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Catholic Cardinal Launches Counter Attack Against Media Coverage of Sex Abuse Scandal.

Aired April 1, 2010 - 20:00   ET


CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey there, everybody. Our top story tonight, the Vatican under fire. Pope Benedict's top aides are amping up their damage control operation. That story leading the "Mash Up". As always, we're watching it all, so you don't have to.

A top cardinal playing the blame the media card, blasting news coverage of Pope Benedict's handling of the growing sex abuse scandal. Take a look.


ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: Here's a part of a huge 2,400-word statement that was just posted from Vatican web site. It says this is from Cardinal William Levada.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice over): Cardinal William Levada accused "The New York Times" of unfairness in its reporting about what the pope, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger knew about two cases of pedophile priests.

Conferring responsibility to the pope, when Levada says decisions were made by others, "I asked 'The Times' to reconsider its attack mode about Pope Benedict XIV and give the world a more balanced view of the leader it can and should count on."

(On camera): Though some may see a paper trail leading to the Vatican, legal experts say it will be difficult to hold this pope responsible in U.S. courts.

NICK CAFARDI, DEAN EMIRITUS, DUQUESNI LAW SCHOOL: I think it will be very difficult to prove that the holy father himself was in control of this situation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Levada also defense Pope Benedict's record on dealing with the problem of sexual abuse within the church. Saying he's owed a debt of gratitude for the procedures he put in place in 2001, while still a cardinal, to deal with pedophile priests.


BROWN: "The New York Times" says no one has cast doubt on its reporting. We'll have much more on the church scandal coming up in just a few moments.

President Obama made a surprise visit to the East Coast flood zone today, torrential rains have crippled parts of New England right now.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: Nobody can remember anything worse than the flooding right now in Rhode Island. That's because it's the worst there in 200 years. Here's more of what we know. The rain has stopped, but rivers are only slowly receding. The president has already declared most of Rhode Island a disaster area.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Schools shut down, hundreds evacuated, tens of thousands without power.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama made a surprise drop-in visit today a Massachusetts emergency response center in Framingham, Mass, where they've been dealing with flooding, trying to help the many people who have lost so much throughout New England.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This couple tried to defy the flood and stay in their home, but in the end were forced to leave. And in Rhode Island, homes and cars remain submerged.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's fish in my basement. Fish, in my basement right now, fish!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's where I lost everything, once they shut the pumps off. My furnace is under water, hot water, everything.


BROWN: Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano will visit Rhode Island also tomorrow.

The president had time for some slightly less serious business a bit earlier today. He spoke with CBS News at the White House, mixing politics and basketball practice.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (On camera): Mr. President --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The question is, that everyone wants to know, can you go to your right?

OBAMA: I can go to my right, but I prefer my left.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): He doesn't always sink his famous jump shot.

OBAMA: You know, I have a few other things on my mind.


OBAMA: It's like health care. I always come from behind. I finish strong.


BROWN: And the president seems to be doing better on the court than his picks for the NCAA bracket, which imploded early on.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner trying to get out in front of the tomorrow's new unemployment numbers; this morning, he told NBC's Matt Lauer that better days are coming, just not anytime soon.


TIMOTHY GEITHNER, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: I think the key thing that is going to happen is the economy will start creating jobs again. You'll start to see businesses across the country start to add to the payroll again. That is going to come. The economy is growing now, that's the first step, but with growth more jobs will come. But the unemployment rate is still terribly high and will stay unacceptably high for a long period of time.


BROWN: Geithner also admits that it is, in his words, deeply unfair that bailed-out Wall Street banks are coming out of the recession in better shape that this millions of Americans.

Now to the late-night talk show wars revisited. Nice guy Jay Leno didn't hold back when he was chatting with HLN's Joy Behar about the debacle that cost Conan O'Brien "The Tonight Show" and sent Jay back to 11:30. Listen.


JOY BEHAR, CNN HEADLINE NEWS: Do you feel bad about that?

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": Conan got screwed. I got screwed. I mean this is TV. The reason show business pays a lot of money is when you get screwed, you have something left over.

BEHAR: That's right.

LENO: You know, if you're a nurse or a cop and you get screwed out of your pension, you're screwed out of your pension.

BEHAR: And your done.

LENO: In TV, at least you walk away with some money. Conan wan treated terribly, I was treated terribly. And guys make a decision, I think Conan will come back and he'll be strong. You know, we'll all compete against one another. It should be me against Letterman, against Conan, against Kimmel.


LENO: And then you see who wins. This is comedy-- you know how that works. BEHAR: Yes.


BROWN: O'Brien going on tour in two weeks, until then fans looking for a little Conan fix will have to settle for Twitter.

And that brings us to "The Punch line" tonight. This is courtesy of Stephen Colbert's. His take on the militia in the news. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: The word "Hutaree" itself means Christian warriors in some secret made-up language they use when they are out in the woods. They're like Nell with rocket launchers.



BROWN: Stephen Colbert, everybody. That is "The Mashup."

Coming up, the Vatican fighting back and blasting "The New York Times". Why it blames the paper for fanning the flames of the sex abuse scandal. Details are just ahead.


BROWN: The Vatican is on the attack, lashing out at "The New York Times" for its, quote, "lack of fairness". In an article posted on the Vatican web site, Cardinal William Levada criticizes the paper's coverage of the church's recent sex abuse scandal, accusing it of a rush to judgment. CNN's Diana Magnay has the details now from Rome.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT (On camera): Over the last few days the Vatican has accused the media of trying to smear the pope's name, but this is the first time we've seen a comprehensive point-by-point rebuttal of some of the points made in the media against the pope. And in particular by "The New York Times." Cardinal William Levada, the prefect for the doctrine for the congregation of the faith accusing "The New York Times" basically of sloppy journalism.

He cites the case of Father Lawrence Murphy, the priest who abused deaf boys in Wisconsin in the '50s and '60s. "The New York Times" alleged in that case that Father Murphy-the fact that he was never defrocked was a sign of the Vatican have been unnecessarily lenient on him. What Cardinal Levada says is that if they had taken this process, it through a lengthy canonical trial, Father Murphy would have died before it was concluded. And therefore justice would have never been achieved.

So, in fact, by restricting his ministry, immediately, the Vatican was acting fast rather than not acting at all. Also in this letter Cardinal Levada outlines what he calls the enormous legacy that the present pope has had in terms of transforming the Catholic Church's attitude towards the problem of sexual abuse. He says in 2001, when the then Cardinal Ratzinger, now pope, implemented new guidelines for the church in terms of sexual abuse, that really transformed the church's handling of the matter, making it into a top priority, making sure that there were guidelines for bishops around the world to how to handle abusive priests, and making sure that all cases of abuse within the church were reported directly to the Vatican. Diana Magnay, CNN, Rome.


BROWN: In the meantime Vatican lawyers are busy devising a legal strategy to try to shield the pope, or try to shield the pope, from potential lawsuits. And joining me right now is CNN senior Vatican analyst John Allen. John is a senior correspondent for "The National Catholic Reporter", an independent newspaper not associated with the Catholic Church.

John, I appreciate you being here. I think a lot of people would say I never thought I would see the day when the pope would be employing a blame-the-media strategy. But you have this top cardinal, who has called "The New York Times" reporting on the sex abuse scandal, and this is a quote, "deficient by any reasonable standards of fairness that Americans have every right and expectation to find in their major media reporting." What does that tell you about the pressure that the Vatican is feeling right now?

JOHN ALLEN, "THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER": Well, Campbell, look, obviously they are feeling enormous pressure. But you know, frankly, and maybe this is just a reflection of the times we live in, but I'm struck by how polarized this discussion has become all around. I mean, basically we now have two camps. One camp, which obviously includes senior Vatican officials and some other voices in Catholic world, is saying this was all about a media orchestrated smear campaign against the pope.

Then we have another camp, which would include some figures in the media, and sort of professional critics of the church, who are constitutionally incapable of acknowledging anything positive that either the pope or the church has done in this issue. And in that environment, I think it's difficult to have a rational conversation.

But one footnote about "The Times", in their defense, they did also publish, last Sunday, and op-ed piece by me outlining the positive dimensions of the pope's record on this question, so I'm not sure the coverage has been as quite as one-sided as some have suggested.

BROWN: Well, let me also, bring this in. This is New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan who defended the pope in his sermon last Sunday, I want you to listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ARCHBISHOP TIMOTHY DOLAN, CATHOLIC CHURCH: What deepens the sadness now is the unrelenting insinuations against the holy father himself. As certain sources seem almost frenzied to implicate the man who, perhaps more than anybody else, has been the leader in purification, reform and renewal that the church so very much needs.


BROWN: So this gets at, kind of the point you were making just a second ago, about how divided, I think, people are right now. But there are a lot of people who would say that what that represents, what you just heard is this bunker mentality in the Catholic Church. That you have these leaders more concerned about protecting the institution, than really cracking down on abusers. And you wonder if there is enough of a Vatican awareness of this, as they try to walk this line. I mean, what is your sense of this, John?

ALLEN: Well, I mean I think anybody who knows the church knows that it is just sort of in the Catholic DNA, that when people perceive the pope to be under attack, they want to come to his defense. I think you're right, there is a kind of circle the wagons instinct going on. Eventually church leaders will have to get beyond that.

I think they would be better served, frankly, by simply doing part of what Cardinal Levada tried to do today, which is respond to the questions that these two cases have raised rather than demonizing the media. But I think it is also important to acknowledge, and I think part of what is fueling that defensiveness, by people like Cardinal Levada and Archbishop Dolan, both of whom are guys I know reasonably well. I know them to be reasonable people. I think part of what is fueling their defensiveness at the moment is the sense that the other side of the story, that is the pope's impact on the church's response to the sex abuse crisis since 2001. That part of the story, in their eyes, is not adequately being told.

BROWN: So is the pope going to address this? He's made a few comments. There was a pastoral letter, but does he have to speak himself in a more powerful way, I guess, or more directly about it?

ALLEN: Well, you know, every time I say on TV what the pope has to do, I always hear from people saying, really that's well above my pay grade. But I would say, that I think it would certainly by helpful if the pope would find an opportunity sometime, after holy week concludes, that is after Easter Sunday, to find a venue in which he can speak in his own voice about the questions raised by these cases, because then that would also give him an opportunity to remind the world of all the stuff he has done since 2001 to try to move the church forward. Then there is a good bit to be said in that regard.

BROWN: Let me quickly ask you, John, a legal question, because I know lawyers for sex abuse victims are now demanding that they be allowed to ask the pope questions under oath. I guess, can they do that?

ALLEN: Well, probably not. I mean, we have something called the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which makes it very difficult to sue foreign governments and their officials in American courts. This has come up before. There are other cases on sex abuse and other mattes, where Vatican officials had been named, and they have always been shielded from that kind of thing by sovereign immunity.

Really what most lawyers will tell you is to get over that hurdle would require a direct act by the president of the United States to decertify the Vatican as a sovereign entity. And for all kinds of reasons, legal, diplomatic, political, that's probably a tremendous long shot.

BROWN: All right, John Allen. John, I appreciate you talking to us tonight. Thanks as always.

When we come back a new poll showing the president taking some heat for the troubled economy, right now; what he can do to try to turn those numbers around before the midterm elections. That, when we come back.


BROWN: President Obama speaking at not one, but two Democratic fundraisers in Boston tonight. Just a few hours ago, the president was in Portland, Maine, urging Americans to give the new health care plan a chance, telling the crowd it is good for jobs, too. Take a listen.

OBAMA: I want you to know we are working every single day to spur job creation and to turn this economy around. That's why we worked so hard over the last year to lift one of the biggest burdens facing middle class families and small business owners, and that is the crushing cost of health care right here in America.


BROWN: Joining me to take a look at some of the challenges ahead for the president with the midterms on the horizon, Candy Crowley, down in Washington, senior political correspondent and host of CNN's "State of the Union". And down in New Orleans, CNN political contributor and Democratic strategist James Carville, joining us, too.

I want to talk about the economy a little bit tonight, guys.

Candy, the president obviously has a lot more than health care to defend right now. You have this new poll, this is a USAToday/Gallup poll that just came out, showing the numbers of Americans who blame him for the recession has nearly doubled since last summer. What does he do with that?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR, "STATE OF THE UNION": Well, we should point out that, first of all, almost twice as many more still blame George Bush, that is in the 40s.

But the fact of the matter is that the number of people who blame President Obama has doubled. So what we have here is people beginning to say, listen, he now owns the economy, a lot of money has been invested in it. Is it his -- does that in and of itself show a problem? No, but when you add up all the other things, and that's that people, when you ask them, what's the primary concern you have going into November, what will define your vote, they say the economy, they don't said health care.

That's why I think you see the president sort of tying them together. Because what the administration knows it has to do, is somehow mitigate the 9.4 percent unemployment rate they think they'll have in November, and try to talk to the people who are afraid of losing their jobs and saying, listen, this 9.4 percent is too high. Again what they projected to be in November, but things are getting better. They have to sell kind of a feeling. I think that's part of what the president is doing, hang on, it's getting better.

BROWN: James, I know you've been saying for a while, frankly, that he hasn't really successfully communicated his message on the economy. Where has he fallen short? What should he be saying that he hasn't?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I've always said he has policies, and they're good policies, by the way. I just wish he would say he has a plan, and that his plan was to stabilize. To do something that would stop the hemorrhaging of job losses. And get long-term deficits under control. He did that with the bank plan. He's done it with the stimulus plan, and he's done it with the health care plan.

I think, you know, the economy will improve, it's improving now, I think it will continue to improve through November. And if that happens, at some point the Democrats are going to have to make the case, if the Republicans want to take us back to the days when George Bush left office, and we were hemorrhaging 750,000 jobs a month, or when our banks were tottering and about to go under.

And I think it is possible to do that. It's difficult and we've had an extended era of high unemployment and we are going to continue into this. I don't have any doubt we'll have a difficult November, but the political climate can improve now, between now and November. I think that it will.

BROWN: But you look at-I mean, I was struck by this latest CNN poll. I mean, Americans now think Republicans-not Democrats, would do a better job of handling the economy, and it is a pretty dramatic reversal from where it was just a short time ago.

CARVILLE: But honestly you've had chronically high unemployment over a long period of time. Democrats have been in power for almost, you know, over a year now, and the fact that we're only down 3 on the economy, I would argue is not as horrible as it could be.

I've never seen a headline, by the way, that says 10 percent unemployment, incumbent sweeps back into office. That doesn't happen. It's probably not going to happen this time. But I think if he can make the case that, you know, they have a plan and things are starting to get better. Although bad, and apparently will be bad for some time if you believe what people say, and I guess I do, that they're going to have to make the case. I think they can cut their losses shorter than where it would be today. BROWN: And Candy, we just heard Treasury Secretary Geithner say essentially that, earlier in the show, that unemployment will stay unacceptably high, in his words, for a very long time. That is going to be the context that they're trying to sort of have this conversation and make this case in, leading up to November. Are they ready for this? Are they talking about it? Thinking about how to address it in terms of the message?

CROWLEY: They are. They understand the economy is what this is about. Their own budget forecast, and their own economic forecasts said a couple months ago it will remain high. It will be over 9 percent, the jobless rate, through the end of the year.

So how do you mitigate what everyone expects will be some Democratic losses. It's the difference between losing some seats, and losing a whole lot of seats, and what the White House knows they have to do is go out there and convince people. Again, this is about feeling better about what's to come. You have two messages here from the White House. We saved you from disaster, and things are getting better, you need to believe that.

So they have to use their best messenger, and that's President Obama. And that's the message he's going to have to sell in the face of over 9 percent unemployment. It's a tough sell and there's not that much time, because I think most people will tell you, and I think James is probably better at this than I am. If by June or July that message has not gotten through, it's going to be a very long night in November for the Democrats.

BROWN: James, last word.

CARVILLE: I don't know of anything more difficult in political communications than to communicate the fact that while the economy is still unacceptable, that things are getting better. And it's very hard to talk about it, if you try to say things are getting better, people say, what is that crazy? We have 9.5 percent unemployment.

If you don't talk about it and point out where, you know, what I mean, the things that you've done to make it a little better, then you don't get anything out. We did not do it very successfully in the Clinton administration in 1994, when the economy was actually getting somewhat better.

And so -- time and time again, people have tried this, and it's a very, very different task the White House has. My counsel would always be, I wish the president would talk more about the fact he has a plan in place, and it's a sort of coordinated plan of attack to get something done.

You know, we're going to loose seats. It's a question of how many. But I still am of the belief that we'll do better in November than we're doing now.

BROWN: We'll see how the message evolves in the weeks and months ahead.

All right. Candy Crowley for us, and James Carville. Thanks, guys, appreciate it.

CROWLEY: Thanks.

BROWN: Still ahead, it is a one-two punch for Iran's nuclear program, first growing support for new sanctions. Now an Iranian scientist also sharing his secrets; an intriguing story about how a covert CIA program lured him to the United States. That's coming up next.


BROWN: We have some new details tonight on the covered effort that lured an Iranian scientist to the U.S., bringing valuable nuclear secrets with him. Last June a member of Iran's atomic agency disappeared while on a religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.

Tehran immediately accused the U.S. of abducting him, but the truth may be a lot more complicated. The young scientist apparently has turned up in the U.S. as a defector. And Reza (ph) Aslan says his defection is part of a larger CIA program code named, Brain Drain. He's written about it for "The Daily Beast" and joins me now for the very latest on this.

I found your story to be just fascinating. Reza (ph), and I want you to kind of talk us through this and take us back to the beginning, because this sounds like a spy novel come to life.

How did this guy start talking to the CIA in the first place?

REZA ASLAN, AUTHOR, "BEYOND FUNDAMENTALISM": Well, so Shahram Amiri is a 30-year-old junior-level scientist at Iran's atomic agency. As you said, he went on hiding (ph) last June.

Apparently, he was detained by Saudi security at the airport in Jeddah for a number of hours. We don't know what happened during that detention. What we do know is that two days later, he just simply disappeared. And as you said, the Iranian officials immediately blamed the United States for that. The U.S., as you can imagine, suggested that they had never even heard of Amiri, but sure enough, nine months later, he pops up in the United States, where apparently he's defected and he's been sharing what secrets he may or may not know about Iran's nuclear program.

BROWN: And this isn't the first time that we have heard about an Iranian official, quote, "disappearing" and then turning up in the U.S. And you say it's part of a covert CIA program that was created specifically to try to disrupt Iran's nuclear ambitions. And I don't think a lot of people know about this. I mean, give us a little background how long this has been around?

ASLAN: So it was in 2005 under the Bush administration, the CIA put together a covert program called "Brain Drain." That was its code name. The purpose of the program was to target and persuade high levels of -- you know, officials who have a pretty good status, either within the Iranian military or the revolutionary guard or nuclear scientists, to persuade them to defect to the United States and to share what information they know.

Now, we don't how many people have actually defected. Some intelligence sources say it's been a handful. We do know that one in particular, a man by the name of Ali Reza Asgari, who was a former defense minister and actually was a general in the revolutionary guard, disappeared two years ago while on a trip to Turkey. Now, he hasn't showed up. No one has seen or heard anything from him since, but reports say that he is very likely in the United States sharing that information with U.S. intelligence.

BROWN: And there's more to it than just targeting the scientists or personnel, too? They're using a lot of different tactics, right?

ASLAN: You're right, Campbell. Actually, the "Brain Drain" program itself is part of a much larger intelligence operation to essentially flood the nuclear black market with faulty components. You see, because of international sanctions, Iran has to purchase all of its nuclear material on the black market. And so the United States, along with Israeli intelligence has been creating these front companies that have been selling Iranian scientists these faulty materials or material that in some cases has been booby-trapped to explode, and the Iranians have, from all that we know, from the reports that have been leaking out have had a very difficult time. They've had a lot of problems with their enrichment facilities because of this faulty material.

BROWN: So on a whole, Reza, and this is a tough question to answer, but how successful do you think U.S. officials think that this approach is, in terms of ultimately, at least stalling Iran's ambitions?

ASLAN: Well, it's hard to say. One thing that's kind of interesting is that two years ago when that former defense minister Asgari disappeared, that was around the time that apparently the U.S. learned about the secret nuclear facility in Qom that President Obama quite dramatically revealed a few months ago. At the same time, you know, the intelligence sources that I've heard from have all said that, look, the situation is such that the Iranian regime is so paranoid right now. They are convinced that every single, minor technological setback, every problem that they have with their nuclear components is now a result of sabotage. And what he was saying was that, that alone, the paranoia that the Iranian regime has, that's worth it. That's worth this program.

BROWN: It's really interesting stuff. Reza Aslan, thank you so much for coming on and talking to us about your piece. Reza, good to see you. Appreciate it.

Just ahead, we're going to talk about home invasions, torture, abductions, human trafficking. We spend 48 hours in the kidnapping capital of America. That is coming up next.


BROWN: Tonight, we look at a city under siege. Drug-related abductions have made Phoenix, Arizona, the kidnapping capital of America right now. An estimated five people taken each week behind the abductions. Mexican cartels using the city as a major hub for drug distribution and human trafficking. CNN's Casey Wian gives us a firsthand look at just how bad the problem is.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a scene that plays almost nightly in Phoenix. Police responding to a home invasion kidnapping.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our victim is (expletive deleted). He's in the house in his bedroom. Three Hispanic males come to the door, kick the door in. One of them is armed with a long gun. One has a shotgun. Neighbor says it was an AK-47. The other two guys around with handguns.

WIAN: They forced the victim out of the house at gunpoint and drive off. Detectives interview witnesses and conclude the kidnapping is related to a drug death. As members of Phoenix home invasion and kidnapping task force, investigate, a dazed man appears, seemingly out of nowhere.

It's Luis, the kidnapping victim.

(on camera): Officers in the anti-kidnapping unit see a lot, but tonight, some say they saw something they've never seen before. Four hours after he was kidnapped, the victim walked back home under his own power.

(voice-over): Paramedics check him. Luis has red marks, bruises and welts, evidence he was beaten during his relatively brief captivity. He tells us he's a deejay. He's been in the United States illegally for a decade. He denies owing money for drugs.

LUIS, KIDNAP VICTIM (through translator): I was very afraid I was going to get killed. And thank God I'm not.

WIAN: Luis is lucky. Some Phoenix kidnapping victims have been shocked with frayed electrical cords while submerged in water, beaten with fake, bloody severed hands and worse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had an individual that was being held against his will for almost seven days. He realized that, you know, he came to his end with the ransom demands with his family not being able to come up with the appropriate amount of money. So he heard some cutting and digging inside there and realized these individuals were really serious.

WIAN: He heard the alleged kidnappers discussed plans to bury him alive in this large hole in the home's foundation. The victim escaped out a window and contacted police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was linked to a drug net that the individual had outstanding. We were able to charge the individuals with kidnapping, armed robbery. We did charge them with conspiracy to commit murder. WIAN (on camera): What's your best guess as to the percentage of the kidnappings, home invasions, hostage taking that you deal with here in Phoenix that are related in some way to the drug cartels or to alien-smuggling organizations?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say pretty close to 100 percent.

WIAN (voice-over): At this Phoenix house, another victim's escape led authorities to a different type of criminal enterprise, an illegal immigrant smuggler's drop house.

JASON KIDD, IMMIGRATION & CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT: All 20 claimed to be illegal aliens, all from Mexico at this point. There's one female in here, and we have a couple juveniles also.

WIAN (on camera): Outside and inside, this house looks like a fairly typical suburban home, except for one room, a tiny 10 by 10 bedroom where agents say between 16 and 20 illegal immigrants were being held against their will. And on the wall next to the garage, there's a clue as to what was going on inside, an ornamental coyote. And coyote is the common term for illegal immigrant smuggler.

(voice-over): As agents try to identify the real coyotes, this man tells us he agreed to pay $1,800 to be smuggled into the United States from Mexico.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in a foreign language).

WIAN: But at the drop house, he says the price went up to $3,500.

KIDD: These folks will be taken to our detention center and processed, and then processed for removal from the country and may be returned voluntary back to Mexico within several hours this evening or tomorrow.

WIAN: The number of drop houses uncovered in the Phoenix area has decline recently in recent months. One reason, word is spreading about longer prison terms for immigrant smugglers. But federal agents have noticed a disturbing trend, more drop houses in other cities, particularly Tucson and Las Vegas.

So as Mexico's immigrant and drug-smuggling organization shift tactics to counter stepped-up law enforcement efforts in Phoenix, there's an increased likelihood scenes like these could play out in cities across the country.

Casey Wian, CNN, Phoenix, Arizona.


BROWN: And when we come back, justice Saudi style. A man convicted of sorcery sentenced to die in a matter of hours. We have his story coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BROWN: Some new developments tonight in the so-called climate- gate controversy. Global warming experts were accused of exaggerating or making up data after hackers leaked their private e-mails, and the uproar, as you may recall, overshadowed the United Nations global warming summit in Copenhagen last December. We've covered the story very extensively. And now, the first official report on the scandal is out.

Tom Foreman is here right now to give us some answers. Tom, what's the verdict, I guess?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Campbell, climate-gate unfolded last fall, as you mentioned, when thousands of private e- mails belonging to Phil Jones, a professor in England, mysteriously wound up on the Internet. Those notes contained phrases which many critics felt showed him hiding evidence against global warming. The notes made references to using a trick to hide the decline in one set of temperatures. But the parliamentary committee checking this out says, no, he did not manipulate or conceal data. They said, "We have found no reason in this unfortunate episode to challenge the scientific consensus that global warming is happening, and that it is induced by human activity," Campbell.

BROWN: Well, we all did see those e-mails, though, Tom.

FOREMAN: Yes, we did.

BROWN: And you said it, I mean, they referred to that word "trick." So how does the committee respond or explain that?

FOREMAN: The committee says that's just the informal language of scientists and did not mean what a lay person might think. It's kind of like a contractor saying, you know, I cheated on that wall. What he means is he had to make some kind of unusual adjustment, not that the wall is unsound. It's just the way they talk, Campbell.

BROWN: So did the committee then clear the professor of all wrongdoing here?

FOREMAN: No, no, they didn't do that. In fact, they hit this guy and his university pretty hard, saying they actually made this worse for themselves by not being more open and transparent about all of their data in the sensitive field of research. The simple truth is, Campbell, they acted like they were hiding something, and that's what got them in trouble.

BROWN: All right, Tom Foreman for us tonight. Tom, thanks very much for that update. Appreciate it.

Coming up, the fight to save a man who's been condemned to death and the charge is sorcery. Yes, sorcery. But first, we've got more must-see news happening right now. Mike Galanos is here with tonight's "Download."

Hey, Mike. MIKE GALANOS, HLN PRIME NEWS: Hey, Campbell. The man convicted of killing a Kansas doctor who performed abortions was sentenced today to life in prison. The judge says Scott Roeder will not be eligible for parole for 50 years. Quoting the bible, Roeder said the murder was justified because he was protecting the unborn. The doctor operated a clinic in Wichita where late-term abortions were performed.

Two Indiana police officers have been suspended with pay after using a stun gun on an unruly 10-year-old. The Martinsville, Indiana Police Department says the officers responded to a call from a daycare center. The department says the officers used the stun gun and slapped the child to subdue him. According to the police chief, the child cried after being shocked, but now is apparently OK.

Now this just in. Coldplay announcing in the Web site today the band is coming out with a perfume. The fragrance is called "Angst." The musicians say they just want to make people smell nice and oh, so sexy. And by the way, we're just kidding. Just one of the many April Fool's --

BROWN: Are you kidding me?

GALANOS: Yes, we are. April Fool's.

BROWN: Oh, my --

GALANOS: There's a ton of them out there on the web. We just picked that one.

BROWN: I bought it.

GALANOS: You bought it, you're in.

BROWN: Yes. I was like, really? God, they'll do anything for money. OK.

Mike Galanos -- thank you, Mike.

GALANOS: Yes, Campbell.

BROWN: "LARRY KING LIVE" starts in just a few minutes. Larry, what do you have for us tonight?

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Oh, Campbell, we're looking forward to tonight, because anything can happen. One of the funniest and most opinionated women on television is with us. We're kind of happy about it. Chelsea Handler is here. We'll talk about everything. Jesse, Tiger, sex, mistresses, drinking, botox, and a lot more. Chelsea Handler, no holds barred, next on "LARRY KING LIVE." Right up your alley, Campbell.

BROWN: Can't wait. Larry, we'll see you in a few minutes.

Just ahead, we've got more of Anderson Cooper's investigation into the Church of Scientology. Tonight, what happens when someone leaves the church? Some ex-scientologists say it's a policy of disconnection. The church says there's no such thing. Anderson next with a preview of that.


BROWN: All this week, "AC 360" has been reporting on allegations of physical abuse inside the Church of Scientology, allegations made by a number of former high-ranking scientologists against the church's leader, David Miscavige. Some of those making the allegations admit they, too, were involved in the violent acts. The church denies their leader has been involved in any physical violence and says some of the accusers are the attackers. Tonight, Anderson Cooper reports on what those accusers say happened to them when they left the church.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jeff Hawkins was a scientologist for 35 years. A marketing director for the church, he was member of the Sea Organization, a group that runs church operations worldwide. Though he says he had a lot of trying times in the church, Hawkins says leaving Scientology in 2005 was a very difficult decision.

JEFFREY HAWKINS, FORMER SCIENTOLOGIST: It is very hard to leave. And that's why people don't and why they tend to toe the line, because I was 58 years old when I left. I had no money, I had no job. I didn't know anybody outside of scientology. I had no friends.

COOPER (on camera): And you left your wife.

HAWKINS: And I had to leave my wife. In fact, we never even discussed it. She was presented with divorce papers, she signed them. I was presented with them, I signed them. And we haven't spoken since.

COOPER: That's extraordinary.


COOPER (voice-over): Hawkins says he was declared a suppressive person, a church term for an enemy of Scientology or its principles. He says the church has a policy called disconnection, which pressures church members to cut off all ties with anyone declared suppressive.

(on camera): He says that when he was declared a suppressive person that was the last time you were allowed communication.

CATHERINE FRASER, SCIENTOLOGY SEA ORGANIZATION MEMBER: That is a lie. That is an absolute, utter, total lie.

COOPER (voice-over): Catherine Fraser was Jeff Hawkins' wife. She continues to hold a senior role in the Sea Organization.

FRASER: He paid for the divorce. He knew exactly what was happening. This is astonishing. He is a liar to the core. That is so not what happened.

COOPER: Church spokesman Tommy Davis. TOMMY DAVIS, SCIENTOLOGY SPOKESMAN: Who a scientologist chooses to be in communication with or not is the choice of that individual scientologist, whether they're a member of the Sea Organization, whether they're a parishioner or otherwise. It is absolutely and completely their choice.


BROWN: And Anderson Cooper is joining me right now. So, Anderson, have more accusers come forward to say that the church has tried to cut off ties with their family?

COOPER: Absolutely. Just about everybody that we have talked to who's left the church and spoken out against the church has said that they have been declared a suppressive person and that their family has been pressured to cut off ties with them. The church says categorically that is not true and we have the debate tonight.

BROWN: All right. We'll be watching "AC 360" at 10:00 Eastern Time. Anderson, thanks so much.

"LARRY KING LIVE" starting in just a few minutes. But coming up next, a man accused of sorcery and black magic. Tonight, his life on the line, when we come back.


BROWN: A popular TV host in Lebanon whose viewers thought of him as a psychic is in a Saudi Arabian prison tonight facing execution just hours from now. And the charge is insulting God. The man is accused of practicing sorcery and casting spells. His family pleading for mercy. CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom has tonight's "Breakout" piece.


MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This little girl's father went to the birthplace of Islam in the hopes of cleansing his soul. He ended up in a desperate struggle to save his life.

Two years ago, Ali Hussain Sibat was arrested while on a religious pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. The charge, sorcery. He was put on trial, found guilty and sentenced to death. Why?

MAY EL KHANSA, SIBAT'S LAWYER: Because they believe that what Ali Sibat doing is something against the religion.

JAMJOOM: Sibat was hosting a popular TV call-in show in his native Lebanon. He gave advice to his viewers and occasionally predicted their futures. Some thought of him as a psychic, but the Saudi religious police considered him a heretic, someone who used black magic and cast spells, an infidel. And in Saudi Arabia, with practices of puritanical branch of Islam called Wahhabism (ph), any perceived insult to God is a crime punishable by execution.

After Sibat's death sentence, his case was taken up by an appeals court which found the initial verdict premature. The case went back to the original court for reconsideration. But a few weeks ago, the original court upheld its verdict. Sibat is once again sentenced to die.

At least one confession from Sibat aired on Saudi television. His lawyer recorded it and provided a copy of the tape to CNN. His family was shocked to see Sibat in prison, looking frail, his hands and feet shackled.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): For how many years have you been using magic?

ALI HUSSAIN SIBAT, SENTENCED TO DEATH (through translator): About eight years.

JAMJOOM: Sibat's lawyer thinks the confession could have been coerced. His wife finds the whole experience brutal and is asking Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah to pardon him.

SAMIRA RAHMOON, SIBAT'S WIFE (through translator): I hope they let him go. He hasn't done anything. I hope that they have mercy in their hearts. They've destroyed our family.

JAMJOOM: Rights groups are outraged. Amnesty International issued a statement calling on Lebanese government officials to intervene. And earlier today, members of a Lebanese youth group protested the sentence outside the Saudi embassy in Beirut.

But following reports that Sibat could be beheaded as earlier as tomorrow, Lebanon's government says it has no confirmation the execution has been set, but the country's justice minister tells CNN he asked the Saudis to release Sibat and called the punishment disproportionate. CNN has repeatedly reached out to Saudi officials but has not been able to obtain any comment. Sibat's lawyer says his family is devastated.

EL KHANSA: His wife is crying yesterday. She's completely -- cannot control for anything. His daughter also she's -- she cannot talk to anyone. She's just crying and she is not able to go to school.

JAMJOOM: For now, they'll have to continue to pray for clemency from a king and mercy from their God.


BROWN: And Mohammed Jamjoom is joining me now with the latest on the story. And, Mohammed, I know that you heard from Sibat's lawyer. What are they saying tonight?

JAMJOOM: Campbell, I spoke with Sibat's lawyer late tonight. She told me that she now has reason for some hope. She spoke with Lebanon's justice minister and she's been reassured that he will not be executed tomorrow.

Now that does not mean that he's been pardoned. It does not mean that he'll be released. We don't know yet what will happen. But she says that she is assured now that he will not be beheaded tomorrow, a beheading that would have taken place in a public square -- Campbell.

BROWN: All right. We'll obviously keep watching this. Many thanks to you.

We've got to go. That's it for us. Thanks for joining us. You can follow me anytime on Twitter.

"LARRY KING LIVE" is starting right now."