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PAULA ZAHN NOW

Son of BTK Victim Returns to Scene of the Crime; Fighting Terrorism Over the Internet

Aired March 2, 2005 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody. Welcome. Glad to have you with us tonight. Thanks so much for joining us.
The hunt for a serial killer may be over, but the heartbreak and anguish live on in a painful homecoming.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): This the house where a child grew up, where he saw his mother murdered by the BTK killer.

SUSAN PETERS, KAKE ANCHOR: Is there ever a day you don't think about that day?

STEVE RELFORD, SON OF BTK VICTIM: Never.

ZAHN: This is the trip he had to make. Tonight, a journey back to the scene of the crime.

And electronic detectives haunted by the faces of child pornography, searching the darkest corners of the Internet.

DET. SGT. PAUL GILLESPIE, TORONTO POLICE SEX CRIMES UNIT: When we see these images, we actually paint out the victim ourselves.

ZAHN: To save a child.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And we begin tonight with the BTK case.

We learned today that Dennis Rader has met with two of his three court-appointed public defenders. We won't focus on suspect just yet.

We start with one of BTK's living victims. We met Steve Relford earlier this week. And he told me his very tragic story, how, when he was just 5 years old, he actually let BTK into his house and saw his mother murdered. That was 28 years ago. He has since now gone back to his house.

And KAKE reporter Susan Peters joined him. For the first time after so much hurt, he was able to return to that place where his mother died.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ZAHN (voice-over): This is Steve Relford's childhood neighborhood, a once tranquil place that changed forever on March 17, 1977, the day BTK came calling.

RELFORD: On my way back from the store, this man stopped me, shows me a picture, asked me did I know who it was. I told him, no, sir. He said, are you sure? Look at it again. I told him, no, sir, I didn't know who it was. So he let me go.

Just 5 years old at the time, Steve didn't realize the picture was of him and his mother, taken when he was an infant. So, Steve went home, where his brother, sister and sick mother were waiting. Moments later, a knock on the door.

RELFORD: Me and my brother raced to the door. I beat my brother. I let the my mom -- I let BTK in my house.

ZAHN: That knowledge, Steve says, has haunted him for nearly 28 years. And, on Monday, with alleged BTK killer Dennis Rader in jail, he returned to site of his mother's murder for the very first time with reporter Susan Peters. The memories were clearly fresh.

RELFORD: He asked where my mother was and where my parents were. My mom's sick in bed. So, immediately, he starts pulling down the blinds, turns off the TV, reaches in his shoulder holster and pulls out a pistol. About that time, my mother steps to the bedroom door.

ZAHN: His mother, 26-year-old Shirley Vian, recognized the danger and told her children to do what the man said.

RELFORD: He told my mom to put some toys and blankets in the bathroom for us kids. So we did. After that, he took a rope, tied one of the doors shut at the door knob to under the sink, pushed the bed up against the other door.

This was the door I run through. The bed was too heavy for me to push that aside.

ZAHN: Inside, Steve stood on the edge of the bathtub, peeking through a crack above the door, while his mother was brutalized in the next room.

RELFORD: He stripped my mother, taped her hands behind her back, plastic bag over her head and rope tied around her neck.

ZAHN: At one point, Steve tried to fight back.

RELFORD: I told him that I was going to untie the rope from underneath the sink. He told me, if I did, he'd blow my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) head off.

ZAHN: But, minutes later, his mother became quiet. And BTK eventually left. Steve remembers finding her lifeless body.

RELFORD: My mother, laying face down with a plastic bag over her head, a rope tied around her neck, all the fingers in her hands broken.

ZAHN: As he stands in the room where his mother was killed, Steve is badly shaken.

RELFORD: This was our bedroom. My mom's was over there.

PETERS: But your mother was murdered in this bedroom?

RELFORD: Uh-huh.

PETERS: Does it help you to be in the bedroom where your mother was murdered?

RELFORD: In a way that I cannot explain, yes.

ZAHN: How hard was it for you to go back?

RELFORD: It was very difficult, very hard to deal with. But I had to do it for me.

ZAHN: Why?

RELFORD: And my mother.

ZAHN: Tell me why.

RELFORD: Satisfy my own curiosity, if I remembered what I thought I remembered. And I do.

ZAHN: As Steve makes his way into the kitchen, the memories continue.

PETERS: What are you thinking about?

RELFORD: Me and my brother and sister playing.

PETERS: You still miss her.

RELFORD: More than anybody will ever know.

ZAHN: But, eventually, his thoughts turn to Dennis Rader.

PETERS: I want to look eye-to-eye with you. I don't really know what I want to say to you.

ZAHN: Steve had thought that, by going home, it might help him heal some very deep wounds. But now he realizes he may never have peace.

RELFORD: It's a big, big step. With them catching him and then me coming back here, it's a big step towards healing. But, as far as being healed, I'll never be healed.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: His wounds are so deep and so raw. We're all just hoping that he can eventually find way to attempt to heal himself.

Over the years, the BTK killer sent authorities puzzles and clues that seemed like total nonsense. Well, now they are becoming terrifyingly clear.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Perhaps he starts to prowl. And then maybe he has fantasies. And then he'll start to follow after he spots his victim.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Coming up, was the answer really there in a puzzle all along?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Right now, right this very minute, a child is being sexually abused for profit. It could be in the room next to you, the next house, the next town. And you'll never even know it's going on.

Child pornography is a huge criminal business, billions of dollars, and we still no next to nothing about it. Well, why not? Because we're actually trying to protect the victims. But the people fighting this horrible crime are starting to believe that, by staying quiet, that we might be doing more harm than good.

David Mattingly had more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that's identified?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the girl with the rubber ball in her mouth, right?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every week, detectives in the Toronto Police Department child exploitation section try to identify child pornography victims from some of the vilest Internet postings imaginable.

(on camera): Do you remember clearly that first time you saw this kind of material?

KIM MOIR, TORONTO POLICE DEPARTMENT: I thought I was going to cry. It took a lot to still hold it in. My stomach just flipped. And that still happens.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): But out of the 50,000 anonymous faces that officers have to endure, there is one that offers hope.

GILLESPIE: I do believe she's grown up with this. I don't think this is new to her. You can often tell when children appear to be abused or when they are abused whether or not it's the first time or not.

MATTINGLY: She's a girl but no more than 12. But when Detective Sergeant Paul Gillespie directed officers through dozens of the girl's photographs in search of clues, they came up with an idea.

GILLESPIE: When you look at one of these horrific pictures of abuse, unless you put your thumb over it, you just can't even concentrate on anything that might be in the background. So, when we see these images, we actually paint out the victim ourselves. And that led to, well, let's try to rebuild the picture without her in it.

MATTINGLY: It was so simple, they wondered why no one had done it before, erase the girl from the photograph and then fill in the parts of the room that her image had covered up. What they got were surprisingly accurate pictures of crime scenes, pictures they could release to the public, something police rarely do with evidence of cases of child sexual abuse.

(on camera): Were you taking a risk when you went to the public with those photographs?

GILLESPIE: I think you have to recognize there is a potential risk, the risk being that what happens if the offender sees them and recognizes that we're on to him. Could he do something? Could he do something to the victim?

MATTINGLY: Oh, my gosh.

(voice-over): Gillespie believes the girl is being sexually abused by someone as close as a father or an uncle. But with the reconstructed photos, he decided the chances of a breakthrough were too great to keep the photos from the public.

GILLESPIE: We now know where a crime scene was.

MATTINGLY: And the gamble paid off. It was this picture of a hotel room that was the turning point. Someone recognized this bedspread from a Disney resort in Orlando and tipped off the police.

GILLESPIE: I do believe, in this large list of names that we have of people that were at the hotel within this time frame, I absolutely believe he's in that list.

MATTINGLY: But it could still take precious time, perhaps months, before police could check out the thousands of guests who stayed there during that time. All the while, Gillespie is forced to sit on even better evidence that he knows could possibly end his search tomorrow.

(on camera): It has got to be so tempting, knowing that you could just put her picture out there and almost instantly maybe get a tip.

GILLESPIE: Yes. And I do sense that's the way this has to go. MATTINGLY: For Gillespie and the Toronto detectives, it is an agonizing dilemma. Releasing the girl's face to the public would almost certainly help find her, but could easily put her life in jeopardy. And the shame of being revealed could do her lasting harm.

(on camera): The one thing that could break this case wide open is the one thing police have been so afraid to do. They fear that, in holding back, they have made a decision that may haunt them for many years to come.

GILLESPIE: Is that worse than allowing them to suffer for the next five years every day of their life?

MATTINGLY (voice-over): At a recent conference in Texas, law enforcement and child welfare professionals made clear to Gillespie that they believe the time for caution is over.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If they're being put in these positions that they're putting in with this child pornography, I mean, my word, what could be worse than that?

MATTINGLY: It was exactly the answer he wanted to hear. By traveling and raising the question, Gillespie is building support for more aggressive use of the public in child pornography cases.

(on camera): There were people in that audience who strongly believe that you need to put that girl's picture out there right now.

GILLESPIE: Yes. I was -- I was truthfully shocked that there wasn't one person in the audience made up of law enforcement and child protection workers that didn't think we should.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Authorities in the U.S. and Canada may soon put faces of child pornography victims among those of missing children and make them public without revealing why.

But, for now, while the girl's face remains out of the public eye, pedophiles around the world daily seek out her photographs, depicting acts of graphic sexual abuse. Toronto police say they weren't surprised when her photos turned up in the computer of a local scout leader, busted after allegedly sending child pornography to an online officer. Out on bond, the man has yet to enter a plea.

GILLESPIE: But every other seizure, every other arrest that we make, we find men people that have some, and different pictures of her. We have about 200 that we have recovered so far. And it's not unusual for when we -- during the course of a month to find two or three new pictures that we'd never seen.

MATTINGLY: And the pictures are never easy to look at. After years of peering into thousands of young tormented young faces, Gillespie complains of nightmares and wonders how much longer he'll last.

GILLESPIE: I don't know if I have too much longer to be able to do the hands-on work. MATTINGLY (on camera): Why is that?

GILLESPIE: I don't know if I can look at too many more of the pictures. It's been almost five years now. And just when you thought you had seen the worst, you come into work the next day and then some other depravity occurs which you can't just go there.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): So, in the time he has left, Gillespie waits for a break in the case, as a young girl grows up on the Internet enduring unspeakable humiliation. And he hopes this is one child out of thousands whose rescue could be close at hand.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: It's all so sick.

Detective Gillespie has asked Microsoft for some help. They've actually developed some new software to help track pornography, analyze photos and supply data to police in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. And we're told that should be launched maybe by next Wednesday. If you have any information that might help identify the young victim in our piece or any other child victim, you can call the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST, 1-800-843-5678.

Coming up next, we move on to our "Security Watch." The events, of course, of 9/11 changed all of our lives dramatically, even the lives of people who put porn on the Internet.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON MESSNER, INTERNET ENTREPRENEUR: A good week doesn't go by that I don't get death threats.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: An unlikely soldier in the war on terror, armed with X- rated Web sites -- his story when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: And we have one bizarre story for you tonight on our CNN "Security Watch," the Internet pornographer who's actually using the Web to take down terrorists. How does he do it and why?

Tom Foreman has his story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Close by the sunny shores of Maryland in a warehouse near the beach, business is taking off for Jon Messner. Nine years ago, he jumped into the expanding business of Internet porn, using his wife as a model and charging online customers for every peek.

MESSNER: I was actually pretty stupid and happy, like most Americans.

FOREMAN: Soon, he was employing other models, learning the intricacies of commerce on the Web.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I stand or you want me low?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can do whatever you want.

FOREMAN: And porn became a mainstay of his income, his identity.

MESSNER: I will always be, no matter what contribution I am to make to society, I will be first and foremost that pornographer.

FOREMAN: So, even he was surprised when the events of 9/11 changed his life. Ever since, he has used the skills he developed for porn to seize and dismantle terrorist Web sites.

MESSNER: Oh, It's become very popular to hate Americans. You can't swing a dead cat without hitting a terrorist Web site of somebody that wants to bring harm to the American people. No question.

FOREMAN: Among the four billion Web sites in the world are hidden at least 4,000 terrorist-related sites, according to a study by the U.S. Institute of Peace. Last fall, Iraq-based terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi used the Net to post his pledge of loyalty to Osama bin Laden. It was striking example of how terrorists, more than ever, are hiding in plain sight on the Net.

Ben Venzke is a counterterrorism specialist.

BEN VENZKE, FOUNDER & CEO, INTELCENTER: Pulled together disparate parts, groups of people that are spread out around the world that might share a common cause and enabled them to interact and work with each other and collaborate at a much faster speed with much less cost and with much greater security.

FOREMAN: Terrorists and their sympathizers now share everything, from training videos to propaganda online. The result, when the Internet extremist magazine "Al Battar" dedicated an issue to kidnapping techniques, the number of abductions in the Middle East spiked.

When terrorists talked online about striking Spain, the Madrid train bombings followed. And researcher Gabriel Weimann says they do all of this by working through a legitimate Internet service provider.

GABRIEL WEIMANN, TERRORISM RESEARCHER: By the time they realize it and move the Web site, the terrorist will repost it somewhere else. So, it's almost a futile to block them from accessing those providers.

FOREMAN (on camera): Still, terrorists cannot set up a site without A name and address for registration. And, of course, they don't want to use their own. So, when Jon Messner finds a terrorist site, he reports this discrepancy to the Internet provider. The provider drops the contract and Messner snatches it up. (voice-over): Sometimes, he alters the site with pro-American ideas. Often, he encourages discussion of issues that divide the world. It's high-concept, low-tech. And it works, to his peril.

MESSNER: A good week doesn't go by that I don't get death threats.

FOREMAN: Porn still helps pay the bills. Taking out more than a half-dozen terrorist Web sites has cost Messner thousands of dollars.

MESSNER: I don't know why I do this. I just know it's important. I know communication among people is important.

FOREMAN: And if others see a contradiction in a porn king crusader, he does not. Whether providing porn or battling violent extremists, Jon Messner believes he's fighting for freedom.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And we'll leave the contradiction question up to you tonight.

In a moment, we'll be returning to the BTK case. The killer liked puzzles, which he sent to the local media. Well, now that there's a suspect, some of these puzzles are finally making sense.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: And we come back to our top story now.

BTK suspect Dennis Rader met for 45 minutes this morning with his pastor. Interesting, because the pastor is the one who actually gave investigators a list of people, including Rader, who used a computer at the church and a floppy disc BTK sent to a television station that may actually have been from that same computer.

We are also beginning to learn a little bit more about the content of BTK's letters to the media.

Here's David Mattingly.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY (voice-over): At first look, it appears to be a nonsensical mess of 324 letters and 14 numbers. But look closer and you'll see why some now believe this is a BTK code, possibly revealing his tactics and maybe even his identity.

(on camera): When you started looking at this, how did you find all this information here?

GLEN HORN, KAKE NEWS DIRECTOR: Basically, everyone in the newsroom started looking at it as a puzzle, too. And it's like a crossword or like one of the word games. And you just started looking for words. What's absolutely amazing in this, though, is, unlike any other crossword or any other word game, where you're looking for words, as you start to see these words, the reactions of people here in the news room is, oh, my God.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He talked about the relationship in the Scouts.

MATTINGLY: The code was delivered to Wichita station KAKE almost a year ago. Withheld from the public until now, it seems to spell out a three-part chapter, a how-to guide for BTK.

HORN: After the suspect had been apprehended and they had somebody in custody, we felt like the benchmark for what we could and could not release was certainly lowered.

MATTINGLY: The first section seems to describe how the killer stalks a victim. Some words are easy to find: prowl, spot victim, follow, fantasies, steam builds and go for it.

Another section suggests possible disguises: realtor, insurance, serviceman, fake id and handyman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE; Probably, the -- what he pretended to be to gain entry in some of these homes, interesting enough he's maybe spelling out his story in this word puzzle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's part of his address on there. We've seen Dennis Rader, D. Rader.

MATTINGLY: Overnight it's the hottest word puzzle in Wichita. Viewers of the KAKE Web site contacted the station with their own surprising findings of the BTK code.

(on camera): And what are you finding here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a strange reference to number 2043 that this writer says also is a reference to a chemical term. Notice the initials are BTK.

MATTINGLY: But the most surprising finding of all may be in a small set of numbers, 622 and 0, slightly out of sequence, but identical to the house number of BTK suspect Dennis Rader.

TIMOTHY ROGERS, WICHITA EAGLE: Would you have seen it before Mr. Rader was arrested? Probably not. Now that it's there, hey, someone should have seen it.

MATTINGLY: Are we possibly reading more into this than you need to?

ROGERS: I think you could be, or it could have been his way of trying to provide the clues and saying, hey, it was all there in front of your face, you just didn't see it.

MATTINGLY: Also a recipient of numerous BTK communications over the years, the Wichita Eagle Newspaper reports finding 130 words, numbers and phrases in the code. But many seem to have no connected to the case, or do they?

What is clear to those who have poured over these cryptic communications is that the killer seemed to enjoy playing games.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe that situation was like I handed you what I was doing or how you could find me, you just weren't smart enough to put it together.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And David Mattingly joins us now.

David, this is just so weird. Some of these words were pretty easy to find in the puzzle, prowl, spot victim, follow, fantasies, steam builds, go for it. But you actually found a phrase that was more startling than these very simple words. What did you spot?

MATTINGLY: It was one very small phrase in the lower right-hand corner of that page we were looking at. And it says, lost pet.

If you remember, Dennis Rader was an animal control officer for the city he lived in and people were encouraged to call him if they had a lost pet. Again, it could be a case of coincidence, we don't know how he's going to plead in this case. But again, something that certainly raises eyebrows in a case that has been going on for a very long time.

ZAHN: Do we have any idea when police started taking any of these clues seriously from this puzzle?

MATTINGLY: Police leaders tell me that they started to build some momentum about a couple of weeks ago. They had been trying to develop a one on one communication with the killer. They won't go into details about what kind of communication they established. But they were very confident that perhaps some of these communications the killer was providing was giving them the clues they needed to move forward.

ZAHN: But is there any reason to believe that this puzzle specifically or any of these letters directly led to Dennis Rader?

MATTINGLY: What people close to the case will tell me is that it is a culmination of what they saw in the last 11 months, coupled with what they gather back in the '70s and the '80s. This isn't the first time this killer has tried to communicate with people. And it is a not the first time the police have tried to communicate with the killer. They did this back in the '70s as well, not nearly as successful, though, as they did this time.

ZAHN: I'll tell you though, in hindsight, when you look at those numbers, we all have to admit, it is really creepy.

David Mattingly, thanks.

In a minute, we're going to move on to a debate all of us can relate to, well some of us more than others. And we can relate to it because it hits most of us in our wallets, depending on your age.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every week, I'm going to be out, talking about the problem, assuring seniors that nothing will change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: So should Social Security stay the same for everyone? Two women and what could be your future next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: It is an issue that affects all of us, but there is still an awful lot of confusion out there about Social Security reform. Before your eyes glaze over, we want to help you to understand it, because we spent a lot of time working on this ourselves.

Both the president and his opponents are trying to get people to focus in on the problem and on possible solutions.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: The money for Social Security comes from payroll taxes. 6.2 percent of what you make, matched by your employer, goes into the system to fund other people's retirement. Right now, more money is coming in than going out. That surplus, the Social Security trust fund, is up to about 1.5 trillion.

Now, the president says, that by 2018 there will be fewer workers and more retirees. And, he says, that's when the problems start.

The money for benefits will be going out faster than the taxes will be coming in. To compensate, the government will have to start dipping into the trust fund to pay retirees what they've been promised. And, according to the White House, by 2042 the trust fund will be gone. Money will keep coming into the system through taxes, but not enough to cover the benefits. They would have to be cut.

The big argument now is how to prevent a crisis. You could, of course, put more money into the system by raising taxes or reduce the amount going out by cutting benefits or even raising the retirement age.

The Bush administration likes the idea of so-called personal accounts. Under one version, younger workers could divert up to 4 percent of the money they're now putting to the system. Their Social Security benefits would be cut, but the White House says, in theory, they would end up with more money for retirement, because of their private investments.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: But now we've got both Democrats and Republicans having some problems with that. For one, private investments would be riskier, younger workers could lose what they put in. For another, the government would have to borrow money, maybe trillions of dollars, to make up for the money that's going into the private accounts instead of the trust fund.

The White House will be pushing even harder to get public support for Social Security reform, holding events in 29 states in over -- in just the next two months alone.

Now should Social Security be tied to income? That is one idea being floated, giving less to rich people who don't really need it, so those who do need Social Security don't lose out. About one in five seniors on Social Security live only on that check, which averages less than $1,000 a month.

Senior political correspondent Candy Crowley now looks at the issue through the eyes of two women with very different lives.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ten a.m. in Fort Lauderdale, 86-year-old Ginia Davis Wexler (ph) is at the community center for a go-around with the girls.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My win! That was good.

CROWLEY: Eleven a.m. in Wilkes-Barre, 72-year-old Betty Jean Knorr (ph) leads exercise class at a senior center.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eight, 9, 10, stop. I felt that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I felt that.

CROWLEY: They have lived in parallel universes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a picture of me singing with Duke Ellington on board the United States. And there's the Duke playing the piano, and I am singing, "In my solitude, you haunt me." A song of Duke's I sang. That was the first song.

CROWLEY: She has lived the life fortunate, giving concerts around the world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I must say this is a very nice album.

CROWLEY: A child of means, Ginia (ph) was 50 when she married a prosperous lawyer. He died more than a decade ago. She's a snowbird now: winters in Florida, summers in Maine. With trusts and his Social Security, she figures her income at about $200,000 a year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And now, our meals that we have every day at the center are a dollar donation, if you have it. And most of us do. But sometimes, especially towards the end of the month before you get your Social Security, sometimes people don't always have it.

CROWLEY: Betty Jean was a senior secretary for a construction firm until her 50s, when she married, and he asked her to quit to be with him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that's Harold up there, right in that big picture there. That's my baby. And that was at Hershey Park.

CROWLEY: She has lived a life comfortable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know. It seems like I knickknack myself to death.

CROWLEY: But not the life certain. Her husband died six years ago. She lives solely his Social Security, and luxury is what she calls the Cadillac of walkers, bought on QVC.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I put my checks in here, and I don't have to worry about somebody stealing it or ripping it off when I go to the bank to put in my little Christmas account, et cetera.

CROWLEY: Betty Jean and Ginia (ph) get roughly the amount of Social Security, about $17,000 a year.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Fixing Social Security permanently will require an open, candid review of the options. Some have suggested limiting benefits for wealthy retirees.

CROWLEY: Means testing, giving less to people with more to help save the system. Critics say it will turn Social Security into welfare and politics on its head.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like it when the moon is out, and the moon is shining across the water. Beautiful.

CROWLEY: Nothing that happens will affect Ginia Wexler (ph) or Betty Jean Knorr (ph), but they are experts on Social Security and well versed, opinionated, surprising.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, Morris. What do you think I'm doing with that? No, he knows darn well. He knows me well enough to know that if I have extra money, I am going to give it away.

CROWLEY: And she does. All his Social Security, and a chunk of her annuities income go to a wide swath of organizations. She believes in charity, and she believes in means testing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What more do I need? I live in this gorgeous apartment. I have a beautiful place up in Maine.

CROWLEY: It is Betty Jean who opposes means testing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's what I'm down to.

CROWLEY: Social, she says, means everybody, security for everybody, something she learned the day Social Security began.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I always remember my dad, because he was one of the first ones that started taking the money out, you know. And he came home, and he said, he said, "Honey," to my mom, because she didn't work, he said, "We aren't going to have to worry," he says. "There's always going to be that kind of rock bottom solid that we'll always have something." (END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: An attitude we could all learn from. Candy Crowley with that story.

One more point to show just how important Social Security is for so many seniors: of the 45 million people who get Social Security, only six million have incomes of more than $50,000 a year.

Fifteen minutes before the top of the hour. That means it's time to check in with Larry king and find out what he's got on tap for tonight.

Hi, Larry.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": First, orange looks great on you.

ZAHN: Thank you.

KING: Sinatra's favorite color.

ZAHN: I didn't know that.

KING: I just thought I'd throw that -- Yes, you look great.

ZAHN: Thanks, Larry.

KING: You always do.

Tonight, a -- the Michael Jackson trial is fully underway up the road a piece. And we'll be covering it tonight with five experts, three of them right on the scene in -- at the courthouse in Santa Maria. So Paula, we'll look at the Jackson matter, but a scant 14 1/2 minutes from now.

ZAHN: The countdown clock is on. I better move along so I don't eat into your time, Larry. Have I ever eaten into -- a second or two into your show? I haven't done that, have I?

KING: No, but you can, Paula.

ZAHN: Well, I just might do it tonight.

KING: You can have your way with me. Go. Go, go ahead. Go.

ZAHN: See you at the top of the hour. Thanks.

The next time you tune in to NASCAR, look for a man who's changing the face of racing, one lap at a time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a role I'm comfortable with. But I'd be much happier if I was talking about race wins and championships.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: We're going to meet you at the track when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: As many of you know because you're big NASCAR fans, it is one of the fastest growing sports in America, millions of new fans flocking to new tracks all over the country. And as you can see from watching on TV, the cars come in all kinds of colors but not necessarily the drivers or the fans.

And Bruce Burkhardt now looks at NASCAR's effort to cross the solid white line.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE BURKHARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Being a racecar driver, it's always been a dream for Bill Lester, the man driving this truck. Such was the dream that this 44-year-old graduate of Berkeley, with an electrical engineering degree, gave up a lucrative job in high-tech to pursue racing, a gamble under the best of circumstances.

But when you're an African-American, trying to break into NASCAR, traditionally an all white sport, it's more than a gamble. It also carries the burden of being a symbol.

BILL LESTER, NASCAR DRIVER: It's a role I'm careful with. But I'd be much happier if I was talking about race wins and championships and things of that nature.

BURKHARDT: It is a role Bill Lester has learned to play well. He's been Exhibit A in NASCAR's five-year-old effort to put race into racing.

TISH SHEETS, NASCAR DIRECTOR OF DIVERSITY AND SPECIAL PROJECTS: No. 1, it's the right thing to do. But also, the potential for growth. We want everyone in America to be a NASCAR fan.

BURKHARDT: With NASCAR being America's fastest growing sport, it may seem as though everyone is already a fan. But the grandstand here in Daytona is still decidedly white and still dotted with the occasional Confederate flag.

LESTER: Is that something that I like seeing? No. Do I pay particular attention? No. You know, I'm in here to do a job.

BURKHARDT: Lester's job is driving in the Craftsman truck series. That's one of the levels just below the elite Nextel Cup series, which you know from the Earnhardts and the Waltrips and the Gordons.

He is the only African-American driver, not just in NASCAR premier events but any of the top tier racing series. The only one but not the first.

Wendell Scott drove in the Grand National Series, today's Nextel Cup, from 1961 to '72, winning one race. But he had to wait until the track had emptied before officials would award him the victory.

And then in the '80s, Billy T. Ritt (ph) was a successful sports car racer, made a go of it in both the Indy series and NASCAR without much success. Then, as now, long-term survivability in racing is dependent on solid sponsorship and a little luck.

(on camera) Getting sponsorship, finding someone to invest millions in a driver, is an uphill battle no matter what your color, but especially so if you're African-American, not necessarily because of racism. Sometimes it's more a question of economics and marketing.

LESTER: Oftentimes, marketers and corporations feel much more comfortable going with the tried and true, the established approach. If we're going to appeal to African-Americans specifically, let's just go with the stick and ball sports. Let's go with the NBA and the NFL.

I'm really proud to represent Honeynut Cheerios cereal brand.

BURKHARDT: But Lester's backers obviously feel differently. He's got an endorsement deal with Honeynut Cheerios, has even appeared on the box a couple of times, and he drives a Toyota truck with the Bill Davis racing team.

BILL DAVIS, NASCAR TEAM OWNER: Toyota had interest in diversity. And we just really felt like, you know, Bill was somebody that can win these races.

BURKHARDT: In the end, winning is what it's all about. And winning solves a lot of the problems, just ask Tiger Woods.

But becoming a top race driver takes years of experience. While the Earnhardts and the Petties grew up learning the nuances of the sport, racing has not been a huge part of the black experience.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hear that we talked about Bill Lester.

BURKHARDT: So NASCAR has been sponsoring drive for diversity seminars like this at North Carolina A&T University to attract young African-American talent to the sport. Like Chris Bristol, a young up and coming driver in racing's minor leagues.

CHRIS BRISTOL, NASCAR DRIVE FOR DIVERSITY DRIVE: Just at our weekly series track, we had two black drivers in the late model division. And you know, we saw a change in fans. We had more African-American fans in the stands. I mean, so if you go from zero to three or five, that's still a 500 percent increase.

BURKHARDT: So Bill Lester is the latest to carry the torch. And though NASCAR, and African-Americans have had a checkered past, all Bill Lester is hoping for is a checkered flag.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And, boy, does he have a great attitude in the meantime. Bruce Burkhardt reporting from Daytona, Florida.

Bill Lester, by the way, recently picked up a new sponsor, and his last race was the California 200 last Friday.

Well, we've got some advice for you next time you eat out. Be very nice to the wait staff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I actually watched the waiter drop their steak on the floor and step on it and then put it back in the box and take it back to the table and hand it to them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Stay with us for the sweet revenge of the waiters.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Diners beware tonight. The next time you stiff a waiter, you may have some really bad luck in store for yourself.

Here's Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ever wonder what the smiling wait staff is really thinking?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So when I come back, and they're like, "We need more bread, please," you don't need any more bread than that.

MOOS: Pardon the pan, excuse the strainer, we're hiding the identity of waiters ready to dish the dirt on what can happen when the customer isn't nice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I actually watched the waiter drop their steak on the floor and then put it back in the box and take it back to the table and hand it to them.

MOOS: Like in the movie "Birdcage," these days you can read all about bad behavior and sweet revenge on Web sites like Bitter Waitress, Stained Apron, Waiter Rant and Shameless Restaurants.

Speaking of shameless, don't ever provoke a lactating waitress, and don't shake up the bartender.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can put Visine in somebody's drink and give them terrible diarrhea, too. One drop of Visine in somebody's drink will send them to the bathroom for the rest of the night.

MOOS: And talk about crappy, Bitter Waitress lists bad tippers by name. And entry about Omarosa from "The Apprentice" asks, "Is this woman even human," for allegedly tipping 15 cents.

J. Lo supposedly complained, "Waiter, this water's too cold. Make it warmer."

And then there's the war story about someone leaving $2 and a coupon for cranberry juice.

No wonder Bitter Waitress sells shirts plastered with the preferred tip.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's also the verbal tip. That's my favorite, when at the end of the meal, you get the, I loved you, it was wonderful.

MOOS: Praise but a lousy tip.

New York City servers point out that without tips they only make three bucks an hour.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The way that people in Israel have to go into the army, I think that everybody in America should have to waitress.

MOOS: But even Jack Nicholson's restaurant run-in...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want me to hold the chicken, huh?

JACK NICHOLSON, ACTOR: I want to you hold it between your knees.

MOOS: ... doesn't compare with a Sizzler waiter who got in a fight with an Atkins dieter who wanted to substitute vegetables for potatoes. The server followed the family home and covered their house in toilet paper, syrup, flour, you name it.

(on camera) Are there things that people ask for that really get on your nerve?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think every waiter in the world hates people who order tea.

MOOS (voice-over): For a cheapo beverage, you have to get a saucer, a teabag, a teapot, pour scalding water, get lemon, milk, more sweetener.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They open it up and they wrinkle it into those little balls, and they stuff it back into the sugar caddie, like that's going to be OK.

MOOS: Got tea, get your waitress teed off.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: All right, everyone. Coffee it will be. Thanks for joining us tonight. See you again tomorrow night.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


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