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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Former U.S. Attorney General Part of Hussein's Legal Team; Frightening Allergies; Dog Attack Kills Texas Woman; Interview with Reverend Jerry Falwell; Teenagers Using Sleeping Pills; Will Bush Bring Some Troops Home? Victims of Defrocked Irish Priest Speak Out
Aired November 28, 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: Good evening, everyone. Thanks so much for being with us.
Tonight, a courtroom shocker: What is an American doing on Saddam Hussein's side?
Defending a dictator.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAMSEY CLARK, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I have been in many unpopular cases.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Tonight, we take you behind the headlines. How can a former U.S. attorney general be on Saddam Hussein's legal team?
Killer dogs, they attack a woman who is riding a lawn mower in her own front yard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why people would breed a rottweiler and a pit bull mix dog in the first place, I don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Are some dogs just too vicious for anyone to own?
And the kiss of death -- it can be as innocent as peanut butter on a boyfriend's lips.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He started kissing me, and my lips started tingling. And -- and, immediately, I was like, we have to stop and I need to go take Benadryl.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Tonight, the frightening allergies that threaten millions of Americans every day.
We want to start tonight with an important story that we're just starting to flesh out. For weeks now, the White House has been getting clobbered about U.S. troop levels in Iraq. And, as you know, the president tried hitting back by calling his critics deeply irresponsible.
Well, tonight, there are some indications that some of those critics are having an effect, in that the president is about to announce some changes.
White House correspondent Dana Bash has been working on this story all day and is just back with the very latest.
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush is prepared to flesh out his thinking a bit on bringing some U.S. troops home from Iraq, senior administration officials tell CNN.
Mr. Bush will do so in a series of speeches beginning Wednesday at the Naval Academy, where, according to one official, he will offer more detail into -- quote -- "what will guide his decision-making on troop levels."
It is an effort, after weeks on the defensive, to reassert control over the bruising Iraq political debate that even has close Bush allies increasingly worried.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.
TOM RATH, NEW HAMPSHIRE REPUBLICAN COMMITTEE: We need to know what that means, and we need to be reassuring that we are not agreeing to some open-ended commitment.
BASH: For months, Mr. Bush has made clear, withdrawal of American forces depends on the ability of the Iraqis to battle the insurgency. At Annapolis, aides say Mr. Bush is expected to avoid U.S. troop numbers or explicit timetables for withdrawing U.S. forces, but focus on what he will insist is progress Iraqis are making in training to secure their own country.
The White House hopes that, and the December 15 Iraqi elections of a permanent government, will usher in more stability. The secretary of state already signaled to CNN some troop reductions are coming.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: I suspect that the -- that American forces are not going to be needed in the numbers that they're there for all that much longer, because Iraqis are continuing to make progress.
BASH: Veteran Republican activist Tom Rath says, in his home state of New Hampshire and around the country, what people want to hear from the president is a plan. RATH: There is concern about knowing how we get to an end game. How do we get to the final point? And there's a need -- I think that you hear people say, tell us how we're going to get out of this.
BASH: But, given past problems training Iraqis, one influential Republican voice urges caution.
SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R), INDIANA: There could be a very, very unpleasant interim if we are not very careful, in terms of the training we're giving.
BASH: And there appears to be consensus that the next six months -- six months -- will be crucial in determining whether Iraqis can stabilize their own country.
But, Paula, White House aides insist, the president will still reject a specific timetable for withdrawal that many Democrats are calling for.
ZAHN: So, let's talk about numbers here. Just how many troops is the administration talking about pulling out?
BASH: Well, they're not specifically talking about any.
But I can tell you that, right now, it's about 160,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. That's heightened, that's elevated because of the Iraqi elections. There are more forces there to help secure the country. The standard amount has been about 138,000. So, the thing to look for, what some in the military say is possible -- possible -- with a lot of conditions on that possible -- is to bring down, starting in 2006, at some point, the troop level to 100,000.
But, again, it's very much conditions-based, especially focused on how much this Iraqi -- these Iraqi security forces really can get up and running without the help of U.S. forces -- Paula.
ZAHN: White House correspondent Dana Bash, thanks for the preview of the president's speech coming later this week.
Now I want to tell you about some of the controversy raging, as we speak, over the American defending Saddam Hussein. The former Iraqi dictator was back in court today briefly, before his trial was, once again, put on hold until December 5. But with him in court this time, a former U.S. attorney general who spoke exclusively with CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLARK: I believe in fair trials, always. But if there's ever a time when a fair trial, both in fact, an actual fair trial, and in appearance, because the appearance is all most people ever get to see, is essential in a case like this. It's essential to -- to historic truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP) ZAHN: Ramsey Clark is getting an awful lot of criticism from Iraqis who say he has no place defending Saddam, and also from some Americans.
And just a short while ago, a fiery debate over this erupted in our studio between attorney Ronald Kuby, who worked with Clark defending the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and conservative writer David Horowitz, editor of FrontPageMagazine.com and author of "Unholy Alliance."
ZAHN: So, David, why are you opposed to Ramsey Clark defending Saddam Hussein?
DAVID HOROWITZ, EDITOR, FRONTPAGEMAG.COM: Ramsey Clark can do whatever he wants to do.
But the man -- Ramsey Clark is a self-declared enemy of America, an American traitor, and a very sick human being. When our -- when John McCain was being tortured in Hanoi, Ramsey Clark would write off to Hanoi to praise his torturers and to cover for them.
When our hostages were taken by the Ayatollah Khomeini, he was off defending the hostage-takers. When the PLO terrorists pushed Leon Klinghoffer in a wheelchair into the sea, he was defending the terrorists against the family that was suing them.
Ramsey Clark has only one moral lodestar. And that is to defend enemies of the United States. This is...
ZAHN: You still haven't answered the question, though. Other than personally vilifying Ramsey Clark, what's wrong with any American serving on the defense team?
HOROWITZ: Well, I did. I said I don't care if he goes there or not. There is nothing wrong with that.
The idea that we don't know if Saddam Hussein is guilty -- he invaded two countries. There's nobody, nobody -- nobody in his ranks or anywhere -- that challenges the idea that he invaded, say, Iran, killed millions of people. Shoot him.
ZAHN: But, Ron, how does Ramsey Clark enhance the defense, when even the adviser to the prime minister of Iraq wants him out?
RONALD KUBY, ATTORNEY: Right. Well...
ZAHN: He says, this is an Iraqi trial for the Iraqi people.
KUBY: This already is -- is an American trial, in the sense that Americans provide security. It's there in the Green Zone. Saddam Hussein is in the actual physical custody of the United States of America. And -- and I think the tradition of lawyers defending the most despised and despicable is a very honorable tradition in this country. It was John Adams -- John Adams -- who represented the people charged with the Boston Massacre.
HOROWITZ: This discredits -- this discredits the -- defending the indefensible, defending people who nobody else, that's good. But this -- Ramsey Clark has managed to give that a bad name by...
KUBY: Well, so, should I go?
HOROWITZ: ... by defending every monster.
ZAHN: Why isn't Ramsey Clark a traitor?
KUBY: Well, first of all, Saddam Hussein isn't charged with any crime against the American people. He's charged with crimes against the Iraqi people.
So, the fact that -- that an American chooses to take a position different from that of the Bush administration or the executive branch doesn't make you a traitor, any more than the -- the military officers, who -- who today are down in Guantanamo, aggressively and zealously defending the rights of the Guantanamo detainees.
KUBY: They're not...
HOROWITZ: It's a -- it's a life...
KUBY: They're not traitors. They're patriots.
But it's a pointless discussion, as to who is a traitor and who is a patriot...
HOROWITZ: No, it isn't.
KUBY: ... because we're always going to disagree about people's motivations.
HOROWITZ: It's a career...
ZAHN: That is a very strong accusation, that Ramsey Clark...
HOROWITZ: A career of...
ZAHN: ... is a traitor. HOROWITZ: Well, but my definition of a traitor is, your country's at war and you want the other side to win.
And Ramsey Clark has made a career -- a career -- out of showing his support, going to capitals, kissing the ring of the Ayatollah Khomeini, whoever America's enemy is. So, he's a traitor. I mean, he like America.
ZAHN: Would you represent Saddam Hussein?
KUBY: Well, look, I don't think any...
ZAHN: No, would you?
ZAHN: Could you? Would you have the conscience to represent Saddam Hussein?
KUBY: I actually -- I mean, my biggest concern about representing Saddam -- Saddam Hussein, honestly, is the security situation.
ZAHN: So, that sounds like a no to me.
KUBY: It sounds like...
ZAHN: You wouldn't do it.
KUBY: I would -- I -- I hope I would have the physical courage to do what Ramsey Clark has done.
He's there in the gravest danger, ironically, trying to defend the most basic democratic principles. Yet, David accuses him of being a traitor.
HOROWITZ: That's ridiculous.
ZAHN: And you got him rolling his eyes.
Quick final thought.
HOROWITZ: I hope nobody kills Ramsey Clark, because it would create sympathy for him. That's the only reason.
KUBY: Compassionate conservatism at work.
ZAHN: There you have it.
Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
HOROWITZ: Thank you. (END VIDEOTAPE)
ZAHN: And now we have to move on.
I have a question I want you to think about: Are certain breeds of dogs just too vicious for anyone to own? The last time we had this debate, a Texas woman could have tuned in. She can't anymore. A pack of dogs killed her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WELDON SMITH, DOG ATTACK VICTIM: It's like a pack of wolves. You know how they coordinate in on a kill? That's what they were doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: It's a story that can make you think twice about what's lurking just down your street or in the apartment next door.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ted Rowlands in Oakland, California. This convenience store owner had his business vandalized, and he has been told not to sell liquor to the African-American community. We will have that story -- as PAULA ZAHN NOW continues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: And, also ahead, just in time for the holidays, the Reverend Jerry Falwell will be joining us to try to explain why Christmas, in his mind, is a victim of discrimination.
ZAHN: Tonight, five killer dogs in Texas are dead, put down just two days after they mauled a woman to death in her own front yard. And the aftermath of the attack was recorded on 911 audiotape.
Let's listen with Ed Lavandera.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get out of here. They're right here by the truck. Watch out for them. They're over here.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The voice you hear is Weldon Smith's wife calling 911 as he fights off six dogs biting into his leg. You can hear on the call that it takes a gun to put an end to the attack.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right here. Get him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAVANDERA: Smith and his wife had stopped along this quiet Central Texas road when they saw the body of 76-year-old Lillian Stiles covered in blood, her clothes ripped to shreds. Authorities say the pack of dogs a mixed breed, part pit bull, part rottweiler, had just mauled her to death.
When Smith got out of his car, the dogs came after him, and the animals acted like they were on a mission.
SMITH: It's like a pack of wolves. You know how they coordinate in on a kill? That's what they were doing. They were coordinating on -- on a kill. And I just felt extremely lucky to get out from there with my life.
LAVANDERA: Then Stiles' husband came out with a gun and killed one of the dogs. Now he's traumatized by the brutal way his wife of 55 years was killed.
JACK STILES, HUSBAND OF DOG ATTACK VICTIM: Had she not been in my yard, I would have not even recognized her.
LAVANDERA: Weldon Smith is lucky to be alive. These are the wounds the dogs inflicted, the painful scars, six bites on his right leg.
(on camera): Investigators say the dog owner is cooperating, but, at this point, it's doubtful criminal charges will be filed. If the dogs weren't probably vaccinated, investigators say they could charge a misdemeanor crime for that. But that's equal to a traffic ticket.
(voice-over): That's one reason Weldon Smith is angry.
SMITH: It's so unnecessary. To me, having a pit bull around is worse than having a -- a loaded gun laying around, because you got to pick that gun up and make it go off. That pit bull can go off at any time.
LAVANDERA: All the dogs have now been euthanized, little consolation to Lillian Stiles' husband, who can only imagine the horror of his wife's final moments.
Ed Lavandera, CNN, Milam County, Texas.
In Northern California tonight, there's a different kind of fear gripping a neighborhood in Oakland, because bands of men have repeatedly ransacked liquor stores in what appears to be an organized effort to drive them out of business.
Our Ted Rowlands has been looking in to this. Here's his report.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Half-a-million dollars I spend in the goddamn place.
ROWLANDS (voice-over): Outside his fire-damaged Oakland, California, convenience store, Mohammed Hamden (ph), a Yemeni-American Muslim, says he doesn't know why anyone would target his business. He's been hit twice, by fire this morning and by vandalism last week.
This tape shows an attack last week at another Yemeni-owned store nearby. About 12 African-American men dressed in suits and bow ties were caught on surveillance. The tape shows the men walked in and started destroying the business, shattering glass, throwing merchandise to the floor, and breaking dozens of bottles of alcohol. They also allegedly threatened the employees.
KALED SALEH, LIQUOR STORE EMPLOYEE: They said why are we selling liquor if we are Muslim and said, we don't want you selling liquor in this community.
ROWLANDS: Because the men wore bow ties and suits, many people in this neighborhood believe members of the Oakland chapter of the Nation of Islam are responsible, trying to send a message to Arab Muslims to stop selling liquor. But the group denies any involvement.
TONY MUHAMMED, NATION OF ISLAM: Just because men were dressed in suits and ties, it don't mean that all black men who are dressed in suit and ties are gang members, thugs, or nor do we go and vandalize store merchants.
ROWLANDS: There are over 200 Yemeni store owners in the Oakland area.
MOHAMED SALEH MOHAMED, YEMENI-AMERICAN GROCER ASSOCIATION: It seems to us, this is a hate-crime issue. And, as you have seen in the video, their -- their motive is to vandalize the store and terrorize it.
ROWLANDS: Some people are concerned that violence may escalate. And, if you listen to this young man we met outside the burned store this morning, it is easy to see that the potential is there.
HAGAJE MASAED, GROCER: You let it happen one time because they catch you off guard. But the next time you see it happening, you're going to arm yourself and try to protect yourself by any means necessary.
ROWLANDS: Police say there's no evidence that the Nation of Islam is responsible. With the videotape, arrests are expected. Meanwhile, members of the Yemen community here are waiting to see what happens next.
SALEH: Yes, I'm concerned. We don't know what to -- what to expect.
ROWLANDS: Because no one expected anything like this.
Ted Rowlands, CNN, Oakland, California.
ZAHN: And joining me now is someone who took matters in to his own hands when he saw the damage alcohol abuse was doing in his community. But he didn't resort to violence.
He's the Reverend James Meeks, who also happens to be an Illinois state senator. He led a community effort to shut down 27 liquor stores and taverns by putting it up for a vote.
Reverend, thanks so much for being with us tonight.
I want you to watch this videotape, the surveillance tape, one more time, and -- and we will watch this together and tell me...
REV. JAMES MEEKS, ILLINOIS STATE SENATOR: OK.
ZAHN: ... what you think when you see it.
MEEKS: Well, I think that, obviously, these young men decided to take matters in to their own hands. One of the things that we need to discover and to know, that we do have a problem in America, in the African-American community, of an over-proliferation of liquor stores.
That is why we -- in our community in 1998, we did vote our community dry, ridding it of 26 liquor stores. However, this kind of vigilantism cannot be tolerated. There must be legal and lawful methods sought by these young men in Oakland to change their community.
ZAHN: All right. So, while you don't condone the violence, are you telling us tonight you understand the rage of these vigilantes?
MEEKS: Well, I understand the concern that many of us have that, in America, why is it that, in poor, urban communities, there is this over-saturation of liquor stores?
There are not job-training centers, not grocery stores, but liquor stores. I mean, it's everywhere in urban America. And, so, I understand why the rage. But it was handled wrongly. And there is a correct way to handle it.
After we voted our community dry, Harold Ford from Memphis asked me to consider coming there. However, in Memphis, you have to vote the whole city dry. But at least people are looking to try to figure out what must happen and what can be done to stop all of these liquor stores from existing in African-American communities.
ZAHN: I think anybody listening to you can understand your concern. But I want to know is, where is the sense of personal responsibility? Whose fault is it that these stores are profitable?
MEEKS: You know, and the problem exists right there, because, once you have that many liquor stores in a community, nothing else can happen in those communities. You cannot have any other stores operate off of spin-off business.
But there are no spin-off businesses related to liquor stores. Paula, once we voted our community dry, the local pharmacists came to me and said, I want to applaud you, because our business has increased three-fold because we had people who were afraid to come to get their medicine, because it was located near two liquor stores.
MEEKS: And, so, something has to happen.
ZAHN: But why don't you encourage community members to just boycott these stores? They wouldn't stay in business very long if you did that.
MEEKS: They also won't say in business if there is a legal -- I talked to the city attorney today in Oakland County to try to find out, what is it legally or lawfully these people can do? There are some legal methods that have been devised, even in the city of Oakland, that, when residents feel that there are liquor stores that are not good for the community, there are legal and lawful things that can be done.
And we must encourage that in Oakland, because that's a potential explosive situation that we cannot allow to get out of hand.
ZAHN: And it's a concern this could happen elsewhere across the country.
Reverend James Meeks, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
MEEKS: Thank you.
ZAHN: And, in just a minute, two American women try to tell the pope what they saw. They say a predator priest actually did something to them. And then, incredibly, we're going to hear that one-time priest described how he did it to other children.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLIVER O'GRADY, FORMER PRIEST: Hey, Sally. How you doing? Come here, I want to give you a hug. You're a sweetheart. You know that. You're very special to me. I like you a lot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: As disturbing as his words are, you're not going to be able to turn away. You also won't believe where this man is today.
And, a little bit later on, it's a threat to millions of American children, not just at the dinner table, but from a simple kiss. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ZAHN: A lot has changed in the Catholic Church this year. But it's still having trouble responding to the victims of sexual abuse by priests.
Today, two American women came to the Vatican hoping to deliver a letter to the new pope. The guards wouldn't let them in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANN JYONO, ABUSE VICTIM: Since we are survivors of clergy abuse, it has been a very difficult journey. And we have come thousands of miles to try to plead for some sort of mercy and assistance with our journey of pain and healing. We seek to regain our faith.
NANCY SLOAN, ABUSE VICTIM: We really want there to be a change. You know, they're asking us to forgive them. But they're not being accountable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Well, both of those women say they are victims of a defrocked Irish priest who once lived in Northern California.
A sympathetic American priest carried the letter inside and put it in a Vatican mailbox. But he told reporters, he doubted it would have much impact.
I want to warn you right now we're about to hear that defrocked priest describe what he did. And it's not something you will want your children to listen to. Oliver O'Grady has admitted to molesting as many as 25 children while he was in Northern California. He did prison time and is now living in Ireland. But, earlier this year, O'Grady told his story on camera for a court.
As Drew Griffin shows us, that testimony is absolutely chilling.
O'GRADY: I swear, by almighty God...
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This past March, this man swore to tell the truth, a truth that many people would rather not hear.
Today, living in Ireland, he is Mr. Oliver O'Grady. But, for years, living in California's San Joaquin Valley, preaching at Saint Anne's Catholic Church in Lodi, he was Father Oliver O'Grady. And, according to those who say they were this his victims, Father O'Grady was a monster.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's worse than Jack the Ripper or Manson. These people, at least they went out and they murdered people. He would have been kinder to me had he killed me when he finished with me. That would have been a kindness. GRIFFIN: This man says he is one of Oliver O'Grady's victims. O'Grady denies the allegation. But, this spring, the diocese of Stockton, California, agreed to pay $3 million for the abuse this man says he suffered in sixth grade -- the settlement coming almost immediately after Oliver O'Grady gave this chilling deposition, telling an attorney exactly how he would snare little boys and girls.
O'GRADY: If I saw the boy was, say, an altar boy coming in that I hadn't seen, let's say, for the week, and I would say, hi. And he would say, hi, Father. How are you? I would say, fine. How are you doing? And those words -- you know, I might go over and just give him a hug. And if he responded by allowing me to hug him and might offer to hug me in return, that sort of give me a kind of a permission to continue at that point.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
O'GRADY: And that's what I kind of looked for.
GRIFFIN: No resistance, O'Grady told the court, meant an invitation.
O'GRADY: We began just the hugging. Hugging starts off. And then I might just drop my hands and start fondling the genital area, and, all the time, sort of looking for an OK or a permission. And if I wasn't getting a resistance, that was allowing me to go further and further.
GRIFFIN: To attorney John Manly, who has represented dozens of abuse victims of the Catholic church, that deposition he took this Spring in Ireland was stunning.
JOHN MANLY, ATTORNEY: I think Father O'Grady in terms of the scope of his abuse and the nature of his abuse is certainly one of the worst perpetrators in the church.
You know, he is the Hannibal Lector of Roman Catholic priests in the United States.
GRIFFIN: And according to Manly the church knew that almost from the beginning.
MANLY: And they put that man, who consumed children, who emotionally murdered them, who violated them in the most vile way you can violated a child, enter this community knowing he was a perpetrator and they kept him here.
GRIFFIN: Even O'Grady claims the church knew he was victimizing children, and yet kept him as a priest and kept him within reach of his next victim.
Disclosures from the diocese of Stockton reveal letters, reports complaints made to the church dating back to 1976 claiming that O'Grady had a problem.
O'GRADY: As I look back on my life, or I realize that I had or have, a very serious problem. The problem seems to have been there for a very long time.
I often question myself of recent times, especially since my last therapy, if I even should have been ordained a priest to begin with.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury have you reached a verdict?
GRIFFIN: But the church could not ignore O'Grady's problems in 1993, when he was arrested, convicted and sent to prison for molesting two brothers.
O'Grady served seven years in California before he was deported back to Ireland. The two brothers sued the church for not dealing with O'Grady before he molested them.
And in 1998 a jury awarded $30 million in damages. O'Grady has already cost the Catholic church a fortune. But worse, say his victims, he has cost many their faith.
"JIM", CHURCH ABUSE VICTIM: He took my hopes and my dreams, and my future.
GRIFFIN: And he took it with a knowing smile, his priestly charm, and his victims' innocence. Those are not an attorney's words. Those are Oliver O'Grady's.
O'GRADY: Hi, Sally, how are you doing? Come here, I want to give you a hug. You're a sweetheart. You know that. You're very special to me. I like your laugh.
She might respond, I like you, too. And that would allow me to give a better hug to you. I always got quiet at that time.
GRIFFIN: Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.
ZAHN: Well, the diocese of Stockton, California, did not want to comment on Drew Griffin's report. But it did say that it hopes the $3 million settlement in this latest case against Oliver O'Grady will bring closure for those involved.
Well, there is plenty of evidence that America's overwhelmingly religious and overwhelmingly Christian. So why is a certain holiday that's just around the corner, so controversial?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody's at war with Christmas. Nobody's at war with Christianity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Oh, yes? Then why does the Reverend Jerry Falwell think there is? Wait a few minutes and I will ask him myself. And then a little bit later on, can you believe how many of our children are growing up deprived of sleep? Millions of them. But if the cure involves pills, is that actually worse than the problem?
ZAHN: I'm going to put you on the spot right now. So did you make a dent in your shopping list over the weekend? OK, don't answer this one. Answer this one and be honest. Is it a Christmas shopping list or a holiday shopping list?
ZAHN (voice over): New York in late November still looks and sounds like the old Christmas carol. The busy sidewalks are dressed in holiday style. The stores are full. There's definitely a feeling of Christmas in the air.
But people actually using the C word are a little harder to find than they used to be. That's one reason why a lot of religious people in just about every corner of the country are worried about what they say is an organized attack on Christmas.
We've all heard stories about court fights over public nativity scenes. Is government really promoting religion by allowing them? On the other hand, Boston officials caught plenty of flack last week after referring to this as the city holiday tree.
Churches have long run campaigns to keep Christ in Christmas. But this year, the Reverend Jerry Falwell and a group called the Liberty Council are asking pastors in churches all over the country to join their friend or faux Christmas campaign.
Their goal is to promote education over celebrating Christmas in public schools and on public property. The campaign also comes with the threat of boycotts or legal action against foes, who according to Reverend Falwell and company, discriminate against Christmas.
That kind of language worries Abe Foxman. He's the director of the Anti-Defamation League, which fights anti-semitism.
In a recent speech he warned that evangelical groups are trying to unite their version of Christianity with state power. In other words, Christianize America.
ABRAHAM FOXMAN, DIR., ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: Nobody's at war with Christmas. Nobody's at war with Christianity. This country is the most free, the most open, the most respectful.
ZAHN: He was on our program the day before Thanksgiving. The same day the Anti-Defamation League ran this full-page ad in "The New York Times," sounding an alarm about protecting everyone's freedom of religion.
FOXMAN: I've sat and talked to Jerry Falwell like you and I are speaking now. And at one time he understood the difference between speaking about this country as a country built on Judeo-Christian values, a country which is respectful of all. Today he speaks only about Christian values.
ZAHN: And so we're left with silver bells, but no silent night. Is it because we've taken Christ out of Christmas? Or because we're more aware of America's great pluralism, for Jews and Muslims, as well as Protestants, Catholics, and even non-believers have the freedom to observe the holidays any way they choose.
ZAHN: And the Reverend Jerry Falwell joins me now from Lynchburg, Virginia, the home of Liberty University where he happens to be the chancellor.
REVEREND JERRY FALWELL, CHANCELLOR, LIBERTY UNIVERSITY: Hi, Paula.
ZAHN: So, who does it really hurt? When someone says, "happy holidays" to be inclusive at a time of the year when there are a bunch of holidays being celebrated?
FALWELL: No problem with that at all, as long as you can also, just as freely, if you wish, say "Merry Christmas," or "Happy Hanukkah," or Ramadan, or whatever.
Abe is not totally honest where he deals with this issue. He knows exactly where we are, very, very open to every religious expression. Even defending the atheists, to have none.
But, what has been happening is, and I sent you 26 examples this afternoon to Kim, that is in your office, of lawsuits we've had to bring against school districts that have told the little children: you can sing Rudolph, you can sing jingle bells, but you cannot sing joy to the world, or silent night, and that is not constitutional.
ZAHN: All right. Now let me ask you this, because your critics would say that in essence what you're doing here is manufacturing a war against Christmas that doesn't exist.
That you're using anecdotal evidence that there is no orchestrated effort against this. And Barry Lindh from the Americans united for separation of church and state, went as far to saying this is quote, "nothing more than a fund raising gimmick for Jerry Falwell."
FALWELL: Well, Barry Lindh is the same fellow who wants "in God we trust" off the coins and "under God" out of the pledge. He wants God out of the public square. He's a former ACLU operative. Everyone knows that, and he calls himself Reverend Lindh. He has no church, has never pastored a church. That's all for credibility purposes.
ZAHN: Let's go back to the list, Reverend, that you sent us earlier this afternoon. Because those are all examples of lawsuits that were filed previously. And right now, the ACLU has no record of any new suits. And they're saying once again, this is more -- nothing more than a preemptive strike for a problem that doesn't exist.
FALWELL: Here are twelve that have happened the last two weeks, and they've happened all over the country. In Westfield High School just outside Boston, two students were suspended for distributing candy canes with the story of Christmas attached. And one was an appointee to the military academy. One a National Honor Society member. They would have lost all their scholarships and their appointments. Liberty council brought suit there.
The judge in a 67-page decision ruled in every point in favor of the students. They were reinstated. They distributed the candy canes and they got their scholarships. But that's happening all over America. All we're saying is, and the court has said this -- by the way, at lc.org, anyone who wants to see the legal memo that supports this -- we've sent it to thousands of school districts, lc.org.
All you need do is study what the law says, and that is: as long as Santa Claus, the Christmas tree, secular symbols are honored, so may religious symbols, like Judaism, Christianity, Islam, et cetera, be so portrayed.
And those who are trying to drive God from the public square in this country, and most Americans know this is true. We're just not going to tolerate that. And the time has come, because the law's on our side, to stop the ACLU, and Americans united from doing that.
ZAHN: We will be following the story closely. We'll appreciate your side of the story tonight. Reverend Falwell, thank you.
And whatever you call the holiday season, you can be sure there will be lots of kissing under the mistletoe. Or, you hope they'll be. But if someone has peanut butter on their lips, that could be deadly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE RISINGER, ALLERGIC TO PEANUT BUTTER: Within 20 minutes, I was completely unconscious on the front porch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: It wasn't love that did that to her. It's a food allergy that's alarmingly common. Millions of us have it. Please stay with us.
ZAHN: I have a chilling story for you now, a cautionary tale for anyone who's allergic to one of the most common foods in this country, peanuts.
Here's medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen on a deadly case involving a teenager in Canada.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ELIZABETH COHEN (voice-over): Could it really have been the kiss of death? A 15-year-old Canadian girl died after kissing her boyfriend, who'd eaten peanut butter.
The girl had a severe peanut allergy, and for her and others like her, even 1/1,000th of a peanut can spell disaster. That's the case for Michelle Risinger. She's been severely allergic to nuts for as long as she can remember. She and a boyfriend also found out about the severity of her allergy the hard way.
RISINGER: He started kissing me, and my lips started tingling. And immediately I was like, "we have to stop and I need to go take Benadryl."
COHEN: And she's not alone. More than one percent of Americans are allergic to peanuts and tree nuts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had all these hives all over my back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where I couldn't breathe and then I started wheezing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Within 20 minutes, I was completely unconscious on the front porch.
COHEN: All these reactions, from peanuts and nuts, trace amounts they didn't realize were in the foods they were eating. Dr. Robert Wood is an expert on peanut allergy, and has had a lifelong allergy to peanuts himself.
DR. ROBERT WOOD, JOHNS HOPKINS CHILDREN'S CENTER: I have certain rules that I abide by, and one of those rules is I don't eat any baked goods.
COHEN: The one exception he thought he could safely make? Accepting a homemade gift from a colleague, an expert on food allergies like himself, who assured him it was safe.
WOOD: It turned out that they had made peanut butter Christmas cookies and non-peanut butter Christmas cookies and they had used the same spatula, maybe even the same cookie sheet without cleaning it in between.
COHEN: Wood found himself in the middle of a massive allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, which includes hives, swelling, and difficulty breathing. It took took five shots of epinephrine to stop the reaction. That's why those with serious food allergies need to carry EpiPens, adrenaline in a tube. Without it, these reactions could lead to a sudden drop in blood pressure, or worse.
WOOD: I've lost three patients due to anaphylaxis. One was a baked good, one was Chinese food, one was a candy. None of them had epinephrine available.
COHEN: All these foods had peanuts or peanut oil hidden inside. And these reactions are not as rare as you might think.
Eleven million Americans have food allergies. Accounting for tens of thousands of emergency room visits, and 150 to 200 deaths a year.
But perhaps the most startling trend, according to Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, the number of American children allergic to peanuts doubled in five years.
As for Michelle Risinger, she gives all of her dates a choice. It's either peanuts, or her.
Elizabeth Cohen, CNN reporting.
ZAHN: Well, you don't need me to tell you this, we are a sleep deprived nation. And you may not realize that experts estimate that 2 million American children suffer from some kind of sleep disorder.
So, more teens than ever before are turning to sleeping pills. Here's senior medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
SANJAY GUPTA, SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): 17- year-old Katy Mullican was just 3 years old when she first started having difficulty sleeping.
KATY MULLICAN: Oh, I just remember just wanting to go to sleep, and my dad would come in scratch my back and that would help me.
GUPTA: Three years later when she started school she was diagnosed with ADHD, attention deficit hyper-activity disorder, and started on medications.
The problem is her sleeplessness became even worse. So since the age of six Katy has intermittently been on a combination of ADHD drugs along with sleeping pills. Lots of drugs and the sleep never returned.
MULLICAN: Lately it has been almost unbearable.
GUPTA: Profoundly affecting everything she does. She says she's been so tired in the last three years she has missed more than 75 days of school due to fatigue that leaves her unable to function.
KAREN WEBER-MULLICAN, KATY'S MOTHER: I literally had to take letters from her psychiatrist and psychologist into the guidance counselor, and say look this is a real problem. This is not just I don't want to go to school.
GUPTA: (INAUDIBLE) ...no caffeine after school, no television or computer in the bedroom. At one point she even went off her ADHD medication hoping she might be able to sleep better. But she went into a deep depression and the sleeping problem still continued.
If this all sounds troubling, you should also know this. Katy's story is not unique. Today in the United States almost one in 300 children age 10 to 19 take prescription sleeping medications that's up 85 percent since 2000.
And like Katy about 15 percent of them have been taking sleeping pills along with other medications to treat ADHD.
Worst of all for Katy is that people don't always understand her plight.
MULLICAN: You know, a lot of people just think, oh, well you just need to get to bed earlier. But really when your mind is going so fast at night you can't do anything about it. And I wish people would realize that because it's not easy to get to sleep. It's not even easy to stay asleep.
GUPTA: So, this 17-year-old has tried the gamut of sleep medications, Benadryl, Trazodone, Lunesta, and just a month ago she started yet another one, Ambien.
Dr. Judith Owens, who runs a sleep clinic in Providence, Rhode Island, recognizes sleeping pills should be a last resort. But says sometimes it is worth it.
DR. JUDITH OWENS, HASBRO CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: A lot of sleep disorder medicines are a big problem in children, including not getting enough sleep can cause memory and learning and behavioral problems.
So you also have to look at the consequences of the disorder itself as well as the medications.
GUPTA (on camera): Simply put, the risks of using a sleeping medication in a child need to be weighed against the risk of not getting enough sleep in the first place.
The Food and Drug Administration has not approved any sleeping medications for children, so just how effective they are and how safe is still uncertain.
OWENS: Until they are tested in the pediatric population, we don't really know sure.
GUPTA (voice over): Teenagers need nine hours of sleep a night, and average only seven. Katy was getting just three. With Ambien she sometimes gets up to six hours a night. Her doctor feels comfortable using the medication, but intends to wean it off as soon as possible.
DR. GARY MONTGOMERY, CHILDREN'S HEALTH CARE OF ATLANTA: Our goal is to really make her good sleeper.
GUPTA: If it works it would be the first time since Katy was a child that sleep came as naturally as it should.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN reporting.
ZAHN: And we are trying something new tonight. You've probably noticed some of the messages on the screen asking you to tell us about what you think about our stories. It is part of a new segment we call "Hey Paula."
Plenty of e-mail for our segment on killer dogs.
One viewer says, clearly there is no breed specific chromosome for ferocity or violence. Let's focus on the dog owner's personal responsibility and accountability rather than a misunderstanding of genetics.
And there's this as the owner of a loving, loyal, and goofy wet nosed American Pit-Bull Terrier, I object the stereotypical portrayal of pit bulls, one of the most trustworthy breeds of dogs on earth.
That is it for all of us here tonight. We'll be back same time, same place tomorrow night. Have a good night.
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