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PAULA ZAHN NOW

Are You Really Safe at Home?

Aired August 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: Hi everyone, I'm Paula Zahn. Thanks so much for helping us wrap up the week here. What you're about to see in the next hour may calm you or alarm you. Either way, you're certainly in for some surprises.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN (voice-over): London learned the hard way and paid a horrible price. In the struggle to keep ourselves safe from terror, who's being watched, how does it affect our freedom?

PAUL BURGESS, AMATEUR PHOTOGRAPHER: There's two armed officers standing in front of us, telling us that we could be placed in federal detention.

ZAHN: Are you willing to be monitored all the time?

FRANK SESNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A national I.D., a central data base in the United States of America? Are you crazy?

ZAHN: Tonight, a comforting or disturbing series of reports. What do we gain? What do we lose to be safe at home? A PAULA ZAHN NOW special.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Some people would say we now live in a world of fear: 9/11, the Madrid bombings, the London bombings. They have left us sensitive to just about any threat. Just take a look at this CNN/"USA Today" Gallup Poll. Three-quarters of us think Osama bin Laden is planning a significant attack against the U.S. But how far should we go to ensure our security? That's a very tricky question. For the next hour we're going to look at the state of security right here in the U.S. And as you'll see, there are two startling realities. There are a lot of incredibly high-tech innovations just around the corner. But there's also a whole lot going on now that you don't even see. And depending on your point of view, that can either be comforting or downright disturbing. One of the things you don't see is how the FBI monitors hundreds of people here inside the U.S. who it believes may be planning terror attacks. Here's justice correspondent Kelli Arena.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was here in Florida in a variety of small towns that September 11th hijacker Mohammed Atta rubbed shoulders with his American neighbors. He apparently didn't do much to raise suspicion and lived among us in virtual anonymity. Could there still be terrorists as dangerous as Atta living here? Well, the answer, according to law enforcement experts, is yes.

PAT D'AMURO, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: We know that there are homegrown individuals here in this country that have the potential of causing damage to our national security.

ARENA: D'Amuro should know. He was a senior counterterrorism official with the FBI until a short time ago. Our sources tell us that there are at least 1,000 people under FBI surveillance at any given time that investigators believe could pose a threat. They're in big cities and small, all across the country in places like Phoenix and Falls Church, Virginia. The FBI has tapped their phones or is looking at their e-mail or they are physically being watched.

(on camera): In some cases, investigators are hoping that the surveillance will lead to more information. In other cases, if there is a reason to charge someone, they will.

(voice-over): Take, for example, the story out of Lodi, California. FBI agents admitted to surveilling individuals there for three years for arrests were made. Agents allege some of those taken into custody were planning to set up a terror training camp.

KEITH SLOTTER, SACRAMENTO FBI: We believe, through our investigation, that various individuals connected to al Qaeda have been operating in the Lodi area in various capacities, including individuals who have received terrorist training abroad with the specific intent to initiate a terrorist attack in the United States.

ARENA: Individuals come to the attention of investigators through a variety of ways.

D'AMURO: Telephone numbers, internet communications, e-mail communications, chat rooms, anonymous phone calls, source information, cooperating witness information, actual leads coming out of conducting other investigations.

ARENA: But what has officials even more worried are the people they don't know about.

ROBERT MUELLER, FBI DIRECTOR: Finding them is the top priority for the FBI. But it is also one of our most difficult challenges. The very nature of a covert operative trained not to raise suspicion and to appear benign is what makes their detection so difficult.

ARENA: It's important to point out that officials say there is no intelligence to suggest there are al Qaeda cells here waiting to strike. And none of the individuals taken into custody over the past few years has been caught in the middle of a terror plot. You may remember the group of men arrested in Lackawanna, New York for attending al Qaeda camps. Some government critics refer to them as terrorist wannabes. The feds didn't see it that way.

PETER AHEARN, BUFFALO FBI: When you have a group of individuals that are in contact with known terrorists, that makes it very dangerous.

ARENA: The FBI has been pretty aggressive, taking suspicious people in on immigration violations if no other charge can be brought. But law enforcement leaders say there is still much more to do, both on a federal and local level. John Timoney is Miami's police chief.

CHIEF JOHN TIMONEY, MIAMI POLICE: Unfortunately, we in the United States have not done a very good job in intelligence gathering and in developing agents who speak Arabic and other languages, of bringing, if you will, Arabic Americans into federal and local law enforcement.

ARENA: The FBI acknowledges that it has too few Arabic-speaking agents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

ARENA: But it has tried to foster closer ties with the Arab community. Mike Mason, who heads up the FBI's Washington field office, regularly meets with Arab leaders.

MIKE MASON, FBI: If people come to this country intent to do harm, typically those people will try to embed themselves in a community with which they're familiar with, the customs, the culture, the religion.

ARENA: But as we learned from the first London bombings, sometimes terrorists hide their plans from even their closest family and friends. So what then is the bottom line?

D'AMURO: This is not something that has a quick solution, an easy answer. It's going to be something that's going to be with us for some time to come, and the country has to realize that.

ARENA: And al Qaeda remains as committed as ever, recently threatening the U.S. with an attack even worse than we saw on September 11th.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: So Kelli, in the wake of the London bombings and the release of yet another threatening al Qaeda tape, what is it that the investigators you spoke to are most concerned about?

ARENA: Well, I think it's the possibility that they've missed something. You know, some suggest that British authorities were slow to admit that extremist elements existed in their society and that those individuals posed any danger. I mean, U.S. law enforcement just doesn't want to grow complacent, Paula.

ZAHN: So does that mean we have to accept the cold hard fact that more and more Americans will have to be watched?

ARENA: Well, I think that the surveillance will be constant. I mean, as long as those investigative leads come in, as long as tips come in, surveillance has to be done. I mean, that's just the new reality.

ZAHN: Kelli Arena, thanks so much for the update. We'll see you a little bit later on in the broadcast.

So as you just saw, the FBI is out there watching. But do you feel like you're being watched, being examined pour than ever before? Well, after 9/11 and now after the London bombings, it seems we've kind of gotten used to police officers with automatic weapons, security cameras everywhere, our bags being searched. So where is this all headed? Do we need more security to keep us safe, or is big brother already here?

Well take a look at these numbers from a CNN/"USA Today" Gallup Poll, which show us a powerful picture. First, a shocking result: more than half of us say that Arab Americans should be singled out for special security checks before getting on planes. What that means is an awful lot of us favor some kind of racial profiling when it comes to security. Also, close to 80 percent of us want airport-style security, you know, bag searches, metal detectors, for subways, buses, and trains. And 81 percent favor sending everyone who goes into office buildings through metal detectors. So it does look like there's a lot of support for tighter security. Here's more of what we can expect from Tom Foreman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the four years since the world came to face greater fears, greater forces, greater security, Lisa Kasmer has accepted one thing above all else.

LISA KASMER, HAIRSTYLIST: I think the world's changed a lot. I mean it's a different place to live.

FOREMAN: Living and working near Washington, D.C., she watches America's security revolution up close and she doesn't always like it.

KASMER: Well, I have to worry every time I go anywhere about emptying my pockets and having somebody look at everything that I have and look through my purse and...

FOREMAN (on camera): Some people say we just have to put up with this and it's worth it.

KASMER: To some extent, I definitely agree, but like I said, I think that there is such a thing as too much, as excessive.

FOREMAN (voice-over): But jump forward five to 15 years, and security analysts say most Americans will be in for a lot more. Commuting, count on cameras. Experts say the millions of police and private surveillance cameras already at work will be increasingly watched by computers. So if you circle a government building too many times, license plate recognition software could give police instant pictures and a map of everywhere else you've been, then match that with your driver's license, cell phone, Internet, and credit records.

JAMES LEWIS, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: There are some really big gaps in our security.

FOREMAN: Jim Lewis is with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

LEWIS: We're seeing some of these things tested for power plants, where cameras will note if a car is driving around, if someone appears to be in a vehicle and surveilling the plant.

FOREMAN: At some offices and large public places, biometric systems are already becoming more common, scanning eyes or fingerprints to guard access to buildings and especially computers. Sophisticated I.D. badges designed to thwart counterfeiting are also growing in use at work and at schools and more contain radio tracking devices to record your location every second, again, matching your electronic record with any suspicious activity.

LEWIS: The use of sophisticated software to do data mining is already something that the private sector is doing. And it will be natural to look for solutions in anti-terrorism there as well.

FOREMAN: The biggest challenge is public transportation because it involves so many people moving so rapidly. Today, security is obvious at most hubs, with police sometimes armed with machine guns making their presence known. Bomb dogs, random bag searches, and experts are promoting more of all of this in the name of future safety. In a dozen years, they say, when you enter many train stations, subways, or airports, you will walk through built-in biohazard, bomb, and weapon detectors, even highly advanced x-rays that look through your clothing may become cost effective. No wonder in the rush to security privacy experts say American laws, written long before such technology, must also be scrutinized.

CEDRIC LAURANT, ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER: The problem is that there is no privacy framework in place that specifies what's going to happen with that data, for which purposes it could be used...

FOREMAN (on camera): Whether it's pictures or electronic data...

LAURANT: Who will get access to it?

FOREMAN: Still, the Security Industry Association says while right now the nation's security infrastructure is like an unfinished building with bare beams and wires hanging everywhere, over the next decades it will be completed. And in the process, it will largely disappear.

(voice-over): So much so that they dream of a day when at the airport, you will be so thoroughly scanned, identified, and tracked walking through the building that you'll get right onto your plane. Lisa Kasmer can't wait because right now the endless talk of terror and security is unsettling.

KASMER: It definitely makes people more aware.

FOREMAN: And when she turns on the news each evening, though she knows she is safer, she doesn't always feel that way even safe at home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The nature of the bombs is critical.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Calls for more surveillance cameras...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're starting to sew a pattern here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Multiple bombings...

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: So Tom, for those of us who fly a lot, the idea of invisible security might be a more positive thing than wading through endless lines that we now have to wade through. How soon could that be a reality?

FOREMAN: Well, the people who are going to make this happen, you have to understand, are really just now in our colleges and universities around this country: architects, engineers, people who are going to build our airports, our homes, our businesses, our cars, and include all of this stuff. When that day comes, your bomb detectors, your metal detectors, all of those will be built into the framework of the building itself. You'll walk through the front door and you'll be scanned as you go in. Theoretically, even your computer will recognize you when you walk into the room. You'll no longer log in or do all of that. It will know it's Paula in the room because of a radio frequency from a badge or something. And life will be a lot more like we once recalled it to be. However, that's quite a ways down the line. It could be 10 years, 20 years, maybe even 30.

ZAHN: I was wondering if you were going to give me a number specific there, but I guess it's kind of hard to know, but 10 years at a minimum.

FOREMAN: Ten years at a minimum, 20, 30. It could be depressing, and for some of this, way down the line. But the goal is still there. They want it to get back to the kind of free America that most of us grew up with where we don't worry about this stuff all the time and we don't really even see it.

ZAHN: Tom Foreman, interesting stuff. Thanks so much.

Here's something to watch out for throughout this hour, some people will look at the security changes and say I have nothing to hide, this will protect us. But other people are downright furious.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we try to fight terrorism that that very same Constitution they're supposed to be protecting is under attack.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: So is the Constitution really under attack, or are this country's new laws just plain common sense? Coming up, what's already in place that you may not even know about. And a little bit later on, a provocative question: would you be uncomfortable carrying a national I.D. card?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Welcome back. Still ahead tonight, do you know how much our own government can actually spy on us? It's more than you think, but is it comforting or are you outraged?

And a little bit later on, technology that can actually see through your clothes. Is that going too far to fight terrorism? First, though, just about a quarter past the hour, Heidi Collins has the hour's top stories.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Paula. A chilling flashback: today New York City released tapes of emergency radio calls recorded on 9/11.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can anybody hear me?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a civilian. I'm trapped inside one of your fire trucks underneath the collapse that just happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stand by. There's people close to you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't breathe much longer. Save me. I'm in a cab of your truck.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

COLLINS: Fire officials believe that man made it. On another tape, a paramedic describes the bewildering situation, being overwhelmed with the dead and injured. New York City has fought to keep the tapes under wraps, but "The New York Times" and several victims' families won a lawsuit for their release.

In Crawford, Texas the president's motorcade did not stop for a California mother demanding a meeting with the president. Cindy Sheehan's 24-year-old son was killed in Iraq. She had supported the war and has been joined by other protesters camped on the road from the president's ranch.

Sri Lanka's foreign minister was assassinated today. He was a hard-liner dealing with Sri Lanka's Tamil rebels. The military blames them for the murder. A manhunt is under way for two suspects.

The trading week finished with yet another day of record-high oil prices. A barrel of crude reached the $67 mark. That helped push stocks lower. The Dow Jones lost 85 points.

And a large tree limb split and fell at the PGA Championship at Ballisroll Country Club in New Jersey. Three people were hurt and PGA play was briefly put on hold.

And those are the headlines -- Paula.

ZAHN: Thanks so much for the update.

Did you know the government can detain you for just taking a picture of a train? Coming up, one man found that out the hard way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BURGESS: I said, "Well, that directly contravenes the protections of the First Amendment." And he said, "These new laws supersede the First Amendment."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: So how much power do our anti-terrorism laws give the police? And will it reassure you or scare you?

And later on in our special hour, "Safe at Home," how much of your body are you willing to let a stranger see if it might help catch a terrorist?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: The challenge of defending America from terrorism is finding the balance between security and maintaining our freedom. So when you hear that the government can come into your home without telling you and search through your things, it might make you stop and think. It turns out there are a lot of surprising powers the federal government has, powers the government says protect us. Once again, justice correspondent Kelli Arena.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARENA (voice-over): Paul Burgess and Randy Olson are train enthusiasts and amateur photographers. So it's no surprise that one of their favorite pastimes is taking pictures of trains.

BURGESS: That was Hiawatha service from Milwaukee.

ARENA: Which is exactly what they were doing one day about seven months ago on this very platform in suburban Chicago when they were confronted and detained by police, their car searched and their names and information checked against terrorist data databases.

BURGESS: There was a crowd of people standing here staring at us. We're up against a police car. We're not handcuffed. There's two armed officers standing in front of us telling us that we could be placed in federal detention.

ARENA: While it usually doesn't go this far, police officers do have the right to question you and will if you are taking pictures of transportation systems or bridges or other infrastructure. In fact, as CNN was shooting video for this story, our cameraman was stopped and questioned by authorities. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was just trying to find out who you were with.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told you who I was with.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, OK.

ARENA: As attacks in both London and Madrid have made obvious, trains and subways are very attractive targets for terrorists, and terrorists often conduct early surveillance by taking photos. Burgess and Olson understand that concern but don't think stopping photographers will help.

RANDY OLSON, AMATEUR PHOTOGRAPHER: Examine the passengers' baggages. You know, two rail fans taking pictures on a platform, no. Guys getting on, looking suspicious with, you know, oversize suitcases, maybe you should stop and look at them, you know.

ARENA: Photography isn't the only hobby that could result in a confrontation with law enforcement. Ken Kurtis owns a dive shop in Los Angeles. He received a subpoena from the government in 2002 asking for customer information going back three years.

KEN KURTIS, DIVE SHOP OWNER: It was incredibly broad. It was incredibly unfocused. And from that standpoint, in my opinion, incredibly -- going to be incredibly, you know, unproductive.

ARENA: Intelligence at the time suggested terrorists might be planning an underwater attack and agents have the right to request business records while conducting terrorism investigations. Kurtis refused to comply with the subpoena and filed suit. And officials voluntarily backed off. But many other dive businesses did provide information, deciding security trumped their customers' privacy.

Most Americans are intimately aware of post-9/11 restrictions when they travel on airplanes, for example, taking off your shoes, going through metal detectors, showing your I.D. but most are probably not as familiar with new, aggressive laws and practices that law enforcement and the federal government are now using in the war on terror. Did you know, for example, that someone accused of plotting a terrorist attack can be held indefinitely if the president says so? The president, as commander in chief, can detain people allegedly fighting for the enemy.

(on camera): Jose Padilla got off a plane here at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. His feet barely touched the ground before he was taken into custody. The attorney general alleging that he was involved in a plot to set off a dirty bomb in the United States, but Padilla was never charged. Instead, he was declared an enemy combatant and has been in military custody for more than three years. Padilla is a U.S. citizen.

(voice-over): Most enemy combatants are held overseas and are not U.S. citizens. The government argues Padilla's capture in the United States and subsequent detention are legal because al Qaeda made the U.S. a battlefield when it attacked New York and Washington on 9/11. Padilla's lawyers filed suit, arguing the government should charge him and present its evidence in a court of law.

DONNA NEWMAN, JOSE PADILLA'S ATTORNEY: What the government has done is not only tried Mr. Padilla in the media before the public, they have charged him and been the jury. How convenient except that it is such a violation of our Constitution that it is egregious.

ARENA: The FBI's new mandate to prevent terror attacks has raised other Constitutional questions. Did you know, for example, that your home could be searched without you ever knowing if the government thinks you're a national security risk? Well, federal agents thought Brandon Mayfield was. Armed with a court order, they took 10 DNA samples, 335 digital photographs, searched his computer hard drives, and wiretapped his home. Mayfield had no idea until almost a year later. At the time authorities thought Mayfield's fingerprints matched those found near the scene of the Madrid bombings last that year, a good enough reason for a judge to sanction the government's actions. Later the FBI admitted the prints did not match and Mayfield is now suing.

GERRY SPENCE, BRANDON MAYFIELD'S ATTORNEY: You don't want to have people walking into your house and violating your Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. That's what it's about.

ARENA: Did you know that FBI agents have the authority to not only enter your home but can enter your church, synagogue, mosque, or even political meeting to gather information? Well, they can because then attorney general John Ashcroft relaxed FBI guidelines after 9/11. But many agents say they won't without a good reason.

KEVIN PERKINS, BALTIMORE FBI OFFICE DIRECTOR: I think what the public needs to know is that in any type of intrusive investigative technique along those lines, there is significant oversight by either -- by a judicial body, perhaps by Congress, perhaps by the Inspector General's office.

ARENA: Kevin Perkins runs the FBI's Baltimore field office. With a major port and its proximity to the nation's capital, he says he doesn't have the resources or the desire to spy on law-abiding citizens.

PERKINS: We have to have a really specific reason why we do things we do.

ARENA: Case in point: Under the Patriot Act, the government has the power, with a court order, to demand a library hand over a list of books you've borrowed or Web sites you've visited on computers there.

Well, so far it's a power officials say they have not used.

Just as the public is getting used to the new powers, Congress is considering even more changes, such as giving the FBI the ability to get records from hotels, schools, and other businesses in terror investigations without even going before a judge. And broader authority to examine the outside of letters or of packages mailed to people connected to terror investigations. It's all supposed to make us safer.

PERKINS: I have to know that stopping a terrorist attack is my number one goal, but at the same time, protecting people and their civil rights is very, very important to me.

ARENA: Still, some, like photographer Paul Burgess, are concerned about what the future may hold.

BURGESS: That's the old argument of the slippery slope. And I know that people are -- tend to laugh things off and say, well, that could never happen. But you know, if you look at the history of police states, most of them, you know, are incrementalists.

ARENA: Burgess says ultimately, Americans have to speak up like he did if they think the government is going too far.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: So Kelli, you've just given us a really broad idea of what the government can legally do now. How does the public feel about these measures?

ARENA: Well, there doesn't seem to be much support for them, at least if you believe a recent CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll. You know, three-quarters of Americans say that they would oppose allowing the government to indefinitely imprison U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism, such as Jose Padilla. When we asked if it should be easier for authorities to read your mail or tap your phone without your knowledge, almost three-quarters said no to that also. And when we asked whether the government should be able to find out what books you've checked out of a library, as I said, a power that the FBI already has, Paula, 60 percent said no.

And most Americans also say that they oppose giving law enforcement such extra powers as allowing a person's home to be entered at any time without a search warrant.

ZAHN: Certainly is a brave new world we're living in, isn't it?

ARENA: It sure is.

ZAHN: Kelli Arena, thanks so much. Really interesting report.

Coming up in our special hour, "Safe at Home," have you been on TV lately?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL BROWN, SURVEILLANCE CAMERA PLAYERS: I believe democracy is threatened by these cameras. They are installed secretively. They operate secretively. And that secrecy is the antithesis of democracy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: So coming up next, the explosion of security cameras. Do we need them all? Do we need more? And exactly who's watching you?

Also, when you hear someone say "don't leave home without it," could they be talking about a national identity card? You might be surprised at who thinks they're a good idea.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Since 9/11, the sight of extra police at airports and subways has become almost routine. But that's the least of it. There is a lot more going on that you never see, more sophisticated and secret security steps. Here's Jeanne Meserve.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The medium truly is the message, as a New York City subway surveillance camera captures an anti-surveillance protest action, an adaptation of George Orwell's "1984."

BILL BROWN, SURVEILLANCE CAMERA PLAYERS: It was a way of bracingly asking people, we should stop and think about what kind of society do we live in, and what sort of society do we want to live in?

The first one is directly above us.

MESERVE: Bill Brown also gives guided tours of New York surveillance cameras, which he has carefully mapped.

BROWN: Well, I would say that in Manhattan alone, there are probably 15,000.

MESERVE: Brown believes that cameras are ineffective security tools, that put our rights and our governmental system at risk.

BROWN: I believe democracy is threatened by these cameras. They are installed secretively. They operate secretively. And that secrecy is the antithesis of democracy.

MESERVE: But the London bombings have triggered calls for more cameras and smarter cameras, that can help stop crimes, not just help investigations.

(on camera): Proponents say some of these new technologies make security less intrusive, not more so.

(voice-over): On Madrid's train system, bombed by terrorists last year, a system is deployed that marries cameras with software that can be programmed to catch people going where they shouldn't go and doing what they shouldn't do.

ALAN LIPTON, OBJECT VIDEO: People leaving bags behind, maybe on a railway platform or a railway carriage, or in an airport. People stealing objects, vandalizing things.

MESERVE: Another system pairs cameras with facial recognition technology. In a demonstration, my picture is added to a watch list. When I join a simulated airport ticket line, I am picked out before I can pose a threat.

JOEL SHAW, CRYPTOMETRICS, INC.: It's proactive. It doesn't rely on post-event analysis. It's trying to anticipate. It's trying to get ahead of that.

MESERVE: Authorities are searching, of course, not just for dangerous people, but dangerous objects. Metal detectors can't find plastic explosives or some types of weapons and ammunition. But an X- ray technology called backscatter can see inside vehicles and under clothes. As you can see, this is a very candid camera. Though the manufacturer says the person operating the equipment sees a less revealing picture.

ROBERT POSTLE, AMERICAN SCIENCE & ENGINEERING INC.: What you'll see is very much an outline of the person's image, with no detail of anatomy whatsoever, with the threat images superimposed on that outline. So in my view, the privacy issue has been completely taken care of.

MESERVE: The body is very indistinct when another system is used. Millimeter wave technology, adapted from space telescopes, can be programmed to differentiate between the human body and objects like the .357 Magnum tucked in my waistband.

BRAIN ANDREWS, BRIJOT IMAGING SYSTEMS, INC.: We don't physically have to search you. We don't have to touch you or do anything. We don't racial profile.

MESERVE: A Fortune 500 retailer has just bought a millimeter wave system to screen large numbers of people quickly, calling it a big boon to security.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's fast, it's quick. It's minimal amount of manpower and staffing for it.

MESERVE: But all of these technologies have limitations. With a hat and glasses, I stumped the facial recognition program. Software program to recognize anticipated threats and scenarios won't recognize new innovations. Neither backscatter nor millimeter wave can see through flesh to detect something hidden under an arm or in a body cavity.

POSTLE: There is no one solution that solves every problem. And therefore, the more different interdictions and interrogations you can provide, the better your security is.

MESERVE: The prospect of more surveillance and interlocking systems puts privacy experts on edge. They worry about whether information and some of those intimate images will be recorded, archived, searched and shared.

Some of these technologies, like the backscatter van, can be used covertly.

POSTLE: If you were to see it on the street, you probably wouldn't think any differently of it than any other van in the street. And many of the government agencies use it in that capacity.

MESERVE: That means our belongings can be searched, our bodies stripped, without our ever being aware.

Privacy advocates say current law is inadequate and needs to keep pace with the technology. But some Americans are perfectly willing to sacrifice some privacy for more security and convenience.

To participate in a trusted traveler program and bypass long security lines, Robert Brown (ph) is having his iris scanned, his fingerprints taken, and will undergo a government background check.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have nothing to hide, and -- nothing to hide.

MESERVE: But there are tradeoffs between security and privacy.

POSTLE: The more you want to give to the privacy side of the ledger, the more you're likely to miss a threat. So there's a balance, there's a very difficult balance.

MESERVE: But are we striking that balance, or are we at risk of creating a society where we are safe but sorry?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Jeanne Meserve, posing some very important questions we all need to debate.

Would you carry something that critics say could completely violate your privacy? What if you've got nothing to hide? And it could also make you safer?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM RIDGE, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We could come up with a system that would protect privacy rights, but also significantly enhance security.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Coming up on our special, "Safe at Home," an exclusive interview with former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. Why does he think national ID cards are a good idea?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Good evening, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins. Here's what's happening in the news tonight.

Edgar Ray Killen is out of jail. The 80-year-old former Ku Klux Klansman was convicted of manslaughter in June for the killings of three civil rights workers in Mississippi back in 1964. Today, a judge released him on $600,000 bond, while his lawyers appeal the conviction. The planet Mars getting more company. NASA today launched its Mars reconnaissance orbiter. After a seven-month cruise to the Red Planet, the probe is expected to gather more information than all previous Mars missions put together.

The end of today's evening rush hour is the end of orange alert on U.S. transit systems. The Homeland Security Department raised the alert status for buses, trains and subways after the bombings in London on July 7th. The move back down to yellow alert will save about $900,000 a day.

Remember Amber Frey? Scott Peterson's one-time lover is starting a new career, as a motivational speaker, to help women bounce back from trauma. Frey's testimony about the affair helped convict Peterson or murdering his pregnant wife, Laci.

And those are the headlines. "PAULA ZAHN NOW" will return in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: So how would you feel if police were allowed to stop people at random and ask for an ID? Well, that's what we wanted to find out in a CNN/"USA Today" today"/Gallup poll.

Well, about 50 percent of you are in favor of that. And how about a national ID card? Well, there's at least one influential man who supports that idea. Here's special correspondent Frank Sesno.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FRANK SESNO, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Hollywood's black-and-white world of wartime Casablanca...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May I see your papers?

SESNO: ... not having the right papers...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These papers expired three weeks ago.

SESNO: ... could cost you your life.

In real world America, it's nowhere near that bad. But just a few years ago, when Nevada rancher Dudley Hibel repeatedly refused to give his name and ID to a local sheriff's deputy, he was handcuffed and arrested.

Hibel argued his right to refuse ID all the way to the Supreme Court.

DUDLEY HIBEL, RANCHER: This isn't just about me. This is about all Americans.

SESNO: He lost. The court ruled that because the cops had reasonable suspicion that Hibel was abusing a passenger in his truck, they had every right to demand ID. The American Civil Liberties Union called the ruling "a step on the road to a police state."

But in our war on terror, ID is now standard fare at airports, federal buildings and increasingly, at the office.

(on camera): So, what's the most common form of identification in the United States? What do I already share with 200 million other people? It's this, my driver's license. It's my permit to drive, but it's a lot more.

(voice-over): Name, height, date of birth, my address, which I'm not going to let you see here, all courtesy of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

But each state does licensing in its own way. So, brace yourself for a brave new world. A brand new law, the Real ID Act, creates standards for driver's licenses, making them harder to get, harder to forge, more high-tech, linking databases. Non-citizens will have to prove they're here legally.

A first step toward a national ID? Yes, says none other than the former head of Homeland Security, who believes it's about time.

TOM RIDGE, FMR. HEAD OF HOMELAND SECURITY: A standard form that basically says Frank Sesno is Frank Sesno; Tom Ridge is Tom Ridge; gives anyone involved with combating terrorism, a base of information about people who are legitimately here.

SESNO: Knowing he's stirring a hornet's nest, Ridge favors a national ID system.

RIDGE: Look, there's so many people, going down so many paths. Is it not in the national interest that we come up with a standard form?

ZAHN: Jim Harper is a privacy advocate who vehemently disagrees. He's with the Libertarian Cato Institute and runs a Web site called Privacilla.org.

JIM HARPER. PRIVACILLA.ORG: The dominant use of national identification will be surveillance of ordinary law-abiding citizens.

ZAHN: But the systems are being built. We visited a company, Visage, that's working with DMVs in more than a dozen states.

KENNETH SCHEFLEN, SENIOR V.P., VISAGE: The biggest problem and the hardest one to solve technically, is knowing who the person is in the first place. Are they really who they purport to be?

SESNO: Authenticating documents is the first step. So they looked at mine as if I were an applicant. My passport takes just a nanosecond to get a green light. My license...

KEVIN MCKENNA, DIRECTOR, VISAGE: We look for certain visible patterns on that driver's license.

SESNO: Security features, some exposed only by infrared light. Yes the documents are real, but am I really who I say I am? Picture time.

(on camera): I failed.

MCKENNA: You failed on biometrics.

SESNO (voice-over): Now, I've got a problem. Because of the poor quality of my passport and driver's license photos, the machine can't verify I am who I claim to be. A DMV employee will have to look more closely. But can any of this stop the bad guys?

Say I'm a terrorist, I want to change my face, warts and all, because I know the authorities have my original photo on file. What happens now? My scruffy self, scanned against 50,000 others in this sample database. The computer sees right through the new me and zeros in on a likely match.

MCKENNA: Those are under different names, but it sure looks like the same guy.

SESNO (on camera): What's going on here that makes this computer say: aha, these are the same guys?

MCKENNA: Well, what we're actually doing is we're taking a flexible grid, placing it over the face and it's comparing over 1,700 different feature points on your face.

SESNO (voice-over): The technology is imperfect, but improving. Already, Illinois is using it every day, scanning new applicants against the pictures of 18 million license holders. Critics say terrorists will still do whatever it takes.

HARPER: The terrorists will use fraud to acquire cards. They will corrupt DMV employees. They will use forgery to create cards.

SESNO: But it's an important layer of security, insists Tom Ridge, that with oversight and limits on access and use can make us safer."

(on camera): You know what people are going to say: There goes Tom Ridge. What's wrong with Tom Ridge? A national ID, a central database in the United States of America? Are you crazy?

RIDGE: It doesn't have to be a central database, but it does have to be a standard form of identification. I am optimistic enough and confident enough that we could come up with a system that would protect privacy rights, but also significantly enhance security.

SESNO: Would it prevent another 9/11? Those hijackers all managed to get valid driver's licenses or state-issued IDs. Would it have stopped Timothy McVeigh? He had a license long before he bombed Oklahoma City. Would a national ID have stopped the London bombers? Apparently, they were all legal residents.

RIDGE: It should not be viewed as the beat-all and end-all and the answer to every security problem that we have. It should be viewed as one of a series of steps, particularly in a post-9/11 world, that has, I think, definite security benefits, but also other benefits to the 21st Century world in which we live in.

SESNO: A dangerous digital world, where we have to decide how to balance security and privacy when there are no guarantees.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: That was Frank Sensno reporting for us. Our latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll also shows that about two-thirds of you favor the idea of all Americans carrying a national I.D. card.

We're going to wrap our hour on safety and security in just a moment. Are you really safe at home? And what would actually make you feel even safer? Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: It has been almost four years now since September 11, 2001. And, of course, our country has changed drastically. So how effective are the new laws, the new procedures and new technologies we've looked at this hour? Perhaps we'll never know how many plots have been foiled, or how many would-be terrorists have actually been stopped. But we do know this, in nearly four years, there has been no major terrorist attack inside the U.S. It's something to think about the next time you're waiting in a very long security line or enjoying the end of another work week safe at home.

I'm Paula Zahn. Really appreciate you r being with us tonight. Have a great weekend. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.

END

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