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Washington Officials Not Sure Public Alert Warranted In New York City; Subways Under High Security, Riders Undaunted, But Nervous; U.S. Marshals Responding To New Orleans 911 Calls, Six Weeks Later; Millions could Die In Flu Pandemic; Hazards you Might not Consider With Meth Labs; Silent Birthing in Scientology

Aired October 7, 2005 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: That's ahead in this hour. Here's what we know right now about the situation on the subways. There were some transit scares today. This afternoon police found a bag on the subway tracks at one Manhattan station, leaving authorities to suspend two service lines for about an hour. Police found that the bag contained school books.
This morning parts of Penn Station were closed as police in Hazmat suits examined a suspicious substance in a soda bottle. Commissioner Ray Kelly says the substance turned out to be a Drano type substance. He said the whole incident may have been a prank.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is dismissing critics in Washington who say the intelligence leading to the alert was not credible. Bloomberg says if he's going to make a mistake it will be on the side of caution.

However, the mayor is getting some support in D.C. today. President Bush said the federal government only gathers intelligence and passes it on. He says Bloomberg's announcement was his call to make.

Sad to say there really isn't any security any more, not in an age when hijacked jet liners reduce skyscrapers to dust and the appearance of an envelope full of white powder is enough to empty a building and bombs go off in the subways of great cities like London. But it might help a little if the authorities at least agreed on what is or isn't a genuine threat. Which in the case of New York, just now, they do not. CNN's Brian Todd looks into it.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Is this an over reaction? And important question floating in important circles between Washington and New York and forcing New York's mayor to address the issue.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK CITY: If I've got to make a mistake, it's going to be on the side of protecting the people this city.

TODD: But Mayor Bloomberg and his police commissioner insist it was not a mistake to announce a specific threat against the New York subway system and to step up security, even thought federal officials question the credibility of the information.

Publicly officials from the Department of Homeland Security say they support the mayor's decision. But CNN Security Analyst Richard Falkenrath, a former deputy Homeland Security advisor, believes that privately federal officials are, in his words, pulling their hair out.

RICHARD FALKENRATH, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: This is definitely a disconnect, this is not the way things are supposed to go. Clearly the information was shared with the New York City government. That is an appropriate thing to do, but the federal government was not prepared for New York City to release the information and give at public advisory about the threat. And that created a real problem of mixed messages in my view.

TODD: But Mayor Bloomberg and former top FBI official Pat D'Amuro say information on the threat had already begun trickling out when the announcement was made.

PAT D'AMURO, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Enough information got out through Homeland Security and through other agencies and the police department, that I think the mayor and the police commissioner felt they needed to make a public statement.

TODD: Adding to the pubic and private confusion, one law enforcement source expressed, quote, "mystification" that federal officials are downplaying the information, saying the person who provided it has been credible in the past.

But Falkenrath says New York officials likely do not know all the details that federal officials do, specifically details about intelligence operations in Iraq that provided the threat information, which federal officials, he says, have to hold very tightly.

(on camera): Former law enforcement and intelligence officials say those operations overseas could possibly be compromised now that the threat information is out. Another risk, they say, the overall loss of confidence when the public hears different interpretations from different figures of authority of the same piece of information and comes away with a perception of a government not coordinated. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: So what can we do at times like these when the information seems both credible and not credible at the same time. Earlier I discussed the threat and fall out with CNN Security Analyst Pat D'Amuro, the former assistant director at the FBI here in New York.


D'AMURO: Well, I think we can only go with what the mayor said today. That he felt to error on the side of caution, to put that information out.

I think the other thing to keep in mind here, is that we've seen some media reports that this information was actually leaked out a few days ago, to another media person. And I think the mayor probably felt that if this information is going to get out anyways, he might want to get in front of it to put that threat information out to all the public.

COOPER (on camera): Can the New York City government vet intelligence? I mean, that's what the CIA, that's what the FBI is doing. I know New York kind of has their own intelligence service kind of going on, right now. But they're just basically just getting their information from federal government.

D'AMURO: Well, this particular situation, yes. They wouldn't be involved in vetting that particular information out, unless the threat information was coming in and they would come back to the federal government and say that's not possible in New York, here's how the subway system is structured, or that wouldn't be possible to get this particular type of device into that particular area.

COOPER: Would they be given all the information that the CIA, say, had received on this specific threat? Or would they just be given enough that the federal government thought, OK, all you need -- just what they thought they needed to know?

D'AMURO: Well, in the past, and I don't know about this specific situation.

COOPER: Right.

D'AMURO: But in the past we would have shared all of our information them.

COOPER: How do you vet the credibility of information?

D'AMURO: Well, there are a lot of different ways, investigative ways. For example, if it was a human source providing information, you could potentially polygraph the human source. You could conduct other overt or covert investigation to determine if what the individual is telling you is potentially true. If he's in contact with another person, how does he speak to that person? Is it over the Internet? Is it over a telephone? What's the number? Are there contacts from that number with other known terrorists?

COOPER: In this world where people talk on the Internet and you have these Jihadists web sites, people make threats all the time. At some point you have to determine what is a legitimate or real threat and what is just sort Internet chatter.

D'AMURO: That's right and federal government works with a lot of foreign services that when there are these Internet chat rooms or Internet messages sent from other countries that we work with these intelligence services to try to identify where they're coming from. Who is sending them. And then to take that investigation further.

COOPER: Mayor Bloomberg, today at a press conference, said that he felt the FBI attached more credibility to this than say folks in the Homeland Security Department. Who -- when information is coming from overseas, who is responsible for vetting the credibility of it? I mean, who has the final say?

D'AMURO: Well, that was something that was created under President Bush. They created something call the Terrorism Threat Integration Center. And that was a piece of the federal government created to analyze all of the intelligence collected within the federal government intelligence community, the Department of Defense, the FBI, the CIA. And to have one stop shopping for that analytical product. Analysts from the FBI, all the other agencies that I mentioned would work in one center, take all of the information, churn it and come up with a finished product.


AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: So that's where we are tonight. Terror threat or not, New Yorkers had to show up for work today. They had to go to school today and millions of us who come to work here and live around here had to get on the subway here. CNN's Ed Lavandera was riding the trains today -- actually he was heading to the trains -- I saw him this afternoon.

So, were they crowded as they are, were you able to see a different, tell a difference?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, everyone we spoke with say that everything seemed business as usual, again, Aaron. You know, one of the fascinating things about people who have to ride the subway is that this type of news is around you where ever you are.

It is as you sit next to people reading the newspapers. It is all over the headlines, you are constantly reminded that wherever you might be going there could be some sort of threat out there, threatening you. But despite that, the subway system in this city is just so important, that you have in many cases just no other option.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): Israel Williams can't escape the news.

ISRAEL WILLIAMS, SUBWAY PASSENGER: As you see here, today's headlines, "Subway Threat."

LAVANDERA: Williams and his six-year-old son ride the subway together everyday.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.

WILLIAMS: There you go, man.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Yes, that's it. And that's just when me and my dad go to work -- he goes to work and I go to school.

LAVANDERA: It's a two hour commute and there is a lot of time for a young boy to ask about those scary headlines.

WILLIAMS: My son and I talked about that this morning. And that is like I told him you have good people, but sometimes we have bad people. And bad people sometimes try to hurt us. And the police are just here to just try to protect us.

LAVANDERA: Uniformed officers are patrolling the subway stations. City officials also say there is a strong unseen force blending in with the crowds, but most people carry on as usual; listening to music, working the laptop, or just catching some extra sleep.

While some subway stops seemed slow the daily traffic kept buzzing along in places like Penn Station. Rolling through there is where we met Patrick Burke. The subway is the only affordable option for him to get to work, so no threat is going to change his daily routine.

It can't bother me, because if it bothers me the terrorists win. So I can't let it bother me. I have to go do my job every single day, so I have to come into work. The only way to get to work is the subway.

LAVANDERA: Israel Williams and his son have finished another journey safely, but Williams says he never shakes the feeling that a terrorists attack could happen anytime. So as he says good bye to his son, he is already wary of the subway ride back home.

WILLIAMS: If God forbid, if there is a bomb, there is no way for us to even run. You know, so that is why we just cherish every moment together and I tell him we take one day at a time, because we cannot guarantee what the future holds for us.


LAVANDERA: Aaron, what virtually every subway passenger told us today, is that they do welcome these kinds of threats no matter how eminent or substantial they are, they say they do take them to heart. And what it really does for them, and many of these people told us today, is that it kind of reinvigorates them to be more vigilant, perhaps looking out for suspicious packages, or people along in the trains with them -- Aaron.

BROWN: Ed, thank you, Ed Lavandera.

I think when you get warnings, like the kind of warnings that we've been dealing with, you take -- you probably do pay more attention. There is a -- in defense of everyone who doesn't live in New York -- we always go, well, New Yorkers, they're hardy. They'll get -- I think in most cities this is how people would react.

COOPER: Absolutely.

BROWN: And probably most countries, I mean this is what they did in London the next day.

COOPER: Right.

BROWN: And because without -- you've seen that cliche of four years ago, you don't want the terrorists or anyone to get the sense that they own you.

COOPER: Right. And also, who wants to feel that your live is being dictated by others, I mean, to the degree -- you know, there is no reason to stop.

BROWN: Yes, and the odds are long honestly.

COOPER: That is true.

BROWN: They're long.

COOPER: That's true, you have to keep on going.

Just ahead tonight, desert winds, mountain snow, torrential rain, October has got it all. We have some weekend weather coming up. And also later, taking on what some are calling the most dangerous drug in America, we're talking about crystal meth and kids. They broke into a meth lab, the adults were gone, but there were kids in the home.

That story ahead, a break first. This is NEWSNIGHT.


BROWN: Well, here in New York, we pretty much know what we're getting up to tomorrow morning, rain, and lots of it. At least that is what the weather people tell us. We're already getting a taste of it tonight, but I don't think it stopped the ballgame. I think they played the ballgame tonight out of Yankee Stadium. A look at the nation's forecast.


BROWN: And now for the sports report, the Yankees trail 9-7 in the seventh inning. On we go.

Still to come on the program tonight. More than a month after Katrina hit -- this is remarkable when you think about it -- police are still responding to some of the 9/11 calls made during the storm. Hope they were slot emergencies.

And a little bit later, Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise, Scientologists and childbirth. Yikes. Why Scientologists may want Katie Holmes to keep quiet when having her baby. Or perhaps that about having her baby? I think you're allowed to scream when you have the baby.

And here's a little some thing to mull over while we take a break. Which of the following stories do you think was the most popular today on The tale of Nicole, the really, really, really, well-traveled shark and her nice little 12,000 mile jaunt? Or the further tribulations -- I was about to say trials, because there hasn't been one yet, or the indictment of either Tom DeLay, man of many grand jury appearances?

Or a third choice, the power of Oprah and what happened when she showed her vast audience a photo of a wanted sex offender? I have a gut feeling on this, but we'll show you the answer when we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: On the way into the commercial Aaron asked what was the most popular story today on Turns out, I think as Aaron guessed it would, the power of Oprah.

Two days after she broadcast a photo of a man wanted on felony charges of molesting three boys in Indiana, he was arrested in Fargo, North Dakota. Long arm of the law? Ha, the long arm of Oprah. She also offered $100,000 reward, as I seem to recall.

BROWN: Is that right?

COOPER: Yes, she did. She said if -- I watch the show religiously -- and she said, $100,000 if these people are caught or apprehended from information leading to their arrest.

BROWN: That motivating.

COOPER: It works.

BROWN: You are doing something on that next week?

COOPER: Next week, yes. I have a little Oprah appearance on Wednesday, on poverty in America.

BROWN: I like her. She's --

COOPER: She's totally cool.

BROWN: She's an interesting woman.

COOPER: Yes, she rocks.

BROWN: She rocks. Later you'll tell me what that means.


COOPER: All the kids are lovin' it.

BROWN: I know, I'm the old guy on the program.

911 emergencies aren't supposed to take six weeks to respond to, but in the case of a storm the size of Katrina, nothing is as it should be. With the Ninth Ward finally dry, police are just now able to reach some of the homes that placed desperate calls for help. Such a strange story if you think about this.

CNN's Randi Kaye went out today with U.S. marshals hoping not to find the evidence of their delay.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bary Boright and his partner Patrick Brennan are United States Marshals from Washington, D.C. They're in New Orleans playing catch up, responding to 911 calls six weeks old, dating all the way back to the night Katrina hit.

BARY BORIGHT, U.S. MARSHAL: We've gone through about 15,000 911 calls; we have it narrowed down to under 1,000 now.

KAYE: Most of the calls came from or about the lower Ninth Ward. People calling to be rescued.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got a handicapped girl and I have a baby that is on a pump machine. And our water's coming up.

KAYE: Relatives calling about loved ones or residents who were trapped.

911 OPERATOR: Are you in the attic, Ma'am? The water is high?


KAYE: Because of the chaos and flooding caused by Katrina, it's taken until now to respond.

PATRICK BRENNAN, U.S. MARSHAL: I like being a part of it. I like the feeling that I'm doing something besides watching it on CNN at home.

KAYE: After the storm police and other law enforcement couldn't access the lower Ninth, too much water. This is the first time the marshals are getting a good look inside. They don't expect to find survivors.

BORIGHT: Look out (ph).


KAYE: Making their way through the muck and the mud isn't easy. And inside there's heavy lifting. So the marshals can get a clear picture of the floor. That attics are checked. Even what's left of this kitchen. Boright and Brennan squeeze their way through crawl spaces, then spot a red flag.

BORIGHT: Found a wheelchair here, which has me really concerned.

BRENNAN: There's a wheelchair in the corner.

KAYE: They leave without finding the man relatives have called 911 looking for.

(on camera): Are you pretty confident that nobody is in there.

BORIGHT: Yes, as sure as we can be, without emptying the complete, you know, emptying the house completely.

KAYE: The marshals move quickly from one house to the next. Some days they and the rest of their team check off as many as 800 calls.

(on camera): The marshals haven't recovered any bodies here in the Ninth Ward, on this round. But we did spot a dog up here on one of the rooftops. They believe he likely swam through the storm and ended up there. Probably now without food and water for about six weeks. Luckily the marshals carry that with them in their car and gave some to him right away.

BORIGHT: Are they sending out animal rescue?

KAYE: The marshals make a 911 call of their own, to animal rescue, while we wait the dog waits, too. Then disappears into the house through a crawl space. The marshals try to get inside to rescue him, but it's too dangerous. They leave more water and wait.

About an hour later the dog is rescued by animal control and the marshals move on, still hoping to find answers knowing hundreds of families are still waiting. Randi Kaye, CNN, New Orleans.


BROWN: Still ahead on the program tonight, Friday's drawing to close, without incident. Will New Yorkers avoid the subway this weekend? That's easier to figure out than the Oprah question, to be honest.

And shutting down a deadly meth lab in a house with four children. We take a break around the country, and around the world. This is NEWSNIGHT.


BROWN: Here's a quick check of some of the stories we are covering in tonight's "Reset." There's a wildfire burning in San Diego County, near the Mexican border, 60 percent contained. An evacuation order affecting up to 200 homes near the fire was lifted tonight. So that's good news. Fire has scorched at least 4,100 acres. Firefighters believe it will be fully contained by tomorrow night, Saturday night.

Six Marines killed today by roadside bombs in Iraq. It seems like an everyday occurrence, now, this in Anbar Province. The deaths came just as an offensive against al Qaeda terrorists being brought to an end there, six Marines.

And today in New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin says the city should consider building Las Vegas style casinos to help with its financial woes. He envisions a large-scale gambling district along Canal Street. Mayor Nagin call it thinking outside the box.

Legislature will have the final say, Anderson.

COOPER: And that's really going to -- that would be amazing if they actually had casino gambling in the city.

BROWN: I actually thought there was gambling in --


BROWN: There are no casinos in New Orleans?

COOPER: Not in New Orleans, no.

BROWN: So you have to go to Mississippi?

COOPER: Had to go to Mississippi, yes. So, we'll see.

The reason New York City subway needs better protection is that it is a vast labyrinth of a system used by millions of people everyday. What makes it so very difficult to protect is that it is a vast labyrinth of a system used by millions of people everyday, get it? CNN's Jason Carroll reports on the paradox and the problem.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It has been said New York's subway system is a city beneath a city. There are more than 6,000 subway cars running on more than 600 miles of track.

The system was built to move people, large numbers of people quickly throughout the city. And it wasn't designed for security.

CARROLL: Security expert Bill Daley spent 10 years as an FBI agent. He says since the London bombings three months ago law enforcement in New York has worked to improve security. They're installing 1,000 security cameras at subway stations, currently about half have them. Some of the new cameras will be smart cameras that spot suspicious packages. It could be at least two years before that system is fully up and running.

So what about now? Police have increased patrols in response to this specific threat against mass transit. But with 490 subway stations, each one with multiple points to entry, it would be impossible for a police force totaling 37,000 officers to patrol every subway entrance.

At some stations you are more likely to find a musician.

(on camera): It is about lunch hour. This is Columbus Circle, one of Manhattan's busiest subway stations. Several lines come through here. We wanted to check security at the main entrance. No police officers in sight right now.

(Voice over): Our camera went down to the platform. Still no officers. We checked back two hours later and did find officers on patrol. We took the subway half a mile north and got off. When we tried to reenter, an officer was posted in front of the turnstiles, but all we needed to do was go right across the street to avoid them.

(on camera): There is no way to completely secure a system of this size?

PATRICK TIMLIN, MICHAEL STAPLETON ASSOC.: You'll never be able to lock down a fluid transit system like this. And we don't want to do that, or the terrorists win. CARROLL: Patrick Timlin heads a security firm. He's also a former veteran of the city's police department. He says installing a security system, similar to one at airports, in subways would be too expensive and impractical.

TIMLIN: At the airports you have ticketed identified passengers coming through. Here we have movement of millions of people, we depend on it for the lifeblood of the city. We have to keep those people moving. So they're not going -- they cannot be stopped arbitrarily and routinely.

CARROLL: Security experts say despite increased police and new surveillance techniques, the best line of defense is still the eyes and ears of the public. Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Well, it hasn't been easy deciding what to do and what not to do. When Washington is saying one thing and New York City is saying another thing. Especially when the people doing the talking in both places are as credible and as serious as New York's Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. We spoke with Commissioner Kelly a little bit earlier tonight.


COMMISSIONER RAY KELLY, NYPD: For operational considerations we were made aware of the fact that there would be an attempt made by a military to take people into custody.

COOPER: In Iraq?

KELLY: Yes, I don't want to be too specific.


KELLY: Because I can't. Obviously there are a lot of things out there in the media, some are true, some are not true. But I'm privy to some classified information.

We knew a military operation was going to be conducted and we waited for that operation to take place. In our judgment, after it did take place it added credibility to the information that we had and that's when we decided, when the mayor decided to go public with the information.

And the reason he did that, was because we were increasing resources. And you simply can't increase resources in a significant way in New York City without announcing it to the public.

COOPER: Because people would notice it.

KELLY: Right, true.

COOPER: When Washington finds out something, finds out this information, I mean, how do you decide -- how are those discussions orchestrated to decide, all right, we're going to go forward with this information or we're not? I mean, it seems like Washington in this case had a different take than New York.

KELLY: Yes, well we have very experienced people working for us. We have veterans of the CIA, national security counselor to the deputy commissioner. So, you know, we're talking to people in Washington all the time about this information and we made a decision based on our analysis that it was the right thing to do to deploy additional resources to better protect the subway system.

COOPER: I know you've got officers in the Dominican Republic, in London, obviously -- I mean, do you do your own human intelligence? Your own collection? Or is it working with police forces?

KELLY: We're working with police agencies in those countries. We have liaison officers that are working closely with other police officials. But we're not collecting intelligence by any stretch of the imagination in foreign countries.

COOPER: And when there is an attack, like in London, for instance, your officers do what? I mean, do they look for specific information that might have resonance here?

KELLY: Sure. Well, question number one for them is, the New York question in call, is there any nexus to New York at all?

COOPER: Right. And one of the bombers wore a New York Yankees hat, I think.

KELLY: Correct. And in the other event, they had a New York shirt that they were wearing. So, these are cause for concern for us. But our detective in London had a front row seat -- and very, very cooperative -- the British authorities have been with our detective. And he gave us real-time information. In the morning of July 7, I was on the phone with that detective before 7 o'clock, giving us information that would help us better protect our city.

COOPER: Is there a time limit in your mind on the increased security measures or is this just a day-to-day thing?

KELLY: It's a day-to-day situation. We're going to make an analysis and evaluation as we go forward. Literally, on an hourly basis, you might say. But we're not going to set a time limit as to when we're going to perhaps reduce our coverage.


BROWN: Ray Kelly, the commissioner of the New York City Police Department, earlier tonight.

The government is focusing on another threat as well, one that health experts have been warning about for years: A flu pandemic. World Health Organization says that it is a matter of when, not if. It will happen eventually. Maybe this year, maybe in a decade. The threat is serious, as well as credible, are the words to the weak. Millions of people could die around the world, which is one reason the president has been calling attention to it this week and we have too.

In the president's case, perhaps there's another reason as well. Here's CNN's Candy Crowley.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Think the U.S. government is ready for a deadly global flu epidemic?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Surely you just know.

They are lined up inside a Maryland grocery store for a garden variety flu shot. Most have heard of Bird Flu. All have heard of Hurricane Katrina.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know the federal government -- we're not ready for anything.

CROWLEY: The government's initial reaction to Katrina permeates the discussion of a Bird Flu which may or may not happen, but most certainly would be catastrophic. A recent Pew poll found the percentage of Americans who think the government is almost always inefficient, rose by nine points post-Katrina, to 56 percent.

It's why the State Department is anxious to show this: An international meeting to talk about an early warning system for a flu which has already migrated from birds in Asia to birds in Europe. And it's why the White House put this out: The president and drug company execs discussing vaccine production. Call it the FEMA effect. Everybody feels it, the public, the experts, the government.

Remember those ill and elderly patients lying on the floor of the New Orleans airport?

KIMBERLY ELLIOTT, TRUST FOR AMERICA'S HEALTH: But imagine that time 50, simultaneously; where we have to see things like high school gymnasiums and hotel ballrooms converted to field hospitals. And I'd be willing to wager that in most communities, the local Marriott or Days Inn hasn't been notified by the local health department that they may need to take over that facility to treat sick patients.

CROWLEY: This is the man who does not want to be Michael Brown. Post-Katrina, Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt walked through medical facilities and shelters in 17 cities in seven states.

MICHAEL LEAVITT, SECRETARY, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: I saw row after row of cots -- medical cots, that had been put together in very short periods of time.

CROWLEY: Secretary Leavitt is responsible for the government's response plan for the flu.

LEAVITT: I also thought, what if I were seeing this happen all across the country? What if I were seeing it at a time where people were afraid and not anxious to help? And those are two of the things that worry me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you feel the federal government's prepared?



CROWLEY: But the FEMA effect blows many waves. Remember the blame game? Who should have done what, when? Consider a pandemic.

LAURIE GARRETT, AUTHOR, "THE COMING PLAGUE": Public health is executed by states and cities; and in some states, by counties. And all with different laws and different sets of responsibilities. Very few states and very few large cities in the United States have developed their own flu preparedness plan.

CROWLEY: And the truth is, even as you worry about the government's preparedness, it worries about your.

LEAVITT: In that kind of a natural disaster, time after time, we see that for a certain period of time -- 36, 72 hours -- people are pretty much on their own. And what you do in the 100 hours before a disaster is a lot more important than what happens in the few hours after.

CROWLEY: When it gets right down to it, life can turn on whether there's an ax in the attic or hand sanitizer in the cabinet.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.


BROWN: Still to come tonight, a toxic brew -- a big business. We'll take you on a meth raid.

And later, Tom Cruise. What happens when old Tom has little Cruises?

We'll take a break first. This is NEWSNIGHT.


BROWN: Ashley Smith, you'll recall is the young woman who spent seven hours alone with a man who had just shot and killed four people in the Atlanta Courthouse. And she's talking about all of that -- that long night back in March, because she's just written a book about it.

It's a book about changing one man's very troubled life, and no doubt changing her own life in the process. And to hear Ms. Smith talk about it, it was all an act of God.


ASHLEY SMITH, AUTHOR, "UNLIKELY ANGEL": In reading through the book, there are several things that I look at in the book, and I'm like, hello? Why didn't you just run or shut the door and lock him out? I just, I was being led by God that night.


BROWN: One of the more sensational details that come from Ms. Smith's book is the revelation that the "Unlikely Angel" -- that's the title of the book, was a former drug addict who kept a stash, as it were. For a challenge, she opened her medicine chest up for her captor. For whatever reason, Ms. Smith figured that giving this homicidal man a hit of methamphetamine, might be the right thing to do.

Meth is serious business. And it's big business too. Not one that just affects the addicts and users, but as CNN's Brian Todd reports tonight, one that has other hazards you might not consider.


TODD: Law enforcement officers sneaking upon a suspected drug lab. Part of an aggressive nationwide sweep, called Operation Wildfire, targeting what U.S. law enforcement officials say is the most dangerous drug in America.

KAREN TANDY, DEA ADMINISTRATOR: Meth has spread like wildfire across the United States. It has burned out communities, scorched childhoods and charred once happy and productive lives beyond recognition.

TODD: Methamphetamine, a toxic crudely made powder that law enforcement agents say is at least as addictive as crack cocaine, but cheaper and more powerful. Users, able to sustain a high for several hours, sometimes days at a time, by taking a tiny hit, smaller than a fingertip.

Do enough of those, former users say, and the body is ravaged.

JOE, FORMER METH USER AND TRAFFICKER: I used to weigh a lot less than I do today. Ah, other than -- I got some teeth issues and stuff like that cause it does cause you calcium problems. It's the impurities that come back out to your skin. So then they're itching and scratching and end up with a lot of scarring.

TODD: Law enforcement officials say meth abuse has reached epidemic proportions in the use, an estimated million and a half regular users, many of them in rural areas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to give you some GPS coordinates; 10-4, we're in front of the prisoner right now. (INAUDIBLE).

TODD: In southern Michigan, a crucial component of Operation Wildfire: Five teams, each combining agents from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, state and local police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will go through a walkway to clear the garage where we think they may be cooking. TODD: CNN is given exclusive access, riding with the teams as they fan out over several counties, looking for users, traffickers, and the so-called meth labs, where they operate. Labs that are in reality just kitchens, shacks and garages.

Are you guys nervous at all about these things, or have you just been at it too long to be nervous?

TONY SAUCEDO, DETECTIVE, MICHIGAN STATE POLICE: It's always in the back of your mind. You're always thinking about -- trying to think ahead of what could go wrong, et cetera. As far as nervousness, maybe right at the very beginning, but once you get actually into the execution of it, just like anything else, you just -- instincts take over.

TODD: We have to blur the faces of some agents who do undercover work. We move with them in convoys and by helicopter, to raid dozens of targets over hundreds of square miles. Speed and precision are vital.

Once a target is located, they move in with surprise and overwhelming force.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police. Search warrant. (INAUDIBLE). Police. Search Warrant.

TODD: We approach one house by helicopter. Our first view from the air, it looks like a nice house in a pretty setting, with police, fire crews and hazmat teams swarming.

(on camera): Agents say this scene is typical: An obscure house in the middle of the countryside. When law enforcement teams entered this house not long ago, they say they found an active meth lab, the drug still cooking. They didn't find the suspects, but there was a large family inside, including four children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why don't we go over and sit by the bike, okay?

TODD (voice-over): The children seemed to think it's an adventure -- an adventure that includes shedding their clothes, decontamination and donning of scrubs. Some don't have much clothing to begin with. These children could have just been exposed to some meth-making ingredients that would literally make your head spin.

Aside from the cold medication ephedrine, throw in a type of ammonia, phosphorus and strong solvents like acetone or starter fluid, sometimes brake fluid -- just some of the toxic ingredients heated during the cooking process.

One veteran police officer has seen what it does to children.

DOUG HAMMERBERG, SERGEANT, KALAMAZOO POLICE DEPARTMENT: The chemicals line the walls, they line the ducts -- the air ducts in the house, and that's all those chemicals these children are breathing. And it will affect them for the rest of their lives. They'll have respiratory problems, they'll have health issues, they'll have, you know, ADD.

TODD: That's if they avoid another hazard.

JOE: If you have any scratches in your glassware, stuff like that, the whole thing can go up on you, which results in fire.

TODD: This man, who we'll call Joe, is a former meth addict and trafficker, who is now a police informant. For more than 20 years, law enforcement agents say, he'd sell to anyone. Not much caring if families like this were on the periphery.

JOE: I've been a predator my whole life.

TODD: Now that he's been turned, detoxed and cooperating for about three years, does he have any remorse?

JOE: I wish I hadn't gotten caught. Would I still be doing it today? Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

TODD: Back at the house, the owner, who we call Susan and who gave us permission to take pictures, tells police the suspect they were looking for had rented a room from her. She says she had no idea he might have been cooking meth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And why are you scared?

SUSAN: Because I don't know what's going to happen. You know, and the house is tore apart now and I don't know where he's at and I know he's here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you afraid that he might come back and do something to your family?

TODD: Over two days, we come across six suspected meth labs. The teams take down 10 in all in southern Michigan; 19 arrests are made. But for each raid that brings in suspected users or traffickers, there are houses where suspects may have been tipped off and taken off.

Can law enforcement keep up with these mom and pop meth labs that are seemingly everywhere?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't move! I'll -- Don't move! Get on the ground now! Now! Down! Down!

TODD: As one agent put it, they're making a difference, chipping away at this problem with each takedown. But other veteran narcotics officers are less sure.

(on camera): You guys feel like you're keeping up with this or do you not feel you're keeping up?

DAVID COOK, DETECTIVE, MICHIGAN STATE POLICE: Unfortunately, I don't think we're keeping up with it at all.

TODD (voice-over): Why? COOK: Just -- it's so prevalent out there that we can't get to every single one. All we can do is take the information we got on each one and go after that one person, which may lead us to another one.

TODD: Brian Todd, CNN, South Central Michigan.


BROWN: You, actually you were saying that in the city, you noticed that it's --

COOPER: Yes, in New York City, I mean, I have a number of friends actually who have started using it and their lives have been complete destroyed. Two people in particular who have held jobs, and a lot of people who started, have jobs, and it makes them feel more efficient at work, but it very quickly -- in these two people's case, I mean, I've lost contact with them. Their lives are destroyed. They've like lost their jobs, their apartments, everything.

BROWN: Earlier in the program -- yikes. Earlier in the program -- we started talking about this because of Ashley Smith and the part of her story where she gives Brian Nichols methamphetamine. She writes about it in her book. We asked sort of what you thought -- not sort of, we literally asked what you thought of all this and we got some emails on this.

And we begin with this one. "Ashley Smith did excellently," according to Christine up in Canada. "She went with the focus of promoting her book."

She certainly did. The book, and her connection with Rick Warren and the "Purpose Driven Life" is a big part of the book, and she talked about that at every turn in the interview, staying on message, as we see that.

COOPER: Donna, of Esperance, New York, writes in, "I think Ms. Smith suffers from Stockholm Syndrome." Stockholm Syndrome is where you identify with your captor.

BROWN: And out in Bothell, Washington -- I know where that is -- C. Monson, of Bothell, up north of Seattle, writes, "Unlikely Angel," the name of the book, "Her story (just) doesn't add up."

It's an odd kind of thing, isn't it? A lot of people question certain elements of the story. Did she know him before? Why didn't she run when she had the chance? And she explained that in the interview, and.

COOPER: The crystal meth, I think also came as a shock to a lot of people because, I mean, number one, he asked I guess for marijuana.


COOPER: And she responded with no, but I've got some crystal lying around, and I'm going to give it to a man who's already killed some people. I'm not sure that's the most natural reaction, but, hey.

BROWN: Hey, who's been in that situation, you know? Who are we to judge?

COOPER: Not my job to judge.

Coming up tonight on the program, Tom Cruise and his beloved. They're having a baby -- and it's actually about Scientologists and what Scientologists want you to do when you're having a baby, which is actually stay silent -- and for seven days afterward. We'll explain that.

And what happens when we in this business have our own Oprah couch moment. We'll explain ahead.


COOPER: Aaron's making fun of my shiny shoes.

A look now at some of the other stories making news in this evening's "Cross-Country." Let's take a quick look.

The official toll in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is now 1,003 in the state of Louisiana, alone. All tolled in the several states affected, 1,239 people have lost their lives.

An investigation is being conducted in New Orleans, into the possibility that members of the city's own police force broke into a car dealership there during the state of emergency and made off with nearly 200 vehicles, including 41 new Cadillacs.

In New York City, '80s Pop Star Boy George was arrested today on a charge of possessing cocaine, after he called police to report a burglary at his Manhattan apartment. That's an old picture, by the way. That wasn't from today.

And finally -- as far as we know. Finally, in the American League division series, the Boston Red Sox, who last year won their first world championship in 86 years, today lost to the Chicago White Sox, who haven't won one since 1917. The Red Sox season is over. The White Sox season goes on.

And to change the subject now, this may be as complete a change of subject as you'll experience in a good long time. Potentially, sharp enough, in fact, to give you whiplash if you're not comfortably settled down, so settle down comfortably, please.

We move on now to what happens when Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have a child. They have announced that is going to happen. Their religion, Scientology, it turns out, has very strict rules about how childbirth is supposed to be done. And it involves being very, very quiet.

CNN's Jeanne Moos explores the possibilities.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After all that public nuzzling and staring into each other's eyes and jumping for joy, would a bundle of joy be far behind? Ready or not, here it comes. But it may be what's called a silent birthing, or as the "New York Daily News" put it, "Quit Yellin', It's Only Childbirth."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Push, push. Push, push.

MOOS: Tom Cruise is a Scientologist. And Scientologists don't believe in drugs and they don't believe in screaming during childbirth. In the words of scientology's founder, "maintain silence in the presence of birth to save the sanity of the mother and the child."

Try telling that to this woman, who delivered her baby home alone after calling 911.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just let it come -- ma'am --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, let it come out ma'am. Just don't let the baby fall on the floor. Let it come out.

MOOS: The Church of Scientology told CNN it doesn't regulate the private lives of its parishioners, that silent birthing is strictly up to the parents. Another pair of famous Scientologists, John Travolta and his wife, Kelly Preston, opted for silent birthing. Now Travolta did say his wife was free to moan.

Scientologists believe in seven days of silence after birth. Hearing noise and negative experiences imprint themselves on the child's mind. It's ironic that the female half of a celebrity couple, accustomed to hearing a whole lot of screaming, could end up trying not to scream at a time when most women can't stop themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, oh, he's out, he's out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the baby breathing, ma'am?

MOOS: Breathing and crying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can hear the baby crying.

MOOS: At least scientology doesn't say anything about the baby not being allowed to cry.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


COOPER: All right, I'll break the silence, why not?

You may have seen me out in Times Square last night, reporting what was and continues to be a very serious story, the possibility of a terrorist attack in the subways of New York. All around, the people -- well, they thought it was a serious story, as well, but serious story or not, something happens when bystanders feel the warmth of the TV lights and see the wide unblinking stare of the camera. They go, well, a little goofy. And it all boils down to some Awkward TV moments. Take a look.


COOPER (on camera): Literally in the streets, in my case, the threat concerns the New York City subway system --

(voice-over): Anytime you venture out into Times Square at night with a TV camera, you basically take your chances. Sure there may be a security threat to the subways, but why not stand around in a large group and make a call, just to let your friends know you're on TV.

It's amazing what some people will do to get on TV. Some try the old rock, paper, scissors routine. The wave is always popular. Once one guy does it, then the others do as well. Others try to use hand signs. Oops -- well, the graphic got rid of him.

(on camera): There's an element of the absurd here, you know.

(voice-over): My favorite gawker was this guy. What does he have, a trampoline? Four, five, six, oops (ph) -- and then he's gone.

Of course, not all Awkward TV moments this week came from the peanut gallery.

(on camera): Every one of them has a name. You just have to ask their families. CNN Soledad O'Brien investigates.

(voice-over): And maybe not.

(on camera): We'll have that report in just a minute.

(voice-over): My favorite awkward moment occurred this Wednesday, when for some reason I decided at the last second I just had to have my laptop. Smooth move, Columbo. Now that's Awkward TV.


COOPER: That's kind of awkward.

BROWN: Not as smooth as silk, though. We'll continue in a moment.


BROWN: Well, about to get you out -- where are you over there? About to get you out on your weekend. It's been an interesting -- honestly an interesting week for us. If the people assume that sitting next to each other and working together on television is an easy thing to do, and it's not.

COOPER: Well, sitting next to you is particularly difficult. BROWN: You ain't seen nothing yet. You haven't seen me in my bad moods. But it's been a fun and kind of interesting experiment. We'll just keep doing it until we good at it. And then being in the business we're in, they'll probably tell us to do something else.

COOPER: That's right, just when it's starting to feel all right, they'll move us along to something else. Well, I hope you have a good weekend.

BROWN: Thank you.

COOPER: And I hope you, out there, have a good weekend, as well. We'll be back Monday. We think. We'll see.

BROWN: Some combination. Good night from all of us.


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