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Terrorist Could Be Amassing in Western Hemisphere

Aired November 7, 2002 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: It's Thursday, November 7, 2002. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.
Today, two turning points in the sniper case. The justice department makes a major decision on where the sniper suspects will face trial. Virginia for juvenile John Malvo. That means a possible death sentence. For 41-year-old John Muhammad, he all faces the same possible penalty.

And another major development. Atlanta police are linking the suspects to yet another killing outside a liquor store in September.

We have two reports. One from our justice correspondent Kelli Arena. But first to Atlanta and our national correspondent Gary Tuchman -- Gary.


Eleven days before the sniper shootings began in Washington, D.C., a man was shot and killed outside this liquor store in Atlanta. It was the early morning hours of September 21, 12:10 a.m. to be precise. The man was shot twice.

Police have recovered the bullets and say they have connected those bullets to a pistol found at the scene of Montgomery, Alabama seven hours later, where another person was killed, a woman, and another woman wounded. They believe the Alabama shootings are the responsibility of John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo. They also believe those two men are responsible for a killing two days later in Baton Rouge. Either way, they are saying the three shootings in the South are all connected, they believe, to the 14 shootings in Washington that left 10 people dead and three wounded.

The victim here in Atlanta, a 42-year-old man named Milion Voldmarion (ph). He is from Ethiopia. Moved to Canada in 1977. Came to the United States in 1996. He was visiting a friend inside this liquor store, saw a suspicious car outside, went outside, was shot twice. We are told from a friend of the victim that his wallet and his cell phone was taken.

Now, a short time ago, we talked with a customer of this store who came up to us and said she is sure she saw Muhammad and Malvo outside this liquor store 25 minutes before the shooting. She said she was scared so she did not tell police about it, but felt guilty and decided to talk about it today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It looked just like him in the picture.

TUCHMAN: The sniper?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes! Cause I said, I know him said I know him from somewhere. And I told everybody at work when I got back from my leaving party -- I'm from Jacksonville. I said, I seen that picture. I know I seen that picture.


TUCHMAN: The woman did not want to say her name, but she did talk to police after she talked with us.

Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: Gary Tuchman on the scene for us in Atlanta, thanks very much.

Now the decision to try the suspects first in Virginia. CNN justice correspondent Kelli Arena is covering that part of the story.


KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Alleged snipers John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo are now in state custody in Virginia. The state is second only to Texas in death penalty executions and also allows the execution of minors.

JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: We believe that the first prosecutions should occur in those jurisdictions that provide the best law, the best facts and the best range of available penalties.

ARENA: The 17-year-old Malvo will be tried first in Fairfax County. Linda Franklin, an FBI analyst, was shot and killed outside a Home Depot there.

The case will be prosecuted by Robert Horan. He's been on the job nearly 36 years and won the death penalty for the Mihr Amil Kanzi (Ph), the Pakistani who killed three people outside the CIA in 1993.

ROBERT HORAN, VA. COMMONWEALTH'S ATTY: I'm not at liberty to discuss the evidence with anybody. That's for the court room and that's where we'll put it on.

ARENA: The other suspect, John Allen Muhammad, will be tried first in Prince William County. Dean Harold Meyers was shot and killed at a Sunoco gas station there.

Paul Ebert is the prosecutor in Prince William, which has handled more death penalty cases than any other county in Virginia.

PAUL EBERT, VA. COMMONWEALTH's ATTY: The death penalty is reserved for the worst of the worst. And I think from the evidence that all of you are aware of in-- over the last month or so, these folks qualify. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ARENA: Neither prosecutor would say why their county was chosen, but they did say that they hope they can try the suspects before the end of the year 2003 and are prepared to spend many months on legal procedures and pretrial motions.

Now, in the case of Malvo, Horan estimated that it would take a couple months simply to have the necessary hearings and grand jury actions that would allow Malvo to stand trial as an adult.

Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Kelli Arena, our justice correspondent.

Joining me now here in the Washington studio for some insight into these late breaking legal developments is the Court TV legal analyst Roger Cossack.

Roger, thanks once again, for coming on board.

It was simply a matter that this was the best place, Virginia, namely, as opposed to Virginia -- as opposed to Maryland or any place else, where they might be able to execute both of these suspects?

ROGER COSSACK, COURT TV LEGAL ANALYST: I think so. Virginia, for those of us who live in this area, is known as the opposite of Maryland. Not that Maryland is so tough. They just don't have the death penalty. And there is a -- there's been a moratorium on the death penalty.

And Virginia is just the opposite. Virginia is one of those places where they have the death penalty, they imposed the death penalty and they use the death penalty.

BLITZER: Including on juveniles.

COSSACK: Including on juveniles.

So the legal issue that would have perhaps reared its head more favorably for the defense in Maryland is not going to be as much of an issue, if at all, in Virginia.

And I think, to be quite candid with you, that's exactly what John Ashcroft was talking about -- Attorney General John Ashcroft -- when he said the facts and the law -- what the law is, the law is pretty much the same on intentional murder. What the -- he's talking about what the punishment is.

And the punishment in Virginia is usually -- they have no problem giving the death penalty and carrying it out.

BLITZER: And the fact that six people were murdered in Montgomery County, Maryland, that -- the argument that that prosecutor, Montgomery County, made his -- he effectively said, We lost the most here, this is where the task force operated. This is where it started. Why can't we prosecute?

COSSACK: You know, I think, Wolf, that you hit a very important point here and I want to bring it out to our viewers. You know, I don't even think Doug Gansler, who's the county prosecutor for Montgomery County and for Maryland, was even at this meeting. And to show you in terms of how far out they were, these were the Virginia prosecutors.

BLITZER: The Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan was there. The police chief was there -- Chief Moose. But you're right, the prosecutor was not there.

COSSACK: Was not there. And I think -- let me tell you what the real problem here is and what they're facing. These men are accused of a killing spree that we just can't even imagine in states all over this country. If you, in fact, start trying them from county to county and state to state, you can see where eventually no penalty is going to be imposed because of the fact that it's going to go on forever, there will be trial after trial and appeal after appeal.

But then what do you say to the people of Maryland who are -- six people died. And relatives come up and say, But wait a minute. I want a jury to pass on my relative, on my loved one. I want a jury to sentence this man to either life imprisonment or death for their death of my loved one. And with what's happening in Virginia, this could preclude that kind of action. And that's the human story that's really tough here.

BLITZER: They won't be able to testify, those people in Maryland, but at the same time, if these people are sentenced to death, presumably they might get some satisfaction that way.

COSSACK: And that will be their satisfaction. What they may lose is the ability of hearing a jury come in and say, I find you guilty for the murder of my loved one and having some satisfaction out of hearing that.

BLITZER: Roger Cossack, as usual, thanks very much.

COSSACK: My pleasure.

BLITZER: Roger Cossack of Court TV.

Now to the president of the United States coming off a huge victory in the midterm elections. A confident President Bush took aim at again Saddam Hussein and minced no words on what he wants Congress to do now, not later.

CNN's senior White House correspondent John King was at the president's news conference. He's joining us now live -- John.

JOHN KING, SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a very interesting juxtaposition, if you will, of the president's demeanor and his mood. He walked in today taking questions about the election. Mr. Bush was quite humble. He said the credit goes not to him, and not to the Bush White House, but to the Republican candidates who scored those historic gains on Tuesday.

But when the subject turned to Iraq, Mr. Bush turned much more forceful, much more sternful, delivering a very stern message to Saddam Hussein.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The debate about whether we're going to deal with Saddam Hussein is over.

KING (voice-over): Confident he finally has a deal at the United Nations Security Council, Mr. Bush made clear what will happen if Iraq interferes with new weapons inspections.

BUSH: The United States, with friends, will move swiftly with force to do the job. You don't have to worry about that.

KING: It was the president's first public appearance since the historic Republican gains in the midterm elections and he stuck to the no gloating edict he has given his staff.

BUSH: Some people have given me credit. The credit belongs to the people in the field.

KING: But Mr. Bush made clear he expects quick action on his priorities: creating a new department of homeland security and terrorism insurance for stalled construction products are the president's goals for next week's lame duck session of Congress.

Next year Bush wish list is far more ambitious, making his 10- year tax cut permanent, quick action on judicial nominees and a prescription drug benefit for elderly Americans.

BUSH: If there is a mandate in any election, at least in this one, it's the people want something to get done.


KING: Democrats say they like the president's bipartisan tone so far, but they also say just because their party lost in the midterm elections that does not mean they will roll over, and they still have significant differences with the president, whether the issue be his judicial nominees, health care, spending and budget issues, education issues.

So the president confronting some opposition anew from the Democrats. Also, Wolf, Mr. Bush likely to face increasing pressure from some conservative groups.

Some say he should seize the moment, that all Republican- controlled Congress, that Mr. Bush should push more controversial items like new restrictions on abortion. The president would not answer directly when that question was put to him today, simply saying, and laughing, saying he's getting a lot of advice, but that he has to set priorities. BLITZER: John King, thanks very much. I believe that was a response to your question at the news conference. John King over at the White House. Thank you.

Are terrorists planning attacks from our own backyard? A CNN exclusive report on who may be plotting, and where they're doing it. Also, a deadly virus at enemy hands, but should military troops be vaccinated even if there are serious side effects?

And a news flash for fish lovers. That salmon you ordered may not necessarily be everything you think it is. A story you need to watch before your dinner tonight. But first, a look at some other news making headlines around the world.


BLITZER: Welcome back. We now bring you a CNN exclusive, are the world's most notorious terror groups established in our hemisphere, planning new attacks against the United States?

Our national correspondent, Mike Boettcher, has the story from the tri-border area of South America.


MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: South Americans call this place the triple border, a tourist haven, the spot where the nations of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay intersect at one of the natural wonders of the world, Iguazu Falls.

In counterterrorism circles, it is known as something else, a terrorist haven, a land of porous borders and base for terrorism financing and planning.

Halfway around the world, on the wall of a top al Qaeda operative's abandoned house in Kabul, Afghanistan, was this: a giant poster of Iguazu Falls.

CNN has learned from anti-terrorism coalition intelligence sources that several top terrorist operatives recently met in this isolated part of South America. Their purpose, according to those same sources, to plan attacks against U.S. and Israeli targets in the Western hemisphere. Two weeks ago, Argentina's security agencies issued a strong terrorist warning.

Miguel Toma runs the Argentine equivalent of the CIA, called SIDE.

MIGUEL TOMA, ARGENTINE INTELLIGENCE (through translator): We had intelligence that pointed to increased terrorist activity. It is not unrealistic that there could be some action to prevent or to react to an attack on Iraq. So we need to react because of the global conflict.

BOETTCHER: Since 1992, when a terrorist bomb ripped apart the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aries, Argentina has been extremely active investigating global terrorist groups and their connections.

Argentine intelligence documents previously obtained by CNN diagram links between mosques and businesses in the tri-border region to a laundry list of groups which have claimed credit for terror attacks.

Egypt's Gamaa al Islamiya, publicly allied with al Qaeda, and Lebanese Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad, all groups identified by the U.S. State Department as terrorist organizations.

Additional evidence of a global link -- thousands of U.S. dollars marked with stamps from Lebanese currency exchange banks, which Argentine investigators allege was used to finance terrorists in South America. Tens of thousands more in phoney $100 bills, and receipts from huge wire transfers made between the tri-border areas and the Middle East.

Argentina's top counterterrorist cop on the tri-border sees a variety of terrorist groups cooperating here because of a common enemy, the United States and Israel.

ROBERTO ONTIVERO, ARGENTINE COUNTERTERRORISM (through translator): Yes, we have found a collaboration in the same way that legal organizations need to collaborate and share information, terrorist organizations need to have that same collaboration, whether it be in training, materials, people, or information.

BOETTCHER: Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and al Qaeda, all groups that Argentine authorities are tracking in their region, have significant ties to this man, Imad Mugniyeh, photographed here in Lebanon about eight years ago.

He is walking with Hezbollah's top leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.

Obtained exclusively by CNN, it is one of the few existing photos of Mugniyeh, one of the world's most wanted men, suspected of being the mastermind in a long list of attacks against U.S. and Israeli targets over the past 20 years.

The 1983 U.S. Marines Beirut barracks bombing, and the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in s Aires just two examples.

Middle East intelligence sources tell CNN Mugniyeh uses both Iran and Hezbollah controlled areas of Lebanon as his bases, and from those locations, is directing a new terrorist effort in South America, making plans to hit U.S. and Israeli targets in the Americas if the United States attacks Iraq, or Israel is drawn into the conflict.

Argentina's spy master, Miguel Toma, met recently with his counterparts in Washington about the possibility of a new terrorist defensive launched from South America.

(on camera): Does what happens in your region, in South America, impact the security in North America? TOMA (through translator): Absolutely. This is a central theme discussed in recent trips to Washington. There is a direct correlation between terrorism here and the United States.

BOETTCHER (voice-over): Locals here joke there are more spies than tourists in tri-border these days.

(on camera): When the war against terrorism was launched after the 9/11 attacks, intelligence agencies from around the world made this place a focus of their attention, but now many of the people they were watching have moved on.

(voice-over): Argentina's counterterrorism police assert that terrorist operatives have dispersed east to the remote jungles of Brazil, and as well to Brazil's financial capital, Sao Paulo and west to the Chilean free trade zone city Iquique, located on the Pacific coast in Chile's northern desert.

We went there to take a look for ourselves. It is a place where money and merchandise move freely, virtually unchecked.

Forty-eight false Pakistani passports were recently seized by police here, believed destined for terrorist use in upcoming attacks. One year ago, U.S. officials requested that Chile investigate terrorist activity in Iquique.

Jaime Navia is the Chilean judge assigned to write the secret summary.

(on camera): Are these things that Americans should be concerned about?

JAIME NAVIA, CHILEAN JUDGE (through translator): It's part of the secret summary, what you are asking, but I can inform you that there are many people that appear in the investigation.

BOETTCHER: Individuals in South America suspected of planning and financing terrorism have learned to adapt. They've spread out, playing a game of cat and mouse with authorities who are chasing them from the jungles of Brazil to the deserts of Chile.

Mike Boettcher, CNN, Iquique, Chile.


BLITZER: So could terror plots in our own hemisphere come to strike us? The former CIA director James Woolsey answers our questions on that and another worldwide terror caution.

Also, scandal drives a basketball powerhouse off the court, and an NBA star at the center of the controversy. Why the University of Michigan is shutting itself out of the championships.

And bubonic plague in New York City. We'll go live to the hospital where two people are in quarantine at this hour. But first today's "News Quiz." What was the most lethal pandemic of all time? Influenza, bubonic plague, malaria, AIDS? The answer coming up.


BLITZER: Welcome back.

Do Middle East terror groups here in the Western Hemisphere have the United States in their sights? I'll ask the former CIA director James Woolsey.

But first some key developments in the war against terrorism. The State Department is warning that next week's execution of Mir Aimal Kansi may trigger retaliatory attacks against U.S. interests around the world. The Pakistani national was sentenced to death for the murders of two people outside CIA headquarters in 1993.

Indonesian police say a suspect in their custody has confessed to planting a bomb in the Bali nightclub attack that killed almost 200 people last month. Investigators say the man admitted that he acted as part of a group. Meantime, al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the bombing according to a posting on a Web site linked to the terror network which has carried previous claims.

One of the six al Qaeda suspects killed in a U.S. missile attack in Yemen this week held U.S. nationality and all were, quote, "dangerous members of the terror network" according to a Yemeni official quoted in a government newspaper. Among the dead, a key suspect in the attack on the USS Cole.

Have Middle Eastern terror groups found a new haven in South America? Are they planning new attacks against the United States? Joining me now from Coconut Grove, Florida, the former CIA director, James Woolsey.

Director Woolsey, thanks for joining us. You heard Mike Boettcher's exclusive report. How worried should Americans be that these terror groups, working out of South American bases, may be looking for new targets up here?

JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: We've been worried about the Cauzdi-Iguezu (ph) area for a long time, since '92 at least and before, but -- when they blew up the Israeli embassy in Argentina, Wolf. And I think it's a serious problem.

The interesting thing here is that Hezbollah and Iman Mugdia (ph) had their essentially their worst terrorist, whom you profiled in the piece, are Shi'ite. And there have been a lot of people who have said from time to time that Shiite groups would not work with the Sunni and the Sunni groups would not work with Iraq because it's secular and so on.

I think that this is increasing evidence that this is nonsense. These groups are sort of like three different Mafia families. They do hate each other and they kill each other from time to time, but they're perfectly capable of supporting one another with, you know, some forged passports or training or whatever. And they're perfectly capable of reacting against us if, for example, there are hostilities against Iraq even if they're not Iraqi.

BLITZER: How good is U.S. intelligence in dealing with this potential threat from South America?

WOOLSEY: Well, we've been down there looking at that Cauzdi- Iguezu area for a long time and a have close working relationships -- have had for years -- with Argentine intelligence service that you mentioned, as well as with some of the other countries in the region.

But it's a tough area. People can move back and forth across those borders very easily. The writ of those central governments doesn't run nearly as strongly in those remote areas as they do, say, in their capitols. It's a problem.

BLITZER: You heard the state department warning that there could be retaliatory action against U.S. interests around the world with the scheduled execution next week of Mir Aimal Kansi, who killed two people right outside CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, just days before you became the CIA director.

Is this a threat that Americans should take seriously?

WOOLSEY: Well, I think we should take it seriously. And although I'm not a strong supporter of the death penalty in most cases, I certainly think it's appropriate here. Those were wonderful CIA employees that Kansi murdered. And I think that showing that we can obtain overseas, as we did him, rendering him to the United States, try him, convict him and punish him, including executing him, I think sends an important lesson to the terrorist states, such as Iraq and to other terrorist groups around the world.

BLITZER: Director Woolsey, thanks very much for joining us. We'll continue this conversation Sunday on "LATE EDITION."

WOOLSEY: Good to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you very much.

Saddam Hussein may have a stash of smallpox, but should all U.S. military personnel be vaccinated despite the potential health risk? The Pentagon seems to think so. A look at both sides when we return.

Plus, exploding razors. Who's rigging these everyday devices to blow up in your face? We'll tell you.

And bubonic plague in New York City. Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains how a couple of tourists ended up in quarantine.

But first let's take a look at some other news making headlines "Around the World."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER (voice-over): Ramadan controversy. Ignoring the U.S. request not to air it, Egyptian state television is showing a program critics say is anti-semitic. As part of its story line, "Horse Men Without a Horse" makes reference to an alleged plot by a group of Jewish leaders to take over the world in the early 20th century. Egyptian officials deny the series is anti-semitic.

West Bank violence. Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and rubber hooded bullets at stone-throwing Palestinians in Nablus. Several Palestinians were injured. The clashes erupted after Israeli forces demolished the home of a suspected Palestinian militant.

Violence in Peru. Thousands of protesters clashed with riot police in the capital Lima after blocking the key Pan-American highway. Residents are irate over the government's failure to resolve water and electricity problems. No reports of injuries.

Movie director Steven Spielberg is in Cuba. He met Cuban leader Fidel Castro and attended the Cuban premiere of his latest movie "Minority Report."

Hitler's car. A newspaper in Nepal says the Himalayan kingdom has one of only three remaining cars used by Adolf Hitler. The car was given as a gift to grandfather of Nepal's present king.

A Titanic discovery. After 90 years and the latest DNA technology, the so-called unknown child from the Titanic has been identified. The body of a baby boy was picked up a few days after the ship sank and buried along the other victims in Nova Scotia. He was one of five brothers from Finland who died in the disaster. And that's our look around the world.


BLITZER: Now a possible new weapon in 21st century warfare, smallpox. It's a major concern to the Bush administration as it plans for possible military action against Saddam Hussein. Our senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre reports on the latest effort to counter the smallpox threat. We warn you, some of the pictures are graphic.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Pentagon has drawn up plans to inoculate up to 500,000 U.S. troops against the deadly smallpox virus if President Bush gives the go ahead. While he's deciding the president is repeating warnings to Saddam Hussein's generals that they will be punished if they carry out orders to unleash killer germs or gas on attacking U.S. troops.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Should they choose, if force is necessary, to behave in a way that endangers the lives of their own citizens as well as citizens and neighbors, there will be a consequence. They will be held to account.

MCINTYRE: Smallpox is a highly contagious disease that kills 30 percent of its victims with no known treatment. It was declared eradicated in 1980 and vaccinations in the U.S. ended in 1972.

RICHARD PRESTON, "THE DEMON IN THE FREEZER": I think there's pretty good evidence that Iraq most likely has smallpox. It may be one of the most powerful weapons in Saddam Hussein's arsenal.

MCINTYRE: The vaccine is not made from smallpox and so cannot cause it, but the government estimates for every million people vaccinated, roughly 15 will suffer life-threatening complications and one or two will likely die. So for the Pentagon, the decision to vaccinate is a simple risk/benefit calculation -- the thousands who would die from smallpox on the battlefield versus the handful who would likely have adverse reactions.


MCINTYRE: And then there's the anthrax experience. Despite the relatively low rate of complications and the very real threat of anthrax attack, several hundred U.S. service members have refused the vaccine, convinced the Pentagon is lying about its safety. There's no way to know if a mandatory smallpox vaccination program would trigger a similar revolt -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon. Thanks Jamie, very much.

Here's your chance to weigh in on the story. Our "Web Questions of The Day" is this -- Despite side effects should all U.S. military personnel be given the smallpox vaccine? We'll have the results later in the program. Vote at While you're there, I'd love to hear from you. Send me your comments, your questions. I'll try to read some them on the air each day at the end of this program. That's also of course where you can read my daily online column

Now to another dangerous disease that in years passed wiped out millions of people worldwide. In New York City, two tourists from New Mexico are in the hospital with what's believed to be bubonic plague. Our medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is outside Beth Israel Hospital with details.

This sounds pretty amazing, Sanjay. Tell us about it.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, and let me give you some good news first. The woman you just referred to, that 47-year-old woman was just released from isolation, we learned, not too long ago. Her husband does remain in critical condition here at Beth Israel Hospital, which is right behind me.

Earlier today, we had a chance to talk to Dr. Ronald Primas, the doctor who had -- who made this very unusual diagnosis.


DR. RONALD PRIMAS, BETH ISRAEL HOSPITAL: It wasn't until I examined his wife that I recognized what it was because she had the classical buboe. And then at that point, I called their doctor back in Santa Fe and asked if there were any cases reported down there. They said no.


GUPTA: The classical buboe that he referred to, that usually means a swollen lymph gland typically in the groin. There are other symptoms as well of bubonic plague. While we don't see it that often, some of the other symptoms include, fever, headaches, chills, weakness, pneumonia, chest pain, shortness of breath, cough.

Wolf, they haven't seen a case of bubonic plague in New York for 100 years. That doesn't mean we haven't seen it in the United States. We typically see about 10 to 14 cases a year, most commonly in New Mexico where half the cases occur. By looking at that map, you can also see in Arizona, Colorado, California, those are some of the other states as well.

Now, typically what occurs is testing does occur of the rodents in that area and what they're looking for is a bacteria called Yersinia Pestis. That is the bacteria. You don't need to remember the name, but that's the bacteria that causes bubonic plague. They're going to test for that and find out if it's confirmed in those rodents and confirmed in the humans. That's going to be the most likely diagnosis -- Wolf.

BLITZER: But the bottom-line, Sanjay, how worried should New Yorkers be?

GUPTA: New Yorkers don't need to be worried, Wolf. This is bubonic plague. This is not transmitted from human to human. Very different than the millions of people dying from pneumonic plague back in 1347, the 14th century. That's the one that killed 38 million people in five years. That's different. This is bubonic plague not transmitted from human to human. New Yorkers don't need to be worried about this, Wolf.

BLITZER: Sanjay Gupta, thanks very much for that information.

And everything you didn't want to know about the salmon that's on your dinner table.


ANNE MOSNESS, GO WILD CONSUMER CAMPAIGN: Farm fish spends its lifetime in a pen full of its own feces.


BLITZER: Find out what's driving health advocates wild about farm-raised fish. Plus, the royal scandal spreads. Diana's own family dragged through mud. But first the answer to today's news quiz.

Earlier we asked -- what was the most lethal pandemic disease outbreak of all time? The answer, influenza. Five hundred twenty- five billion people were infected by the so-called Spanish Flu Virus. It claimed 20 million lives back in 1918 and 1919. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Federal authorities are warning shoppers to be careful when buying electric razors. Two were rigged with explosives and blew up in separate incidents injuring two men. One of the incidents happened in Troy, New York. Sheriff Daniel Keating is joining us from there by phone.

Sheriff, when I first heard about these exploding razors, I thought it was a joke. But you can tell us this is no joking matter, is it?

SHERIFF DANIEL V. KEATING, TROY, NEW YORK: This is definitely not a joking matter. It's a matter of public safety that we're addressing at our end at this time in order that we don't have any further incidents. We did not have any serious incidents occur where -- at major bodily injury was affected. But still, know, the danger factor is there and that's why we notably are looking to get the word out to the public is be cautious, be cautious.

BLITZER: Well, I want to put up on the screen some videotape of razors, not necessarily the razors of course that exploded, but these kinds of razors. What exactly happened?

KEATING: Well, basically what -- without going into details as to how they were secured, the two gentlemen that were injured had obtained the two razors and as they activated them, in other words, plugged them in, turned them on, the explosion occurred. We have verified the fact that there was an explosive device placed within the shell of the razor after the other ordinarily articles that would be in there were removed -- the battery, et cetera.

BLITZER: Do you have any suspicions, Sheriff, who may have been responsible for putting explosives in these electric razors?

KEATING: Unfortunately, sir, I do not at this time. We are following a number of leads, but I would have to sincerely say, we have no suspects at this particular time.

BLITZER: So what should people do if they want to use -- get one of these kinds of razors? How do they protect themselves?

KEATING: The only word that we're putting out there is be cautious. Look at the box, look at the ways the material is -- has it been warped? If there's any suspicion that the product had been tempered with in any way whatsoever, number one, don't touch it, and number two, contact us and we'll remove it from your property. We'll examine it by X-ray. If it's an ordinary, functional razor, then you'll get it back. And hopefully if it isn't, then we may have saved someone some serious bodily injury.

BLITZER: All right, Sheriff Keating, we'll be watching this story. Thanks very much for joining us.

Moving on now it's praised as a wonder food. Salmon is credited for preventing everything from wrinkles to heart disease. But some of the salmon being sold at grocery stores and restaurants around the country may not be as pure as you think.

Here's CNN's Lilian Kim.


LILIAN KIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's increasingly becoming the fish of choice. Touted as rich in nutrients.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know that our wild salmon has nothing that goes into it. It's pure.

KIM: But chances are, the salmon you eat isn't caught in the wild. It's most likely farmed. At this facility, one pen contains up to 40,000 salmon. They're bred in captivity and harvested about two- and-a-half years later, selling for less than one-third of wild salmon.

CONRAD MAHNKEN, NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE: It provides food, high quality food for people who haven't been able to afford salmon in the past.

KIM: Affordable perhaps. Nevertheless, the booming industry is facing growing criticism. Opponents say farm fish pollutes the environment, contains less than the beneficial omega three fatty acids and carries higher levels of toxins.

MOSNESS: A farmed fish spends its lifetime in a pen of its own feces. It's been treated with antibiotics and pesticides and chemicals in its lifetime.

KIM: Some of those chemicals can be found in their feed, a synthetic dye added to these fishmeal pellets is what gives farm salmon their pink color. Without it, the flesh would appear pale gray. But government researchers say the farmed variety should cause no reason for alarm.

MAHNKEN: Scientific evidence today shows that they have not exceeded the limits, the acceptable limits for those toxins.

KIM: Allowing the farming industry to continue thriving for now, slowly decreasing the demand for those salmon caught in the wild.

On Puget Sound, Washington, Lilian Kim reporting.


BLITZER: And a new twist to the royal scandal. This time it's Diana's family catching some heat. The butler's calling them hypocritical and jealous. Find out why the princess cut ties with her mother months before her death. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Princess Diana's former butler takes aim at her family in the latest revelations to rivet Britain and much of the world. Paul Burrell pains a very unflattering picture of the Princess' mother and brother in his paid tabloid interviews. CNN's senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson has more now from London.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Hell hath no fury; it seems greater than a butler scorned. That is if royal butler, Paul Burrell's, latest revelations exclusively sold in a British tabloid are to be believed. Thursday's installment in a weeklong series lambastes Diana's family, the Spencers, for failing the princess and dragging Burrell to court.

Earl Spencer, Diana's brother is subject of bunch of Burrell's venom. The former butler accuses the Earl of being hypocritical, during his speech at Diana's funeral, of talking about family values, while according to Burrell, the Earl had refused Diana a home in his country mansion.

Almost as scathing, Burrell's attack on Diana's mother, Frances Shand Kydd, who he accuses of reducing Diana to tears during a supposedly profane phone call criticizing Diana's relationship with Muslim men. "Diana," he says, "ended the call promising never to talk with her mother again." "How prophetic," Burrell went on, "because she didn't."

PIERS MORGAN, EDITOR, "DAILY MIRROR": He has a lot of ill feelings towards members of that family, for the way they treated Diana and for the way they treated him. I'd say that's pretty explosive.

ROBERTSON: Explosive, well maybe almost. TV news programs here have shunted the story down the running order and desperate for pictures, have been using actors to dramatize Burrell's accounts. The queen's warning to Burrell, he may be in danger, because of what the papers call "powers at work in the U.K." has some readers worrying about security breaches of the highest level.


ROBERTSON (on camera): Why not?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That depends on what telling you, don't follow anything, OK?

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Interested or not, most agree Burrell's decision to talk, unwise.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he should have kept quiet and keep it to himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, he's sort of dragging the royals through the mud again. It's the usual slur of course, again. So there, it's just degrading the royals again, so no embarrassing act or moment.

ROBERTSON (on camera): Another embarrassing moment is not how the "Daily Mirror" serializing Burrell's story, sees it. They say he will only deal affectionately and loyally with the royal family as he sets his historic record straight. This day, however, it will likely be Diana's family, the Spencers, who will feel most hurt.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


BLITZER: A close call in the skies. A nail-biter for a bold pilot with no landing gear. Plus, time's running out for your turn to weigh in on our "Web Questions of The Day." Despite the potential side effects, should all U.S. military personnel be given the smallpox vaccine? Log onto That's where you can vote. We'll have the results when we come back.


BLITZER: Landing the hard way, that's our "Picture of The Day." The landing gear on this Cessna failed as it was coming into a suburban Atlanta airport this afternoon. The pilot was forced to do a belly landing with the plane sliding some 1,500 feet before it came to a stop. There you see it right there, sliding along the way. The four people on board were not hurt. One official at the airport called it a picture perfect emergency landing. Good work for the pilot.

Now here's how you're weighing in on our "Web Questions of The Day." Earlier we asked you this -- Despite some potential side effects, should all U.S. military personnel be given the smallpox vaccine? Seventy percent of you say yes, 30 percent of you say no. Remember, this is not a scientific poll.

Let's get to some of your e-mails on Iraq. Jim writes this -- "How many times are we going to give Saddam chances? We gave him a chance after the Gulf War. He may never achieve nuclear capability and even if he does, he may never use it. But each day we sit here and wait gives him another chance to prepare."

Kim sends us this -- "The United States has to be very careful in pursuing a war with Iraq. I fear it is going to be another Vietnam. We need the United Nations backing in whatever we do. More importantly, we need peace."

Kye says this -- "I am a Vietnam vet, and I fully support President Bush."

Finally, this from Ken -- "The steel from the debris at Ground Zero should be melted down and made into the bombs and bullets that will fight this on-going war on terror. Now that's a clean-up." "Now that's a clean-up," that's what he says. Good proposal.

That's all the time we have today. Join me tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. Eastern. And please join us weekdays noon Eastern for "SHOWDOWN IRAQ." Until then, thanks very much for joining. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. LOU DOBBS MONEYLINE is up next.


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