Return to Transcripts main page


Oil Gushing Freely from BP Well; U.S. Tax Dollars Rebuild Pakistan; At Risk, Yet College Bound; Abbie's Story

Aired July 10, 2010 - 19:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: This hour on CNN, a situation hard to fathom. Imagine being a mother and then severely disabled and then having your ex-husband keeping your children away from you because of your condition?

It is real. It is happening. And our Dr. Sanjay Gupta has the exclusive story.

You know, it's taking lots of money to rebuild Afghanistan -- rebuild Pakistan, I should say. Besides pain and human lives, guess who's footing the financial bill -- you are. Is it paying off? CNN's Nic Robertson investigates.

And it's too soon to tell if all the hype and anticipation over the LeBron decision will pay off for him or his new team. But the huge chunk of money he helped raise the other night is already helping a lot of deserving children. You'll meet some of them this hour.


LEMON: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon. Thanks for joining us.

We're going to start with this, of course, the Gulf. It is day 82 of the Gulf oil disaster. A week from now, if all goes well, we could be reporting that the gushing oil well will be capped. Hopefully, that is what we'll be doing.

But right now, oil is pouring out of the broken well at a rate of up to 60,000 barrels a day. BP today removed the containment cap that had been capturing some of the oil for the past few weeks now. A new cap will take its place in the next few days. It is designed to seal the top and finally stop this catastrophic blowout.

Now, even if they could stop the leak today, there's already millions of gallons of oil now fouling the Gulf.

A Navy blimp has been deployed to direct skimmer ships to oil slicks as they are spotted. And one of those skimmer ships is a massive converted cargo vessel called A Whale. But it won't be ready for service for at least a few more days as well. The government wants a few more days to test it for its effectiveness.

So, I want to bring in now CNN producer Vivian Kuo. She joins us. She has been tracking today's developments on all this.

Vivian, thank you for joining us.

So, this cap is supposed to be captured -- capture twice as much oil? So why it is taking so long for them to get this in place?

VIVIAN KUO, CNN PRODUCER: .That's right, Don. It's basically because these operations are so intricate.

Now, what you're going to see now is a steady ramping up of these collection operations. This new permanent replacement cap that will be in place, we think, four to seven days from now is essentially going to allow BP to recover that 60,000 to 80,000 barrels per day figure that we've been hearing all along.

LEMON: And that -- again, that's a big figure. Currently, the cap is stopping, what, 26,000 barrels a day. Helix is expected to double that amount, Vivian.

KUO: That's exactly right. So, what we just heard from the Senior Vice President Kent Wells right now is, yes, that the cap was removed. That they are in the process of unbolting what's called a flange. So they -- what they're doing is unbolting these -- it's a very technical process dealing with subsea robots under the water.

They're using something called a torque tool that uses hydraulic pressure -- again, very technical here. But it has six bolts that's currently connecting it to the blowout preventer.

Now, once this is done, they believe this could be -- as early as tomorrow, they can begin to put the new cap back on.

LEMON: Yes. And this is -- if they do that, then it will come faster than they thought they were going to have it come, at least a solution to this problem. And that is good news. The weather is paying off. So, this is a bit of good news and there's hope this is going to work.

KUO: That's exactly right. I mean, tomorrow is when the Helix Producer is supposed to be online, start producing oil. And that will take three full days for it to be at full capacity.

But what they believe is, once, it is at that number, it will be capturing actually more than was ever captured before.

LEMON: Yes. Great job on this, we're glad you're following this. And this is CNN producer, our producer, Vivian Kuo. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

You know, a lot more oil is going to escape into the Gulf of Mexico before this is all over. CNN's Ines Ferre joins us live from Waveland, Mississippi, on the Gulf Coast, of course.

And as officials were worried that oil would get into the marsh, they must be upset now that it's already gotten into the marsh.

INES FERRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. They're pretty upset. And they had warned about it before, several days before this happened. Now, just tell you, a couple days ago, there were high waters, high winds. And that water just literally overtopped this road that I'm on and it went into the marsh right here. And you can see where the line where the water reached on the grass. And the mayor of Waveland is saying that this is just -- this is something that they feared the most and this is why, because this area is just so important.

Take a listen.


MAYOR THOMAS LONGO, WAVELAND, MISSISSIPPI: Once it gets into the marshes and it's in this fragile ecosystem, it's on the grasses, the saw grass, marsh grass, duck wheat, it clings to it. These are the areas where our crabs and shrimp, you know, migrate to, lay their eggs and this is the beginning of this huge fishery that we have out here, our crabs and our shrimp and fish.


FERRE: And Mayor Longo saying that he had warned about this and that, you know, he just wish that's things would be more proactive instead of so reactive to all of this. Because, you know, they had warned about this happening and then after the fact is when they received booms and everything else in this area.

But one of the frustrations is, is that they'll put into these requests, but it has to go up through the whole chain of command and come back down and there are several agency that's have to approve of it. So, it really is a process for them to get things done before things -- before something like this happens, Don.

LEMON: Ines Ferre, thank you very much.

LEMON: You know, a deep sea dive in the oil disaster zone, we're going to take you.


PHILIPPE COUSTEAU, ENVIRONMENTALIST: What we should be seeing is beautiful, crystal clear water as we're swimming out here in the Gulf at this time of year. We should not be seeing this thick haze.


LEMON: A CNN team with environmentalist Philippe Cousteau, diving beneath the oily muck in the Gulf of Mexico. We'll show you what they found.

But, first, we introduce you to a woman severely disabled during childbirth. Her family says she desperately wants to see her three children but her ex-husband says no. Her struggle -- straight ahead.

And don't just sit there. We want you to be part of the conversation. We want you to be part of our show. Make sure you send us a message on Twitter or Facebook, and check out my blog,, and look for me now on Foursquare. Foursquare. You can check in with us. I want to hear from you.


LEMON: You know, if you haven't paid attention to the news in the past couple hours, maybe the last 24 hours, you probably missed this. You want to pay attention. Tonight, you'll see the oil catastrophe like you have never seen before from underneath the oily slick that have dominated our TV screens now. Only CNN is taking you there.

Our Amber Lyon took a deep sea dive with marine environmentalist Philippe Cousteau. They found going under the oil actually put them in the oil.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're about 40 miles away from the Deepwater Horizon spill and if you look in the water, you can see that it's cloudy right now. All these little pieces in front of us, it just looks almost like you shook a tree or some kind of little branch. There's just little particles here all across the water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what's so concerning about this, because the oil isn't going to the surface. It is distributing throughout the water. And it's spring time, this critical time of year when fish and other organisms are breeding and laying eggs into the water and it's floating through it's deadly toxic.

And so, what we're seeing here, even though it's not the big thick oil, this is still a big, big problem.


LEMON: There she is right now, Amber Lyon. She's joining us live from New Orleans.

Amber, you spoke with Doug Suttles, from BP, about the dispersants. And he says bacteria should eat up all the chemicals. Now that you've seen the oil, probably like most people have not seen it, what do you think of his take on these dispersants?

AMBER LYON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, let me tell what you I saw. Before entering the water, there was a foamy layer of dispersed oil that you had to go through that just felt really disgusting having it all around you. Thank goodness we were wearing that -- those hazmat suits.

In addition to that, when you descended down into the water column, there was about a 15-foot layer of tiny oil droplets that had been disperse for as far as the eye could see. And it's that layer that really terrifies a lot of environmentalists I've spoken to because they say that although Suttles says the bacteria is going to eat up all this oil, the more bacteria you have in the water chomping on oil, the more it's going to suck up the oxygen in the water and potentially harm other aquatic life, Don.

LEMON: OK. Hey, listen, now that you've had perspective, Amber, to think about what you did, what you accomplished yesterday, what do you make of this whole time? I mean, I'm sure it was sort of surreal at the time, especially when you were swimming with sharks.

LYON: Oh, yes. It was -- you know, Don, people make fun of me because they think I'm terrified. You know, you see a shark behind me, normally people scream. Instead, I was looking at it in amazement. I love to see sharks underwater. It makes me happy as a diver because it is rare --

LEMON: But not that close, Amber. Come on. I mean, that was -- you don't want them that close.


LYON: Hey, Don, you know, we were sitting in the middle of going live underwater. You know, my mask was flooding a little bit. And I'm holding on, trying to focus on what I'm saying. And then all of a sudden, we have sharks swimming about, I'd say two meters away from us behind our heads. But they were small.

I always say this about sharks: as long as I'm not -- their mouths aren't bigger than my body so I can't fit inside, they don't scare me.

But anyway, above all, like you said, it was surreal. There's one time Philippe and I were talking about it, it almost felt like we were in some kind of a dream world --


LYON: -- as we were swimming around underwater because it was such a blur with all these clouds of dispersed oil and everything else. And you just swim through it and it just felt very surreal and unrealistic -- unlike anything I've ever seen as a scuba diver who's done almost 200 dives under that water.

LEMON: Yes. But you know what? It's a new perspective and a new way to show people exactly what's happening. So nice job. And you know what? First Anderson, now you, swimming with sharks. Who's next?

Maybe they'll throw me into the line --


LYON: Anderson, you know, Don, he swam with great whites. Those were little -- I think they were black tip reef sharks possibly. They weren't quite as deadly. I give Anderson more credit than me.

LEMON: All right. You both do great jobs. Thank you very much. We'll see you soon, Amber.

You know, to get a better handle on BP and the latest fix attempt and the potential environmental impact, I want to bring in now Ed Overton. He is a professor emeritus at Louisiana State University, in the Department of Environmental Sciences.

Hi, Ed. Good to see you.

So, to get this new cap they had to take off the old cap, take that one off. So, that means a lot more oil is flowing through the Gulf. I would imagine it's a risk worth taking, right?

ED OVERTON, LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR EMERITUS: Well, we certainly hope so. It's clearly a risk. You're practically doubling the amount of oil that's going into the Gulf over these couple of days or several days before they can get the new cap in place and shut it back down.

So, there's a lot more oil. They've got a lot more skimmers on the surface. So, they're anticipating being able to capture that oil as it gets up to the surface. But there are, of course, risks.

I think the risks are worth it, though. We somehow got to stop the oil going into the Gulf.

The segment you just showed is a perfect example of what's going on up near the surface with all of this oil. And it's just not good. The oil has to be stopped. And this, is I believe, a risk worth taking.

LEMON: Well, here's what I want to ask you. I know that you're not a oil rig or an drilling expert, but what do you think of the chances of this? Everything's been more difficult than what has been thought here. So, what do you think the chances are?

OVERTON: Well, I think that's the lesson we've learned, that almost every step has been more difficult. And there have been unforeseens. And I think that's -- that's really the difficulty here. What about those things that we just don't anticipate? Remember there was the ice crystals that build up. That was an unanticipated consequence.

And so, there's bound to be a few more of those unanticipated gotchas (ph) out there. But I'm hoping -- I know that they've done a lot of preparation. They've done a lot of practice. I'm hoping this will go fairly smoothly.

But there's an awful lot -- this is an extremely complex maneuver. They've got to take off one flange and put a new flange on and then lower a cap. And you got to do this all with remotely operated vehicles from a mile away. Very, very complex procedure.

LEMON: Hey, Ed from LSU -- good to see you. I'm going to tell LSU -- go Tigers. And let's hope they get this whole thing shut down.

Thank you, sir. We appreciate it.

OVERTON: Thank you.

LEMON: All right. You know, he's one of the most talked about candidates for office for really all the wrong reasons. Today's South Carolina Senate candidate, Alvin Greene, is making news again. And he's closely linked to two of the 9/11 attackers and one of the most wanted terrorists. How to find him? Maybe you should try Facebook? That's next.


LEMON: Time now to check some of your top stories.

Six U.S. service members were killed in Afghanistan today. One died in an accidental explosion. One was killed by small arms fire. Two died in bombings in eastern Afghanistan and two others were killed by bombings in the south.

This summer has been a bloody one for coalition forces. June was the deadliest month of the war for all NATO and American soldiers.

A former police officer convicted of killing an unarmed man in Oakland has apologized to the public. A light sentence expected for Johannes Mehserle set off riots on Thursday. In a letter dated July 4th, Mehserle says he'll live forever with the memory of Oscar Grant screaming after he was shot.

The jury found him guilty of involuntary manslaughter, which carries a usual maximum sentence of four years. Sentencing is set for August 6th.

South Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Alvin Greene has cleared a potential legal hurdle. Investigators have wrapped up their investigation into how Greene could afford the $10,000 entry fee for the Democratic primary when he had previously told a court he couldn't afford a lawyer. Well, the state has decided not to file charges. Greene, who stunned the political world with his primary victory, still faces criminal charges that he showed pornographic images to a college student last year.

You know, it is a new example mix of extremism and the Internet. You may have heard of Anwar al-Awlaki. He's the fugitive American-born radical cleric linked to several recent plots against U.S. targets. He's believed to be in Yemen. But he's been able to influence others online, even attracting fans on Facebook.

Susan Candiotti, our national correspondent, joins me now.

Susan, tell us about his Facebook page.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Don. You know, it's rather surprising in so many ways. We don't know how long this Facebook page has been up or exactly who started it. But we do know this: it features a smiling face of Anwar al-Awlaki. We can tell you that, as you indicated, he is a homegrown terrorist now living overseas, who's described as a protege of Osama bin Laden.

And the Facebook page has 596 fans. Some of the comments on it include, "America is the true evil."

It also has links to some YouTube videos and you can add some comments to it. It also features some links to some of his lectures as well.

And if you become a fan, the page will also -- send you to other Facebook friends. So, this can actually add on, add on, add on in so many ways.

And al-Awlaki, as you indicated, has also been known to call for jihad and has been known to inspire, for example, the alleged Fort Hood shooter, the Time Square bomber, and some others as well.

Now, we showed this page to contributing editor and Brookings Institution fellow Noah Shachtman. He is also a national security specialist. He said he was surprised to see this. But he said that Facebook does have certain methods to try to track down these things, certain ways to red flag these. But this one obviously got through.


NOAH SHACHTMAN, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, WIRED.COM: There's a tough line between freedom of speech and letting some really shady characters spread propaganda over, you know -- with an American company and over American networks. And so, it's a tough call. You don't want to censor people just because you don't like what they say. On the other hand, you don't want to, you know, help out a group that's actively trying to kill Americans.


CANDIOTTI: Now, we called Facebook about this. And within a couple hours, they actually taken it down and then they issued this statement to us, Don. Here's what they said, quote, "We have removed this page as we don't permit terrorists or terrorist organizations to maintain fan pages. We will remove such pages when we are made aware of them."

So, that's pretty fast work, Don. We did make them aware of it. We were just asking about it. They took it down right away.

LEMON: All right. Nice work. Thank you, Susan Candiotti. We appreciate it.


DR. SANJA GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Can you look at me? Look over here, Abbie. Can you blink yes for me? Blink yes.


LEMON: A mother of triplets, questions about whether she is able to communicate by blinking her eyes following her horrible complications during delivery. That isn't all of her problems. Now, she's divorced and she hasn't seen her children in years. Abbie's story is straight ahead.


LEMON: Critics say you can't defeat insurgents in Pakistan with bombs and bullets. They say you need to build schools, roads, and hospital if you want to win. More and more that effort is being bankrolled by our tax dollars.

And as senior international correspondent Nic Robertson reports, it's paying dividends on the front lines.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Work crews at work where just last year the Pakistani Taliban planted IEDs. They're building 100 kilometers, 60 miles of new highway through Pakistan's tribal badlands towards Afghanistan.

(on camera): This is U.S. tax dollars at work. The United States is paying for this road-building. It is a quick impact project, $25 million dollars from the USAID for this road and another one like it.

(voice-over): There's no fanfare, no U.S. flags, just American money being spent quietly. Pakistan's army is using the funds in an effort to win over South Waziristan's tribes following its offensive against the Taliban last year.

MAJOR FARRUKH MAJID, PAKISTAN ARMY: We have made them understood that this is for their benefit, that we are constructing and we are coming up over here for their benefit.

ROBERTSON (on camera): When the main army operation began against the Taliban last October, as many as 120,000 people from this area, close to a quarter of the population, fled their homes. Now, the pressure is on to get the reconstruction going and get them back home.

(voice-over): A girl's college where none has been built before, from the same fund used to build the road. Both quick start projects, accepted by the tribes here.

This tribal leader explains, "We'll accept help from whoever offers it. The United States, too. So long as it's done through a trusted partner and doesn't change our culture."

Pakistan has lost 2,000 troops fighting the Taliban in these border regions in the past year, often because the tribesmen sided with the militants. Now, commanders say the U.S.-funded counter-terrorism strategy is working and the tribes here are switching sides.

(on camera): Commanders here tell us they defeated the Taliban in this area. But everywhere we go, we've got a big military escort and there are soldiers standing guard at the side of the road. It gives the impression that the area is still not 100 percent secure yet.

(voice-over): An impression local residents share.

ABDUL KHALIQ, WANA RESIDENT: There is a constant threat for the public and people who are supporting the government.

ROBERTSON: Just last month, there was a drone attack on a house barely a few miles from here. Several foreign militants were reportedly killed. But, the Pakistani army is gaining ground. The changes it's making, the colleges for women, paved roads where there have never been before are changing life in communities like these for good.

By stealth, U.S. tax dollars are helping to turn the tide in the remote mountains of a far off land.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Wana, Pakistan.


LEMON: At the top of the hour, Nic Robertson takes us on another incredible journey. How could a former altar boy from New York turn into a hardened terrorist? We'll tell you in this "AC 360" special investigation. It is called "American Al Qaeda." It's tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN, following this broadcast.

Speaking of Pakistan, it's part of our top stories. The death toll from Friday's blast near Pakistan's border with Afghanistan has risen to at least 102. The Taliban is claiming responsibility for the attack. 120 more were injured in the explosion. Pakistan's military has been battling insurgents in the area for some time.

Mourners attended a private service today for the two young Hungarian tourists killed in Wednesday's duck boat accident on the Delaware River in Philadelphia. Federal investigators are still trying to learn how a barge could smash into a disabled amphibious boat. The two victims were members of a 15-person youth exchange group. The Hungarian foreign ministry is helping the group with their plans to return home.

The World Cup is coming to a close and Germany has won the consolation prize. Germans defeated Uruguay 3-2 today in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. While third place is better than nothing. It's still a disappointment for a team that has won the World Cup three times. Spain and the Netherlands play in the championship game tomorrow.

You know, we're going to introduce you to a woman severely disabled during childbirth. Her family says she desperately wants to see her three children but her ex-husband says no. Her struggle, her story straight ahead.


LEMON: Everybody has been talking about this. And you're probably tired of hearing it. We're going to tell you the story in a new way in a moment. But first, let's get some of the business out of the way. The NBA's Miami Heat have assembled what amounts to a dream team, right, signing high profile free agents Chris Bosh and you may have heard of that guy and the other guy they signed, Lebron James. They're going to join the star there, the star player, Dwyane Wade. South Florida, of course, is ecstatic about this.

A lot of people in the country are happy about it as well. But there's been a bit of a backlash building, some Lebron hating going on. Take a look at this welcome ceremony for the big three. LEMON (voice-over): Fire, smoke, explosions. It looks more like, you know, maybe a WWE instead of the NBA, doesn't it? I think it's kind of cool. It builds anticipation. Everybody is going to be waiting and tuned in. Critics are calling the Heat's basketball's version of the New York Yankees, the overpaid, overloaded roster of stars and fans love to hate.

And the town Lebron left. Well, of course, they are furious. What's going on? Why all the hate everyone? They're burning his old jerseys. In Cleveland, calling them Lebron fires. And his old boss, the Cleveland Cavaliers owner had strong words about James' primetime announcement that he was leaving town. Here's what he said, it's a quote, probably can use a copy editor on this. I'm sure he didn't know. "This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self- promotional buildup culminating with a national TV special of his decision unlike anything ever witnessed in the history of sports and probably the history entertainment. You," meaning the fans, "simply don't deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal." Ouch.

OK. Now to the good part of this story. And some people that Lebron probably helped out a lot. It's a charity that you've been hearing a lot about the past few years. The Boys and Girls Club of America. As you know, all the advertising money made from the hour-long special announcing that Lebron James is going to the Miami Heat, it netted more than $2.5 million for that charity. Imagine that.

That's a lot of money. That's, of course, according to ESPN. So you know what the Boys and Girls Club received? You know how much money they received? Tonight you're going to see what the club gives young men and women, you see right here. They are the products of their local Boys and Girls Club. You know you hear about the feats of young people like Lebron James or like Justin Bieber.

But truly the real stars of this generation are sitting right here with me and those people that you see there. Every day these kids overcome financial and personal struggles that can be too much for any adult, really, much less a teenager to handle. And now they're heading to college. All the more reason to celebrate. Two of those stars, as I said, they join me now. Devontre Echols is headed to Tennessee (ph) State University in Georgia. Congratulations you to. Big smile. Come on. You don't have to be nervous.


LEMON: You guys are here. You're on national television. You made it. You're going to make us even prouder. And there is Toyia Gray. Toyin, good to see you. She's going to be a freshman at Howard University in Washington, D.C. that is absolutely great.

Again, congratulations to both of you. So, Toyia, you're also part of one of the Gates Millennium Scholarship winners, right?


LEMON: And you got a free ride. That is fantastic. You're able to do this despite your mom - tell us about your mom and how you're able to do this.

GRAY: My mom about, two years ago, about 2 1/2 years ago, she was diagnosed with the most - it's not a very common form of MS, but -

LEMON: It is a severe form of multiple sclerosis.

GRAY: Right, multiple sclerosis. And this that she has a blood clot in her leg. It's gone away now and several other deficiencies. She's anemic.

LEMON: She's a single mom.

GRAY: Right.

LEMON: So without the boys and girls club, do you think you'd get to this point?

GRAY: Not at all. I don't think I would have made it without the Boys and Girls Club. They've been a vital part of my success. I extend a special thank you to all of them, for all that they have done for me throughout this time.

LEMON: Devontre, let me ask you this because you've seen, and I said there were some Lebron, a lot of Lebron hating going on. I mean, it was his decision to make. But what do you make of what Lebron did raising all that money for the Boys and Girls club? Did you even think about it?

ECHOLS: Well, I thought about it some. But I think sometimes when stars take the time to give back to the community, it makes them feel a better leader because it gives other people something to actually look forward to. Because when you only play sports, you want to do something every body says oh, you know, the chances (INAUDIBLE) are so slight. But when you take the time to do something and you give back to the community, I feel that makes you look even more impressive. Even they're bringing this stuff and I mean, even though that happens, I still think what he is doing is remarkable. I'm still with it.

LEMON: Yes. And listen, your moms, both your moms are there. Can we get them on camera. They are so proud, mom. Moms and family. You guys proud?


LEMON: Yes. Yes. So listen. Devontre, and your mom who is it sitting there, your mom is in the real estate business. We know it's not going well now. So what do you think without the Boys and Girls Club and she's also a single mom, right?


LEMON: Do you think you'd be here?

ECHOLS: I really don't think I would be here. Because all the time that she has put into the boys and girls club actually reflected on everything. Like Mr. Johnson, he was a very good mentor to me. And when I was growing up, I mean, I was always a good kid. But all the opportunities that I got through the Boys and Girls Club never would have happened, that I can guarantee.

Because now I'm now a leader of the Boys and Girls Club. I've been involved in too many community service. And I just enjoy what I do, working with kids. And I just love it.

LEMON: You do taekwondo and all that, right? Tell us the story about you being too tired you want to do your home work, you want to do all these stuff. Tell us that story.

ECHOLS: Oh, my goodness. I was always doing something. It was never a boring moment and I was also a level one certified instructor at ATA. I'm a third degree black belt. I've been doing martial arts since I was age two. So weapons, forums, sparring, tournaments, medals, everything.

LEMON: What do you want to be?

ECHOLS: I want to be a lot of things.

LEMON: All right. Go ahead.

ECHOLS: But the first thing - the main thing I really want to be will probably be an author. Because I always want - everybody has a story to tell. And I feel that if can you make people feel emotional through a story, then all of a sudden you're bringing out a lot of emotions.

LEMON: I'm going to let you talk. I cut you off. So you were involved in everything. Was there a time that came that it was too much for you to do and you had to focus a little bit more?

ECHOLS: There was a time when - actually my senior year, my junior year, taking the S.A.T., A.C.T., but other than that, I just learned to balance it.

LEMON: We're very proud of you. And you, you're an inspiration as well. Not only you have as we talked about you doing other things as well. And there were other organizations that helped you. So what do you this means to kids in your position? Because they may not understand what's going on. Some people are watching this, middle class families, mom and dad at home and they don't understand the struggles.

GRAY: Right. It was quite funny actually while we were at the college camp at a Taco Bell yesterday, a couple kids kept saying, these cameras are following you. You're so famous. I'm like, no. I'm really not. And it was kind of a shock to me. I don't know how to act. Should I look at the camera? Don't look at the camera. But it was a learning experience.

I think it made them feel a lot closer to success. Because when you see someone that is your age from your community doing something big, then you realize, hey, this isn't so far away. I can do the same thing. LEMON: Tell us about college camp.

College camp, its was an excellent experience. I think it was a form of exposure for kids from underprivileged neighborhoods. They were able to go to UGA and to spend two days there. And they had to go through just about everything that a college freshman will have to go through. They had to register. They had to get assigned different rooms and all these different things. They were extremely excited.

LEMON: So listen, that is video of it. You're sitting there, they're wondering, guys, what's on their shirts? These are the Taco Bell shirts and the Boys and Girls Club of America. So I am going to say thank you to you guys over here.

GRAY: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you. You guys are amazing. I'm going to walk over to the moms and give them a big hug. Keep making us proud. I'm sure you're thankful for what Lebron did, right?

GRAY: Right.

LEMON: So, we're going to go to break. Moms and family, thank you so much. You're raising some very great kids. I wish you guys all the blessings. God bless you.


LEMON: Nice to meet you.

LEMON: All right. Listen, we're going to talk much, much more on CNN. We have a lot coming up. I don't know what's on the prompter. But this is a great segment. We'll be back in a moment here on CNN. Thank you, guys.


LEMON: Welcome back, everyone.

A severely disabled woman in South Carolina is being blocked from seeing her children by her ex-husband. He and the woman's parents disagree on whether she would be able to communicate with the four- year-old triplets who she hasn't seen for three years now.

Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta was given the exclusive opportunity to meet that mom. Her name is Abbie Dorn. And this is her story.



(voice-over): This is Abby Dorn. She's been like this for four years. Watch her eyes. Can you look at me? Look over here, Abbie. Can you blink yes for me? Blink yes. Abbie's parents, here with me, say she can communicate yes and no by blinking. Her ex-husband disagrees and says her blinking is simply spontaneous. It is not communicating.

(on camera): Does this hurt at all, Abbie?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. That was a yes.

GUPTA: You think she's communicating right now?


GUPTA (voice-over): Abbie's parents and her ex-husband say it matters whether her blinking is really communication. But you know the story you're about to hear is really more about three children and their mother. And whether they'll ever see each other again.

This is how it began. Eight years ago Abbie was 26, vibrant, happy. She was marrying Daniel. Their lives filled with nothing but joy and big dreams. They wanted to start a family. The children didn't come easily. It would take months of fertility treatments for Abbie to get pregnant. Abbie and Daniel got the news. They were having triplets. Abbie's mom, Susan.

SUSAN COHEN, ABBIE'S MOTHER: We felt it was the beginning of a very good, stable, happy life.

GUPTA: There were no signs during her pregnancy that things would go terribly wrong. Abbie's father.

DR. PAUL COHEN, ABBIE'S FATHER: Well, we didn't know anything about this until three hours after it happened.

GUPTA: During delivery, Abbie lost nearly two liters of blood, underwent an emergency hysterectomy and her most vital organ, her brain was starved for oxygen for almost 20 minutes. Abbie survived, of course, though her brain was severely damaged. The triplets, Ruby, Esty and Yosie (ph), they were fine.

Today, they're four years old. We're not showing you the faces because they are minors. Abbie has not seen them since they were one. Her parents say she wants to, that she tells them that with her blinking.

Robert McCarthy is a therapist working with Abbie.

(on camera): There have been some articles and some papers from her former husband's attorneys that have said that she was in a persistent vegetative state. Do you agree with that?


GUPTA: Absolutely not?

MCCARTHY: No, I think that Abbie's clinical condition is more indicative of a brain injured individual. GUPTA (voice-over): But her ex-husband, who would not talk to us, disagrees. He says Abbie could not possibly be communicating and is preventing their three children from visiting her. Vicki Greene is his attorney.

VICKIE GREENE, DAN DORN'S ATTORNEY: As far as we know, medically speaking, she is in a vegetative state. And to have the children see her at such a young age where they can't fully understand the tragedy in what happened to their mother, he's concerned about how they're going to react. She's not capable of any interaction with the children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pay attention now.

GUPTA: Abbie's parents and their attorney, Lisa Meyer, insists she can interact with them.

LISA HELFEND-MEYER, ABBIE'S ATTORNEY: She has consistently stated that she wants visitation with her children. She does have cognitive functioning as evidenced by the tests that she took that she passed with 80 percent accuracy.

GUPTA: McCarthy showed me.

MCCARTHY: One would expect that Abbie's responses to a series of statements would be 50 percent accurate and 50 percent inaccurate merely based on chance. She was able to demonstrate an 88 percent level of accuracy.

GUPTA: It's Friday afternoon. A music therapist is working with Abbie. Later, it's acupuncture and acutonics therapy. Her parents are providing Abbie every available therapy, but is it working? To be fair, I'm a neurosurgeon, and even I'm not sure.

I'll ask her about Ruby, one of her triplets. Abbie, is this Ruby? That looked like a yes. But as I spent time examining Abbie, I wondered if debating whether she can express what she wants is even the right question to ask. Her parents' attorney.

MEYER: I think that Abbie's medical condition is a red herring in this case. Children have a right to know their parents. It doesn't matter what their medical condition is.

GUPTA: Vickie Greene who represents the father says he doesn't want to prevent the kids from seeing their mother but it's about timing.

GREENE: He's concerned about how they're going to react and how it's going to affect their development. Dan believes the children will know about their mother when it's age appropriate.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.


LEMON: You know, the father of the Dorn triplets seems to have good intentions. They appear to make sense at least to him. If the triplets saw Abbie Dorn unable to speak, unable to hug them, unable to smile, what benefits would the children receive? Seeing her, that's reason to wonder.

Let's talk to Wendy Walsh. She is a psychologist and a regular contributor to the blog "Mom Logic," and she's also becoming a regular here on our program. Wendy, thank you. You know -


LEMON: I just have to tell you watching that and hearing it, it just seems cruel.

WALSH: It's heartbreaking. And, you know, the question is, who cares if she can communicate or not? There's a living, breathing mother there.

LEMON: Thank you.

WALSH: Who deserves to see her children. And the children, you know, Don, kids - everything is new and normal in the world of small children. I don't think that they'll be overly traumatized. Would people prefer that they're given a cold teddy bear to comfort them?

LEMON: Here's the thing, you know, nurturing and love and all of that intimacy with your family, doesn't that trump all?

WALSH: Absolutely. And, you know, the biggest question this raises for me, Don, is what's going on in our culture that we institutionalize people with disabilities to the point that now we think it's just so wrong to even look at them or be exposed to them? What does it say that we're sweeping away the ugliness and not allowing families to have an integrated experience with people with disabilities? I think it's making us lose our compassion for people with disabilities.

LEMON: And why the shelter? Why sheltering people in that way because it's the reality? After all, the mom became disabled in childbirth. In childbirth.

WALSH: In childbirth. It's shocking. You know, this reminds me of there's a wonderful charity that I support called the Iraq Star Foundation and what they do is they get plastic surgeons and anesthesiologists and other kinds of doctors to contribute and do free cosmetic surgeries because the troops are so discriminated against when they come back disfigured. Like what is that saying about our culture, they risked their lives for us and they're not pretty so we don't want them to be around.


LEMON: Maybe his intentions are good but again as a psychologist you don't see anything wrong with the children seeing her? No? Not at all?

WALSH: Absolutely not. Don, I happened to have been raised by a mother who had lupus erythematosis. We call it lupus today. And she spent a big chunk of her life on the sofa unable to get up and play with us or make dinner. But did I feel ripped off? No way. I mean, I was snuggling on the sofa with her, we were reading books. The only time I felt ripped off was when she was in hospital, right?

LEMON: I remember my grandmother had Alzheimer's and I would sit there and hold her hand and talk to her, the people in the family, and you know, we enjoyed those moments. The kids who were just here from the Boys and Girls Club, one of the moms has a severe form of multiple sclerosis. There were people helping her in and out of the studio and she looked at me and nodded and talked. I could tell that she felt it or whatever but those kids are happy with their mom. You know, I'm going off about this, I'm sorry. This story really upsets me.

WALSH: Me, too. That's a family. A family is a family and a warm, loving, breathing mother. I think they'll be more angry, those children, when they are older and find out they've been denied this opportunity.

LEMON: And to be fair we haven't heard from the dad. Again, the dad didn't want to talk to us. Thank you, Dr. Wendy. We appreciate it. you know, we're going off on the dad. Hopefully he has some good intentions here and it will all work out. We're hoping for the best here. Our thanks to Dr. Wendy Walsh.

You know, it was a simple gesture that has made a homeless man a hero. That story is coming up next.


LEMON: All right. Some news you may find interesting. We call it news you missed. An update to a story that has been generating a huge amount of interest all over the country.

It was simple unselfish gesture in the middle of the night during a rainstorm. An anonymous man found an American flag that had been blown to the ground in El Paso, Texas. So he picked it up and carefully folded it military style. Now if it weren't for a surveillance video, no one would know about it. A lot of grateful Americans now want to return the favor to Augustus Bozar for his unselfish act of patriotism. Anyone wanting to give him money can contact the Wells Fargo Bank in El Paso. They have set up a special account for him.

All right. Check this one out, right. This is like winning the lottery. The British Museum is considerably richer today because of this man. Dave Crisp (ph) is an amateur treasure hunter armed with a metal detector while searching a field in southwest England, he stumbled upon more than 50,000 ancient Roman coins buried in a clay pot. The silver and bronze coins date to the third century and some bear the likeness of a little known Roman general who ruled Britain.

It's one of the largest such finds ever made in Britain. The coins are valued at about $1 million. I wonder what happened to him. It said the British Museum is a lot richer. What about Dave Crisp? He should be a whole lot richer. He made the find. We'll check on him, see if he got anything out of it. We'll see you back here at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. I'm Don Lemon at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. "American Al-Qaeda" with Nic Robertson starts right now.