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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Could Stunning New Revelation Sink Port Security Deal?; Allergic to Light; Hurricane Katrina Warnings Ignored? Cuban Family Trying to Return to U.S.; Father Escapes Prison, Leaves Son in Need of Kidney
Aired March 1, 2006 - 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: And our nation's national security is exactly what we are talking about tonight.
Good evening. Thank you all for joining us.
Tonight, could a stunning new disclosure sink the Dubai ports deal and lead to even more trouble for the president?
ZAHN: Our "Security Watch" -- putting American harbors in Middle Eastern hands -- tonight, an explosive new allegation.
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: There has been no investigation into terrorism whatsoever on this contract.
ZAHN: Despite assurances from the president, how much of a security check was there?
The "Eye Opener" -- buyer beware -- looking for a good time? In more and more cities, you might end up here.
COMMANDER DAVID SOBCZYK, CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT: Their photo is automatically placed in this database on the Internet for a period of 30 days.
ZAHN: Can shame really stop the world's oldest profession?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prostitution is forever. You're never going stop it.
ZAHN: We will ask men and women who ought to know.
And dangerous light -- the amazing story of a little girl who is completely allergic to any kind of light.
KURT KNAUFF, FATHER OF KASEY KNAUFF: She swelled like three times her size. Nobody knew what was go on.
ZAHN: Tonight, the incredible disorder that makes her a prisoner of her darkness.
(END VIDEOTAPE) ZAHN: Also ahead tonight, pictures that rarely have been seen by the public -- do they prove that the president should have known more and done more before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans?
But, before we get to that, there are explosive new allegations about the U.S. ports deal. A top Republican in Congress now says the committee that actually approved the deal never even got the answers to the most basic security questions, like whether the company has any ties to terrorists.
Dubai Ports World, which is owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates, wants to take over operations at ports in New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Miami and New Orleans.
On the CNN ""Security Watch" tonight, congressional correspondent Ed Henry has more on what regulators didn't know when they let the deal go through.
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: ... ask you to reconcile...
ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Republican Peter King, the powerful chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, alleges, when the controversy first broke, he spoke to officials at the Treasury and Homeland Security Departments involved in approving the port deal.
KING: And I started asking them questions about, did you check the al Qaeda connections of the companies or anyone who was there before 9/11 who is still there now who could pose a problem? And I was told, well, Congress -- and, you know, you don't understand; we don't conduct a thorough investigation. We just ask the intelligence director, was there anything on file? And he said, no.
HENRY: When pressed on Bush administration claims there was a thorough security review of the port deal, King responded sharply.
KING: There was no real investigation conducted during that 30- day period. There has been no investigation into terrorism whatsoever on this contract.
HENRY: A spokesman for Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte told CNN he cannot respond to King's charges because his assessment is classified. But the spokesman pointed to Negroponte's testimony earlier this week.
JOHN NEGROPONTE, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR: And we didn't see any red -- red flags come up during the course of our inquiry.
HENRY: The new allegations from a Republican come as Democrats pivot off the port controversy to charge that, across the board, the White House has dropped the ball on homeland security.
SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: We are abysmally, abysmally negligent in the way in which we have dealt with homeland security. REP. EDWARD MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Whether it be chemical plants, nuclear plants, cargo, our airlines, the Bush administration has allowed the industries to decide how much security is provided for the American people.
HENRY: Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff points out, there are limitless demands for security, but limited funds in the federal coffers.
MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: The city of New York, I think, has 30,000, 40,000 police officers. I'm sure, if it 400,000, it would be even safer. We always balance. And the way we balance in this department is risk management.
HENRY: Tonight, Bush officials gave Congressman King a classified briefing to try and address his concerns.
But, just moments ago, King emerged from that two-hour briefing to say he's not satisfied, a clear sign that the White House still has an uphill climb to try and sell this port deal to a very skeptical Congress -- Paula.
ZAHN: But, Ed, if Congressman King knew that this was not a thorough investigation that had been done weeks ago, why he is waiting to at least share this part of the information with us tonight?
HENRY: It is possible that Congressman King and other Republicans have been suspecting that, in fact, the White House would have pulled the plug on this deal a long time ago and that it would have been moot by now.
But I think, as the White House has dug in, Republicans up here are getting alarmed. They are the ones who have to face the voters in November. They see national outrage over this deal. Since the White House is digging in, King and others have decided to stand up to them -- Paula.
ZAHN: He has certainly turned up his volume over the last four days.
Ed Henry, thank you so much.
HENRY: Thank you. Thank you.
ZAHN: Time after time, the Bush administration has tried to ease concerns about the port deal by emphasizing that Dubai Ports World would not have direct control over security at the ports it would operate. The Coast Guard and private security firms do that. But exactly what do they do?
Homeland Security correspondent Jeanne Meserve spent the day at the Port of Los Angeles and found some disturbing answers. She just filed this report to take us "Beyond the Headlines."
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is 7:00 p.m., and the second shift at the SSA terminal at the Port of Los Angeles-Long Beach is in full swing.
This port handles close to half the containers entering the U.S. If a terrorist strike closed it, there would be a chokehold on the U.S. economy.
(on camera): We're about 13 stories off the ground in a crane. In the next 24 hours, this crane and the others like it at this port will move about 13,000 containers on and off ships.
(voice-over): But most of the terminals here are leased to foreign companies from China, Taiwan, Korea, Israel, and elsewhere.
A former Coast Guard commander, Stephen Flynn, worries not about who runs the system, but the system itself.
STEPHEN FLYNN, FORMER U.S. COAST GUARD COMMANDER: The core problem is, we haven't set minimum standards, who has access to the terminal, for basic physical security in it, and we're not looking out into the supply chain enough, putting in place systems where we can validate, what comes in is legitimate and what is illegitimate.
MESERVE: SSA is an American firm. It used to lease this terminal outright, but now partners with a Swiss shipping company.
JOHN DIBERNARDO, VICE PRESIDENT, SSA TERMINALS: Virtually nothing has changed. We operated the same way before as we do today.
MESERVE: SSA still handles security at its terminal.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, Trevor (ph), you're good to go.
MESERVE: It hires the guards. It checks the workers, the drivers and trucks that come and go around the clock.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I got a shipment to transport here.
MESERVE: The U.S. Coast Guard has overall responsibility for port security. And it has approved SSA's security plan. But the system uses drivers licenses, not biometric I.D. cards, and even the security personnel are not tightly screened.
CAPTAIN PETER NEFFENGER, U.S. COAST GUARD: There are no specific background checks that are done on terminal personnel at this time.
MESERVE: For operational reasons, the Coast Guard briefs foreign firms on some aspects of port security. And that worries the man who, until recently, was chief of port police.
NOEL CUNNINGHAM, FORMER LOS ANGELES PORT POLICE CHIEF: Everything from -- from tactical plans to alert status, a review of existing security plans, you name it.
MESERVE: But the man in charge of port security insists that the most crucial information is closely held.
NEFFENGER: Any sensitive security matters, any -- any national intelligence, is -- is kept pretty close to the vest by those agencies responsible for -- for maintaining that. So, no, we don't share.
MESERVE: The federal Customs and Border Protection Agency screens some of the cargo that arrives here.
KEVIN WEEKS, LOS ANGELES DIRECTOR OF FIELD OPERATIONS, CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION AGENCY: All security protocols are not being changed, regardless of who is here operating as a lessee terminal operator.
MESERVE: But those searches are largely based on paperwork submitted by shipping firms.
FLYNN: We basically expect commercial companies to police themselves, so we hope for the best, which is a pretty crazy way to do business in our post-9/11 world.
MESERVE: The Coast Guard at L.A. Long Beach says, foreign companies are excellent security partners because it is in their economic interests to keep the cranes hauling freight 24 hours a day.
Jeanne Meserve, CNN, at the Port of Los Angeles-Long Beach.
ZAHN: And, next, we move on to a problem that affects every city and town in this country. Can anything be done to slow down prostitution? How about a little shame for their customers?
We're also going to follow up on an incredible story of some Cuban refugees who made it all the way to a bridge off of Florida, but were sent home. Will they get another chance to come to America?
And we are going to take you into a little girl's amazing world of darkness. She happens to be allergic to light. What is her life like? You will see a little bit later on tonight.
Well, no on to our countdown of the top 10 most popular stories on CNN.com. More than 17 million of you logged on today.
At number 10, Paul McCartney and his wife, Heather, say they will go to Northeastern Canada tomorrow to protest the country's annual seal hunt, which is expected to begin some time later this month.
And, number nine -- protests at the University of California, Irvine, after copies of those controversial Mohammed cartoons are displayed on campus.
We will have numbers eight and seven right after this.
ZAHN: A teenage boy needs a life-saving transplant. His father is a perfect match. So, why didn't he show up to give his son that gift of life? The story has a very strange twist. We hope you stay tuned for that.
But, tonight, we have some rarely seen videotape, and, separately, a brand new transcript that dramatically shows that, by the time Hurricane Katrina hit, President Bush was warned that the storm could be an enormous disaster. Right after the storm, it seemed like the administration's defense for the sluggish response was that no one saw a storm of that severity coming -- well, not according to the videotape.
Let's get the very latest tonight from White House correspondent Dana Bash.
So, Dana, the truth is in the tape. What does it tell us tonight?
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, we have some videotape. But, in addition to that, that videotape, Paula, was from Sunday, the day before the -- the hurricane hit. But, tonight, we actually have a newly released transcript of a FEMA briefing from noon on August 29. And that is the day that Katrina made landfall.
Now, this is a transcript the Senate Homeland Security Committee had been asking the administration for, but couldn't get. Now, the Homeland Security Department said, in a letter to the Senate last night, that they thought the meeting had not been recorded.
But, last week, they actually found the recording. Now, the president did not participate in this particular briefing -- this is, again, on August 29, the day that Katrina made landfall -- but his deputy chief of staff, Joe Hagin, did.
And, in this transcript, he asks Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco what the status of the levees -- levees were at that point. And she says -- quote -- "I think that we have not breached the levee." She said, "We have not breached the levee at this point in time."
Now, as you said, this is another illustration of what we have now known for some time, that there was confusion and misinformation about whether the levees had actually broken, which had actually -- they had actually broken that morning.
Now, at one point in this transcript, Michael Brown, the former FEMA director, was talking about President Bush. Mr. Bush wasn't there. But here is what he said. He said -- quote -- "I talked to the president twice today, once in Crawford and then again on Air Force One. He remains very, very interested in this situation. He's obviously watching television a lot. And he had some questions about the dome. He's asking questions about reports of breaches. He's asking about the hospital. He's very engaged. And he's asking a lot of really good questions I would expect him to ask. I say that because I want everyone to recognize and I know and appreciate everybody here of how serious the situation remains." Now, that, the White House insists, proves that the president was engaged. But, perhaps, like many other federal officials, officials across the board dealing with this at this time, he was overconfident about how prepared they were.
Now, to that point, Paula, this video that you're referring to, that we are going to show, is from a FEMA teleconference the day before landfall. This is Sunday, August 29.
There, the president did participate in this teleconference from his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Here is what the president said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to assure the folks at the state level that we are fully prepared to not only help you during the storm, but we will move in whatever resources and assets we have at our disposal after the storm to help you deal with -- with the loss of property. And -- and we pray for no loss of life, of course.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Now, there, the president saying that, what we know now, that they -- they -- he thought that they had everything that they needed at their disposal.
As we know now, they were nowhere near what they needed to be sufficient to really respond to this. But there was a lot across the board in terms of the government they were not prepared for. That is true at all levels.
And, tonight, Paula, basically, what we're seeing here is a new illustration of that, perhaps nowhere, though, near as strong the video that we saw the day that this hurricane hit, of course, the suffering, the desperation in the streets of New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast.
We have an illustration of what was going on behind the scenes. But, perhaps, we don't need it, because we saw it happening real-time.
ZAHN: Dana Bash, thanks so much.
Once again, the president's critic calling it a smoking gun tonight, his supporters saying that video just represents a snapshot.
Do you have allergies? Probably not this one. We are going to meet a little girl who is actually allergic to light. What is life like for her and for her parents? That's coming up.
Right now, though, it's time for Erica Hill at Headline News. And she has come soon enough, because the minute I said allergies, I almost sneezed -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Paula, ferocious wildfires burned hundreds of acres today in Oklahoma. Forecasters are now hoping showers bring some relief from those record-high temperatures there.
Meantime, Randal McCloy, the sole survivor of January's Sago Mine disaster, has not yet been told a dozen fellow miners died. McCloy's wife says she's waiting for him to get stronger.
The EPA says it wants to allow corn milling plants to increase hazardous emissions, so more alternative fuel can be produced. Environmentalists generally support the use of ethanol.
And a break in Britain's record bank heist -- British police now saying they will charge two men and a woman with the crime. Altogether, 11 suspects are now behind bars. But, of that $92 million worth of cash that was taken, well, police have recovered less than $2 million -- Paula.
ZAHN: And, Erica Hill, appreciate that update. Thanks so much.
Now, lots of children are afraid of the dark. Even some adults are. But we are going to meet a little girl who has to be afraid of the light, because she's allergic to it. And it could kill her. What is it like growing up in the dark?
And, a little bit later on, a unique approach to fighting prostitution: Should pictures of the alleged customers be published even before they're convicted?
First, though, let's move on to number eight on our CNN.com countdown.
The Hubble telescope ha captured the most detailed image ever of a spiral galaxy. Isn't that beautiful? And astronomers say that what they're now calling the Pinwheel Galaxy is estimated to contain at least one trillion stars.
And number seven, in Ohio, an emotional denial of cruelty from a woman accused of locking some of her 11 adopted special-needs children in cages. Sharen Gravelle took the stand today in court. She and her husband are fighting to regain custody of those children -- numbers six and five when we come back.
ZAHN: According to the latest FBI statistics, there were nearly 88,000 prostitution arrests in the U.S. That's just in 2004 alone. And that, too, is just the arrests. But the number does give you an idea of how much prostitution there is in this country.
Well, now police in one major city are attacking prostitution by using the Internet to shame the customers.
Here is Keith Oppenheim with tonight's "Eye Opener."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's walking up to it now. OK, she's in conversation. KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An undercover operation by the Chicago Police Department. The woman walking in the cold is a cop posing as a prostitute. Another officer relays conversations she's having with men who want to buy sex, men commonly referred to as johns.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He asked her, how much for a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) job. The response was $10. He goes, how long I do get you for? She said 20 minutes.
OPPENHEIM: She's waiting to get an offer, dollars for sex. Once she does, police say, they have cause to make an arrest. With a simple wave over the roof of the car, she signals, the deal is done.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is down. That one is down.
OPPENHEIM: And police swoop in.
In stings like this, johns are generally charged with misdemeanors, their cars towed. But, in Chicago, they get something else -- their names and faces are posted on a police Web site.
COMMANDER DAVID SOBCZYK, CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT: It is a tool used by the police department that attempts to dissuade people from committing this type of crime in Chicago. And, on that basis alone, I think it serves a great purpose.
OPPENHEIM: Commander David Sobczyk of the Chicago Police Department explains, the johns on the Web site haven't been convicted of solicitation. But, as soon as they have been charged:
SOBCZYK: Their photo is automatically placed in this database on the Internet for a period of 30 days.
OPPENHEIM: The thinking is, publicize the identities of the customers, and prostitution will decrease, because johns don't want to get caught by police or their families.
In fact, in Denver, police are trying a similar approach, posting pictures of offenders on "Johns TV," a show aired on a cable access channel. In Chicago, none of the johns on this Web site that were contacted would speak to us, although, in an online forum on a different Web site, sex patrons scoffed at the idea the Web site is a deterrent.
One wrote, sarcastically, "Now they're going to save the day by shaming a few johns."
Homer King, who says he was a pimp for 25 years, and used to go by the street name "Mr. Fancy," also doesn't believe the Web site will keep customers away.
HOMER KING, FORMER PIMP: Until these men can reach a point in their lives that this is no longer fulfilling to them, they're going continue to do it. Whether you like it or society don't like it, prostitution is forever. You're never going to stop it. OPPENHEIM (on camera): And you don't think there is anything that can be done to reduce it? Very tough to do?
KING: Very tough to do.
OPPENHEIM (voice-over): One reason it is tough, the sex trade is pervasive. Consider that, in 2005, Chicago police say they made more than 6,000 arrests related to prostitution.
(on camera): But, according to a study by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, there are, over the course of a year, up to -- get this -- 25,000 prostitutes working in this city of Chicago. And that figure suggests an even greater number of customers.
PATTI BUFFINGTON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GENESIS HOME: Because, if you have 25,000 women working, then you 25,000 people participating, and generally, a woman will service more than one man a night. Out on the street, you're talking about turning four or six tricks.
OPPENHEIM (voice-over): Education is an emerging tactic in the fight against prostitution. Since June of last year, about 40 johns posted on the Chicago Web site have been sentenced to attend an eight- hour class at Genesis House. It is a program that tries to get them to think about the consequences of their behavior.
Lorraine, a self-described former prostitute, talks to johns at the program. She spoke to us in an alley where she used to sell her body.
LORRAINE, FORMER PROSTITUTE: I have dated right there in that corner behind you in broad daylight.
OPPENHEIM (on camera): Right here?
OPPENHEIM (voice-over): Now 42 years old and in recovery, Lorraine tells johns how they can harm a prostitute's life. In her case, she began selling sex when she was just 7 years old. By her teens, she was addicted to drugs.
(on camera): And the tricks that you were turning, that was to pay for heroin?
LORRAINE: Pay for my heroin, yes. And, so, it got to a point where I started looking like the dope fiend that I was. So, instead of them giving me $20 or $30 or $50, they knew I was going to accept $5, because I wanted to get that bag.
OPPENHEIM (voice-over): No one we spoke to for this story suggested that a Web site, an education program, or undercover operations will stop prostitution, or even slow it down dramatically. In the sting we watched, police picked up about six johns in less than two hours, fast work, perhaps, but small numbers compared to the big picture.
Still, Lorraine believes the city has to do something to stop johns from buying sex.
LORRAINE: If it wasn't for no johns, there wouldn't be no prostitution. Who are we going to date?
OPPENHEIM (on camera): Will it really cut down on the number of johns by posting their names on a -- on a computer Web site?
LORRAINE: It will help. It will help. It will help. They would think about it twice.
OPPENHEIM (voice-over): In Lorraine's mind, just getting a few johns to think twice is no small accomplishment in an industry where the customers are constant.
Keith Oppenheim, CNN, Chicago.
ZAHN: And one more thing -- as for the education program for johns, only about 40 men have actually taken it, but organizers hope the courts will become more aware of it as a sentencing option to get johns in school and off the street.
Tonight, one mother is absolutely outraged. Did her son's father actually break a promise he made in prison that could have saved his little boy's life? Where has the father gone now?
Also, we are going to take you into a little girl's fascinating world. It is always dark, because she's allergic to light. Light could kill her. What is her life like?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI BUREAU CHIEF: I'm John Zarrella in Florida.
They made it here all the way from Cuba. But the United States government sent them back. It turns out, that was a mistake. Will a group of Cuban refugees ever make it to the promised land? -- details when PAULA ZAHN NOW continues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: And now we move on to number six in our countdown.
In Nigeria, six of nine oil workers held captive by rebels for nearly two weeks were freed today. The first to be released was American Macon Hawkins from Texas.
And, number five, amid continued religious violence in Iraq, Saddam Hussein uses his trial as a platform to urge Iraqis to unite against the U.S. I guess that should come as no surprise -- number four on our countdown just minutes away.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAHN: Coming up in this half hour, a teenager who desperately needs a kidney transplant from his father. Knowing that, was his father actually released from prison to help save his life and then did he run away?
And will a Cuban family get another chance to come to the U.S.? They got so close the first time and they ended up at the wrong bridge and the government turned them around.
You don't want to miss Larry King at the top of the hour. Andy Griffith and Ron Howard share some favorite memories of Barney Fife, the late comedian, Don Knotts.
In tonight's "Vital Signs," I want you to imagine how your life would change if nothing more than sunlight could kill one of your children. Well, you're about to get a truly remarkable insight into a world most of us will never see. A mother and father who deal with that threat every single day of their lives. Because one of their children was born with a rare and potentially deadly disorder. Here is Senior Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta with tonight's vital signs.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Kasey Knauff spends her days inside looking out. It's only at night, once the sun goes down, that she can venture out beyond her living room window and do what other four-and-a-half-year-olds might normally do during the day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you like to run?
GUPTA: Like take a walk. Even on cold nights the family makes the most of it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa! Come on. You got it. There you go.
GUPTA: Mainly, they're just happy that she's there at all.
When Kasey was born, she appeared fine, but her heart rate was up and other complications developed. Doctors couldn't figure it out.
They put her under lights to keep her warm. But things got worse. Less than 12 hours old, worried doctors sent Kasey to a trauma center where they put her under a stronger lamp, the blue light commonly used for jaundice.
KURT KNAUFF, KASEY'S FATHER: She swelled like three times her size. She turned like red and then blue, and she was like black and blue from head to toe. And nobody knew what was going on. It took about two and a half weeks and they came up with a diagnosis.
GUPTA: By that time, she had been burned all over her body. It turns out her skin is ultrasensitive to light.
Kasey suffers from CEP, one of the rarest forms of a rare genetic disorder called Porphyria. It has many manifestations, and reddish- purple urine, purple teeth and abdominal pain are all telltale signs.
Kasey is one of less than 100 people in the United States with this particular kind of Porphyria. Her demon is light. Sunlight, fluorescent light, halogen light, exposure to any ultraviolet light can burn her skin, creating blisters, scarring, infections and a myriad of other painful complications.
KNAUFF: It's made out of an ultraviolet protection material.
GUPTA: Her parents take every precaution to keep her safe. There are special UV filters on all of the windows in her house. They use incandescent light bulbs of no more than 50 watts. And the full- time nurse to help Kasey with her regimen.
Because her scars don't grow with her body, she's had numerous plastic surgeries. Broken bones, deformities, stomach problems, all part of the territory. And lots and lots of doctors.
KNAUFF: Hematologist, dermatology, plastic surgery.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Geneticist.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bone specialist.
KNAUFF: Nobody's really a specialist in CEP, so to speak, but we'll take any -- any advice from any of them, of course.
GUPTA: And the effervescent Kasey takes it all in stride. Her 14-year-old sister Kylie, who does not have CEP, has made her own adjustments.
KYLIE KNAUFF, KASEY'S SISTER: I do a lot of stuff inside now. But whenever I was younger, I was always outside and doing stuff outside, on the swing set and playing with my friends outside. Like, I could imagine that Kasey gets bored inside, but we found a lot of things to keep us busy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know it's backwards.
GUPTA: But there are days when Kasey has to go out, like her monthly trip to the pediatrician, which requires serious preparation.
K. KNAUFF: Point zero five, so that's a good day, a real good day for Kasey.
GUPTA: Outside, her dad checks the UV index chart. Inside, the nurse helps Kasey put on her special protective suit. And then the rush to the van.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. Now, let daddy come and pick you up.
K. KNAUFF: Can you stay covered for a second?
GUPTA: Once inside, she's protected by UV filters and the blackout curtain.
Not your typical trip to the doctor. Even here, the lights are adjusted as Kasey gets her hemoglobin checked, along with her general health, because besides coordinating with specialists, that's about all her pediatricians can do.
K. KNAUFF: You need everybody to hold your hand? My goodness.
DR. DAVID COGGINS, KASEY'S PEDIATRICIAN: Her parents have been really very instrumental in helping me learn about it because they've done a lot of research and have been to a lot of different specialists.
GUPTA: The only known cure for CEP is a bone marrow or stem cell transplant, which is very risky. And they haven't yet found a match for Kasey.
In the meantime, they're hoping slow exposure to more light and possibly blood transfusions might help.
BRENDA KNAUFF, KASEY'S MOTHER: If she does blood transfusions she could relatively live a normal life. She would just have to every couple of weeks go to the doctors or a hospital, have the blood work done, then she would have a blood transfusion, and then she would be able to go outside, lead a normal life, and we would just have to monitor her hemoglobin level to make sure it's in a safe range.
GUPTA: But they say this year's been good. They went to the movies. Kasey went swimming, bowling and to the library for the first time. All with the aid of people who helped with her very special needs.
Her parents say Kasey doesn't feel like she's missing out, yet.
B. KNAUFF: Who knows. Maybe in the future. Enzyme research is really big right now, so by the time she grows up, she might actually have a cure. They can just inject the enzyme that she's lacking and she would be able to lead a normal life and...
K. KNAUFF: Yes, we've always been optimistic that, you know, things are going be all right, everything, just take it day by day.
B. KNAUFF (SINGING): Next time won't you sing with me. Yeah.
GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Atlanta
ZAHN: An attitude we can all learn from. Since we met Kasey her family has actually been in touch with a specialist here in New York who hopes to help her. We're all keeping our fingers crossed.
Still ahead, a teenage boy who needs a new kidney but his father who was just released from prison so he can donate one has vanished. Hunt for him tonight. Plus, the Cuban family that made it all the way to a Florida bridge only to be sent back to Cuba. A judge calls that a mistake. But will it give the family another chance at freedom?
On to number four on our CNN.com countdown. President Bush made his first ever visit to Afghanistan today. The surprise stop came as Mr. Bush was starting his four day trip to India and Pakistan. Number three on the countdown is straight ahead.
ZAHN: So what kind of person would actually offer to donate a kidney to save the life of his own son and then run away. Federal marshals say that's story in Kentucky where a father was getting set to serve a 25 year sentence in federal prison and was let out of jail for tests before surgery. But then he vanished and marshals are searching for him tonight. Here's National Correspondent Susan Candiotti with tonight's "Outside the Law."
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Destin Perkins has never been able to count on his father. That was about to change. Dustin's life depended on it.
DESTIN PERKINS, AWAITING KIDNEY TRANSPLANT: I thought I would soon be off of dialysis and things would be better.
CANDIOTTI: Destin needs a kidney transplant. His dad Byron is a perfect match. Dad said he would help. Instead he's done something that's led his own mother to call him a scoundrel.
BARBARA BARR, FUGITIVE'S MOTHER: I thought he loved his children and I thought he loved me more than anything. And how can you do this to him and to me? putting us through this? Please come home and turn yourself in.
DAWN IZGARJAN, DEPUTY U.S. MARSHAL: We consider him to be armed and dangerous.
CANDIOTTI: U.S. Marshals call Perkins a career criminal. Records show he did seven years for bank robbery, and has a string of arrests for gun possession, home invasion and drugs. Yet in January, before he was sentenced to a minimum 25 years in federal prison, a judge gave Perkins a chance to, in one way, redeem himself before he was put away. Donate a kidney and save his son's life.
He temporarily would be let out of jail for final testing.
(on camera): During at least four separate hearings before a federal magistrate, Byron Perkins told the court he wanted to help his son. He absolutely would return to jail, and he could be trusted. The court took him at his word.
(voice-over): Perkins was allowed to stay at his mother's house and report to a probation officer. At first, he did the right thing. But on his final day of tests, and freedom, Perkins flew the coop, vanished with his girlfriend.
PERKINS: I couldn't believe he had did it.
CANDIOTTI: Those who saw his courtroom performance now admit they had been had.
(on camera): You're saying he did a good acting job in court.
IZGARJAN: Oh my gosh, I mean, I remember that day. I remember that day. He was crying. His defense attorney was almost in tears. And I was sitting there thinking you know, what a great thing to do.
CANDIOTTI: Now even veteran U.S. marshals are floored.
IZGARJAN: It touched all of us. This is horrible. How can he do this?
CANDIOTTI: Perkins and his girlfriend apparently planned the escape. In recorded jailhouse phone calls, obtained by CNN, federal agents say that the couple compares notes.
LEE ANN HOWARD, PERKINS' GIRLFRIEND: I got my needle box. I just don't want to forget nothing. I definitely don't need to forget my medicine.
BYRON PERKINS, FUGITIVE: Tell her to get up there and get my 38s and some socks and stuff, and what you got that's up there. All right?
CANDIOTTI: The day he fled, Perkins left his mother a puzzling letter. He says, I'm not running out on Destin so please don't think I am. I'll come through for him. What do you think he meant?
BARR: I don't know but if he's going to come through, he needs to do it now. Destin needs him now.
CANDIOTTI: As Destin's mother steels herself for what is to come, this message for her ex.
ANGELA HAMMOND, DESTIN'S MOTHER: He needs to rethink what he's doing. You know, he's -- he has a son that he's let down.
CANDIOTTI (on camera): When you go bed each night, what do you think about as you put your head down on the pillow?
HAMMOND: God be with us.
ZAHN: Susan Candiotti reporting. Given Perkins' long rap sheet you have to wonder how it was he was aloud out of jail on the first place on a $5,000 bond with absolutely no police escort.
The marshal service says its rules flat out forbid a security detail if it is a case of elective surgery. Unless Perkins was willing to pay for an escort, the marshals aren't allowed to foot the bill. Go figure.
So our question tonight was why is a family sent back to Cuba when they made it all the way to a bridge just off Florida. What is the family saying now that a judge has ruled they should have been allowed to stay here?
ZAHN: Thank you very much. Appreciate it. "LARRY KING LIVE" coming up in 12 minutes from now. Hi, Larry. How are you doing?
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: We got quite a show tonight. A tribute to Don Knotts and what a group of guests. Andy Griffith, Ron Howard, Jim Neighbors, and Gloria Dewitt with us. Also Karen Knotts, Don's daughter. Should be quite a show. The whole cast will gather around here. Everyone who is left from the world of Andy Griffith will be with us and taking calls and a lot of fun paying tribute to a brilliant comedic actor.
ZAHN: Not only a funny guy, but everything I read today, everybody seemed to think he was a very, very nice man.
KING: He was. Remember those old days on -- you -- .
ZAHN: I remember Steven Allan but I came into Don Knotts later on in his career.
KING: On Steve Allan, Don Knotts was the nervous guy. Whenever they would say are you nervous? He would go no. It was funny. Trust me.
ZAHN: We'll be watching tonight. Nice to see your stellar cast of Don Knotts friends on. See you in a little bit. Thanks, Larry.
In a minute or so, the latest on a story that had a lot of people scratching their heads. Why is this family back in Cuba when they came so very close to freedom. Will they get another chance to come here?
Now to number three on our CNN.com countdown. The $1.5 million painting with a gum stain, curators at a Detroit museum are trying to remove it. They say a 12-year-old stuck the gum on the painting as a prank. Ouch. That little 12-year-old is in a lot of trouble. It will take a lot of chores around the house to make up that $1.5 million deficit there.
Number two is next.
ZAHN: Tonight we have follow up for you on a story we have been covering. A Cuban family is rejoicing tonight. They have some new hope they may achieve their dream of coming to the United States a month after that dream was crushed when it was almost in their grasp. A federal judge ruled the Coast Guard was wrong to send them back to Cuba because after a dangerous open sea voyage in a homemade boat, they landed on the wrong bridge in the waters off of Florida. Here's John Zarrella with more.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Junior Blanco Medeo and his family say they never gave up hope. Never stopped believing that one day they would live their dream. A dream of freedom.
JUNIOR BLANCO MEDEO, SENT BACK TO CUBA (through translator): We are overjoyed. Everyone in the town is congratulating us.
ZARRELLA: A day after a federal judge in Miami took the extraordinary step of ordering the U.S. government to try and get them and a dozen others out of Cuba, Blanco, his wife Elizabeth and nephew Alexis spoke with us from their hometown of Metanzas, on Cuba's north coast. It is a place that two months ago they thought they had seen for perhaps the last time.
ALEXIS GONZALEZ BLANCO, SENT BACK TO CUBA (through translator): Our family is happy for us. We earned this. We earned this and a lot more.
ZARRELLA: Back on January 4th, 15 Cubans were found by the Coast Guard clinging to this old bridge in the Florida Keys. But instead of being brought ashore, Blanco, his family and others were returned to Cuba. We first caught up with them two weeks ago.
A. BLANCO: I think was an injustice what happened to us. That we were returned to after we went through so much to get there.
ZARRELLA: The Coast Guard determined the old bridge doesn't connect to land on either end. So the Cubans did not touch U.S. soil. The judge's ruling late Tuesday was clear. Quote, "Coming ashore on the old bridge pier should be sufficient contact with the United States to constitute a landing on United States territory."
In Miami, relatives celebrated on the phone with their loved ones in Cuba.
MERCEDES HERNANDEZ GUERRERO, AUNT OF REPATRIATED CUBAN (through translator): They're going to let you come. Elizabeth says it is the happiest day of her life.
ZARRELLA: The joy is tempered by reality. The Cuban government must still allow them to leave.
KENDALL COFFEY, ATTORNEY FOR REPATRIATED CUBANS: Talking about Castro doing the right thing is an oxymoron. He'll do whatever he thinks is best for Castro but in this case he's already come out and said one way or another, that, hey, these are folks that he doesn't want anymore.
ZARRELLA: The U.S. government has not said whether it will appeal.
(on camera): Coast Guard officials would not comment on camera but told us they followed policy. A policy that Junior Blanco and his family say has left them on a two month roller coaster ride that they still hope will stop here in Miami. John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.
ZAHN: And we're pretty sure federal prosecutors are going to be meeting tomorrow with attorneys for that family. We should know after that meeting whether the government plans to appeal.
Coming up at the top of the hour, memories of Don Knotts from Andy Griffith himself and Ron Howard. First, let's move to number two on our CNN.com countdown list. A shooting at a Kanye West concert in England. Police say two men were hurt. It happened when several people were actually being thrown out for not having tickets.
Number one right after this.
ZAHN: We're back with number one on our CNN.com countdown. You might remember this face, Lionel Tate, whose murder conviction was overturned two years ago, will return to prison. Today he pleaded guilty to armed robbery. He could get between 10 and 30 years behind bars.
That wraps it up for all of us here tonight. We'll be back same time, same place. We hope you have a real good night. Thanks again for being with us. Larry King starts right now.
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