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PAULA ZAHN NOW

Uncle Sam Pushing Too Hard For Military Recruits?; Mark Burnett's Survival Story; Wild Horses Soon Gone?

Aired May 12, 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: And good evening, everybody. Glad to have you with us.
Tonight, some serious and shocking allegations about what some recruiters are doing to get young men and women to go Army.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): How far will Uncle Sam go to get your child to sign up?

JIM MASSEY, FORMER MILITARY RECRUITER: I recruited 75 young men. And I would say 98 percent were frauded into the military.

ZAHN: As the military struggles to fill the ranks, are recruiters bending the rules of enlistment?

From the jungle out there to the jungle in here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE APPRENTICE")

DONALD TRUMP, DEVELOPER/BUSINESSMAN: You know what, Aaron (ph)? You're fired.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: He's taken reality TV to new heights. But you would never believe what else Mark Burnett survived.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Across the country, high school kids, including yours, are getting the pitch from military recruiters to sign up, make some money and further their education. But with American soldiers fighting and taking some casualties in Iraq, it is a very tough sell.

For the past four months, the Army has missed its recruiting goals and that puts pressure on the recruiters. Since last October, the Army received 480 complaints of improper recruiting conduct. And while the rate of complaints this year is lower than the past four years, the Army is concerned. Next Friday, no recruiting will be done, so the service can sort out some serious reports about recruiting violations.

Thelma Gutierrez has one teenager's story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): David McSwane knew he was on to a big story.

DAVID MCSWANE, HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: I wanted to see how far they would go to get one more soldier.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's getting in there.

GUTIERREZ: What he uncovered at one Army recruiting center is making waves all the way up to the Pentagon.

LT. COL. JEFFREY BRODEUR, U.S. ARMY: We aggressively and immediately started an investigation.

GUTIERREZ: David McSwane is not a professional journalist. He's 17 years old, a senior at Arvada West High School outside Denver, Colorado. And he's a prime target for military recruiters.

MCSWANE: This is just something that affects everyone in my age group, everyone in high school across America.

GUTIERREZ: So, David, a reporter for the high school newspaper, set out to find out just how far Army recruiters would go to enlist a new soldier.

MCSWANE: The scenario I came up with was that I'm a 17-year-old dropout and that I have a drug problem that I just can't kick.

GUTIERREZ: The Army requires a high school diploma or GED and they don't except recruits with drug problems. But David says a recruiter at this center in Golden, Colorado, told him not to worry.

MCSWANE: These are the transcripts that go with the diploma.

GUTIERREZ: David says his recruiter told him to go to the Internet to buy this fake high school diploma and bogus school transcripts. David taped the conversations.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MCSWANE: They accepted my diploma and all that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that's what they told us. So...

MCSWANE: All right. But they don't know it's fake or anything and I'm not going to get in trouble?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. You won't, pal.

MCSWANE: All right. Cool.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

GUTIERREZ: As for his made-up drug problem:

MCSWANE: This is the detox he told me to buy.

GUTIERREZ: David says the recruiter told him to buy this product to pass the Army's drug test.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just have to follow instructions to a tee. It has got like a 150 percent guarantee that you will pass. You know, I've seen it work before.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

GUTIERREZ: The recruiter then took David to a store to buy the product while someone videotaped.

MCSWANE: He went as far as driving me down to the place to buy the detox drink in a government vehicle.

GUTIERREZ: After David's investigation was published in his high school newspaper, it snowballed into a P.R. nightmare for the Army.

BRODEUR: Disappointment. Wrapped up in the one word.

GUTIERREZ: Lieutenant colonel Jeffrey Brodeur has 129 recruiters under his command. Two of the four recruiters at this Golden, Colorado, center are now under investigation for alleged recruiting abuses.

BRODEUR: So far today, it appears to be a character issue. We're trained not to do that.

GUTIERREZ: Jim Massey was a Marine recruiter for three years.

MASSEY: This isn't just an isolated incident. This is a widespread epidemic.

GUTIERREZ: Massey says military recruiters are under such intense pressure to make their quota, they'll often stretch the truth to sign up recruits. He says he did it, too.

MASSEY: I was a recruiter for three years. And I recruited 75 young men. And I would say 98 percent of the young men that I signed up for the Marine Corps were frauded into the military in some capacity.

GUTIERREZ: Massey says, when he failed to sign up two recruits a month, he received these letters of reprimand.

MASSEY: I had never had any types of or signs or symptoms of depression in my entire life until I went out on recruiting duty. My second year out on recruiting duty, I was taking antidepressants.

GUTIERREZ: Massey fought in Iraq, then came home with a change of heart. He's now an anti-war activist.

MASSEY: I sold my soul a long time ago to the Marine Corps. And each day, I strive to get a little bit of it back.

GUTIERREZ: Major General Michael Rochelle, commanding general in charge of recruiting for the U.S. Army, plans to shut down 1,700 recruiting offices across the country for one day to review procedures for the Army's 7,500 recruiters, in direct response to the allegations made by David McSwane and others.

MAJ. GEN. MICHAEL ROCHELLE, U.S. ARMY RECRUITING COMMAND: I was disappointed by it. I was very disappointed by it. I've been around the Army a long time. So, very little shocks me, if you will. It hurts personally and professionally.

GUTIERREZ: General Rochelle says the target is 80,000 new recruits a year. It is a tough task, he says, to recruit an all- volunteer Army at a time of war. Many parents use their influence to discourage enlistment.

ROCHELLE: One is the fear of loss of life or limb. And that's real. Take those two factors, along with the seeming resistance on the part of influencers, and you present a pretty daunting challenge for the Army.

SHELLY HANSEN, MOTHER OF DAVID: I worried that people would think he wasn't patriotic.

GUTIERREZ: Sally Hansen says she feared a backlash against her son for exposing his recruiters.

HANSEN: He's probably one of the most patriotic kids I know. He was in the Young Marines for almost a year and earned a couple awards.

GUTIERREZ: Now David has an award from his school for his expose on the Army.

MCSWANE: If I were a soldier out on the front line, I wouldn't want someone next to me who my life could be depending on going through withdrawal or having a drug addiction or just being someone I can't trust. I just don't think that's something we need on our front lines.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Thelma Gutierrez telling us that amazingly powerful story.

One thing the Army is doing to attract more recruits, a new option to serve as little as 15 months active duty before transferring to the Reserves. The active duty requirement is normally four years.

The kind of news coming out of western Iraq today is part of what makes recruiting that much more difficult. Reporters embedded with Marines there say members of one entire squad, more than a dozen men, have either been killed or wounded. The Marines belonged to a reserve unit based in Ohio.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ZAHN (voice-over): Here in Ohio, in the dead of winter, 155 young Marine reserves from the Lima Company packed their gear, said goodbye to love ones, and got ready for their very first deployment to Iraq. Barely old enough to buy beer, most were still in college. But this year, they went on a drastically different spring break.

The call to duty took these Marines to western Iraq and the banks of the Euphrates River, near the border with Syria, where they joined a U.S. offensive called Operation Matador, now in full force. Their mission, to choke off a deadly supply chain feeding the insurgency with money and weapons and root out supporters of Iraq's most wanted terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

LIEUTENANT GENERAL JAMES CONWAY, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: There is some suspicion that their training exceeds that of what we have seen with other engagements further east.

ZAHN: Going house to house and pushing west to Syria, the Lima Company Marines waged a tricky and deadly battle, identifying friend vs. foe.

SOLOMON MOORE, "THE LOS ANGELES TIMES": I've talked to a couple of villagers who say that the insurgents have commandeered their homes from time to time to fire upon American positions. So, it is difficult for the Marines to weed out who is an insurgent and who is just a person caught in the middle here.

ZAHN: After just five days of fighting, the unit once called Lucky Lima is now coping with some devastatingly bad luck. One of the squads from its 1st Platoon has suffered the kinds of casualties that families back home dread. Every member has either been wounded or killed since the offensive began.

That's according to two embedded reporters, including Ellen Knickmeyer of "The Washington Post," who watched as a roadside bomb detonated under one of the Marines amphibious tractor vehicles on Wednesday.

MOORE: It appears that it was a double-stacked mine, two mines stacked upon each other.

ZAHN: Four Lima Company Marines were killed by those mines, following the deaths of two others just days before. And many others suffered injuries that will scar them for the rest of their lives.

CWO ORRIN BOWMAN, U.S. MARINE CORPS: No one wants to tell a loved one that they've been injured or they've been killed. But we will do our best.

ZAHN: As the Marines of Lima Company grieve and regroup, one can only hope they find comfort in the success of their mission, more than 100 violent insurgents eliminated as a threat to Iraqi peace and stability.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: A number certainly to be proud of. Altogether this week, though, five Marines have died in the offensive in western Iraq.

Coming up, moments of crisis from one of the pilots who stopped the plane that caused all of that trouble in Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. COL. TIMOTHY LEHMANN, U.S. AIR NATIONAL GUARD: The pilot was very nervous, somewhat shaken, but still able to communicate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: A firsthand account of the excitement in the D.C. sky ahead.

And a little bit later on, the fight to save a proud symbol of the Old West.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Still ahead, what it was like in the skies over Washington when military jets intercepted that wayward private plane.

And a little bit later on, you're going to meet this guy, the man behind some of the hottest shows on TV, with a very unusual background of his own. And it involves survival.

First, though, just about 12 minutes past the hour, Erica Hill standing by at Headline News to update us on some of the other stories tonight.

Hi, Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Paula.

On Capitol Hill, it is a blow to the president's choice to be U.N. ambassador. Today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to send John Bolton's nomination to the full Senate for a vote, but without a recommendation. Ohio Republican George Voinovich called Bolton -- quote -- "a poster child for everything a diplomat shouldn't be." Bolton's critics say he's a bully. The White House calls him a voice of reform.

No letup in Baghdad, as another suicide bombing kills at least 12 there. Two more Iraqi officials were assassinated. Mostly Sunni Muslim insurgents have carried on a ruthless campaign against the new Iraqi government, targeting soldiers, police and civilians.

Well, it turns out there was no threat aboard (AUDIO GAP) to Bangor, Maine, today. A passenger was detained because of concerns he may have been on the no-fly security list. But officials now tell CNN he and some family members are clear to enter the U.S.

And, in New York City, a huge landslide of rocks and trees came down on the busy six-lane Henry Hudson Parkway on the West Side of Manhattan today. Firefighters have been searching for anyone who might be trapped, so far no reports of fatalities. And that is the latest from Headline News at this hour -- Paula, back to you.

ZAHN: We watched that most of the late afternoon. And we're so thankful that that seems to be the case now. But when you look at the breadth of that landfall...

HILL: It's amazing.

ZAHN: We're very lucky if that ends up being the case at the end of the day.

Thanks, Erica. See you in about a half-hour from now.

Time to vote now on our person of the day. The nominees, Stevie Wonder, for making the first music video for blind people, 69-year-old Gloria Jummati. That would be Stevie Wonder there. There is Gloria. Hi, Gloria. She actually survived a nine-story fall from her balcony. This is where she ultimately ended up, on that canopy. And Senator George Voinovich for standing up to his own party, but still urging that the full Senate get to vote on John Bolton's nomination as U.N. ambassador.

Cast your vote at CNN.com/Paula. I'll let you know who wins a little bit later on in the hour.

Coming up, though, a pilot who got the call to stop the plane that scared all of Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEHMANN: I actually was just about finishing my lunch when our alert Klaxon went off and we ran to the jet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Stay with us for a minute-by-minute account of exactly what happened in the skies over Washington.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: On the CNN "Security Watch" tonight, the White House says there will be an investigation into why President Bush wasn't told about the air scare over Washington until it was all over. The president was biking in suburban Maryland yesterday when a small plane wandered into Washington's no-fly zone. It caused evacuations, panic on the ground and in the air.

Two F-16s were scrambled, flown by Air Force pilots whose job it might have been to shoot down that Cessna.

In an exclusive interview, Kyra Phillips was the first correspondent to speak with the pilots.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This training video is exactly how it all went down, as two F-16 pilots scrambled to the skies. It was everything Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Lehmann from the 121st Fighter Squadron had trained for.

LEHMANN: I actually was just about finishing my lunch when our alert Klaxon went off. And we ran to the jet. And all of our F-16s, which you see in the background, are hot-cocked. And that means all their switches are ready to go. So we jumped in the airplane quickly.

PHILLIPS: Quickly because a small plane had entered restricted airspace. It was headed toward the White House. The military's Air Defense Command takes no chances, especially since 9/11. It was up to Lehmann and his fellow F-16 pilot to convince this Cessna to land without hurting innocent civilians, possibly the president.

LEHMANN: I was the first one to pass that aircraft and dropping flares. When I did so, we did not get a response. The aircraft continued on its southward heading, toward our nation's capital.

PHILLIPS: Lehmann is describing warning flares like these, the final signal to a rogue aircraft before a possible shootdown. This mission was about to get a bit more tense.

LEHMANN: Then the other F-16 went past. He dropped flares, as well. Still, we do not get a response from the TOI. It wasn't until the third time we went past and dropped flares, that seemed to get his attention.

PHILLIPS: Finally Lehmann says, they got the Cessna pilot on an emergency frequency, 121 decibel five on the radio.

(on camera): So what did you say to him, Colonel, and how did he respond? Did he seem nervous? Did he seem confused? Was he cooperative with you?

LEHMANN: The pilot was very nervous, somewhat shaken, but still able to communicate. And he said, OK, I understand. We're directed to go to Frederick and land. And he complied with those instructions.

PHILLIPS (voice-over): Lucky for this pilot and lucky for Colonel Lehmann, because, if this pilot had become a threat to national security, this fighter pilot could have gotten the command to shoot this Cessna down.

LEHMANN: I'd like to assure your listeners that that airplane would not have penetrated. It would not have hit anything in D.C. And it would have been dropped from the sky before that would have happened.

PHILLIPS: Lehmann never got the call. But he is always prepared.

LEHMANN: And our training prepares us very well for that moment. And heaven forbid, if that moment ever occurs, I don't -- I certainly never wish for that to occur. But my squadron, we stand ready to defend our nation's capital as necessary whenever it is necessary. So if I am directed by a higher authority, I will execute that mission.

PHILLIPS: And that mission is to make sure something like this never happens again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Kyra Phillips reporting for us tonight.

As for the two men in the Cessna, federal agents say they just got lost. They were questioned and released, one of them a student pilot, the other his teacher.

Coming up, he hit the jackpot by getting Donald Trump to say, you're fired.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK BURNETT, PRODUCER: "The Apprentice" is really my American dream show. I mean, I lived the American dream.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Stay with us and meet Mark Burnett, who has made millions of people face reality.

And then, a little bit later on, a fortune cookie company that almost made a lot of people millionaires.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: So, how is this one for power? Two weeks ago, the White House rescheduled the start of President Bush's prime-time news conference so two reality TV shows could start on time during the all- important May sweeps. That's when advertising rates are determined for the season.

And the man responsible for those shows, "Survivor" and "The Apprentice," is a former British army commando named Mark Burnett. And he's the focus tonight's "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): In a struggle as old as time, one man's desire to triumph on a quest, first as a warrior, and now as a new kind of soldier in a battle for ratings. In the onslaught of reality shows, TV producer Mark Burnett has been a survivor with a prime-time lineup full of ratings grabbers.

His latest offering, "The Contender," the search for the real- life Rocky.

SYLVESTER STALLONE, ACTOR: See you on "The Contender."

ZAHN: But before boxing, there was "The Apprentice" and the weekly meeting with a the Donald.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE APPRENTICE")

TRUMP: You're fired.

You're fired.

You're fired.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: And now the new hire, Martha Stewart.

BURNETT: It's the same format, where a bunch of people, 16 or 18, are vying to become Martha's apprentice, to learn from the master.

ZAHN: And the granddaddy of them all, "Survivor," now into its 10th season and filming the next, still 20-some million viewer strong.

TRUMP: And who will be "The Apprentice"?

BURNETT: They are unscripted dramas. Everything is storytelling and character development. All I do is tell those stories without scripts and without actors.

ZAHN: Real or not, the stories Burnett tells, adventure seekers marooned on a far-off island, entrepreneurs after the American dream, all have plots that parallel his own life story of risking everything.

BURNETT: "The Apprentice" is really my American dream show. I mean, I lived the American dream.

ZAHN: Burnett grew up in a working-class neighborhood of inner city London.

BURNETT: My dad worked at Ford Motor Company. My mother worked next door in the battery factory making the car batteries, so very humble upbringing, lots of love, and was never criticized or told I couldn't make it.

ZAHN: His father says Mark never wanted to settle for a 9:00-to- 5:00 job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no. He said, I've got something else in mind. So, the next day, he walks home in and he says, I've joined the paratroopers. I said, do what? He said, I've joined the paratroopers. And I said, well, you'll find something very hard now.

BURNETT: One hundred and twenty-seven men started day one of training; 17 of us wore the red beret at the end. And I'm very proud. The parachute regiment helped make me who I am.

ZAHN: Stephen Bouchard (ph), a lifelong friend, enlisted with Burnett.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had this pact that we were going to go in the parachute regiment, maybe because it was glamorous, because it was the -- they were the tough guys. They were the -- it was the glitz, the Audie Murphy-type scenario. There was no wars, thank God, at the time.

ZAHN: But war did come. In 1982, Burnett was shipped to the South Atlantic and the Falklands War. It was a cold, miserable, hard- fought war; 250 British soldiers died, retaking the windswept islands.

BURNETT: The Falklands War made me realize the glory of war isn't real. And one day seeing, over one night, I think, 20 of my friends and in body bags laying there and some of the toughest sergeants in the world, the paratroop regiment men, looking me in the eye with tears and nothing to say.

ZAHN: Burnett and his comrades were welcomed home as heroes. But Burnett was ready for a new adventure.

Up next, Burnett crosses the pond to take another risk.

BURNETT: I had no money, no green card, no nothing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Mark Burnett, the brains behind "Survivor," is the king of American reality TV. Quite an accomplishment for someone who grew up in a blue collar family in London, fought in the British army, and then found a very unusual job.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): In 1982, emboldened by his stint with the paratroopers, Mark Burnett sought more adventure. It was the time of the Iran-Contra crisis. The British regiment needed military advisers in Central America. Burnett planned a trip there with a brief stop in Los Angeles. But he didn't tell his mother Jean the whole truth about his next move.

MARK BURNETT, CREATOR, "SURVIVOR": My mother as I was leaving said, Mark, I have a bad feeling about this security job in America. She had no idea I was going to Central America. And so I decided on the plane ride over, you know, I've put my parents through so much crap as an only child with a paratrooper regiment and all the stuff I did, that no more guns.

ZAHN: His change of plans landed him in Beverly Hills. The former paratrooper took on an unlikely job.

BURNETT: I had no money. No green card, no nothing. The only job I could get was a live-in person doing something like a chauffeur or something. There were no chauffeur jobs. The only job available I got through a friend of mine was a nanny. So I went from commando to nanny in 24 hours. Unbelievable.

ZAHN: Later, the commando nanny would master his marketing skills by selling T-shirts on Venice Beach.

BURNETT: Americans give you a chance. If you have ideas, you think big and take risks, you can make it in America.

ZAHN: In Burnett's new book "Jump In," he remembers how he went from T-shirt hawking to expedition racing. His inspiration, a French adventure competition called Raid Gauloises.

In 1994, Burnett raced through the jungles of Borneo as part of a five-person team. The televised trek took its toll. The man who later would put people through grueling challenges threw in the towel after only five days.

BURNETT: Extremely disappointing. We came here actually hoping to win, and obviously it is not even close. And I'm questioning my sanity at this point, why on Earth I'm doing this for the third year in a row. And this is insane.

ZAHN: But defeat didn't temper Burnett's gamble on adventure. By the mid-1990s, he combined his marketing savvy with his love of adventure and came up with his own TV series, "The Eco Challenge Games."

BURNETT: Three, two, one!

ZAHN: Teams from around the world competed for cash prizes in a televised event.

Burnett later wagered his money on the American rights to a new type of television formula. Then dangled the island-based show in front of the networks. CBS took the bait.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Frankly, one of the reasons we bought the show is partially because of the idea but partially because of Mark -- a great deal because of Mark Burnett and our confidence in him.

ZAHN: Many reality TV shows have come and gone since the first "Survivor" contestants were left stranded before all of America. But few have won over America year after year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And your favorite reality-based television program for this year is -- "Survivor: The Australian Outback."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He gets people to do things they really don't want to do. He gets guys to leave their families for longer than they probably should, to go out in the middle of nowhere to live in a tent with rats crawling all over them, scorpions crawling all over them -- I'm not kidding -- drinking water that is barely healthy, barely healthy.

ZAHN: With two Emmys and 22 nominations, Burnett's slows have proven they can outlast, outwit and outplay them all. For 10 seasons running, "Survivor" has ranked in Nielsen's top 10 for prime-time programs on the broadcast networks.

And even though Burnett's other megahit, "The Apprentice," has slipped some in the ratings, Burnett has another billionaire waiting in the wings. Martha Stewart. BURNETT: My job is to choose iconic people and make great television about them. Martha was a billionaire. She did that from a catering business. It's a great story. And prior to her ever going to jail, prior to her conviction, I decided, along with Trump, that we would use her as the next iteration of our franchise.

ZAHN: But Burnett has his share of TV blunders, too. In his tell-all book, he writes about the show you won't be seeing anytime soon, a scripted comedy called "Commando Nanny," inspired by his first job in America.

BURNETT: The lead actor broke his ankle. Gerald McCraney (ph), who played the dad, has gotten lung cancer and had to go for surgery. It was a thing after thing. Then we had a new writer. It didn't quite work out with the new writer. It was comedy of errors.

ZAHN: But Burnett is ready to jump in again. He's optioned the rights to a number of religious thrillers and adventure books, and his ultimate plan is no secret.

BURNETT: I know that I'm destined to make a movie. This was in my blood. I love story telling. I love visuals. And I'm hoping that the next stage for me will be making a movie.

ZAHN: Whether it's TV or the big screen, this former paratrooper continues to make adventure his own reality.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Go commando nanny, go.

Coming up next, why the big herds of wild mustangs out West may soon be just a memory.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've always represented that free, wild, roaming choice of -- of freedom that we all make every day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: When we come back, one man's fight to save part of America's Western heritage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: There is nothing more beautiful than seeing wild horses running free, a rugged symbol of the American West. And in fact, there are thousands of mustangs roaming the West, so many that some people are starting to think they're a nuisance. Now, there is a battle over exactly what to do about them. Here is Drew Griffin in Wyoming.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For these animals that have endured life out on the wind swept plains, scratching out an existence through frigid winters in the scrubbed grass, it seems an undignified end. But a growing number of these symbols of the old west will end up in a packing plant like this one in suburban Chicago, where the slaughter has already started.

RON HAWKINS, RANCHER: They've always represented that free wild roaming choice of freedom that we all make every day.

GRIFFIN: Ron Hawkins has spent his entire life working on ranches, where wild horses are as much a part of life as the rivers and the mountains that surround them. He's determined to save these Mustangs.

HAWKINS: These horses are too much of a symbol, if not what Americans do and who we are, to just fall into a pit and disappear.

GRIFFIN: Back in 1934, a federal law gave wild mustangs a permanent home. Out here on public ranges, they've roamed since the Spanish brought them over five centuries ago. They've thrived, doubling in population every five years. But the other animals that also graze on these lands, the antelope, cattle, and sheep are losing the fight for food.

In more than 30 years, the government tried to reduce the size of the mustang herd by offering them up for adoption.

STEPHANIE ANDERSON, BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT: We need to get more people to our facilities to adopt, yes.

GRIFFIN: Stephanie Anderson runs the Bureau of Land Management's adoption program in Rock Springs. But at this event, only three of the 100 or so horses are taken.

In spite of everything Anderson has done, photos on the Internet, sending horses to other adoption centers, 9,000 horses in government hands are now considered excess. A federal law passed late last year allowed them to be auctioned off.

But that would be very sad for the people around here to know that these horses could be sold?

ANDERSON: We're only dealing with adoption here.

GRIFFIN: You're being very diplomatic.

ANDERSON: Yes. I like the horse program and I like my job.

GRIFFIN: The workers here may not want to talk about it, but most of these horses have been up for adoption two or three times.

(on camera): And now the federal government is paying to warehouse horses that nobody wants. Under the new law, these are the horses that could end up at a slaughter house.

(voice-over): Late last month, the Bureau of Land Management temporarily suspended the sales of these horses after discovering 41 animals that had been sold to private owners were in fact slaughtered at this Illinois plant. But the law remains. Any horse that has not been adopted or is older than 10 years, could be on its way to serving a growing appetite for horse meat in Europe and Asia, where a horse is considered a delicacy. The wild American mustang served for dinner.

That's where Ron Hawkins comes in.

HAWKINS: They fought their way through years and years of survival here. They've earned a right to be here.

GRIFFIN: Together with his partners, Ron started Wild Horses Wyoming, to raise money to buy land and save the excess horses. Starting with 200 wild mares they bought from the government, they hope the American public will join their call to preserve the wild horses.

While the government only allows horses to be adopted by people who have the know how and the space to care for them, Ron and his partners offer adoption that guarantees the wild horses will stay wild by finding thousands of private acres to let them roam free out here in the west.

HAWKINS: Our whole plan is that the land will -- that we will be able to purchase will provide for these horses.

GRIFFIN: Sponsors would pay from $50 to $5,000 to care for a wild horse right here in the southeastern corner of Wyoming for the rest of his life. Ron and his partners hope to raise enough money to buy a new home for as many as 5,000 of the 9,000 horses the government has to unload. The money would pay for the land. The horses wouldn't care for themselves.

HAWKINS: I feel like there's lots and lots of ground that these horses can still go onto, but it's private ranch around now.

GRIFFIN: Every morning, Ron Hawkins checks the 200 wild mares he and his group have already saved. He has to teach them to follow the feed truck. Just two months ago, they were condemned to the same fate as other surplus government stock.

HAWKINS; They're not general horses. They're not ranch horses. They're wild horses. And if you approach them, they're choice is to leave.

GRIFFIN: You shouldn't measure the American mustang by its worth as a pet or a work horse on a ranch, Hawkins says, but as a living symbol of the American west.

HAWKINS: To me, I think it's all about America. It's all about freedom. It's about how Americans feel about their freedom. That's what these horses represent to me. And my love of horses is one thing, but my love for this country and what it stands for, it's represented in these horses.

GRIFFIN: Drew Griffin, CNN, Centennial, Wyoming.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Nicely said. Drew Griffin, reporting. The wild horse population has grown significantly in the past 30 years, but it is absolutely nowhere near the million or more mustangs that roamed the west just 100 years ago.

"LARRY KING LIVE" is just ahead at the top of the hour, that would be 14 minutes and counting, from now. Good job with the secretary of state last night, Larry.

LARRY KING, HOST "LARRY KING LIVE": Thank you, Paula. We're both in New York together.

ZAHN: Then, how come you haven't come to see me? You're 50 yards away.

KING: I came over. You were on the air already.

ZAHN: Oh, OK. Better late than never.

KING: It's a complicated setup here anyway.

Our guest tonight is John Walsh, the host of "America's Most Wanted," and as you all know, his young son Adam was abducted and murdered in 1981. He's carried on the fight against crime ever since. A very unique American, John Walsh, for the full hour. We'll take calls, too. That's right at the top of things at 9:00 Eastern, Paula.

ZAHN: See you then, Larry. Welcome to town.

KING: Thank you.

ZAHN: Still to come tonight, Jeanne Moos visits the source some of sweet inspiration for lottery players, and there is still time to vote for the "Person of the Day." Your choices are Stevie Wonder, who's making a music video especially for the blind; the Florida woman, 69-years-old who actually survived a nine-story fall from her condominium, or Republican Senator George Voinovich who stood up to his own party and against U.N. ambassador nominee John Bolton.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: And still ahead, Jeanne Moos visits the fortune cookie bakers who made a lot of people happy and almost made them very rich. First, though, just about 10 minutes before the hour, time again for Erica Hill at HEADLINE NEWS to check the top stories.

HILL: Paula, the FBI says a sting has cracked down on American corruption along the Mexican border. Agents posing as drug traffickers offered bribes to smuggle cocaine across the U.S. -- into the U.S. to 16 people pleading guilty now. All of them are current or former American soldiers and law enforcement agents.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says military base closings that that he will propose could save some $40 billion over the next 20 years. Rumsfeld tried to cushion the blow for towns facing a base shutdown by saying they won't be as severe as expected.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs says so far, there is no evidence interrogators at Guantanamo desecrated the Koran, the Muslim holy book, by placing it in a toilet. The reports triggered anti- American riots in Afghanistan.

And Ford Motor Company confirms CEO William Ford will refuse all compensation until the company turns a consistent profit again. He hasn't received a salary since 2001. He did, though, collect $22 million worth of stock and options last year.

And that's the latest from HEADLINE NEWS. Paula, back to you.

ZAHN: Thanks so much, Erica.

So, who was your pick for the person of the day? Stevie Wonder, the force behind the first music video for the blind? The 69-year-old woman who actually survived a nine-story fall from her condo? Or Senator George Voinovich, for standing up to his own party and still urging a vote on John Bolton's nomination as U.N. ambassador?

And the winner with 65 percent of the vote, let's hear it for 69- year-old Gloria Jummati.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): ... rushed to the aid of an elderly woman. They soon learned just how fortunate she really was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was about to smoke a cigarette, and heard a loud thump. Next thing I know, rescue personnel was out here everywhere.

ZAHN: Sixty-nine-year-old Gloria Jummati was leaning over her condo balcony when she reportedly became dizzy, losing her balance, plummeting nine stories, nearly 100 feet, to what should have been her death.

But instead of hitting the ground, Gloria landed on a small canvas canopy, cushioning her fall, and stopping her plunge just feet from the ground.

PAUL POWELL, BUILDING RESIDENT: She's a very lucky lady, let me tell you that, because that's a long distance to fall. And if that wasn't for that, she wouldn't be here today.

ZAHN: Lucky indeed. Cheating death, alert and talking when rescue personnel brought her to a nearby hospital.

GLORIA JUMMATI: I'm doing great.

ZAHN: Jummati was released earlier today, returning home a little banged up but smiling.

Call it luck. Call it a miracle. Call Gloria Jummati the person of the day. We'll be right back.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: What a beautiful spring night here in New York City tonight. Have you ever looked at those lucky numbers you get on fortune cookies and wondered, what if this fortune cookie really lived up to its name? Well, some people did more than just wonder. Here is Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Confucius says...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Secret of getting ahead is getting started.

MOOS: Especially if you start with a fortune cookie that wins the lotto.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy all the way around.

MOOS: This Arizona couple won 100,000 bucks by using the lucky numbers they found in a fortune cookie to play Powerball.

So did Mark Hofmeister.

MARK HOFMEISTER, POWERBALL WINNER: Well, I just got tired of picking numbers, so I thought, huh, I'll just write these down.

MOOS: So did Patty Meeks.

PATTY MEEKS, POWERBALL WINNER: It says the stars of riches are shining upon you.

MOOS: A hundred and ten winners around the country used the same fortune cookie numbers to win at least $100,000 each. And every one of those cookies came from Wonton Foods just across the East River from Manhattan.

(on camera): How do you guys pick the numbers for your fortune cookies?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Basically, in the beginning, we started using just a bowl and just pick out numbers. Now, it's mostly computer- generated now.

MOOS: Talk about fortunate fortune cookies.

(voice-over): The first five numbers were a match. The sixth wasn't. But five were enough to win Powerball's second prize.

(on camera): This is a weird thing that happened, huh?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. It's very exciting. And next time we are going to hit six numbers.

MOOS: You think so?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.

MOOS (voice-over): At first, Powerball officials feared fraud.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I knew that something unusual had caused those people to pick those numbers.

MOOS: They even checked TV shows like "The Young and the Restless."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, read me the numbers.

MOOS: That featured Powerball plot twist to see if that's where folks got the same numbers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forty-five and Powerball 24.

MOOS: Wrong number for real-life Powerball. But when winner after winner told officials they picked their numbers from a fortune cookie, the mystery was solved. He also solved the mystery of who makes up those dumb sayings.

(on camera): It is a silly fish that is caught twice with the same bait.

(voice-over): There are reams of them at the Wonton plant, thanks to the marketing department.

(on camera): Many people will be drawn to you for your wisdom and insight. Marketing department.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Marketing department.

MOOS (voice-over): The lottery results didn't make believers out of skeptics.

(on camera): You don't believe fortune cookies?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not at all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're really desperate, you believe in them. At my age, who cares.

MOOS: Even some of the winners used the lucky numbers, but gave away the cookie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's not much flavor to them.

MOOS: Fortune, yes. Cookie, no. That's the way the fortune cookie crumbles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And doesn't it, though? Jeanne Moos reporting.

That's it for all of us tonight. Thanks so much for joining us. Tomorrow, is evangelical Christianity being promoted at one of America's military academies, or are the spiritual values of all cadets being respected? We go beyond the headlines of the scandal at the Air Force Academy. Again, thanks for dropping by tonight. We'll be back same time, same place tomorrow night. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.

END

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