Iraqi government comes down hard on U.S. security contractor Blackwater, demanding it leave Iraq within six months and blaming it for killing 17 civilians last month.
The report calls the actions of Blackwater guards involved in the incident premeditated murder and also calls for the U.S. government to pay $8 million in compensation to each of the victims' families and to sever all Blackwater contracts in Iraq.
In Washington state, rescue teams scouring an area south of Mt. Rainier for a missing plane carrying nine sky divers and a pilot. The single-engine aircraft fell off the radar yesterday just about an hour after takeoff from Boise, Idaho, where the group had attended an event.
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, a 60-year-old woman fell at least 70 feet to her death during an annual balloon festival. The hot air balloon she was in got caught on a power line. Its basket tipped during efforts to free it, three other people on board were injured.
And finally, the United Auto Workers Union is setting a deadline of 11 a.m. Wednesday to reach a contract with auto maker Chrysler. If there is no agreement by then, the union's workers may strike.
Last month, 73,000 UAW members at General Motors, of course, went on strike for two days before they reached a tentative deal there.
O'BRIEN: We will wait and see what happens there.
It's time for "The Shot". We're not fans of puns -- well, my dad is. But I'm not really. But we cannot resist tonight.
All right, back to little animal stories. At the San Diego Zoo, panda-monium.
HILL: Oh, there we go.
O'BRIEN: Look, a 9-week baby panda, separated from her mom during the routine checkup. And she wasn't happy at all. Listen, so sad.
HILL: She's so sweet. Oh. Poor little bug.
O'BRIEN: I had no idea pandas sound like that when they're upset.
HILL: I didn't either. I don't really know what I thought a panda sounded like. But I don't think that's it.
O'BRIEN: No. Well, anyway, her lungs clearly in good shape. This little panda is usually described as quiet and sleepy. But look how upset she is.
HILL: Oh, poor little thing.
All right. Well, I'll see your cute panda, Soledad, and I'll raise you dramatic animal video. How about a cute hyena? This little guy apparently three months ago had to be taken away from his parents. This is in Adelaide...
O'BRIEN: Chewing the camera.
HILL: Oh, yum, a camera. This is in Adelaide in South Australia. Taken from its parents three months ago because they were simply too rough with it. So now it's being hand raised.
O'BRIEN: You know, he is cute, because hyenas are not cute animals generally. HILL: No, but this one's cute. See, when they're little, they're adorable. It's when they get big.
O'BRIEN: Then the trouble begins.
O'BRIEN: All right. That's the cute animal segment for the day.
HILL: No, you jest.
O'BRIEN: For the week, I dare.
O'BRIEN: Erica, thanks.
O'BRIEN: On the radar tonight, your thoughts on the '08 presidential race. At the top of the program, we told you that the first time Hillary Clinton's taken the lead in an Iowa poll. And we asked, have you decided who you're going to vote for?
Well, Jennifer from Raleigh, North Carolina, writes this on the 360 blog: I haven't made any decision yet. The next 13 months are sure to be a wild ride and there's no telling what controversies, sandals, et cetera, are yet to unfold that could greatly impact the election. I can say, though, I'm not holding out for "the perfect candidate" -- that part's in quotes. I know that person doesn't exist.
Kathy in Andover, Kansas, says this: I have always respected and liked Hillary Clinton. But I also respect and like Barack Obama.
OK. She can't decide.
Well, an anonymous posting caught our eye: Rudy showed his strength in a time of need that I can never forget on 9/11. He handled New York with such grace that he deserves a chance in the White House.
Of course, if Anderson was running, he would win hands down. Anderson for president. I'd vote for him. Has a nice ring to it. I think anchoring is an easier gig for him.
Share your thoughts by going right to CNN.com/360 for the link to the blog. We'd love to hear from you.
360 continues in a moment. Stay with us.
O'BRIEN: A reminder, in just two weeks CNN takes you around the world in a groundbreaking documentary, "Planet in Peril." It's a special investigation on the unsettling changes all around us. Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Wildlife Biologist Jeff Corwin take a look at climate change, vanishing habitats and much, much more. They traveled to some of the most remote and remarkable places on earth. "Planet in Peril" premieres on October 23 and 24 at 9 p.m., Eastern, right here on CNN.
And that does it for this edition of 360. I'm Soledad O'Brien, in for Anderson tonight.
For our international viewers, "CNN TODAY" is next. Here in the states, "LARRY KING" is coming up.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com