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'Security Watch'; The Doe Network

Aired June 7, 2005 - 13:31   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Now in the news, British Prime Minister Tony Blair is in Washington, where he's due to meet with President George Bush this afternoon. The two Iraq war allies will now plan to offer financial help to Africa, but Mr. Bush is not expect to pledge as much as Blair would like.
One step closer by a vote of 65-32, the U.S. Senate moves to end a filibuster on Janice Rogers Brown. She's one of the presidents hotly debated judicial nominees. Senators are expected to vote on her confirmation late tomorrow afternoon.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: A matter of national security or scientific openness? Our Security Watch focuses on a flap between the government and the National Academy of Sciences. At the center, a research paper details how terrorists might attack the nation's milk supply. It also offers suggestions on how the U.S. can safeguard the system. The government, though, views the paper as a road map for terrorist and has asked the NAS not to publish it.

Joining us from the Brookings Institute in Washington, our security analyst Richard Falkenrath, and former deputy homeland security adviser to the president.

Richard, good to talk to you again, as always.


HARRIS: Well, this research paper, that I guess we're not going to get a chance to see and read, brings back this whole idea, the whole issue of our vulnerability to biological and, of course, chemical terrorism. How vulnerable are we? Give us a bit of an overview, nearly four years after 9/11, to this kind of twin threat.

FALKENRATH: We are very vulnerable. The bioterrorism is the use of disease as a weapon, and human beings are susceptible to disease, and they can catch it in many different ways. If a terrorist were to manipulate some disease-causing organism, either to put it in the atmosphere or put it in the food supply, or in the water or milk supply, it's the sort of thing that could cause mass casualties on a catastrophic scale.

HARRIS: OK, this paper, this research paper, by this professor at Stanford, the Stanford Business School, and what it details, is this surprising to you?

FALKENRATH: No, it's not surprising. This particular vulnerability has been known to the government for sometime. And in fact, the government's been doing some thing to try to reduce it.

What he's done is highlight, in a very precise way, a particular vulnerability. That is one means of attack that a terrorist could carry out that would cause catastrophic damage, and as such it's the sort of thing that making it publicly available is not necessarily a wise step.

HARRIS: OK, put a finer point on this. This is bit of an article from this professor, Professor Wynn. And this is from an op- ed piece that we see in "The New York Times" on May 30th.

He writes, "It might seem hard to believe, but just a few grams of toxin, much of it inactivated by pasteurization, could harm so many people, but that, in the eye of terrorists, is the beauty of botulism, which is what we're talking about here. Just one-millionth of a gram may be enough to poise and eventually kill an adult." What's your reaction to that?

FALKENRATH: Well, he's right. It's one of the most toxic substances on Earth. It's a toxin produced by a bacteria, which is lethal in very small doses. And if a terrorist were to find a way to feed this to lots of people simultaneously, they would cause mass casualties, and so the milk supply system is one such possibility.

HARRIS: And one of the issues -- let's take it on, head-on -- is this issue of national security censorship. This is a research paper by an organization that has a congressional charter, and this is the government saying that we don't want this information readily available over the Internet. How do you feel? Where do you come down on this?

FALKENRATH: It's a very hard issue. It's something the government's really had to wrestle is since 9/11. This particular case is pretty extreme. It's a case of a very specific vulnerability that we know to be one of the worst in the entire country, and a paper that makes it abundantly clear exactly what it is and how much you would need to use is over the line in my judgment. And I think the government is doing the right thing, probably belatedly, but the right thing to try to stop the distribution of this paper. The basic point, however is already out. We're hear talking about this on television.

HARRIS: Yes, yes.

FALKENRATH: It was written about in "The New York Times." So censorship is a terrible option. It doesn't usually work that well. Nonetheless, you don't want to make things a whole lot easier for terrorists if you don't have to.

HARRIS: And in this case, we understand this commodity. This is milk. Milk does a body good, (INAUDIBLE) safe as milk. We absolutely understand this commodity.

But on the other side of this, there is an argument that suggests if more people are aware of this vulnerability, more pressure can be brought to bear to fix the problem, Richard. FALKENRATH: That's right. And that's the countervailing argument. And so this is sort of the tension, and you have to make the balance. In this case, I happen to know that the government's been working on this problem, this particular problem, for a couple years. There's been a tripling of U.S. government funding for food and agricultural security in the last year. There's a special presidential directive on it. There's a bioterrorism law that creates a bunch of new requirements for food safety. So there is a fair bit of activity.

There's some other cases where really the government isn't doing anything, and there I think the case for publication is much higher. In this case, the government is actually doing something about it, maybe not enough, but there is a response going on.

HARRIS: CNN security analyst Richard Falkenrath. Richard, we appreciate it, thank you.

FALKENRATH: Thank you, Tony.

HARRIS: CNN is committed to providing most reliable coverage of news that affects your security. Stay tuned to CNN for the latest information day and night.

PHILLIPS: 2004 vote was close, and it looks like the brain power is, too. One of these guys is usually referred to as intelligent. The other, not so much. But the numbers don't lie. Kerry and Bush in a grade-point average face-off.

Killing him softly with too much food, but no more. The amazing road trip diet success of Dr. Nick. This big fad Greek diet is heavy on the baseball, later on LIVE FROM.


PHILLIPS: News across America now. New Mexico Police and the FBI are investigating the suspicious beating of this man, Tommy Hook, who works at Los Alamos National Laboratory, is a whistle-blower who planned to testify before a congressional committee later this month. Hook's wife said he got a phone call late Saturday from someone claiming to have information and wanting to meet him at a bar. Well, the person never showed up be, but Hook was beaten in the parking lot. He's being treated at Santa Fe hospital.

Now the tale of the transcripts. Turns out that John Kerry wasn't exactly a brainiac at Yale, despite the "he's smarter" spin during the presidential campaign. Here's the deal, four D's and a GPA of only 76 during his freshman year, although his grades approved over time. By the way, he told his dad the 'D' for distinction.

Meanwhile, fellow Yaley George W. Bush posted a GPA of 77 during his first three years and earned just one 'D.'

Finally, Viagra, could the little blue pill also enlarge blood vessels in your lungs? The FDA OK a key ingredient in Viagra as a treatment for people with pulmonary hypertension. The condition causes dangerous constriction in arteries connecting the heart and lungs.

HARRIS: Well, everybody loves a winner, but in America, we also love big losers.

PHILLIPS: Especially when the loser is someone like Dr. Nick.

CNN's Gary Tuchman with both more and less of a great story.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the Nick Yphantides who loved baseball and food, but not necessarily in that order.

DR. NICK YPHANTIDES: It's a bagel.

TUCHMAN: He called himself a big fat Greek. Dr. Nick, family practitioner, who knew he should be an example to his patients, wasn't even sure how much he weighed because the scale didn't go high enough. After stepping on two scales, he found out he weighed nearly a quarter ton.

YPHANTIDES: When I realized I weighed 467, you could have just told me my mother died. I was balling. I was just so humiliated.

TUCHMAN: He also became motivated. This is Dr. Nick today, 6'2", around 200 pounds. A bout with testicular cancer convinced him his life had to change.

YPHANTIDES: It hit my like a ton of bricks how ridiculous it was having dodged the cancer bullet and on the other side of life I was literally killing myself. I am convinced now that I was committing a slow form of suicide by eating myself to death.

TUCHMAN: Dr. Nick planned a very ambitious diet. On the night before it was to begin though, one last monster dinner. A double portion of porterhouse steak, several appetizers, cheesecake and a banana cream pie.

YPHANTIDES: We went to the Ruth's Chris steak house here in San Diego and I let it all hang out. 35 years of bad habits culminated in one evening of food decadence. The next day I went on the liquid fast that would last for eight months.

TUCHMAN: Under medical supervision, he only drank protein shakes, exercised regularly and went off in this RV on what he called a radical sabbatical, a journey to each of the 30 major league baseball stadiums, including the home of his beloved San Diego Padres. Do you think you could have lost all this weight without the distraction of something like baseball?

YPHANTIDES: I'm not sure I could have.

TUCHMAN: He went to 110 games. At Chicago's Wrigley Field, he successfully performed CPR on a fan having a heart attack. YPHANTIDES: When I got back to my seat, in true baseball hospitality fashion, people are like, whoa, how did you do that? Well, I'm a doctor. Whoa, can I buy you a beer? I'm like I don't drink. Can I buy you a hot dog? I don't eat.

TUCHMAN: Dr. Nick spent five months going to all the major league baseball cities. Despite the temptations of kielbasa, hot dogs and pizza, not to mention peanuts and Cracker Jacks, he lost 188 pounds. He hadn't seen his mother for months. Home video caught her reaction when he returned to his home in Escondido.

BERNICE YPHANTIDES, DR. NICK'S MOTHER: He had lost so much weight and also got a haircut and just looked so different I was just shocked at the door.

TUCHMAN: He was your own flesh and blood you didn't recognize him?

BERNICE YPHANTIDES: No. It was a miraculous, joyful moment.

TUCHMAN: Nick lost an additional 82 pounds for a total of 270. His first solid food was eaten with flare on Thanksgiving and also captured on home video.

In the three years since his diet, Dr. Nick fell in love and got married. Debbie Yphantides gave birth to their daughter Nicky in April. Dr. Nick wrote a book appropriately named "My Big Fat Greek Diet" in which he tells his story and gives his medical view point about how others can lose weight and keep it off. He writes that a liquid diet is certainly not for everybody. It should only be done under a doctor's care. He preaches about working out, something he tries to do seven days a week at his home YMCA. The Greek food is still plentiful at family gatherings in Escondidp. Nick says the vivid memories of his past give him plenty of incentive to eat in moderation.

YPHANTIDES: These clothes used to be tight on me.

TUCHMAN: What are the size of these?

YPHANTIDES: This is a size 60 pant, five feet around.

TUCHMAN: And baseball remains an important diversion. Cheering on the Padres with his wife and daughter served as a reminder of what his life was once like and how fortunate he is now.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Escondido, California.



PHILLIPS: Public praise for Thurmon McIntosh. He's the one who helped Kansas City Police solve the case of Precious Doe. On his lead, police were able to identify her as Erica Michelle Green. The little girl's mother and her stepfather, McIntosh's grandson, are charged with killing her.

That particular mystery took four years to charge. There are thousands more such Jane and John Doe cases, and a group of amateur sleuths who are trying to put them to rest.

CNN's Drew Griffin with the story of the Doe Network.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It could have ended here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And her body was found just on the other side of that rock.

GRIFFIN: And if not for this historian turned amateur sleuth, it would have ended here. A mysterious young woman found on the banks of Boulder Creek by two college students. She was badly beaten, and the coroner believed she was still alive when she was tossed over the side. The woman, thought to be about 20, probably died of exposure. It was snowing the week they found Boulder's Jane Doe, the week of April 22nd, 1954.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE; This is filed under murders.

GRIFFIN: It was Silvia Pettem, a Boulder, Colorado historical writer who found this Jane Doe for the second time, actually walking past a simple grave in the city's oldest cemetery.

SILVIA PETTEM, HISTORIAN: No one came forward. She -- there was no one reported missing that matched her description, so she was a complete mystery.

GRIFFIN: Boulder's Jane Doe would be about 70 now, her mother probably dead, and now another mother is looking out for her.

PETTEM: If this were my daughter and we didn't know where she was or who she was, I just can't -- I can't even imagine what that's like for a family. So I guess it's the mother coming out in me.

GRIFFIN: With the help of police, Pettem is on her way to solving this case. It's an investigative path that has led Pettem to another discovery. Her Jane Doe is hardly alone. There are thousands of them.

(on camera): Were you surprised to learn how many cases like this are out there?

PETTEM: Yes, absolutely. I -- when I first got interested in this case, I had no idea that other people in the rest of the country were doing the same thing.

TODD MATTHEWS, THE DOE NETWORK: This lady was found along -- in Tempe, Arizona.

GRIFFIN: Todd Matthews had that same reaction when he took his case online. That was seven years ago.

MATTHEWS: I had no idea there was another Jane Doe until I went online. This is the only one I ever heard of. It was unusual to me.

GRIFFIN: He lives thousands of miles from Boulder in rural Tennessee, but Todd Matthews is tied by the Internet to Silvia Pettem and many other volunteers across the country and around the world. Their mission, return names to the dead. Since 2001, that mission has been called the Doe Network.

(on camera): These people want their name back.

MATTHEWS: Of course, of course. Always hesitate to say haunting, but you know, you do feel that pull and you know when you've done a good thing, you get that feeling of satisfaction that come from just inside of you. And you know, it's almost like a blessing.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Matthews first felt that blessing when he identified his own Jane Doe.

MATTHEWS: That was her. Barbara Taylor (ph). And that's a picture of my father-in-law.

GRIFFIN: His father-in-law, Wilbur Rittle (ph), found the girl's body even before Matthews was born. Rittle spent decades trying to learn who she was. When Matthews married into the family, he carried on his father-in-law's mission and in 1998 he solved the mystery by putting the case on the Internet.

MATTHEWS: Because the Internet was evolving and becoming an actual resource. That's when they were just popping up like little lights coming on at dark. You know, I was -- just when I thought this was all of them, there was more. There's more and there's more. And it just seemed like it never stopped. And it's still like that today.

GRIFFIN: Today, Todd Matthews, along with others, runs the Doe Network, a growing Web site, a database filled with mysteries. According to law enforcement records, nearly 6,000 bodies across the U.S. and Canada are known only as Jane and John Does. The Doe Network has listed nearly 2,000 of those cases, some murdered, others died naturally, but all missing their names. And since 2001, the Doe Network's volunteers have helped solve more than 30 cases. Boulder's Jane Doe would be next.

PETTEM: She was completely naked, she'd been stripped of everything, all jewelry, all identification. She had three bobby pins in her hair.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Severely beaten, a fractured skull, and for the past 51 years, that's all anybody knew about Boulder's Jane Doe, found on this rock in 1954. But her case has again rekindled the community that buried her. Boulder's Jane Doe is now an active murder investigation. They're not just trying to find her name, but her killer.

(voice-over): And it is Pettem's work that has led the way. She did the research to re-open the investigation. She raised money to pay for the body to be exhumed. There is now DNA to compare to any living relative.

PETTEM: We know more about this girl today than we did 50 years ago when she was buried.

GRIFFIN: And later this month, what she hopes will be the major break: forensic experts will produce a facial reconstruction similar to this one. Silvia Pettem and Boulder will be able to see what Jane Doe looked like the day she died. A photo of that face will immediately be placed on the Doe Network Web site and Pettem will wait for the call that may finally place a name on this grave.

PETTEM: Everybody deserves a name. Certainly, no one should be buried for 50 years with Jane Doe on their stone. And some people are buried without a stone at all.

GRIFFIN: Drew Griffin, CNN, Boulder, Colorado.



HARRIS: Kyra, Kyra, Kyra, Kyra, Kyra. Get a load of this. See that?


HARRIS: Tremendous. Tremendous nighttime blast.

PHILLIPS: Look at that.

HARRIS: Just one of the recent eruptions at western Mexico's Volcano of Fire.

PHILLIPS: Is that the volcano that has that name that's like 25 characters that nobody can pronounce?

HARRIS: Not even the kids in the spelling bee.

PHILLIPS: But they can -- abacatura (ph), the musical note, right?

HARRIS: Right.

PHILLIPS: But well, for now, villagers closest to that volcano are being urged, actually, but not forced, to evacuate. They use the outbursts -- or they're used to those outbursts, I guess, from their volcano. They call it their volcano, by the way. They take ownership of it. Which is one of most active ones in all of Mexico.

HARRIS: Good, because I don't want it in my neighborhood.

PHILLIPS: We don't want to own that volcano. We've got enough eruptions around here. Anyway, coming up in the second hour of LIVE FROM, how about this? A feisty bear shows up at your house -- this is for real, folks, so you run inside, or you run outside. And then you lock the bear inside. Sounds like a good plan, right?

HARRIS: Only problem is, your husband's inside, too. Well, it really happened to our guest, coming up. LIVE FROM'S "Hour of Power" begins after this.



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