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Deep Throat Revealed; Discussion with G. Gordon Liddy

Aired May 31, 2005 - 19:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Kitty, thanks very much.
Good evening, everyone. "Deep Throat" comes out of the shadows. Washington's longest-kept secret revealed. 360 starts now.


COOPER (voice-over): The guessing game is over. Mark Felt is "Deep Throat." Tonight, who is this former FBI man, and what motivated him to talk? G. Gordon Liddy and others weighs in on "Deep Throat's" impact on history.

Tragedy at an Ohio school. A 6-year-old boy crushed to death by a cafeteria table. 360 investigates dangers lurking inside schools. How safe are your kids?

And whatever happened to baby Jessica? Tonight, CNN celebrating 25 years of storytelling brings you up-to-date with the little girl who captured the world's attention.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN's world headquarters in Atlanta, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.


COOPER: And good evening, again. What a day. Mystery solved. For 30 years, the world has wondered just who was the source who blew the whistle on the Watergate scandal? Who was the source known as "Deep Throat"?

"The Washington Post," journalistic home of the two reporters who code-named their famous Watergate source with the name of 1972's famous pornographic movie today confirmed that this man, W. Mark Felt is, in fact, the source who led them to the information that brought down the presidency of Richard Nixon. Felt's claims were first revealed in a "Vanity Fair" magazine article.

With more now on the man behind the scandal, here is CNN's Brian Todd.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Even as a 91-year-old retiree in Santa Rosa, California, W. Mark Felt seemingly cannot shake a certain mystique, even as the world is told by those closest to him that he is the man who shook the halls of power and captivated Washington for more than 30 years. NICK JONES, MARK FELT'S GRANDSON: My grandfather's pleased that he is being honored for his role as "Deep Throat" with his friend Bob Woodward. He is also pleased to the attention this has drawn to his career and his 32 years of service to his country.

TODD: As definitive as it sounds, a family statement may not answer long-standing questions about this man's actions and motivations. Born in Idaho in 1913, Felt embarked on the classic story of service to country and devotion to family. Law school, marriage, two children, and in 1942, a job at the Houston field office of the FBI, a place then controlled by J. Edgar Hoover and, according to historians, already controversial.

RON KESSLER, AUTHOR, "THE BUREAU": They were very effective in some ways. On the other hand, they broke a lot of laws, illegal wiretapping, et cetera. And Mark Felt was in counter-intelligence, meaning he would go after spies.

TODD: A sense of duty and diligence had to have gotten complicated when Felt moved to the Bureau's Washington headquarters in the early 1960s. But Felt became a favorite of J. Edgar Hoover and quickly moved up the ranks. By the time Hoover died in 1972, Felt had ascended to the number-two spot, clearly with an ambition to move up one more.

LEONARD GARMENT, NIXON'S WHITE HOUSE ATTORNEY: He had his own personal motivation, along with the Bureau motivation. His motivation being that, yes, I think we are expected to be named director of the FBI.

TODD: But Felt was passed up. Felt wrote in his memoirs that, during this entire period, he and his allies had been simmering over Watergate. They believed their investigation had been obstructed, delayed, undermined by Nixon operatives. With access to information, a smoldering resentment and a sense of a mission unfulfilled, historians say Felt had motivation to leak to the "Washington Post."

KESSLER: Mark Felt did not want this FBI investigation to be suppressed and really believed that the country's future was at stake. And that's why I think he helped them.

TODD: Felt retired from the FBI in 1973, during the height of the "Washington Post's" coverage of Watergate. Later, in newspaper articles and even his book, Mark Felt denied that he was Bob Woodward's mysterious source.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Well, so in 1972, as a high-ranking FBI official blowing the whistle on Watergate, Mark Felt is given the nickname of that era's most infamous porn movie. Now, for the last decade or so, though he's lived a much quiet life with his family in California.

CNN's Thelma Gutierrez is standing by live in Santa Rosa, California, where the man who was "Deep Throat" is currently living in deep retirement.

Thelma, what's the latest there?

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, I can tell you that this neighborhood is definitely a quiet place but not today. Live trucks starting parking up and down the street early today. Then the neighbors started coming out, wondering if the man, the very quiet man who lived next door in the house behind me was, in fact, "Deep Throat."

Well, after three decades of silence, 91-year-old Mark Felt appeared at his doorway, and he smiled, and he waved to the cameras, saying, "Nice to see you all." He stood there with his daughter, his grandsons, and with the help of a walker for about 50 seconds.

Then he walked back inside without taking questions. Now, Felt's daughter, Joan, says that her father is relieved to finally tell the country the truth about his identity. And the family, they say, broke out in applause when reporter Bob Woodward confirmed this afternoon that Mark Felt was, in fact, "Deep Throat."


JOAN FELT, W. MARK FELT'S DAUGHTER: He's a great man. He's so kind. He's so attentive to other people and loving. And we're all so proud of him, not only for his role in history but for that, for the character he is, the person that he is. We love him very much.


GUTIERREZ: The family says they are very proud of him. Now, Mark Felt was number-two man in the FBI in the early '70s. In 2002, he told his daughter and son that he was the source who helped topple President Nixon. Now his children convinced him to come forth.

And they talked him into moving from Washington to Santa Rosa, California, to a small house on a street, ironically named Redford Place, where his neighbors say that they are surprised and somewhat amused at Mr. Felt's secret identity.


BETTY WILLIAM, FELT'S NEIGHBOR: The news broke this morning. It just kind of -- everything came to fruition. And I said, "Bingo. That's him."

JIM BAKER, FELT'S NEIGHBOR: My son always played basketball with Nick down here when they were younger. So to find out that the place that he was going to play basketball was "Deep Throat's" house was kind of amazing.


GUTIERREZ: Joan Felt says that she could not elaborate on any of the specifics when she talked to the media today, saying that they had an agreement with a magazine, "Vanity Fair," and that they would have to wait at a later time to get into any more specifics. But they said they do intend on celebrating tonight.

Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Yes, that's got to be -- I mean, suddenly, out of the blue, he announces. It's got to change everything. Did you say that in 2002 is when he first told his family?

GUTIERREZ: Yes. His daughter says that he first came forth, but did not want to go public. And so it was something that was closely guarded within the family, but did not want to go public until today.

COOPER: I know there was a report in the late '90s that Bob Woodward had shown up at their house, I think, to have a meal. And his daughter had talked to the press then with no indication of why Bob Woodward would suddenly show up out of the blue to have lunch with their dad.

It's a fascinating story. Thelma Gutierrez, thanks very much.

Coming up next on 360, G. Gordon Liddy, who was at the center of the Watergate scandal, joins me live to speak about today's incredible "Deep Throat" disclosure.

And you remember Live Aid 20 years ago raised millions for famine relief. It is back, this time as Live 8. The announcement was made today. We'll give you all the details.

Also later tonight, is the table in your child's cafeteria a death trap? A 360 investigation you need to see.

All that ahead, first your picks, most popular stories on right now.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You tell me what you know, and I'll confirm. I'll keep you in the right direction, if I can. But that's all. Just follow the money.


COOPER: A clip there from the movie "All the President's Men" about the Watergate scandal.

For a lot of young Americans, that's probably about all they know about what happened back then, a movie they have rented on DVD. For my next guest, however, a story far more personal. G. Gordon Liddy was an assistant to President Nixon and helped plan the break-in that was the genesis of the Watergate scandal. He spent four-and-a-half years in prison before having his 20-year sentence commuted by President Jimmy Carter.

Also joining us is Ronald Kessler, author of several books, including "The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI." Appreciate both of you joining us tonight.

Mr. Liddy, how surprised are you by this revelation? I think in the past you said you didn't think there was a "Deep Throat."

G. GORDON LIDDY, HELPED PLAN WATERGATE BREAK-IN: Well, I didn't think that there was a single "Deep Throat." And I really still believe the same way. We know he had other informers. And we even have the identities of them.

But apparently, he sort of selected Mr. Felt as being the one who gave him more information, and named him "Deep Throat."

COOPER: Ronald, you identified Felt as "Deep Throat" three years ago in your book. What led you to conclude that then?

RONALD KESSLER, AUTHOR: Besides the fact that he had incredible access to all this information, I interviewed him in 2002, which was about when they decided to come forward. And his daughter told me that Woodward had showed up about a year-and-a-half earlier and just came unannounced, came in a limousine, but had the limousine park a block or two away.

And then they went out to lunch. They had martinis, which is unusual for Woodward. And to me, there was no reason, a, why Woodward would want to go see Mark Felt. He wasn't working on any FBI book. And, b, certainly there was no reason to be secretive about it and have the car park around the block, unless he still did have a secret relationship with him and that he was "Deep Throat."

COOPER: Gordon, what do you think Felt's motivation was?

LIDDY: I don't know, because a law enforcement officer who gains information and evidence that a crime has been committed is ethically bound to go to the grand jury and seek an indictment. Why he would choose to entrust the information to a young reporter in the Metro section of the "Washington Post" who had only held that job for nine months is part of the mystery. There are still a lot of questions that are unanswered by this revelation, or at least purported revelation.

COOPER: Gordon, Felt's family called Felt a great American hero, went beyond the call of duty. Do you think he's that?

LIDDY: No, absolutely not. As I said, if he were interested in performing his duty, he would he have gone to the grand jury with his information. He would not have selectedly leaked it to a single source, especially this 9-month sort of cub reporter in the Metro section.

And by the way, when Woodward wrote about "Deep Throat," he talked about this long-standing relationship that he'd had with them. There's no evidence that he had any long-standing relationship with Mark Felt.

And Mark Felt, as number-two man in the FBI, would have known that the FBI had discovered a link between the call-girl operation being run in the Columbia Plaza apartments across the street from the Watergate office building and a person described as a secretary or an administrative assistant in the DNC itself.

COOPER: And I know you maintained all along that that's the reason for the break-in originally.

LIDDY: That's exactly right. And all the evidence points to that. And when would he finally got that evidence before a jury, that's what they believed.

COOPER: Ronald, let me bring you in here. What do you think was his motivation? And why go to this reporter in this way? Why not go to a grand jury?

KESSLER: Well, you know, we're not giving Woodward and Bernstein enough credit here. This was a crime that was committed. Woodward was, as Gordon said, you know, a new reporter, but he had worked for the Navy before, so he had a lot of contacts. I think he might have met Mark Felt through that.

They were doing a lot of legwork. They were staying up until midnight. I sat next to Carl Bernstein at the "Washington Post." And they were following leads. They were getting their own stories. So it wasn't that Mark Felt came to them and handed them the story.

COOPER: But what was his motivation? I mean, in the past, I think you've said that -- you know, he felt, that Felt felt the FBI investigation was getting stymied from above. Was this a way of circumventing that?

KESSLER: Sure, well, you know, the FBI was investigating the president of the United States for criminal conduct. And Nixon was, in fact, making up these stories about CIA secrets that should not be revealed, therefore we shouldn't have an investigation, in order to try to cover this up.

So there was some fear within the FBI that their investigation would be suppressed. They were not going to let it happen. But you know, they were afraid of it.

And so I think that Mark Felt, above all, talked to Woodward to make sure that this got out and that this was not suppressed. In addition, he and almost everybody else in the FBI were offended by L. Patrick Gray, the acting FBI director over Mark Felt, who was appointed by Nixon.

For one thing, he became involved in Watergate himself. So they were unhappy with that. And I think on some level Mark Felt hoped that Nixon would be kicked out or have to resign and that he would be appointed FBI director.

COOPER: Very briefly, if you had one question to ask Mark Felt, what would you ask him?

KESSLER: Well, I did ask him. I interviewed him in... COOPER: Well, now that he's come forward.

KESSLER: ... in 2002. You know, I just think he was an American hero. I don't really have any more questions.

I think what is important, though, to remember is that this was an example of how the press can do the right thing based on an anonymous source -- in fact, they had many anonymous sources -- if they do their homework, if they corroborate, if they are careful. And that's what these two reporters were.

COOPER: I appreciate both of you joining us.

Gordon Liddy, a pleasure to talk to you.

And Ron Kessler, as well. Thank you very much.

COOPER: Following several other stories right now, we're going to have more also on "Deep Throat" a little bit later on in the broadcast.

Joining me right now from HEADLINE NEWS is Erica Hill. Hey, Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Nice to see you in person.

COOPER: I know, it's -- I think it's first we've actually really met.

HILL: I think it really is.

COOPER: I'm all aquiver.

HILL: Well, you know, I was getting excited myself. My mom may have been even more excited, yes.

COOPER: Well, that's...

HILL: She's a big Anderson fan, so -- but I'll get to your headlines. We'll deal with pleasantries later.

COOPER: We call them Ander-fans, by the way.

HILL: Ander-fans. I'll pass that on.

Meantime, for all your news-fans out there, President Bush called an Amnesty International report "absurd," proclaiming serious human rights violations at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The human rights group also compared Gitmo to a Soviet-era prison camp. Mr. Bush says the abuse allegations are based on the words of people who hate America.

On a Web site, a new audio recording that a U.S. intelligence official says is likely from America's top enemy in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. On the recording, the man claiming to be al-Zarqawi says he suffered only a minor wound in combat, dismissing reports last week he was seriously wounded. The message is addressed to Osama bin Laden.

From outer space, check out this, a remarkable photo captured by a NASA telescope. It's the Carina Nebula. It's found in the southern sky. Astronomers estimate this swirl of gas and dust contains up to 100,000 stars. And get this. Some of the biggest stars have a mass that's up to a hundred times greater than the sun. They create powerful winds and radiation leading to the formation of baby stars.

Back here on Earth, Rockworth, England. Ah, the cheese chase. These daredevils ran and mostly fell, yes, chasing a seven-pound chunk of cheese rolling down a hill. They are insane.

I don't know. I don't get it. But the first to arrive at the bottom actually gets to claim the cheese. And if that ain't worth it, I don't know what is.

COOPER: Man, they're all falling down. That's ridiculous.

HILL: Right. And some guy got taken away on a stretcher clutching the seven-pound roll of cheese.

COOPER: Well, at least he got the cheese.

HILL: Got the cheese.

COOPER: All right, Erica Hill. Thanks very much. See you again in about 30 minutes.

Coming up next on 360, one of the most popular concerts in history is coming back. It was Live Aid. Erica Hill was somewhere in the crowd there. But now it's called Live 8.

There you are. No, that's Madonna.

HILL: That's me dancing.

COOPER: The mission is much the same. We will tell you when it is and where you can see it.

Also ahead tonight, how safe is your child's cafeteria? We're not talking about the food here. We're talking about the tables they might be eating on. A shocking report that parents out there, you really need to see.

Also a little later tonight, pets left behind when soldiers go off to war. A story we brought you last week. An update you will not want to miss. We're covering all the angles. Be right back.


COOPER: Ah, the rock band U2, when Bono's hair was big. Long before they were Hall-of-Famers, performing in a packed stadium in London, for what was the event of a lifetime, a gargantuan two-concert benefit called Live Aid, which raised tens of millions of dollars for African famine relief some 20 years ago. A little more than a month from now, U2 and other rockers are going to be on the stage again, this time for a set of concerts they're called Live 8. Once again, they are trying to help the world's impoverished while waiting to repeat history, or wanted to repeat history, with concerts they hope are as unforgettable as the ones two decades ago.

Details in tonight's "World in 360."


COOPER (voice-over): It started, appropriately enough, with reunited rockers Status Quo singing "Rocking All over the World." The date, July 13, 1985. Some of the world's most popular performers played to crowds in London and Philadelphia.

Seventy-four thousand packed Wembley Stadium. Another 90,000 filled JFK Stadium. Sixteen solid hours of the stuff music dreams are made of. Mick Jagger, jamming with Tina Turner, Bono taking a spin on stage with one lucky audience member.

Organizer Bob Geldof, now Sir Bob Geldof, back with his band, the Boomtown Rats, reuniting for the cause. And those being the days of the Concorde, Phil Collins played in both arenas.

By the time Paul McCartney, now Sir Paul McCartney, played the final set, it was clear the concert was a success. According to organizers, at least $82 million was raised on that day. A Georgetown University review panel that oversaw the Live Aid Trust reported that around $44 million was spent on immediate relief, with another $40 million ear-marked for long-term development projects.

Then there was the song. "Do They Know It's Christmas?" reported by the Brit super group Band-Aid brought in another $10 million in its first two years of release.

And now they're set to do it all again. The main stages this time, London's Hyde Park and outside Philly's Museum of Art. At the same time, they will be holding concerts in Berlin, Paris and Rome. Some of the same artists who were there 20 years ago have signed on once more, Elton John, Madonna, Bono, Sting, Paul McCartney. They will be joined by the new breed of rockers, Coldplay, Keane, Jay Z, P. Diddy, Eminem.

But this time the cause is a little different, an end to global poverty. And the target audience is up by 8, the leaders of the G-8 countries, whom Sir Bob Geldof says have lessons to learn about ending hunger by canceling third-world debt.

SIR BOB GELDOF, LIVE 8 ORGANIZER: But it's not about charity this year. It's taken 20 years. It's about justice. We're only asking Bush and Blair and the others to do something they have already promised to do. There's no new ask here. Just, guys, please, can you do it?

COOPER: So it's less about money, more about politics. And music fans, well, chances are they will fill the stadiums and buy the records, whatever the cost.

Tragedy at an Ohio school. A six-year-old boy crushed to death by a cafeteria table. 360 investigates dangers lurking inside schools. How safe are your kids?

And whatever happened to baby Jessica? Tonight, CNN celebrating 25 years of storytelling brings you up-to-date with the little girl who captured the world's attention. 360 continues.


COOPER: One of the most famous figures from the Watergate scandal finally has a name and a face. The "Washington Post," journalistic home of the two reporters who protected their famous Watergate source by calling him "Deep Throat," today confirmed what this man, W. Mark Felt, claims in a just-published "Vanity Fair" magazine article which is that he's the guy who let the cat that ate the president out of the bag.

W. Mark Felt was Deep Throat, the greatest bean-spiller of our time. CNN's Judy Woodruff reports.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Meet the answer to one of the greatest American riddles. This 91-year-old California retiree is the secret source who used to meet Bob Woodward in dimly lit garages more than 30 years ago, who famously told the young reporter to...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just follow the money.

WOODRUFF: ... and who helped topple a president.

RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow.

WOODRUFF: Woodward called him "Deep Throat," a homage to the blockbuster porn movie. His true identity had never been revealed or uncovered, but now we know.

"Deep Throat" is Mark Felt, the number-two man at the FBI in the Nixon era. Woodward confirmed it tonight, with former "Post" editor Ben Bradlee, one of three men in on the secret, saying the number-two guy at the FBI, that was a pretty good source.

"Vanity Fair" broke the news this morning in a splashy article. Felt reportedly told the writer, attorney John O'Connor, "I'm the guy they called 'Deep Throat.'" Unlike other "Throat" suspects, Felt isn't a household name, but he's long been a favorite pick of Watergate aficionados.

A protege of J. Edgar Hoover, Felt oversaw the investigation into the Watergate break-in, had access to lots of sensitive information.

He had another role, too, and ironic one. The president's men tapped him to ferret out press leaks. He refused. In his own 1979 memoir, Felt wrote, "It was this sequence of events which led both the White House staff and top Justice Department officials to the conclusion that I was 'Deep Throat.'"

In fact, Nixon's chief of staff, Bob Haldeman, fingered Felt for the president. Felt denied it then and many times since. But the "Vanity Fair" report says Felt eventually came clean to his own family, told them he hated how Nixon was manipulating the FBI, that he spilled secrets to protect the institution.

This evening, Woodward told "The Post" Felt had hoped to take over the FBI upon Hoover's death. He was passed over. So he retired from the FBI in 1973, before Richard Nixon was forced from the White House.

In 1978, the former agent was indicted for approving other Nixon- era break-ins, raids on leftist anti-war groups. He was convicted and later pardoned by Ronald Reagan. And then, Mark Felt slipped into obscurity, until now.


COOPER: An amazing moment. Seems many Americans need a refresher course on the story of Deep Throat and Watergate. Here is a news note for you. A 2002 Gallup poll asked people how familiar they are with the Watergate affair. Eighteen percent said they were very familiar, 45 percent said somewhat, 24 percent, not too familiar and 13 percent had no idea what Watergate was.

My next two guests know a great deal about Watergate and its lasting impact on politics and my line of work. Joining me from Los Angeles "Washington Post" media reporter Howard Kurtz and in New York senior CNN analyst Jeff Greenfield.

Gentlemen, good to see you, as always. Jeff, how did Watergate change this country's political landscape?

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN ANALYST: Pretty fundamentally. It took a low level -- low grade proven distrust of government and cranked it up. Coming on the heels of the Vietnam War, which was considered a failure and at worst an act of deception, it really convinced a lot of people distrust of government was fully justified. Around 1964 one survey showed three quarters of Americans believed the government would do what was right by the most of the time. By tend of the '70s it was down at 25 percent.

The other thing it did was to make Washington a negative for national political candidates. After Watergate the only person ever elected a president who was not a governor or former governor was the first President Bush, not being in Washington after Watergate turned out to be a very big asset rather than a liability.

COOPER: So after Watergate, after Deep Throat suddenly being a Washington insider was a dirty term.

GREENFIELD: Even dirtier than normal. And we have always believed that politicians are not to be trusted that much. But if you think about it, starting in 1960, for a period of about three or four presidential elections, senators were the likely nominees. As soon as Watergate broke, you had Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, then you had Bush, the one exception, then you had Clinton, now you have the second Bush. It's actually -- you would think it would be a mark of experience as an asset to be from Washington but the distrust I think to this day has not fully ebbed.

COOPER: Howie, how about for journalism? I mean, it clearly shaped journalism as we know it. What do you think the biggest impact was?

HOWARD KURTZ, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, you had this incredible flooding of journalism schools because everybody wanted to be the next Robert Redford or Dustin Hoffman. You had the institutionalization of using unnamed sources which in the case of Mark Felt and Deep Throat and Watergate was very necessary but now I think it's become so overused and abused, we have the "Newsweek" recently where the source turned out to be wrong. We have the Valerie Plame investigation where the source who leaked to Bob Novak was outing a CIA operative.

So it had a good effect on journalism in the sense it made people in this line of work more aggressive. But I think it also had a bad effect and it led to a lot of sloppy and lazy and irresponsible reporting by journalists who wanted to become the next super star by breaking the next scandal even if it was nowhere near the intensity of Watergate.

COOPER: Suddenly, also, every scandal after that became "gate," there was Monica-gate. Suddenly "gate" became the term du jour, term of the decade.

KURTZ: That became the cliche and every reporter liked to then ask the question that Howard Baker asked the Senate Watergate hearings. "What did the president know and when did he know it?" Even if it was again something that might be just considered a minor league flap got elevated, got elevated, as you said, into some full- fledged "gate" at least for a week or two.

COOPER: Yeah, I think I might have asked that question even once or twice, I'm embarrassed to say.

Jeff, I want you to read you what a former White House advisor David Gergen said today. He said I think if you have information -- It wasn't today, I'm sorry. "I think if you have information there's been wrong doing or skullduggery or criminal activity in the government rather than going to the press it's best to take it to the Justice Department and the authorities. I do not think deep throat acted in an honorable way." We had G. Gordon Liddy on the program earlier tonight. He said basically the same thing. Do you think the guy was acting honorably?

GREENFIELD: I don't know what his motive was. Whether he was jealous wasn't the FBI director or what. But it does seem to me that David, for whom I have great respect, may overstate the case. If you have a Justice Department that's run by John Mitchell, you know, who left the justice department to run Nixon's reelection campaign and later went to prison. I'm not sure going to the Justice Department or any other authority is going to do you a lot of good.

KURTZ: That's exactly the point, Jeff, when it comes to these whistleblowers but not just in government, but in places like Enron and WorldCom, if you are in the middle of a criminal conspiracy sometimes the only way to get that information out is to whisper it to a reporter. Again, we have seen a lot of case where sources have just had partisan axes to grind. But in some cases they are letting us know about very important developments.

COOPER: We're going to leave it there. Howard Kurtz, Jeff Greenfield good to talk to you next.

Coming up next tonight on 360. Are your kids putting their lives at risk by going to school and eating in the cafeteria? We're talking about these tables that are being investigators. We are going to tell you about a danger many parents wouldn't think about.

Also ahead tonight, Gary Tuchman introduced this yellow lab just moments before she was to be put to sleep. You've been writing in tonight. We'll tell you what happened to that dog and a lot of others you have been writing in about. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Tomorrow Ohio lawmakers are going to vote on a bill that is aimed at better protecting kids in school by calling for mandatory safety inspections. Now, it's called Jarod's Law. It's named for a boy who would have turned eight next month. Two years ago he died at school in an accident his parents believe could have easily been prevented. CNN's Heidi Collins investigates.



HEIDI COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Whether biking around the neighborhood...


COLLINS: ...running on the football field or hitting the open waves, Jarod Barrett's parents always tried to make sure everything was safe for their 6-year-old son. They had no idea their biggest safety concern would turn out to be in a place they least expected. The cafeteria of the elementary school.

JIM BENNETT, JAROD'S FATHER: We never envisioned that our son Jarrod would be killed by wanting to go to school and learn.

COLLINS: In December of 2003 little Jarod Bennett was crushed to death by a folding cafeteria table that fell on him. He and two other children were playing near the table at a YMCA program held in their elementary school.

JENNY BENNETT, JAROD'S MOTHER: When I got to the doorway to the gym, which is also the cafeteria I saw Jarod laying in the middle of the room. And he was laying in a large amount of blood. I put my hands on his head and I said -- mommy is here. And I said, I love you, mommy is here, I'm with you, baby. And he stopped breathing.

JIM BENNETT: It was just so overwhelming. We actually hurt and it was just so amazing. We never knew this type of pain even existed.

COLLINS: The day after Jarod died his father Jim set up a website with all of Jarod's favorite things. His family, his friends, and even his favorite bugs. It's a place he goes for comfort. He reads emails sent with love from around the world. But sadly, Jim also reads of other families with similar stories.

JIM BENNETT: I still get nauseated when I still think about the pain she went through and how she looked.

COLLINS: Jim now knows his family's tragedy was not isolated. According to the federal government's Consumer Product Safety Commission since 1971, nine children had been killed and 14 injured by a table similar to the type that killed Jarod. Two days after Jarod died the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services issued this report finding the YMCA program out of compliance in several areas.

But so many questions remained. How could a 290 pound table have collapsed so violently in the brief time the counselor turned his back. And how could the school not have known about this potential danger? Unable to find an explanation, the Bennetts launched their own investigation. With the help of an engineering firm, they discovered it took just a light push. Under 26 pounds of pressure. To topple the table and crush this bicycle helmet.

JIM BENNETT: It falls over. And hits with around eight tons of force which is about two Suburbans force against Jarod. Jarod weighed 40 pounds. This was no contest for Jarod.

One of the things we found was that the Consumer Product Safety Commission had identified the table that killed Jarod for almost 10 years being an item that could significantly injury or kill children. They worked with the table manufacturers and the best that they could do was to get warning stickers mailed out to the school districts who had these tables and applied to the table and the table that killed Jarod had two of the stickers on it.

So obviously these stickers are not effective.

COLLINS (on camera): Two stickers, no recall. Why weren't they just yanked from the schools?

JIM BENNETT: We don't have those answers. That's what we're trying to find out now.

COLLINS (voice-over): So why didn't the Consumer Product Safety Commission request a recall of the tables? We contacted the CPSC and they said the tables are not defective. They function properly when they are used as tables and only become potentially dangerous when they are folded in the upright position and pushed. Although the table manufacturer declined an interview citing a penning lawsuit, this 1989 patent to revise its table indicates that the design was potentially life threatening. The patent reads "moving this table when it lies in the closed position presents a safety hazard. Any injury resulting from their tipping over could be severe."

(on camera): The school behind me is where Jarod Bennett died. The superintendent wouldn't talk to us on camera but his office says all of the tables like the one that killed Jarod have been removed. But no one seems if that's the case in every school, in every district, in every state.

JIM BENNETT: There is no awareness how many of these tables are in Ohio schools.

COLLINS (voice-over): And that lack of knowledge about how many of these tables as well as other potential hazards, still exist in schools is exactly the problem the Bennetts are determined to solve. Through their outreach with other parents, through the media.

JIM BENNETT: And I thank you ...

COLLINS: And through their work with Ohio State Representative Tom Raga, the benefits are hoping to pass Jarod's Law. A first of its kind bill that calls for the Ohio Department of Health to be accountable for inspecting and removing known dangers in schools.

(on camera): This is something that happened that I think really goes beyond almost any parent's wildest imagination. What is missing? And what was missing with safety in the schools?

TOM RAGA, OHIO STATE REPRESENTATIVE. Communication is what was missing. There weren't suggestions on should you corral the tables. And it's that type of information that we hope through the Department of Health to then filter down to the locals and the schools. I think that's the most powerful thing we can do.

JIM BENNETT: He would stay out here for about 40 minutes.

COLLINS (voice-over): Jim and Jenny hope one day the law will be nationwide. They know Jarod would want schools safe for every child. In his short life they saw the special instinct he had to protect.

JIM BENNETT: Jarod had a very nice appreciation of animals and bugs and other things that lived.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can go in the water here.

JIM BENNETT: I do know with his six years he touched more people than I think I will in my entire life. And we miss him so much.


COLLINS (on camera): And Jarod's parents are suing the local YMCA and the school district as well as the table manufacturer. And we should also tell you the table that killed Jarod is no longer being made. Underwriters Laboratories, that's a company that performs testing on thighs types of safety hazards say the folding table being made today require 56 pounds of pressure to be knocked over. The one that fell on Jarod only took 26 pounds.

But the only way to know for sure if a table will fall over easily is to test it. Obviously that's not an easy thing to do. So that's why the Bennetts are hoping with Jarod's law the department of health will become responsible for monitoring potential dangers in schools. Anderson, you can learn more about Jarod and Jarod's law by visiting this Website, And I tell you it's the most beautiful and touching Website that I have ever seen.

ANDERSON: Yeah, and I looked at it earlier today. It is so sad. Such a loss. Heidi Collins, thanks very much.

Coming up next tonight on 360, two American citizens accused of conspiring with al Qaeda. We're going to have the charges and the men ahead.

Also tonight -- remember this little girl? Trapped in a well. CNN celebrating 25 years of look back at the story of Baby Jessica and where she is now.


COOPER: Let's get a quick check of what is happening elsewhere in the world. Erica Hill from Headline News joins us with the latest. Erica?

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Couldn't scare me off the first time. I'm back. Two U.S. citizens are being held without bail accused of helping al Qaeda. The men appeared in court this morning at separate hearings. One in Florida, the other in New York. Prosecutors say they have sworn a formal oath to al Qaeda and were conspiring to provide material support to the terrorist group. Neither defendant has entered a plea.

On to Paris, France where there's a new prime minister. French President Jacques Chirac has named Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin to replace Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who stepped down after French voters rejected the European Union constitution. Now, you may remember de Villepin as the choice of France's huh-huh-huh opposition to the U.S.-led war - invasion of Iraq.

COOPER: I'm very impressed with your French.

HILL: High school -- In New York City, actor Christian Slater arrested. Slater charged with third degree sexual assault after a woman accused him of grabbing her behind on the street. This story shocked Anderson, by the way. Slater shouted he was innocent as he was led to a police car this morning.

And what is wrong with the Brits you ask? We're going to get hate mail for that question. Well, far be it for us to judge the music taste but this one just a little bit odd you might say. A cell phone ring tone topping the British singles chart. It actually outsold the new single by Coldplay by nearly four to one. The tone is called "Crazy Frog: Axel F". It's based on the sound of a revving Swedish moped, and yes, you guessed correctly, set to that hit tune from Beverly Hills Cops. Take a listen.


HILL: Is that your ring tone, Anderson?

COOPER: You notice about that frog -- in the actual commercial the frog has little frog tidbits and they have been blacked - see, they've been ...

HILL: They have been fuzzed out. We can't show that on American television, people.

COOPER: We can't stand to see frogs tender bits-- I don't know what one calls them on a frog.

HILL: Tadpoles, maybe.

COOPER: Very good. All right. Erica Hill, badumpum, thank you very much. Try the veal.

Let's get a preview from Paula Zahn who is coming up next. Paula, what have you got?

PAULA ZAHN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks Anderson, we're staying on the day's top story. The revelation that the FBI's former number two man Mark Felt was Deep Throat. He was on a bunch of lists of speculation over the years. Today, his family went public with that news. Bob Woodward from the "Washington Post" confirming it. We're going to continue the conversation with author Ron Kessler who has written a history of the FBI and now calls felt a hero.

And G. Gordon Liddy, who did time for Watergate crimes and has a very different point of view. We'll also taking some of your questions. You can email us at or give us a call at 1-800-304-3638. 1-800-304-3638. Start calling in now. It's going to be a lively discussion. We want to take as many of your calls and emails as possible. Start now. Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: About eight minutes from now. Thanks very much, Paula. Coming up next, pets left behind when soldiers go off to war. An update on the story we brought you last week. An update on this dog in particular.

First, as CNN celebrates its 20th anniversary. Here's a quiz question.

Shortly before 11:00 p.m. on December 8, 1980 John Lennon was outside his apartment building in New York City when he was shot four times. He died before he arrived at the hospital. His killer was a 25-year-old man from Hawaii. Mark David Chapman. He pled guilty and at a sentencing hearing read a passage from a book. What book was that?


COOPER: Before the break we asked you what book John Lennon's killer read from at his sentencing hearing. The answer? "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger. Mark David Chapman was reportedly clutching a copy of the book when police came to arrest him the night he shot Lennon in front of his home.

All this week we're looking back celebrating CNN's 25th anniversary. And we're doing it by taking a look back at some of CNN's defining moments. Tonight, whatever happened to Baby Jessica?


CHIEF JAMES ROBERTS, FIRE RESCUE COMMANDER: Of course this is a desert area and the reason Midland got its start because of underground water.

This backyard is a little bit different than it was in 1987. People drilled water wells, primarily to water their yards. Of course this is the well and shaft that she was in. If you look at that shaft, you just can't believe that a human would be in there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What started as a child's innocent game ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... people all over the world have been watching this story.

TONY CLARK, FORMER CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jessica was 18 months old at the time. She was playing in the bark yard. She had fallen 22 feet into the well. When we got there we found that some of the reporters had already gotten ladders. We did not have a ladder. And so I started knocking on doors up and down the block.

The rescuers are making progress by inches. Cameras and microphones have been dropped down.

They could hear her crying a little bit. Gurgling. So they knew she was alive. Chip and Sissy McClure were so young, I think she was 18, he was around the same age. And they were obviously worried parents.

It has gone frustratingly slow as volunteer rescuers drilled they found it tougher than expected.

ROBERTS: Well, this is what we were digging through. We didn't know it was going to take a couple of days.

This is the actual indention of the hole we drilled.

CLARK: They drilled a shaft parallel to the one Jessica fell in.

ROBERTS: These guys were man handling this jackhammer sideways and drilling across there and just some of the reasons that it took so long.

Some 58 hours after we had been going, everybody was pretty tired and we'd been through a lot and been through a lot of disappointment.

All of the sudden I'm lifting on the phone and Steve (ph) says, Chief Roberts, got her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tony Clark in Midland, Texas. Tony?

CLARK: It looks like they are bringing her up now. We're seeing a lot of activity.

ROBERTS: But when she actually came up above ground, I couldn't believe it. I had to lean around some of the people and just make sure and I saw that one eye opened and saw her moving and I knew that we had finally done it.

CLARK: You can see the enthusiasm, you could hear the applause as Jessica is brought out, the smiles -- it has taken a long time.

She is swathed in bandages and she is on a back brace. And carried to the waiting ambulance, to the cheers of the rescue workers and people that were surrounding them.

It was really quite a moment. And what happened after that is horns started honking throughout Midland. You knew that this was a city that was rejoicing at that moment.

ROBERTS: I don't know how shoe ever got out of there alive knowing what I know now. As a matter of fact, I probably say that is one of the miracles that we have seen in our lifetime.

CLARK: Looking at Jessica now, she graduated from high school last year. Her parents have helped her keep a very low profile. But it's interesting that right now she is around 18 years old, and that's the same age as her mom was at the time of this - that she was trapped in the well.

I think that Jessica McClure story changed network news coverage to show that it can put viewers at the scene of a breaking news story from start to finish.

ROBERTS: We welded it on that night after it got out. And it says, "For Jessica, 10/16/87 with love from all of us."


COOPER: An amazing story. Many you continue to write in about our story on abandoned military pets. Now those are the many pets being left behind when the owners are being sent overseas to war. Remember this yellow lab from Gary Tuchman's piece? She was just hours from being put to sleep? Well, apparently the vet decided to wait until after our story aired. Turns out today the yellow lab was adopted by a new family. If you still want to help you can email the Liberty County animal shelter at That's animals

That's it for 360. Our primetime coverage continues right now with Paula Zahn. Paula?

ZAHN: Thanks so much Anderson. Good evening everybody. Welcome. Thanks so much for joining us. END


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