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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
Southeast Asia Struggles to Deal with Thousands of Dead
Aired December 28, 2004 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KITTY PILGRIM, HOST (voice-over): An ocean of sorrow left in the wake of a south Asian tsunami as the scope of death and devastation become clear. Tens of thousands dead as battered countries struggle to care for survivors.
ANIL JASINSHE, COLOMBO CENTRAL HOSPITAL: The conditions, you know, you don't have electricity. You don't have water service. The buildings are shattered. The hospitals are shattered.
PILGRIM: The tragedy of the Indian Ocean tsunami spurring a worldwide outpouring of aid. We'll discuss the fear of disease with David Nabarro of the World Health Organization as well as aid priorities with Andrew Natsios of USAID.
And a United Nations official implies the United States is not giving its fair share of aid to the flood-ravaged areas. The U.S. fires back.
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: The United States is not stingy. We are the greatest contributor to international relief efforts in the world.
PILGRIM: We'll have a special report on the friction between the United States and the international organization.
And in "Broken Borders" tonight, President Bush says the best way to deal with illegal aliens is a guest worker program. But one former INS agent says that idea is full of holes. Michael Cutler is our guest.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT for Tuesday, December 28. Here now for an hour of news, debate and opinion, sitting in for Lou Dobbs, who is on vacation, Kitty Pilgrim.
PILGRIM: Good evening.
Tonight, the sheer power and destruction of the tsunami continues to unfold. Thirty-three thousand people confirmed dead. Some reports putting the number of casualties as high as 60,000. At least a third of the victims were children.
Sri Lanka was the hardest hit, more 18,000 people killed; 9,500 dead in India; nearly 5,000 in Indonesia; more than 1,000 killed in Thailand.
Satinder Bindra reports from Galle, Sri Lanka.
SATINDER BINDRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This eyewitness video obtained by CNN shows a 20-feet high tidal wave ripping through the southern Sri Lankan town of Galle. The savage sea consumes everything in its wake: homes, cars, vans and furniture.
Terrified residents try to find cover. Many don't make it. Within seconds, hundreds in this town, many of them children, are engulfed by the raging waters.
Doctors say most of the children died of trauma injuries. Others drowned.
Police say about 1,000 Galle residents died when this entire train was tossed around like a toy. Nature didn't even spare miles and miles of steel track.
Galle's more able-bodied adults survived by clamoring upon buses as the waters receded, these survivors had the unbearable task of taking their loved ones home.
Others frantically search everywhere for their family members. Unable to find them, their grief explodes.
Thousands in this world famous beach resort and across Sri Lanka are still missing. But hopes of finding any more survivors are fading fast. Rescue workers in Galle are now only pulling out badly decomposed corpses.
(on camera) Over the past two days, more than 800 bodies have been brought to this hospital alone. With 300 of them still unidentified, hospital staff here are now organizing mass burials.
(voice-over) Fearing the spread of illness and disease, authorities organize a massive cleanup. Mangled cars are pulled out from under tons of rubble. Dozens and dozens of such buses will soon end up in the scrap yard.
These holiday season signs seem eerily out of place in this grief-stricken city. No one here wants to participate in new year's celebrations. Sri Lanka has already declared five days of national mourning. And all Galle's residents can think of is thousands of their countrymen, friends and family members who will not be with them in the new year.
Satinder Bindra, CNN, Galle, southern Sri Lanka.
PILGRIM: Turning to Indonesia, like in many other parts of Southeast Asia, the massive loss of life is evident everywhere you turn. Parents desperately searching for children, families ripped apart in a matter of seconds.
Mike Chinoy has that report from Banda Aceh, Indonesia.
MIKE CHINOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We've heard the astronomical numbers, but nothing can prepare you for a scene like this. The remains of men, women and children, about 1,000, the workers say, piled high for burial in a mass grave. The stench is overpowering, contaminating the area, felling bystanders.
The grief is equally powerful.
"I lost everyone and everything" says 30-year-old Yusniati (ph). "My four children and my husband are gone, gone. I was holding my 8- month-old in the waters, but the waves pulled us apart."
But Yusniati (ph) knows where her 3-year-old is. She found his body in the street and brought him here.
(on camera) This scene is so horrible, there are no words to describe it. And what makes it even more awful is the fact that the bodies behind me are just a small fraction of the overall number who died here.
(voice-over) "There are still a lot of bodies out there," says Alan Sol (ph), "because so much of Banda Aceh was flooded by the waves."
There's no dignity in this kind of death. It feels more like a garbage dump than a grave. But in their desperate struggle to bury decomposing bodies before the danger of epidemics grows even greater, the authorities have little choice.
Mike Chinoy, CNN, Banda Aceh, Indonesia.
PILGRIM: On the resort island of Phuket, Thailand, the devastation was widespread during this peak holiday season. Many said they saw the tidal wave coming, but there was simply no time to run.
ITN's Adrian Britton has more from Phuket, Thailand.
ADRIAN BRITTON, ITN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An outdoor mortuary where the bodies of nearly 700 people have been recovered from the rubble of Khao Lak Beach, most from the collapse of a single hotel.
The corpses are taken away by the truckload to be claimed and grieved over by their relatives.
Further south in Phuket, the coffin makers cannot work fast enough in the tropical heat. Three days after this disaster, Patong hospital is still receiving the dead in high numbers.
(on camera) Behind me on the right, bodies are being laid out. Families are coming here to see if they can identify any of their lost relatives. And immediately behind me, coffins are being stacked up, large ones and smaller ones for children.
(voice-over) Westerners sift through photographs of the deceased, knowing recognition will confirm their worst fears. The walls of an emergency center are covered with list of those killed and faces of the missing.
Robbie George from the Isle of Wight has come here for news of his friend he last saw on Phi Phi Island.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he gave me his pack (ph) and said, "Look, five minutes, and I'll be with you, like." And then he just didn't get the boat, so I'm stuck with his bag and that, just waiting for him to turn up. I don't know when he's going to turn up.
BRITTON: Imagine a mile-long stretch of seafront where every shop has been bombed. That is the type of devastation along the beach road in Patong. This speedboat was swept into Bruce Hutman's (ph) apartment. He escaped serious injury, but vividly recalls the morning the sea came in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard somebody on the television say it's like being in a washing machine. It is, but with enormous pieces of concrete and all sorts of stuff flashing backwards and forwards across you. And how we didn't get killed, I don't know.
BRITTON: And three days it has taken for this young Swedish survivor to be identified. His father is in hospital. His mother, still missing. But tonight, he is in the arms of his grandmother.
Adrian Britton, ITV News, Phuket.
PILGRIM: Many of the injured have been rushed to area hospitals. The hallways are packed with those in desperate need of medical care. Basic medical necessities, however, are either nonexistent or in short supply.
Hugh Riminton reports from Colombo, Sri Lanka.
HUGH RIMINTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Amid survival stories, a tale of no survivors. On Sri Lanka's west coast, south of the capital, Colombo, all 1,000 people on this eight-carriage train are now recorded as dead or missing.
It was the same series of waves that hit English tourist Peter Etheridge on a nearby beach.
PETER ETHERIDGE, TOURIST: I couldn't believe the power. It was just unbelievable.
RIMINTON: Taken to Colombo's main hospital, he cuts a lonely figure. The wave swept away Pat, his wife of 32 years.
ETHERIDGE: And then it came in again. I could hear my wife scream. I knew where she was. And I was hiding behind a roof. And I went around to get her. And then just all hell broke loose, and that was the last time I saw her.
RIMINTON (on camera): Despite the stories in these wards, doctors are being stripped out of the capitol, Colombo, to fill the overwhelming needs out in the district hospitals that are bearing the brunt of this medical emergency.
(voice-over) One hundred and twenty-five doctors, many of them volunteers, have already been airlifted to front line clinics. The burnout rate, just 48 hours before most need to be relieved.
JASINSHE: The conditions, you know, you don't have electricity. You don't have water service. The buildings are shattered; the hospitals are shattered.
HUGH RIMINTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The immediate needs: antibiotics and painkillers. The medical challenges: wound infection, respiratory problems among those who inhaled water and bodies, so many they threaten to contaminate everything.
RIMINTON: Communications are so broken down in so many of these areas that these medical teams that have gone into these district hospitals, in many cases, have not reported back to the center in Colombo. It means that the people trying to coordinate this emergency simply don't know what these medical teams need or what they're confronting in the villages where they've been sent -- Kitty.
PILGRIM: Hugh, are there enough doctors and medical supplies in the region to treat the wounded?
RIMINTON: The immediate answer to that is that they don't need doctors volunteering from overseas. They can manage the doctors as that aspect of the medical emergency from within Sri Lanka, they say.
What they are desperately short of is fresh antibiotics, fresh painkillers, and they say they need to have the world on notice for other needs that might emerge in the days and weeks ahead.
PILGRIM: All right. Thank you very much.
Thank you, Hugh.
Just ahead, the U.N. comes out swinging, criticizing U.S. efforts to help the survivors of the tsunami disaster. And facing the next threat: disease among the devastation. We'll hear from David Nabarro of the WHO. He says the loss of life could double because of widespread disease.
PILGRIM: One of the largest worldwide relief efforts in history is underway to help the victims of the tsunami. The U.S. State Department announced that an additional $20 million in aid will be added to the $15 million the United States has already pledged for nations hit by this weekend's tsunami.
Now, despite that effort, there was sine sharp criticism from the United Nations that rich countries are being "stingy." Senior United Nations Correspondent Richard Roth has the report.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The destruction is in two waves. The first wave is, of course, over.
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The first wave may be over, says U.N. emergency aid coordinator Jan Egeland, urgently meeting with ambassadors from tsunami-effected countries.
But Egeland has made waves of his own that are once again rippling waters between the U.N. and the United States. Egeland launched a political tidal wave of sorts Monday calling on countries to do more to help the world.
JAN EGELAND, U.N. EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR: We were more generous when we were less rich, many of the rich countries, and it is beyond me why we are -- why are we so stingy, really, when we are -- and even at Christmastime?
ROTH: Egeland said he was speaking in general on international assistance without naming any countries and not about the tsunami response, but angry U.S. officials were taking Egeland off their Christmas list.
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: The United States is not stingy. We are the greatest contributor to international relief efforts in the world. We do more to help people who are suffering from lack of food or who are in poverty or suffering from HIV/AIDS.
ROTH: The timing of Egeland's remarks were startling, considering relations between the U.N. and Washington are at a very chilly point over the Iraq war and oil-for-food scandal. Singed over the stingy remark, Egeland backpedaled hours after Powell spoke.
EGELAND: I have been misinterpreted when I yesterday said that my belief that rich countries, in general, can be more generous -- it has nothing to do with any particular country or the response to this emergency. ROTH: In the overall assistance numbers game, the United States is the largest financial donor country in the world, but, along with other wealthy countries, remains below target levels of money promised to poorer nations by 2015.
IAN WILLIAMS, U.N. ANALYST: It's pocket change in terms of the demands that are needed, and it's pocket change in terms of what the U.S. is spending. This is basically the toilet on a B-1 bomber.
JOEL MOWBARY, COLUMNIST: The United States, at the end of the day, does come through and does help fund the things that need to get funded. We are the most generous nation on earth without question.
ROTH: Jan Egeland has made such a plea before. He had to call Washington last night to try to explain himself. He's also indirectly said India and rich Gulf states should do their part.
Yesterday at the U.N., he said politicians don't understand their citizens want to give more to help in crises like this. Also, it's hard to calculate American donations, Kitty, since American citizens give a lot on their own.
Last year, the U.S. gave $241 billion in domestic and international charitable causes.
PILGRIM: I think the United States is a very generous nation as a rule.
ROTH: Well, for Jan Egeland, he's frustrated. He's been in Sudan, he's been in a lot of places, and he's been calling for months for a lot of countries to do something to help people. He picked the wrong time. Political timing atrocious considering the situation between the U.S. and the U.N.
PILGRIM: All right. Thanks very much.
Thank you, Richard.
The Pentagon plans to send hundreds of troops, ships, helicopters and supplies to Thailand to help the tsunami victims, and a force similar in size to the 600 troops sent to the Philippines earlier this year will be dispatched in aid, in relief operations to the region.
A six-ship task force that will be led by the USS Warship Bonham Richard left Guam, and the airport carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. Its five support ships sailed from Hong Kong, and they were carrying medical facilities, water purification and equipment.
Well, that brings us to the subject of tonight's poll. Do you believe the United Nations' initial criticism of U.S. generosity was justified? Yes or no? And cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll bring you the results later in the show. Still ahead, I'll be joined by the head of our government's main foreign aid organization. Now it has already pledged $35 million to nations hit by the tsunami. Is that enough? Andrew Natsios will be my guest.
Also, fear of cholera and malaria epidemics now the greatest concern for stricken regions. We'll be joined by the head of crisis operations for the World Health Organization. He warns there could be as many deaths from disease as from the tsunami itself.
And another bloody day across Iraq one month ahead of planned elections in that country. We'll have the report from Baghdad.
Stay with us.
PILGRIM: The U.S. Agency for International Development pledged an additional $20 million on top of the $15 million the United States has already pledged to help in areas hit by the tsunami. Now the funds will go to help provide water and sanitation supplies in the region.
Joining me now from Washington is the head of USAID, Andrew Natsios.
And thanks very much for being here this evening. I know you're very busy, and you're taking a minute to talk to us. We appreciate it.
What's the first order of operation, sir?
ANDREW NATSIOS, ADMINISTRATOR, USAID: Well, the first thing we do is do assessments on the ground to see what the needs are. We don't want to base this on rumor or speculation as to what the needs are.
We have disaster assistance response experts from the U.S. government in what's called a dart team out in the field, in the four most effected countries, and they're working with local officials and NGOs to assess the needs, and that will drive further contributions by the U.S. government.
The initial $35 million we've put into this is just a bank account that they can draw on from the field to put money into the response initially.
PILGRIM: Can it go awry? Can it get messed up this early in the phase by just rushing everything there?
PILGRIM: Do you need to go in an orderly manner?
NATSIOS: I've been doing this for 15 years, and sometimes you get reports through the international media that are -- get garbled. I remember responding in the Kurdish emergency to a meningitis epidemic when someone had mistaken -- it was actually a cholera epidemic, and the wrong medication was sent, and people died as a result of that.
And so we need to make sure what we're doing responds to the needs on the ground, not what we think from 6,000 miles away might be needed.
PILGRIM: We're hearing about the potential for disease taking additional victims. How worried are you about that?
NATSIOS: We are worried because what happens in any tsunami, these massive waves, is the sewer and water systems get combined. They get put together, and, as a result of that, the only water people drink is basically mixed with sewage, and that means a high risk of cholera and other communicable disease that can begin epidemics. So we are very worried about that. That's the principal order of response at this point.
PILGRIM: A lot of people are left homeless. In fact, there's no estimate really on the number. And yet grouping them together is maybe a mistake. Tell us a little bit about that.
NATSIOS: Well, the shelter requirement is the second requirement, but we're dealing primarily in tropical climates. It's not the wintertime there, and so people are not at risk of hypothermia.
But we need shelter materials in and blankets just for the evening. People are traumatized by this physically and psychologically, and we need to get some shelter arranged for them.
The biggest task, though, is the reconstruction and rehabilitation phase where we bring the societies back so they can cope with these things on their own.
PILGRIM: A lot of hospitals were damaged in certain areas. Do you bring in full-blown hospitals?
NATSIOS: Well, it fends on the country. In the case of this emergency, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia have established health-care systems. They have a lot of doctors in the country itself who speak the local language and know what's going on.
We have sent some medical responders, emergency responders in. But the principal response will be done by local people, local NGOs and charities, the Red Cross movements in the countries, the national governments, and our job is to support their efforts with our financial resources and our commodities.
PILGRIM: There's such a wide swathe of destruction here, and you're dealing with so many countries. Doesn't that complicate your efforts?
NATSIOS: It does. I've been through emergencies for 15 years. I've never seen anything so complicated because we're getting reports from Tanzania and Somalia of people getting killed from tidal waves that are from this massive earthquake. This is the fourth worst earthquake since 1900.
PILGRIM: Well, we certainly wish you every success in your efforts. And thank you very much for explaining it to us tonight.
Andrew Natsios, USAID.
NATSIOS: Thank you very much.
PILGRIM: Still ahead, a chilling warning tonight that disease could double the death toll of the tsunami disaster, and we'll be joined by the top official from the World Health Organization.
Stay with us.
ANNOUNCER: LOU DOBBS TONIGHT continues. Sitting in for Lou Dobbs, Kitty Pilgrim.
PILGRIM: In a moment, we'll be joined by David Nabarro of the World Health Organization, and we'll be talking about the global health concerns following the tsunami.
But, first, a look at some of the top stories.
Tonight, at least two people were killed, another injured after a building explosion in Ramsey, Minnesota. One survivor was airlifted out of the rubble earlier today. Natural gas was cited as the likely cause of the explosion.
The ousted CEO of Fannie Mae is getting a big severance package. Franklin Raines who retired after accounting problems were discovered at the nation's biggest mortgage company will get a total package worth nearly $20 million. He'll also get a stipend of more than $100,000 a month for the rest of his life. The governmental agency that oversees Fannie Mae may challenge the pay package.
Finally, in Ukraine, supporters of Viktor Yushchenko are celebrating as a rerun of the contested presidential election shows him ahead by more than two million votes. But his opponent, Viktor Yanukovich, is refusing to concede. An official winner has yet to be declared.
Relief workers are in a race to help prevent more deaths in the aftermath of the tsunami. I spoke earlier with David Nabarro from the World Health Organization in Geneva, and I asked him what the immediate priorities are.
DAVID NABARRO, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Well, we've got to get absolutely clear assessments of what the situation is in all the areas that were hit either by earthquakes or by tsunami. Each country then has to be clear as to what the priorities are in terms of ensuring access to food, to water, sanitation, shelter and to tackling potential disease threats. Within the next 24 hours, I would expect to see, from each country, a pretty clear, immediate response plan.
And then by Thursday or Friday, we should be in a position where the international community, that's the U.N., the NGOs and the governments have got the beginnings of their first stage response plans in place, and we get a coordinated funding position and response established. The concern is going to be that some of the international relief which is already starting to move into the area does not directly reflect the most immediate needs of the governments, and we could end up with a mismatch, and then we get clogged airfields. We get transportation systems blocked and we do not get aid meeting the people who need it the most.
PILGRIM: Do we know how -- what the extent of the magnitude of this disaster is yet, or are we still finding things out?
NABARRO: I think we're still finding things out. During today, we've seen the size in terms of the death toll climbing quite markedly. And I think it's because we've got a clearer understanding now of how badly Indonesia has been affected, particularly the province of Aceh. And we're also realizing that the Andaman and Nicobar Islands were badly hit, too. But I think what we still don't know is to the extent the infrastructure in the affected area has been damaged, and therefore, the likelihood of further suffering and risks as a result of the difficulties people will face during the early stages of recovery.
PILGRIM: There may be -- there may have to be temporary settlements for people while things are figured out. Is that necessarily the best plan, or doesn't that concentrate people into large areas together where contagion is possible?
NABARRO: Well, I think the line being taken by the World Health Organization and public health professionals generally is that we've got to be very careful during the next few weeks as to how we react to the likelihood that there are going to be many people without homes. So firstly, we've got to look at the possibility of access to clean water and sanitation and ensuring that people are able to not face increased risks because they're drinking water that has been contaminated with sewage or chemicals or other unpleasant substances. Then we've got to make sure that when people are housed in an alternative location, that there isn't a risk of respiratory infections and pneumonia or that we haven't exposed them to malaria or dengue. And all these potential disease threats could further increase the toll and further increase suffering in the next three to four weeks. It's going to be a very delicate time.
PILGRIM: We've seen very horrifying pictures of rows and rows of people who are dead. Does that pose a health risk in itself? Is it important to bury people quickly, or is that not necessary?
NABARRO: We do not find that dead bodies in the street or in river banks or whatever are in themselves a major health threat. And we do not encourage people to put huge amounts of time and effort into collecting dead bodies and then putting them into mass graves or burning them in a great hurry. Instead, we want them to concentrate on looking after the well-being of those who have survived and making sure that they don't get diseased and further endangered.
PILGRIM: Well, we certainly wish you the best of luck in your efforts. And thank you very much for taking the time to speak to us this evening. David Nabarro, thank you.
NABARRO: And thank you. Good night.
PILGRIM: Turning to the war in Iraq, insurgents today attacked Iraqi forces in a dramatic show of force one day after the latest tape from Osama bin Laden declared a holy war on U.S.-backed elections. Jeff Koinange reports from Baghdad.
JEFF KOINANGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Another day, another chain of bloody attacks on Iraq's beleaguered armed forces. Across the country, insurgents continued to strike with impunity. A U.S. military commander in Baghdad insists these attacks are nothing new.
BGN JEFFREY HAMMOND, 1ST CAVALRY DIVISION: We anticipate that the enemy will express his will in the election process through attacks intimidation, assassinations and other methods designed to destroy life in Baghdad.
KOINANGE: But it's not just in Baghdad. A quick look around the country and the insurgent attacks seem to be better coordinated and bolder in execution. Near the town of Baquba in the Sunni Triangle, Iraqi national guardsmen were conducting a routine parole when their vehicle overran an improvised explosive device, injuring four. As the uninjured soldiers got out to tend to their wounded colleagues, they noticed another device that hadn't exploded and immediately called for bomb experts. As soon as they arrived and began working to defuse the bomb, a suicide bomber rammed his vehicle into the soldiers, killing five and wounding 26. In Tikrit, stronghold of former president Saddam Hussein, insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades, or RPGs, at a police station, then shot their way inside. Killing 12. And the hit and run attacks continue.
HAMMOND: The fact that an enemy can go out into certain locations and launch a rocket or launch a mortar and be gone in about two minutes and 51 seconds, now that's quite a challenge.
KOINANGE: A challenge that's forcing everyone to think twice before taking to the road. In Baghdad, a convoy carrying the commander of the Iraqi national guard from his home to work was targeted in early-morning traffic by a suicide bomber. He escaped unharmed.
(on camera): With the insurgents striking at will and many Sunnis saying they are too frightened to vote, few here are willing to predict just how many Iraqis will turn out on January 30th.
Jeff Koinange, CNN, Baghdad.
PILGRIM: Coming up, much more on the tsunami disaster. We'll be joined by our political panel.
And Visa targets immigrant workers in a new ad campaign. But some say the program pose poses a security risk to this country. That story and much more just ahead.
PILGRIM: Visa International is launching an aggressive campaign to convince Latin American migrant workers to use plastic to send money back home. Now, Visa hopes to take over some of the money transfer business from companies like Western Union and Moneygram. Critics say using debit cards to transfer money raises new security concerns. Lisa Sylvester has the story.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Visa, it's everywhere you want to be, and in some places, you may not expect it to be. Visa International is targeting migrant and other workers from Latin America as its new favorite customer. The company is marketing its smart card that works as a prepaid debit card. Workers in the United States can easily transfer money to relatives abroad at a low cost. The banking industry hopes to tap into the remittance payment market that has been growing at an astronomical pace.
MANUEL OROZCO, INTER-AMERICAN DIALOGUE: In 2001, it is total volume of remittances to Latin American was $18 billion, and it grew to $38 billion three years later.
SYLVESTER: Wire services, including Western Union and Moneygram so far have dominated the $38 billion money-transfer market. A recent study found that 86 percent of remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean were cash transfers, 4 percent home delivery, 4 percent bank or credit union deposit, and 1 percent debit or smart card. Not everyone agrees that banking institutions make it easier to send money out of the country. Critics say nearly $40 billion a year exiting the United States is not small change, and leaves less money for some of the poorest U.S. communities. And there's also a potential security risk.
MARK KRIKORIAN, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: Immigrant remittances are one of the ways bad guys can transfer money across borders because even though most of that money is completely innocent, people working jobs and sending money home, it can serve as cover for terrorists, other kinds of criminals to move money.
SYLVESTER: But Visa and other credit card companies are charging forward, reaching into one of the few untapped markets.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
SYLVESTER: The banking industry is convinced it can capture more of the market because its costs tend to be lower than traditional wire transfers. The bank costs as little as $8 a transfer, using the smart cards, and on the other hand, wire services can cost up to $25 a transfer. Kitty?
PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Lisa Sylvester.
Well, my next guest is concerned about a guest worker program that would legalize millions of illegal immigrants working in the country. He says the current proposals are not practical and pose a security risk. Michael Cutler is a retired 30-year veteran with the Immigration and National Service. He spent most of his career as a criminal investigator and intelligence specialist. And thanks very much for being with us, Michael.
MICHAEL CUTLER, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: Thank you, once again, for having me.
PILGRIM: Why is this proposal not practical? Many think it is practical, get everyone registered, know who's here. It seems very practical.
CUTLER: You won't know who's here because of the crush of humanity showing up at immigration we're going to wind up having to process millions of applications and basically the people at that desk are going to have to take the person's words for who they claim to be. My concern is they are going to wind up giving false names and possibly even circumvent no-fly lists and watch lists at borders so they can enter the United States even though if their real identities were known, they'd be barred from entry and be barred from taking airplane flights.
PILGRIM: So what's your suggestion? We shouldn't register them at all, just let them stay, or register them back in their own countries? What's a more practical solution to this?
CUTLER: In a matter of speaking, we should register them back in their own countries. And this would discourage illegal immigration. If ultimately decide we need guest workers, and I don't know that we do, then we should have them file the applications from back home where we could more properly screen them and discourage people from running the border in the hopes that if they get here, they'll be able to stay.
The other problem we have is right now we're not able to prevent employers from hiring illegal aliens because you've only got 2,000 agents to lend integrity to this process. How do we plan to lend integrity to a guest worker program where these folks are supposed to leave after three years? We don't have the manpower to go out and attempt to make them leave. And we won't even know for certain that they're showing up on the jobs that they claim they're coming to go to work at.
PILGRIM: Michael, we don't have the manpower to actually supervise what's going on now. And you've been in this so long, for so many years. Do you have a solution that you can come up with?
CUTLER: Well, I think, again, that if we do a guest worker program, we need to have these folks apply from their home countries. You know, when the president gave a speech back in January, he talked about a guest worker program, and that translated the next day, according to the border patrol, in a surge of illegal aliens running the border. So the reality is all this does is to encourage more illegal immigration.
And the bureau that's charged with adjudicating these applications have massive problems right now. Mr. Aguirre, who runs the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, that's an arm of the Homeland Security Department, has said that each day, his people have to adjudicate 30,000 applications and issue 20,000 green cards. And right now they have a backlog of over 4 million applications. How do they plan to deal with this tidal wave of applications that are sure to hit the immigration offices around the country?
PILGRIM: Here's what President Bush said recently. We want our border patrol agents chasing crooks and thieves and terrorists not good-hearted people coming here to work. He seems to say, we should focus on people who are trying to come into this country illegally who are terrorists. Do you not think that's a good approach?
CUTLER: I think in principle, it's a great idea. But the problem is, what does a terrorist or bad guy look like? You know, I often like to ask people, what do you think a terrorist does two days before an attack? More than likely he goes to the job he's been holding down for the past five years or attending the school that he's been going to for the past three or four years in an effort to hide in plain sight. We don't know what someone's intentions are when they show up claiming that they're here looking for work.
You know, I wish we had a crystal ball or some kind of a machine that would enable us to see into somebody's heart. And it's all well and good to talk about wanting good-hearted people. But making it reality is something entirely different, then I would challenge anyone that thinks we can do that to show me by what process we can know what somebody intends to do.
PILGRIM: With all your years of experience, we certainly take what you say to heart. Thanks for joining us this evening, Michael Cutler.
CUTLER: Thank you again. Have a happy, healthy New Year.
PILGRIM: You, too.
CUTLER: Thank you.
PILGRIM: Coming up here, a suggestion by the United Nations, an official there, that the United States and other large nations was stingy about international aid. That put the United States on the defensive. We'll have reaction from our political panel.
Also, later, on a much lighter note, celebrating one American classic in full swing that refuses to ship jobs overseas. Stay with us.
PILGRIM: As we reported earlier, an official from the United Nations accused large industrial nations of being stingy with international aid. Well, joining me now from Washington is Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times," Karen Tumulty of "Time Magazine" and Roger Simon of "U.S. News and World Report." And thank you all for being here. Let's take that first issue, the accusation of being stingy. Karen, let's start with you. Do you think this is just a misplaced, ill-advised comment? How do you take it?
KAREN TUMULTY, "TIME MAGAZINE": Well, the -- we certainly saw the amount of aid that the U.S. has pledged dramatically increased today by another $20 million. And as your earlier guest made clear, this is just the beginning. I think that as the size and scope of this disaster becomes clearer and clearer with each passing news cycle, the amount of aid that the United States is going to provide is also going to get a lot bigger.
PILGRIM: I'd like to also insert a statistic here. USAID calculates last year 40 percent of all humanitarian relief worldwide came from the United States. That's hardly a stingy figure. But let's -- Roger, what do you make of this comment? Is this maybe an opportunity to just push people to give more?
ROGER SIMON, "U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT": No. It was a stupid comment. It was incorrect. United Nations officials should follow two rules -- one, think before you talk, and then two, shut up anyway. This is not a helpful comment. It was factually incorrect. And I'd like to point out, aside from the money our government provides, that our citizens provide, that our corporations provide. In 1993, 18 U.S. soldiers gave their lives to try to make it safe enough in Somalia to distribute humanitarian aid. Our contribution to emergency relief goes far beyond dollars. And the notion that rich countries are stingy and poor countries are noble is just nonsense.
RON BROWNSTEIN, "L.A. TIMES": It's interesting, secondary part of this today, obviously there is the immediate question of how much we are going to provide for this incredible disaster. And as Karen said, we significantly upped the ante today, and the administration officials are making clear, this is just the beginning. When we get beyond relief and reconstruction, we could be talking about hundreds of millions, not tens of millions. The other issue, though, kitty, the president has had an agenda, for several years, of changing the way we do foreign aid with the idea of tying the amount of aid more to results and reform in the host countries. It's been a somewhat controversy notion. But one that has broad support across the American political spectrum. So can the rich countries do more? Sure. But do the poor countries also need to have reforms that allow them to better spend the money, more efficiently with less corruption? That is clearly a necessity, too.
PILGRIM: How do you all assess the response, the actual unfolding of the disaster, the sort of lack of warning in certain countries, and then the response to the disaster? Any comments on that, Karen?
TUMULTY: Well, what we've all learned today and the last couple days is absolutely horrifying, which is that there are, in fact, systems in place. And in place in the Pacific Ocean that could have given people a warning that could have saved now, you know, thousands, if not tens of thousands of lives. And I think that, you know, what we're going to have to look at here, where those systems are in place. There are earthquake warnings systems in place in this part of the world. But obviously, the possibility of a tsunami was never taken as seriously as it should have been.
SIMON: But in fairness, I've got to point out, there hasn't been a tsunami in the Indian Ocean since the 1800s, and I think there hasn't been one of this size in 300 years. The question is, what countries -- the warning systems are very expensive to maintain. Which is why the United States is one of the few countries to have them off the Pacific coast. Which of these countries is going to be able to afford to monitor tsunamis for an event that occurs so rarely? You know, to me, it's a terrible, terrible tragedy. But it reminds me we're not quite as powerful on this planet as we think. There are huge tectonic forces at work here, and weather forces that we're never going to be able to control.
PILGRIM: Some have suggested that perhaps global coordination and disaster relief could be improved and that this is the starting point for many countries to get together and form a plan. What do you think of that, Ron?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think that we're going to -- I was thinking, as I was listening to Roger that one of the issues here is going to be governance and the ability of these host countries, in some cases, to effectively coordinate the response and handle the amount of money. You know, we saw before administration officials talking there's only so far we can go in directing these responses. Obviously, there is a question with an event that affects so many countries and with essentially the entire rest of the world wanting to contribute, how do you ensure that efforts are not duplicative and that everyone, in turn, receives some aid? That is one question. But I think the more pressing and difficult one will be ensuring that on the ground, the money is well spent and effectively and efficiently administered.
PILGRIM: You know, it's interesting, and I'd like to add one point, the insurance industry's trying to calculate the cost. You know, it's very hard thing to be doing at a time like this, but it's, in fact, their job. And they find it's not a very high number compared to previous disasters in that most of this wasn't insured. These are enormously poor countries. And so this is not a huge insurance loss. We're talking about dealing with poverty and also a natural disaster compounded together. A very difficult situation.
Any final comments on the week as we go forward in terms of sensitivity of coverage and just the general tone the media is taking with this? I just throw it open to you. BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think that, you know, look, this is an immense tragedy something that most -- many people alive (ph), we've never seen anything quite like this. And obviously, it is riveting the world. And I think there is going to be inevitably, enormous attention to it. There's going to be an enormous outpouring of a desire to help. And I think the challenge, as you correctly suggested, is both to coordinate the international response, but also to ensure that aid reaches people to begin with, many of which are living marginal existences in extreme poverty which only compounds the challenge here.
PILGRIM: All right. We must wrap it up there. Thank you very much for joining us. Karen Tumulty, Roger Simon and Ron Brownstein, thank you.
BROWNSTEIN: Thanks, Kitty.
PILGRIM: Let's turn now to our special report "Made in America." It's a lighter note, but we'd like to make it at this point. It's a national tradition. And we're talking about Wiffle Ball. What many Wiffle enthusiasts may not know is that every ball and bat they play with is made from the original design in Shelton, Connecticut. Philippa Holland has the story.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
PHILIPPA HOLLAND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Wiffle Ball started when David N. Mullany saw his son playing his own version of baseball, a game with a sawed-off broomstick and a plastic ball.
DAVID A. MULLANY, SON OF FOUNDER, WIFFLE BALL: We figured it had enough interest that would keep those nasty young guise out of trouble playing ball. And there might be something to it.
HOLLAND: To improve his son's pitching, they worked together on the ball's design.
MULLANY: We came up with this one design that allowed me to throw a curve and strike out a few more people.
HOLLAND: And in slang, when you swing and miss, you wiff. An American tradition, Wiffle Ball was born.
ANNOUNCER: Hey, kids, here's Whitey Ford, ace pitcher for the world champion Yankees. Here, on his day off, he shows you the secret of major league pitching with the original Wiffle Ball.
HOLLAND: More than 50 years later, Wiffle Ball is played everywhere from backyards to national tournaments. The son of the founder, himself now 64 years old, says quality has always been a top priority. At this manufacturing facility in Shelton, Connecticut, thousands of Wiffle Balls and bats are made every day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The balls really start off as a raw material, polyethylene, get sucked from the hopper into the machine and the finished parts will drop out. And that should happen right about now. HOLLAND: All the raw materials are sourced domestically, and the balls are still made according to the original design.
(on camera): The Mullanys say they're frequently approached by companies offering to help them think their manufacturing overseas. They say it's a short conversation because the answer's always no. Philippa Holland, CNN, Shelton, Connecticut.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
PILGRIM: Still ahead, the results of tonight's poll. Stay with us.
PILGRIM: 60 percent of you believe the United Nations criticism of U.S. generosity was justified. 40 percent do not. Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us tomorrow. For all of us here, good night from New York. ANDERSON COOPER 360 is next.
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