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First U.S. Case of Mad Cow Disease Suspected; Malvo Sentenced to Life Without Parole

Aired December 23, 2003 - 19:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST (voice-over): The Malvo jury hands down their sentence: life in prison without parole.

The new terror threat: what cities might be targets.

Rush Limbaugh talks tough after a judge unseals his medical records.

Mistresses and million-dollar parties? Who made it into this year's corporate hall of shame.

How a little book became a big Christmas classic.

And, the "Queer Eye" guys on decking the halls for holidays.


ANNOUNCER: Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.

COOPER: Good evening. Welcome to 360.

A late-breaking story tops our broadcast tonight. Mad cow may have come to America. The Department of Agriculture confirms it is investigating what appears to be the first case of mad cow disease here in the U.S.

Christy Feig is in Washington with the details.

Christy, what do you know?

CHRISTY FEIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, this announcement tonight by the U.S. Agriculture secretary, Ann Veneman, is one of the greatest fears of the U.S. cattle industry, and that's because it could mean billions lost in trade. Now, it comes at a time when the nation is on high alert for terrorism, but the government tonight was quick to say that's not an issue here.


ANN VENEMAN, AGRICULTURE SECRETARY: I have been in contact with Secretary Ridge, and I would emphasize that based on the information available, this incident is not terrorist related, nor is it related in any way to our nation's heightened alert status. I cannot stress this point strongly enough. The safety of our food supply and public health are high priorities of this administration and high priorities of USDA.


FEIG: Now, mad cow disease was first detected in the U.K. in 1986. It was a real issue in the 1990s. A lot of people remember the pictures then. And indeed, it has affected about 20 other countries, and it certainly impacts trade.

The U.S. does not take any beef from those countries that have reported incidents of mad cow disease. The animals get the disease when they eat infected grain from animals that had the disease that used to be put in their feed. It has been banned in the U.S. since then. In rare cases, humans can get whit they eat grain or spinal cord tissue from infected animals.

Now, the USDA tonight has been very quick to say that that type of tissue has not gotten into the system here. But in rare cases, humans have gotten it. There have been more than 100 cases of that reported across the world.

Now, McDonald's, one of the top sellers and the largest fast food company, has already released a statement tonight saying that the meat packer in question has no connection whatsoever to McDonald's supply chain. The USDA has been very adamant tonight that none of this meat, this tissue that could infect humans, has gotten into the food supply. They're very quick to say, people are safe in the United States, even the agriculture secretary saying tonight that she is indeed even going to serve beef over the holiday this year -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Christy, this story just broke a short time ago. So there is a lot we don't know at this point. Obviously, we have a lot of people working the story very closely at this hour.

Do we know anything about this one case? And it is, my understanding, just one case at this point. Do we know where it happened, where this meat packer was?

FEIG: That's right. This case came from a Holstein that's near Yakima, Washington. It was on a farm there.

It was detected at the slaughterhouse, and it's what's called a downer cows. Downer cows are the cows that can't stand on their feet anymore. It is a textbook signal of possible mad cow disease.

Now, according to U.S. law, one of the things they've been trying to do to keep mad cow out of the United States is simply test all these kinds of cows. The cows that have this symptom of falling down, that is a cow that must be tested for mad cow disease in any slaughterhouse in the United States. And that's how they say that this cow was caught.

They tested it. They're sending more samples of that tissue to England to get confirmation. But that was how this one was tested. It was not caught on the farm, it was caught at the slaughterhouse. And they say they're going to do more research now to find out where this cow came from and where it could have been infected.

One thing to keep in mind here, Anderson. When a cow eats infected tissue -- it's called the ruminant feed that they used to get this from -- it can take as much as eight years for that cow to start showing symptoms. So it's hard to trace where this cow was. They need to know where the cow was as long as eight years ago before they can figure out where this got infected and if other cows on that farm or in that area are also at risk -- Anderson.

COOPER: And we want to be very careful about what we are saying, because we do not want people to get scared needlessly. This is one cow, and at this point, it is just a presumptive positive test. They are still doing more testing to actually confirm that this is a case of mad cow.

So at this point, it appears to be mad cow. They had a presumptive positive, but they are not saying for sure this is mad cow disease, correct?

FEIG: That's correct.

COOPER: All right. We're going to have more on this story a little bit later on the broadcast. We'll be following it very closely over this next hour.

Christine Feig, we'll be checking back in with you. Thanks very much.

Another late-breaking story today. A verdict reached late this afternoon for teen sniper Lee Boyd Malvo. The sentence, life in prison, no parole. Prosecutors had called for a death sentence.

Here's CNN's Jeanne Meserve.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Seventeen. That number appears to have saved Lee Malvo's life. Seventeen was his age when he went on a spree with John Muhammad, a spree that left 10 people dead.

After almost nine hours of deliberations, the jury rejected the death penalty, sentencing Malvo to life in prison without parole on two counts: committing murder during an act of terrorism, and killing more than one person in a three-year period. This despite finding his crimes vile and that he posed a danger in the future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This case was both mentally challenging and emotionally exhausting. Deep thought and consideration has gone into our deliberations and the decisions that we reached.

MESERVE: The jury extended sympathy to the victims, their families and friends. But sympathy is not all they wanted.

VIJAY WALEKAR, VICTIM'S BROTHER: I'm not at all pleased with the verdict. I think he should have gotten the death penalty.

VICTORIA SNIDER, VICTIM'S SISTER: I don't think there could be another case that would be more deserving of the capital punishment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were two people who committed the ultimate crime. One got the ultimate penalty and one didn't. I ask you why.

MESERVE: There was no public comment from the husband and daughter of Linda Franklin, who have kept vigil through every day of this trial. In the courtroom, as the verdict was read, Lee Malvo bowed his head, blinking repeatedly.

CRAIG COOLEY, MALVO ATTORNEY: He was, on one hand, relieved that a death penalty was not imposed. On the other hand, he's 18 and contemplating living the rest of his natural life in a penitentiary cell.


MESERVE: Prosecutor Robert Horan said he was not happy with the verdict, but acknowledged this is the American way. And he told reporters he was sure trying the case Christmas week had an impact on the jury -- Anderson.

COOPER: And Jeanne Meserve's been covering this trial from day one. Jeanne, we're going to check in with you a little bit later on in the broadcast. We want to talk your perspectives and get some more details of what happened today. We'll check back with you in about 20 minutes, Jeanne.

It is easy in cases like this to focus solely on the criminal. Tonight, we wanted to make sure not to forget the victims. For the families and friends of those murdered, some of whom you just heard from, by the two D.C. snipers, it has been a very emotional day.

Greg Wims joins us in Washington. He started the Victims Rights Foundation in Washington. His friend was killed by the sniper.

Greg, thanks very much for being with us. You were friends with James Sunny Buchanan, killed on October 3. How are you feeling about this verdict?

GREG WIMS, FRIEND OF SNIPER VICTIM JAMES BUCHANAN: Quite frankly, I'm like the rest of the family members. I'm disappointed. I'm hurt. Especially, as you said, this time getting close to Christmas. We know that a friend, a loved one, a father, a mother, will not be with us. So it's a little hard for all of us right now.

COOPER: You know, Greg, there are some who say Christmas had something to do with this verdict. The prosecutor even said, you know, juries feel more kindly disposed around the holiday time and it's best not to try someone around this time. Do you think Christmas actually played a role in this?

WIMS: I think it did, because as we watched for the last five weeks the testimony coming in, and we noticed that Malvo showed no remorse whatsoever, that we thought the jury would come back with the death penalty. But being so close to Christmas, and he does have that boyish look, he looks very young, I think that it played a role.

I want to say right here that we thank the jury, though, for all of its deliberation. We know that they were away from their families also for this time period. And they did the best that they thought they could do.

COOPER: Do you think he may get the death penalty ultimately in some other trial? There have been other victims.

WIMS: I think if they take the trial down to Louisiana or even to Birmingham, he probably would get the death penalty. But at the same time, I want to say I've talked to most of the family members today. They don't really want to see another trial.

It's very emotional for the families. As you just said, let's not forget the victims. And the families cannot heal because it's been one year of continuous media coverage, of course two trials over a four-month period. And so it's pretty tough for these family members, especially to think about another trial at this time.

COOPER: Yes, I can't even imagine. Greg Wims, we appreciate you joining us tonight.

WIMS: I wanted to say one thing, Anderson, if I could, for a closing.


WIMS: The families wanted me to thank the American people for their prayers. And especially on Christmas day, just think of all the families that were effected. There are 18 that either were killed or wounded by these two snipers. And just keep them in prayer.

COOPER: All right, Greg. Thanks very much for that. Greg Wims.

In the United States, it's relatively rare for juveniles to be executed. Here's a fast fact for you. From 1977 to 2002, 820 inmates were executed in federal and state prisons. Only 22 of those inmates were juveniles. That's about 2.6 percent of all executions.

Of those 22 juveniles executed, four were in Virginia, where Malvo was convicted. And like Malvo, all were 17 when they committed their crimes.

We move on now to code orange. America on alert after intelligence officials say terrorists might be planning to attack the U.S. any day. Security is being ratcheted up from coast to coast. Maybe you've noticed in your community.

Extra police patrols in New York Harbor, for instance. And L.A. cops in the anti-terrorism division have arrested a man on fraud charges, while in California, at LAX, police patrols have been stepped up because of concern someone could try to shoot an airline using a shoulder-fired missile.

While airline security is being boosted in the U.S. Deborah Feyerick reports on fears linked to overseas flights.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. officials are warning several airlines and governments around the world to tighten security. This after what they call credible information that terrorists might try to use international-based planes in some sort of a suicide attack against the U.S.

MARK HATFIELD, TSA: We have a lot of foreign governments, foreign airlines that we work directly with in communicating security process standards and promulgating those standards. And then in working to ensure compliance with that.

FEYERICK: Anti-aircraft missiles to shoot down planes are being set up around Washington, D.C. The big problem, experts say, from country to country, airport to airport, airline security varies widely.

MJ GOHEL, ASIA-PACIFIC FOUNDATION: If you go abroad to, say, the Philippines, or to Africa, the Caribbean, it is pretty poor beginning from not just the time of check-in, and in terms of the inspection of baggage, personal searches, but also on who is servicing the aircraft, who's maintaining the aircraft.

FEYERICK: There's no one standard, no uniform security rules that international airlines must follow. Not even for flights coming into the U.S. Aviation experts say that makes even the safest airports vulnerable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can do very good here in Europe, we can do very well in the U.S. But finally, if you had a flight coming from India, or coming from Mexico, Canada, whatever, if it will not be the same level of protection, so we'll have a problem coming from somewhere else.

FEYERICK: Except in a few cases, there are no federal marshals on non-U.S. airplanes. Canada, Australia and Singapore have started using their own sky police. Since April, all U.S.-bound carriers now have bulletproof doors. And as of next month, those planes will forward passenger lists to the U.S. for pre-landing background checks.


FEYERICK: Government sources tell CNN that some flight crews from other countries have been stopped and questioned in recent days. It's not just the crews. Airline experts tell CNN that there are many questionable people working at airports. For example, vendors, caterers, even some of the cargo handlers, all of them are checked by private companies, not the airlines or the airports themselves -- Anderson.

COOPER: What are some of the other tactics they're talking about terrorists might be using?

FEYERICK: You know, one of the big concerns, I spoke to an intelligence person today and he said, what happens if somebody gets on a plane in a country with weak security, passes by somebody who is waiting to get back on to that flight at the stronger airport, and passes them something. Something as small as that could mean the difference between a safe flight and a fatal flight.

COOPER: All right. Deborah Feyerick, thanks very much for that.

Right now, we are following a number of other stories "Cross Country." Let's take a look.

Washington, D.C.: surging economy. A delighted White House says the third quarter economic report shows President Bush's policies are working. That's what the White House says. The numbers put growth at 8.2 percent, the best showing in 20 years.

Also in Washington: Nader won't go Green. The Green Party says Ralph Nader is still considering another run for the presidency, but not with them. Nader, headed the Green ticket in the 2000 race.

Chicago: ex-governor answers charges. Former Illinois Governor George Ryan -- that's him there -- said "I do" four times before a judge today, but he was not getting married. Ryan was confirming he understood the corruption charges he was pleading not guilty to. Federal prosecutors allege that he took payoffs, gifts and vacations to let associates profit off the state while he was secretary of state, as well as governor.

St. Paul, Minnesota: a scary landing. Take a look at that. A flight instructor and a student no doubt grateful for their lives after escaping unharmed from an emergency belly landing at the downtown airport. They glided the twin engine Beechcraft with its engines off, after the landing gear failed to go down.

And that is a look at stories "Cross Country" tonight.

Coming up: Rush Limbaugh loses a round in court. A judge orders his medical records released. Find out what happens now.

Also, the fog of war. Shocking candor from the architect of the Vietnam War.

And Scandal Inc. 2003. We'll peek inside the hall of corporate shame.

First, let's take a look "Inside the Box" at the top stories on tonight's network newscasts. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Well, this will be your Main Street once again. That's the promise California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made to residents of earthquake-damaged Paso Robles this morning. He declared San Luis Obispo County a disaster area.

CNN's Frank Buckley is live in Paso Robles, a city that is, in many ways, still reeling -- Frank.


FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger toured the business district of Paso Robles and declared it a disaster area.

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: And even though the earthquake lasted only a few seconds, it left behind destruction that will take months, even years, to rebuild.

BUCKLEY: Inspectors and engineers began assessing the damage. There was catastrophic failure in some places, cosmetic concerns in other areas. Some buildings had both.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what is so astounding is that one part of the building may have been totally impacted with large-scale damage. And you back several feet away and there's no damage whatsoever.

BUCKLEY: Business owners who could get into their buildings began to clean up and tried to get back to business. But it's hard to sell your goods when you can't find them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On this side we used to have the picture frame hooks in those little packs. Any ideas?

BUCKLEY: Also under repair, a capped artesian well that apparently broke open in the quake. It spewed sulfur-scented water through the streets of Paso Robles. All the while, aftershocks, hundreds of aftershocks, according to a U.S. Geological Survey Web site, continued to rumble under the very ground that was shaken by a magnitude 6.5 earthquake on Monday. Fortunately, for the quake- rattled residents, most of them were too small to be felt.


BUCKLEY: And this is a live look at one of the buildings that was the most damaged here in the downtown area of Paso Robles. Some 82 buildings in the downtown area suffered some degree of damage across a five square block area. An early estimate on that damage, somewhere around $65 million. It could be several days before we know the full extent of the damage in San Luis Obispo County -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Frank Buckley, live in Paso Robles. Thanks, Frank.

Radio entertainer Rush Limbaugh lost a court battle to keep his medical records private this morning. A Florida judge ruled that prosecutors can take a look to search for evidence of illegal acts. His attorney filed an immediate appeal. Meanwhile, Limbaugh went on his radio program and blamed Democrats for what he called a politically motivated invasion of privacy. Susan Candiotti has more.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Limbaugh's lawyers are appealing a ruling allowing investigators to pour through his medical records, looking for possible evidence of doctor shopping. Limbaugh used his radio show to respond by reading a statement from his lawyer.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: "Mr. Limbaugh was not doctor shopping. He is -- he should not have to sacrifice his privacy to prove his innocence.

CANDIOTTI: In his order, Palm Beach Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Winikoff wrote: "The state has clearly demonstrated the relevance or nexus between seizing Mr. Limbaugh's medical records and this ongoing criminal investigation." In court records, investigators have said these drugstore records listing more than 2,000 pills from four doctors in six months might indicate Limbaugh was getting overlapping prescriptions illegally. Limbaugh declared himself a target of well- connected political enemies.

LIMBAUGH: The Democrats in this country still cannot defeat me in the arena of political ideas. And so now, they're trying to do so in the court of public opinion and the legal system.

CANDIOTTI: Prosecutors had no comment, and issued only a statement about the sealed review of Limbaugh's medical records. "The court specifically finds that the state acted in good faith."

Limbaugh argues investigators are singling him out because of his celebrity. Some legal experts agree it may look that way, yet...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got laws on the book which that prosecutor cannot ignore. So they have got to play this out, complete an investigation, rather than run the risk of being accused of rich man's justice.


CANDIOTTI: One thing is clear, Limbaugh never a shrinking violet, isn't shying away from this battle. Neither are prosecutors, who promised to follow through wherever their investigation takes them -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, this is not going away anytime soon. Susan Candiotti, thanks very much.

Want to take a quick look now at what's happening around the globe. Here's the "UpLink." A lot going on out there.

Fears al Qaeda might strike. A senior State Department official tells CNN that intelligence suggests al Qaeda is planning attacks against U.S. interests in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen and Kenya. Specific target not mentioned.

Tripoli, Libya: CNN gets a look inside a Libyan nuclear facility. It's the first time in over 20 years Western media reps have been brought into a nuke facility in the northern African country. Libyan officials say the plan is strictly devoted to peaceful nuclear power. On Friday, of course Libya's president announced his country would dismantle its weapons of mass destruction program.

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Marijuana fans lose. In a six to three decision, the Supreme Court of Canada rules to keep pot possession illegal, ruling as a blow to activists who argue pot causes no serious harm. In a separate unanimous decision, the court maintained trafficking was illegal.

Israel: siblings separated by the holocaust reunited. Just a remarkable story. The brother and sister thought the other had died. But after some research, they discovered they only lived 90 minutes away from each other. They saw each other today for the first time in nearly 60 years. They've got a lot of catching up to do.

That is a look at tonight's "UpLink."

The fog of war. Former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara makes some startling confessions in a new film. Here why he says he acted like a war criminal.

Also tonight: what would Lenny Bruce say, pardoned for obscenity 37 years after his death? Find out why the groundbreaking comedian was finally let off the hook.

And a little later, life without parole. Teen sniper Lee Boyd Malvo spared the death penalty. We'll get the reaction from that.

And we're still following this mad cow story. It could be the first case in the U.S.

Here's your "Buzz" question: Did Lee Boyd Malvo deserve the death penalty? Vote now, The results at the end of the program.


COOPER: Some images from the war in Vietnam. The term "fog of war" has been used a lot lately in the war in Iraq. People use it to explain why information reported as facts sometimes turns out to be fiction. "Fog of War" is also the name of a new film by acclaimed documentarian, Erroll Morris. The subject: Vietnam era Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, who makes some startling statements about war, what he says are war crimes, and the lessons we should learn from the past.

Erroll Morris joins us now from Massachusetts.

Thanks very much for being with us, Mr. Morris. Were you surprised at how open and candid Robert McNamara was? Because this is a very different Robert McNamara than many Americans are used to seeing.

ERROLL MORRIS, DIRECTOR, "FOG OF WAR": I found him unendingly interesting. And of course, the central question for Robert McNamara and for the movie "The Fog of War" is, can we learn from the past, or are we condemned to repeating the same mistakes we've made in the past, again and again?

COOPER: I want to play a clip that gets into a little bit of what you've just been saying. Let's play this clip from "The Fog of War."


ROBERT MCNAMARA, FMR. DEFENSE SECRETARY: At the end, we lucked out. It was luck that prevented nuclear war. We came that close to nuclear war. Rational individuals.

Kennedy was rational. Khrushchev was rational. Castro was rational. Rational individuals came that close to total destruction of their societies.


COOPER: He's just amazingly candid. And clearly, he has reflected a lot on his own actions, while defense secretary, even before.

MORRIS: Yes, he has. Part of the story of Robert S. McNamara is a story of a person who has gone back over his own history, has gone over his past, trying to figure out how it all happened, why it happened. Does it have to happen? Will it happen again?

COOPER: But he even goes back to some of the activities during World War II, the bombings of Japan, pre Hiroshima, pre Nagasaki. And he says, "He and I say we were behaving as war criminals."

MORRIS: Yes. He tells us that even in the context of a just war, there can be truly unjust things. In the case of World War II, the fire bombing of 67 Japanese cities before we used the two atomic weapons.

COOPER: It is a fascinating documentary. You're getting widespread acclaim for it and well-deserved. Erroll Morris, we appreciate you joining us tonight. "The Fog of War." Thank you.

MORRIS: Thank you very much.


COOPER (voice-over): The little Christmas book that's making big headlines.

And, the "Queer Eye" guys set us straight on the holidays.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: Let's get you up to speed right now. Time for "The Reset." Washington state. Mad cow in America? Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman announced just a short while ago that what appears to be the first U.S. case of mad cow disease has been reported in a sick animal in eastern Washington state near Yakima.

The agriculture secretary says an investigation is under way to see if any meat from the sick animal has reached store shelves. But she cautioned this does not mean the public is in danger. We'll have more on this in a moment. It is a fast developing story.

Alaska. The Bush administration opened more than 470 square miles of Alaskan rainforest to development and logging today. The Tongass National Forest was put off limits to road building and development during the Clinton administration.

Washington threatening terror. Increased security is evident at the nation's airports and in major cities on the East and West coasts. Sources tell CNN that a number of persons on terror watch lists have been prevented from entering the U.S. since December 1. Other sources say that American facilities abroad might also be a target of terrorist attacks.

And that is a quick look at tonight's "Reset." Now back to our top story. More on the suspected case of mad cow disease. Joining us on the phone, Dr. Dean Cliver, veterinarian at the University of California, Davis. Dr., thanks very much for being with us. How concerned should people be?

DR. DEAN CLIVER, FOOD SAFETY EXPERT: OK, before we launch into that, I'm not a veterinarian. I'm a food safety expert who has had exposure to what's going on in the mad cow scene.

COOPER: I appreciate you clarifying that, I'm sorry for that.

CLIVER: I'm on the faculty of the vet school here.

COOPER: OK, That was the confusion. At this point it's just a suspected case, has not yet been finally confirmed. What level of concern should there be out there?

CLIVER: Well, I think that it's a catastrophe from an economic and political standpoint but I don't think it represents a significant threat to public health, and probably a minimal threat to animal health in the United States.

COOPER: Those seem to be contradictory statements, right? They are not a major health threat, yet catastrophic economic results. Is that just because of fear and possible panic?

CLIVER: Well, look what happened to Canada. They had one isolated case, they've never been able to connect that to any other animal in all of Canada, but they lost millions and millions and millions of dollars in export income. The United States embargoed their beef and their animals. This is just what happens when you're a newly diagnosed country.

COOPER: That Canadian case you're talking about, that was back in January 2003. They literally killed the whole herd that the cow was associated with. They tried to trace where that cow has been, how that cow may have gotten into contact with this disease. I guess that's the process that will be going on now in Washington state?

CLIVER: In fact, in Canada, because that cow was not originally from that herd, I think they killed a total of seven herds. And all the calves she had ever had were supposed to be traced down and so on. The rationale -- we know pretty well this is not transmitted from cow to calf or from cow to cow. So almost surely the way an animal gets it is either a spontaneous case that is bolt from the blue kind of thing which is a distinct possibility, or something they ate that came from another cow.

COOPER: And the possibility of it passing on to a human being, remote?

CLIVER: Well, compared to other foodborne diseases, extremely remote. There have been about 140 deaths, almost all of them in the U.K. so far from this Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease which is the human manifestation. We kill more people than that with almost every one of our foodborne diseases.

COOPER: I just want to reiterate to viewers out there, this is at this point just a suspected case. They have done a first round of tests but they have not made a final confirmation. But it is a fast- developing story. This announcement was made just a short time ago. Dr. Dean Cliver, we appreciate you joining us tonight. Thank you very much for that update.

We want to give a quick news note now on mad cow disease. It was first diagnosed in great Britain back in 1986. Approximately 139 deaths have been linked to mad cow worldwide. The disease spreads when cattle eat contaminated animal feed as we were just talking about.

We move on now to the other major story today. The other story that broke late this afternoon. The sniper sentence. Lee Boyd Malvo, spared the death penalty, sentenced to life without parole. CNN Jeanne Meserve has been covering both sniper trials from day one. Her reporting has been nothing short of remarkable. Accurate, poignant atimes, heartbreaking. We thought there's no better person to talk with tonight about today's verdict than Jeanne Meserve. Jeanne, thanks for joining us again tonight. How surprised were you by this verdict?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not surprised. There had been a lot of talk that a jury anywhere was going to have difficulty finding a 17-year-old not just guilty but then send him on to his death. There was a very powerful prosecution case, the key part of that were those tapes of the confessions by Lee Malvo. But in the end, the defense won the day by portraying him as a very young man. There was a lot of reaction today from families, from prosecutors, from the defense, all of whom expressed disappointment. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VICTORIA SNIDER, VICTIM'S SISTER: We have lived with watching others die. They continued to kill. My brother was in the beginning part of it. But there are many other people from the beginning in Arizona, in Georgia, in Baton Rouge, who are dead because of these men.

PAUL LARUFFA, SNIPER VICTIM: You don't just have one crime, one culprit. You have two people that did exactly the same thing. Yet the verdicts were pretty different. One gets to live. One gets the ultimate penalty of death.

VIJAY WALEKAR: I wish he would have gotten a death sentence. Because, you know, for more than a month and a half we came up here, attended the trial. Even now, we go through the pain and suffering every day.

CRAIG COOLEY, MALVO ATTORNEY: There's not a lot of joy in this case, no matter what the result. There are a lot of innocent folks and families that are certainly still in pain.

ROBERT HORAN JR., COMMONWEALTH'S ATTORNEY: Of course I'm not happy with the decision. But that's the American way. 12 jurors decide these things.


MESERVE: Malvo bowed his head as he heard the verdict, blinked his eyes. His attorney said he was relieved, though he is facing the daunting prospect of spending every day of the rest of his life in prison. This is only the beginning of Lee Malvo's legal odyssey. Other jurisdictions, other prosecutors are lined up waiting to get their crack at sending him to his death -- Anderson.

COOPER: When all is said and done in the final analysis, why do you think the jury didn't go for the death penalty?

MESERVE: We don't know definitively. The only juror who spoke was the foreman and he didn't talk about why they reached their conclusion. But the defense and prosecution mentioned Malvo's youth and youthful appearance and I'll tell you, I talked to a Muhammad juror last week, this is someone who sentenced John Muhammad to death. She said she couldn't have sentenced Lee Malvo to his death simply because he was 17 when he committed the crimes.

COOPER: All right. Jeanne Meserve, thanks very much. And again, just fantastic work all along in this trial.

More now in "Justice Served" in the Malvo life sentence. Attorney and CNN contributor Michael Smerconish joins us for some analysis. Good to actually see you here in New York.


COOPER: Were you surprised they didn't go for the death penalty? Because all along the defense has been arguing he was essentially brainwashed.

SMERCONISH: No, I was not surprised by the outcome. I think it has everything to do with age. Because in a very effective closing statement that Craig Cooley put in front of the jury, he said, look, this is a guy who can't vote, he can't take jury duty like you can, he can't gamble, he can't drink, and that's because society doesn't believe he's capable of having responsibility for those kinds of actions. In similar fashion, you can't hold him responsible for what's gone on here by taking his life.

COOPER: You say it was age. The prosecution also today indicated it might be the holiday.

SMERCONISH: I don't buy that, no way. Here's why. I think that cuts two ways, Anderson. Linda Franklin left behind a daughter. She's 24 or 25 now. She's a mother. You know, come Christmas, that's someone who won't be there with Grandma. There were seven different relatives of victims --

COOPER: You're saying the holiday spirit could cut both ways?

SMERCONISH: Absolutely. If I were on that jury I think I'd be saying, here's someone who's going to be denied now the benefit of a relative at Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, or Christmas or whatever the case may be. So I think that cuts both ways.

COOPER: What happens to this young man now? I mean, life without parole. But there have been many other victims, there could be other trials.

SMERCONISH: I don't think there will be another trial related to the sniper spree in the D.C. area. Maybe for the incidents that took place down South. I can't imagine putting these families of the victims through another trial like we've just experienced. As a matter of fact, like two that we've just experienced.

COOPER: We talked to a friend of one of the victims, a spokesman who said that a lot of the families simply just -- it's just too much for them.

SMERCONISH: Correct, heartbreaking.

COOPER: All right. Michael Smerconish. Thanks very much.

SMERCONISH: Nice to see you.

COOPER: Of course, we want to know what you think. Today's "Buzz" question, does Lee Boyd Malvo deserve the death penalty? Vote now. Results will be in at the end of the program tonight.

California is dealing with earthquake aftermath, months after deadly wildfires in the southern part of the state. Coming up we go back in time for how quickly we forget. It wasn't that long ago.

Tonight, Lenny Bruce, the comedian known for his tough talk, gets a pardon long after he's gone.

And a little later holiday survival tips from some of the queer eye guys. Who knows what they are going to say. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Give us an e-mail.

Time now for how quickly we forget. Our weekly look at a story that commanded our attention, a lot of attention then sank like a rock from view. Two months ago the wildfires in southern California were among our most compelling stories.

Frank Buckley takes us back now to see what the holidays are like for some of those who suffered from the fires' fury.


FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dick pulled out the Christmas tree the other day and set it up inside what has become home. An R.V. he shares with his wife Penny.

DICK PRETZINGER, LOST HOME TO WILDFIRE: Not quite as tall as the 22-footer we had at our first Christmas.

BUCKLEY: And It's not quite the Christmas the Pretzinger family is used to. The one with their children and grandchildren gathered at the place they called home for 40 years. Fire destroyed that. They survived.

PRETZINGER: I have the things most important to me. She's standing over there.

BUCKLEY: He's still got Penny. But it's still hard when you lose everything else. 40 years of collectibles and heirlooms and memories. What the Pretzinger want for Christmas, they can't have.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we could have our house back, that would be nice.

BUCKLEY: This was more than a home, it had become a family compound. Ten homes and rental properties. And all of them burned down when the Cedar Glen area of Lake Arrowhead caught fire. Insurance will pay for some of the losses.

PRETZINGER: That was my mother-in-law's wedding dress.

BUCKLEY: But when an SBA officer came to assess the damage, it was difficult to quantify a lifetime of memories.

PRETZINGER: It's hard to talk about it.

BUCKLEY: At 75, this tough cowboy plans to rebuild here. Maybe by next Christmas, they'll be gathered around the fireplace again. Maybe they'll get a 22-footer like they did that first Christmas year, before the fire. Frank Buckley, CNN, Los Angeles.


COOPER: Changing gears now.

The season for holiday classics, whether in print or small screen has arrived. You might remember the hit a few years ago, the book and made for TV movie "The Christmas Box." The book is still making a huge impact.

Tonight author Richard Paul Evans joins from us Salt Lake City, Utah.

Richard, thanks very much for being with us.

This book is really just extraordinary. I mean, it keeps going on and on. It started out as a book you wrote for your two daughters. I think you made copies of it at Kinko's?

It's now you know, been reprinted I think, 8 million copies are floating out there.

Why do you think it resonates with people so much?

RICHARD PAUL EVANS, AUTHOR, "THE CHRISTMAS BOX": Well, two things. to me the book was about the connection between a parent and a child, but what I hear from readers is that people tell me the book is very healing. People tell me who are suffering from losses, especially at this time of the year when it's so difficult, that it brings them comfort.

COOPER: In the book, a widow mourns for the lost of her daughter at a statue of an angel. I understand that 40 or so statues of angels have been built since this book came out across the country. When you hear things like that, when see these images, when see people going and going to these statues to reflect, it's got to be an extraordinary feeling.

EVANS: You know, it's amazing to me. Someone asked if I'm surprised about it. I'm surprised the book was ever published. But to go all across the country, next year it goes into four other countries, to hear people's stories, is miraculous.

COOPER: I hope this isn't a cheesy question.

Has this changed the way you celebrate Christmas?

EVANS: Some. Christmas starts in September for us. I spend a lot of time on the road with my books. I've written nine novels since then. And so it changes a little bit.

COOPER: Well, we wish you a good holiday season to you and your family. It's a remarkable book. And appreciate you talking about it.

Richard Paul Evans, thank you. EVANS: Thank you.

COOPER: All right.

Time to check on some more ridiculous news in tonight's pop culture "Current"

Florida officials say rapper Trick Daddy will talk to high school students about the dangers of guns, drugs, and violence. The talks are a condition of his plea on cocaine and weapons charges. And they'll send high schoolers the precautionary message, they too can become big stars even with major felonies on their records.

William Shatner back in the recording studio. The "New York Post" reports Shatner says he just finished a new album, believed to be his best album ever. And that is saying something.

Dennis Rodman is back, kind of, maybe, sort of. He's signed to play with the American Basketball Association's Long Beach Jam. The move is part of his bid to return to basketball's major leagues and maybe, just maybe someday play with the WNBA.

Ben Affleck tells the "Boston Herald" he and Jennifer Lopez have no plans to get married and it was actually she who first raised the idea of putting off the wedding. That idea about the strippers -- that was all him. No doubt about it.

We've been looking back at some of the big stories of 2003. And with terrorists targeting the U.S. and the economy in a slump, you'd think America's richest CEOs would have been doing their bid this year for the country by at least playing by the rules, right -- well not necessarily. If 2003's corporate hall of shame has been any indication.


COOPER (voice-over): Take Sam Waksal, the penal system did. They'll have Waksal for seven years during which he can assess what patriotic impulse led him to bilk ordinary investors by trading on inside knowledge of FDA concerns about his company ImClone's new drug. A drug that's showing some promise in new trials thanks to the power of irony.

Irony was also in full force this year for the meticulous Martha Stewart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you scared at the prospect of going to jail?

COOPER: She could still whip up a souffle but she was forced to step down somewhat from the mess her company had become. To fend off charges related to her own sale of ImClone stock. Stewart's toning down her holiday festivities this season. So maybe party meister Dennis Kozlowski can pick up the slack. He's charged with sucking hundreds of millions out of Tyco a nice way of saying he allegedly ripped off lots of shareholders in part to fund his on going homage to the Roman Empire.

Still safely outside the hall of corporate shame this year, though, are the boys of Enron, Skilling and Lay. No charges filed in 2003. Maybe next year, guys.


COOPER: This were others. We could have put them in there too.

His humor started a trend, it also got Lenny Bruce in trouble. But now after his death, his criminal record is wiped away just today. More on that just ahead.

Plus holiday tips from some of those queer eye guys.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: Well, comedian Lenny Bruce did not live to see this day, the day he is no longer a criminal. New York Governor George Pataki today pardoned Bruce posthumously for a 1964 obscenity conviction, calling the move a declaration of first amendment freedoms.


COOPER (voice-over): There are many like him now. Or at least many who think they're like him. But back then, he was all alone. Lenny Bruce was a dark, drug addicted, savage critic of hypocrisy, wielding language the way others might wield a razor. It was comedy that cut deep and Lenny Bruce got into an awful lot of trouble for it.

LENNY BRUCE, COMEDIAN: At the time, I was very involved with integration and I was doing a bit that really walked the wire. And there were four Southerners to my right who didn't agree with my point of view.

COOPER: He spent years using up his money and energy and some would say his sanity defending himself in court against obscenity charges. Lenny Bruce died at 37 in 1966, of an overdose of heroin with a conviction against him still on the books. He used words one couldn't use, made points one couldn't make, slew sacred cows left and right with abandon. In other words, blazed a trail for more performers than you could possibly count. So much was off limits before he remade the limits.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I can say, all that [ bleep ]. And even if you're offended I won't get arrested. Thanks, Lenny.

COOPER: Now nearly 40 years later, he's been pardoned. We think we know exactly what Lenny Bruce would say about all this. But we can't say it ourselves. Not without being bleeped.


COOPER: Lenny Bruce. Not sure what Lenny Bruce would think of our next guest. The stars of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." They stopped by 360 to spread some holiday cheer. I talked with food and wine connoisseur Ted Allen and fashion-savant Carson Kressley.


COOPER: All right, let's talk holidays.

Yes, holidays are coming up. You've got lots of holidays. You've got Kwanzaa, you've got Christmas...



KRESSLEY: Is Ramadan over?

COOPER: That's over.

KRESSLEY: Darn it, I missed Ramadan again.

COOPER: We've also got New Year's. So some recommendations. First, let's talk some fashion recommendations. For holiday parties.

KRESSLEY: You know, holiday parties, I think people worry about it too much and really shouldn't worry about it. Basically, the rules are simple. Don't wear a sweater that has, like, a Christmas tree or reindeer on it. You don't want to look like the holiday special, OK?

You just want to wear luxurious fabrics or something a little bit more special than you normally wear and if you, say, you're working at your desk, you know, during the day, you've got a holiday party at 6:00. Just throw on a pair of cool vintage jeans, wear your suit jacket, put on a vintage tuxedo shirt, boom, you're ready to go.

COOPER: There's a lot of velvet happening this season, right? I saw an episode recently, you put a former marine in a velvet jacket and the ladies loved it.

KRESSLEY: Velvet is great for the holidays. It's something special. It's something maybe you don't wear all throughout the year. But it's easy. You could buy one velvet jacket.

COOPER: I've got to call you, though, on something. Your hot tip section on the show. As you can clearly see, I watch this show a lot. Your hip tip. You counsel people to wear a tie as a belt.

KRESSLEY: Oh, did I say that?

COOPER: I've got to tell you, who on the planet does that?

TED ALLEN, CO-HOST, "QUEER EYE FOR THE STRAIGHT GUY": Bing Crosby did it in movies.

KRESSLEY: Thank you.


KRESSLEY: I'm bringing it back. I'm bringing it back.

COOPER: You're going to single-handedly fight for this?

KRESSLEY: Yes, yes, the tie industry is counting on me. No one's wearing them on the neck...

COOPER: Do you wear ties as belts?

KRESSLEY: I do. Can you vouch for me?

ALLEN: Oh, absolutely he does. He wears crazy things.

COOPER: I shouldn't have asked.

ALLEN: He wears things that should not be left to amateurs.

COOPER: Would you wear a tie as a belt?

ALLEN: No, but I approve of the practice in the right hands.

COOPER: You're glad you live in a country where some people can wear ties as belts if they so choose.

KRESSLEY: It's not for amateurs but it still can be a good look.

COOPER: All right, holiday parties. Some recommendations?

ALLEN: Let's see. First of all, there are several rules about parties that make things better for everybody. Get a drink in your guest's hands within the first five minutes.

COOPER: Oh really, that sort of sets the mood?

ALLEN: Well, it's just, you know, we're celebrating now. Let's get started. Don't throw people's coats on the bed. People hate that.

KRESSLEY: Yes, that really -- you lose hats and gloves, they get linty, and they rub together, and you always run the risk that one of your guests is going to upgrade.

ALLEN: Yes, exactly. Like that "Seinfeld" episode where the guy ran off with the fur coat.

I've also heard of people put the food by the bar and that always causes problems.

COOPER: See, I don't go to parties so I don't necessarily know these things.

ALLEN: That's an old frat party trick. You put the drinks on one end of the room, and the food on the other. In the frat case, it's usually just a pizza but in our parties, it will be the foie gras... COOPER: Can you guys ever stop? I mean, do you go to parties, do you go to stores, or walking down the street, do you constantly, sort of, think about what people should be doing?

KRESSLEY: I try to put my blinders on. Because if I was trying to make everybody over that I saw throughout the day, I'd probably wouldn't ever sleep.

ALLEN: You've got to reserve a little off-duty time also.

KRESSLEY: We're like cops. You know, sometimes we just need down time.

COOPER: All right. Let's end it there, guys. Thanks very much. It was really (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KRESSLEY: Thank you so much.

ALLEN: Thank you.


COOPER: All right, so do you have plans for New Year's? I hope you'll spend it with me. I'm going to be live in Times Square from 11:00 p.m. to 12:30. Not quite Dick Clark, but it'll be even better. Covering all the craziness and if you're going to have a big party, we want to be invited, frankly, to your party.

So we're having a contest to pick the ultimate 360 New Year's Eve party. Check out details at If we pick your party, we'll feature it live on the air with our party on New Year's Eve.

And you know, it just wouldn't be Christmas without a cheesy knock-off of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas." Coming up, a cheesy knock-off of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas." And join us again Friday when we look back at the year's wildest trials. We'll catch you up on all the holiday news.

But first, today's "Buzz." Does Lee Boyd Malvo deserve the death penalty? What do you think? Vote now. We'll have the results at the end of the program.


COOPER: Time now for "The Buzz." We asked you, does Lee Boyd Malvo deserve the death penalty? Well, tonight, we got a different verdict than the jury did. Today, 74 percent of you said yes, he does deserve the death penalty. 26 percent said no. Not a scientific poll, just your buzz.

'Twas "The Nth" before Christmas, we finished our jobs. Not a creature was stirring, not even Lou Dobbs.

The Nielsens were tracked by the suits with great care. In hopes the good ratings soon would be there.

The anchors were nestled all snug in their beds while personal assistants brought rugs for their heads.

When outside the set there arose such a clatter, I clapped on my lights and said, "oh, what's the matter?"

Away to the window the camera pans, revealing a gaggle of CNN fans. "Hey Cooper, where's Gupta, where's Hemmer, that vixen, where's Woodruff, where's Carlson, where's Carville or Blitzer?"

I spoke not a word but went back to my work, and read all the copy then turned with a jerk.

And lifting a finger made clear to the mob, that stalkers are not a fun part of this job.

I sprang to my feet, to my crew gave a whistle. And the fans, they took off like a patriot missile.

But they heard me exclaim, "at least, next time, name me." Happy Christmas to all and to "The Nth Degree."

I'm Anderson Cooper. "PAULA ZAHN NOW" is next.


Sentenced to Life Without Parole>

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