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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Severe Weather Threatens Country; High School Murder Plot Foiled?; Interview With John Walsh

Aired April 7, 2006 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
And forget that line about April showers. At this point, they would be a relief, compared to what's coming out of the sky tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRENTON WILSON, RESIDENT OF MISSOURI: That thing is coming right for us.

ANNOUNCER: As close as you can get and still survive. Others weren't so lucky. So, many twisters so early. What on earth is going on?

Sick new revelations about this alleged predators, things a background check never turned up. Why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They just give basic information.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were afraid of being sued?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.

ANNOUNCER: So, what can you do? We will ask John Walsh of "America's Most Wanted." And we're taking your calls.

He's an escaped murder, but try convincing this cop.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARL BORDELON, BALL POLICE DEPARTMENT: You know the bad thing about it?

RICHARD LEE MCNAIR, ESCAPED PRISONER: What is that?

BORDELON: You're matching up to him.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: No laughing matter. He let the murderer get away.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Across the country and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360, live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York.

Tonight, sitting in for Anderson, Heidi Collins.

COLLINS: More coming up on the most incredibly trusting cop an escaped murderer could hope to run into.

We begin,though with another rough day and night in tornado country. Power lines downed, trees uprooted, hail reported from the size of grapes to baseballs, and that's the picture in a number of Central and Southern states tonight.

But for the second time in a week, parts of Tennessee got the worst of it. At least 11 people are now dead.

Amanda Rosseter is in Charlotte, Tennessee, not far from Nashville.

Amanda, what's the situation now tonight?

AMANDA ROSSETER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Heidi, as the thunder rolls above us, let me show you what is happening behind us.

This is what happened to one homeowner's building earlier today, as the tornado cut a path through his property. This building housed his motorboat, his two tractors. The structure, as you can see, now off its foundation. The roof is gone, and his equipment is destroyed.

But, Heidi, this is just a snapshot of the structural damage that occurred here today. The human toll, as you mentioned, now confirmed, 11 people dead. It has been a tough day here in Tennessee.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROSSETER (voice-over): For the second time in a week, the people of Tennessee knew the storms were coming. Then they saw them. This tower cam on the north side of Nashville caught the supercell headed that way.

Isaac Cooper (ph), a student at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, caught this funnel cloud On his cell phone as it crossed the edge of campus in front of him. And this Nissan dealership in Gallatin shows the force of that storm, 250 cars totaled, the roof of the building gone, the windows blown.

LINDA FRAZIER, MAYOR OF DICKSON COUNTY, TENNESSEE: We have had about 12 homes destroyed and probably 30 to 50 other buildings and homes that have had some type of damage of some sort.

ROSSETER: And, in Dickson County, the damage is extensive; 230 homes are without power. And crews are working through the night to restore them by morning. Six people here are injured. Twelve homes are destroyed, and both numbers could climb.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's hard. But I'm sure people have it harder than we do, but it's still hard.

ROSSETER: For the people of Tennessee, this is a week to remember.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: I know, Amanda, that today's storms were predicted, but did anyone there feel like they got sufficient warning?

ROSSETER: They certainly had sufficient warning, and emergency services were very prepared logistically for all of this. They responded to everything they needed to.

Schools were let go early, so the kids get home in time to get out of the storms and get out of harm's way. But I asked one firefighter how hard today was on the heels of last Sunday. And he told me that he lost two of his friends in last Sunday's storms. And he buried them this week. So, knowing that today was coming again was especially hard for some of them -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Boy, I bet.

Amanda Rosseter tonight, updating us on the situation in Tennessee -- thanks so much, Amanda.

So many tornadoes in so little time, a staggering increase in the number over last year, 400 percent, in fact.

CNN meteorologist Rob Marciano has been looking into why that is, but he's also got an eye on the radar tonight. He's joining us now from the CNN Center in Atlanta.

Rob, what are you seeing back there?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, it's still a very active night, Heidi. Already have had 35 tornadoes reported today, 370 reports of hail, some of which have been baseball and even softball size.

Right now, we have, one, two, three, four, five tornado watch boxes out that remain in effect for the next several hours. Some remain in effect all the way until tomorrow morning. The hot spots that have been firing up this afternoon and evening have been northeastern parts Mississippi, specifically, from I-55 up through Tupelo.

Tupelo has really been getting hammered the past about a hour- and-a-half. And there are several tornado warnings out, not only for northeast Mississippi, but for northwest Alabama as well.

Earlier tonight, the earlier reports showing the tornado damage just north of Nashville. There was that one cell the moved towards Gallatin. And then the other cell moved down towards Franklin and Murfreesboro -- Nashville really just splitting the action, and they should be thankful for that.

Even after today's action, it has just been a crazy year so far.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BRENTON WILSON, RESIDENT OF MISSOURI: That thing is coming right for us.

MARCIANO (voice-over): Brenton Wilson says he's never seen anything like it. On Sunday, the 17-year-old was hanging out at his grandma's house in Braggadocio, Missouri, when this twister started heading their way.

WILSON: Oh, my gosh. It's about to hit the school. I think it's about to hit the school.

MARCIANO: Since Sunday, over 100 tornadoes have been reported. That brings the total to just over 400 in just over three months. If that seems like a lot, you're right. Last year, in the same period, there were only 96 tornado reports. This is the most tornadoes the U.S. has seen in this period since 1999.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I see -- I see another one, Tina (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two of them.

MARCIANO: We have not only seen more tornadoes thus far. We have also seen more deaths, at least 46 fatalities so far.

So, why so many tornadoes in such a short period of time? Well, the warm winter played a major role. And keep in mind, it's still early. Peak tornado season is March through May in the Southern states, while peak months in the northern states are during the summer.

WILSON: I hope it don't come over here.

Oh, my gosh!

MARCIANO: As for Brenton Wilson and his family, the twister spared their homes, but some of their neighbors weren't so lucky.

WILSON: It just blew their house away.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARCIANO: Amazing pictures.

This is the convective outlook out the severe -- Storms Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, a high risk. They don't do that very often. I spent the day with these forecasters yesterday, really amazing process to watch.

And he kind of gave me a -- the forecaster I talked to yesterday afternoon, Steve Corfidi, said that today looked worse than yesterday. And certainly we have seen that with this high risk area across those areas that we showed you on the radar.

Now, good news is, tomorrow, we lose a little bit of moisture, we lose a little bit of the dynamics, and just a slight risk of seeing severe weather across the Panhandle of Florida, south Georgia and in through the southern parts of the Carolinas.

So, Heidi, if we can get through the next 12 hours, which will probably continue to be rough in those same spots, tomorrow promises to be a little bit more calm.

COLLINS: Wow. It looks like a big red bullseye there.

All right, Rob Marciano, thanks so much. We know you will stay on top of it for us tonight.

And these pictures we're about to show you may bring back memories, but you're looking at Central California, not the Gulf Coast. Heavy rain was too much for a levee along the Calaveras River. As for the San Joaquin River, it simply overflowed. A number of homes were evacuated and a state of emergency declared. No reports of anyone being hurt. Much of the water is filling into sparsely populated farmland.

Well, today, the White House went on the offensive about the allegation that President Bush leaked classified information on Iraq to the press. For starters, the White House says it wasn't a leak; it was legal, if anything.

It's just the latest in Washington's long history of full and not-so-full disclosures.

CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The White House spokesman parsed his way through most of the daily briefing.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Leaking classified information that could compromise our national security is something that is very serious.

CROWLEY: In the world of spin, it's an existential question: What is a leak?

MCCLELLAN: If it's in the public interest, it's another matter.

CROWLEY: The question comes up because of a court filing in the ongoing case of former White House aide Scooter Libby, who says, the president authorized the disclosure of intelligence information used as the basis for going to war.

Nothing ties the president to the outing of a CIA agent. Nothing illegal about the president declassifying information or the White House giving it to the press. Notable, that the White House didn't deny that's what happened. The problem is:

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And if there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is.

CROWLEY: Which keeps Scott McClellan dancing on the head of a pin.

MCCLELLAN: I mean, there's a distinction here.

No, if it is in the public interest. It's important to be able to.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... it's OK.

MCCLELLAN: No, I didn't say that.

QUESTION: If you leak something, he has no problems as long as it's not classified?

MCCLELLAN: That's not what I said, Martha (ph). What I said is -- what I said -- and you ought to listen to what I said.

MARCIANO: No dancing among Democrats, just straight to the blunt instruments.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: So he, the president of the United States, must tell the American people whether the Bush's -- President Bush's Oval Office is a place where the buck stops or the leaks start.

CROWLEY: Leaking is an art form along the halls of power in your nation's capital. Alexander Hamilton leaked treaty information to the British during 1794 negotiations. More recently, the Pentagon papers, Watergate, Iran-Contra, Monica Lewinsky.

Trivial leaks are usually inspired by ego or grudges in the gotcha game. Serious leaks are usually about trying to drive the agenda. They are a part of governance.

David Ensor gets his fair share covering intelligence matters for CNN.

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The most common leaks are leaks that are officially sanctioned from higher-ups and are leaked to reporters who can be trusted not to say where they got it from, and are designed to affect the policy wars that go on in this town.

CROWLEY: Leaks fuel the sometimes symbiotic relationship between the people who want the news and the people who want to shape the news.

Paul Begala worked for President Clinton.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Hypothetically speaking, he would call me in and say, you tell -- go tell Candy Crowley and CNN that if that bill comes with the Medicaid cuts, I am going to veto it and we are going to have to start all over again. Well, you want that out in the bloodstream. But it's a little less ominous and a little less of a commitment than if the president says it himself. CROWLEY: President Bush declassified the material in the summer after the invasion of Iraq at a time debate was raging about whether he misused intelligence to go to war. The idea was the material would bolster his case. Now it deepens his troubles.

QUESTION: Mr. President, what's your reaction to Scooter Libby's testimony?

CROWLEY: Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: And another person familiar with the art of the leak in Washington is former presidential adviser David Gergen.

I talked with him earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: We know that what he did was not illegal, but does that really get him off the hook? I mean, how much of a political problem is then left for the president?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: A significant political problem. I think it's important today that, in a testy exchange with reporters, the White House press secretary did not deny that the president may have authorized this. He sidestepped the question.

In Washington, that's interpreted as actually confirming it. Now, what that means is, as a political matter, the president's credibility has been damaged. After all, he was the one who has been making large, vociferous arguments that he hates the leaks of classified information. So, his credibility has been damaged.

It's handed Democrats additional ammunition for the 2006 elections, and the Republicans are already running a little scared about these elections. They think they may well lose seats in the House, in the House and Senate.

(CROSSTALK)

COLLINS: In fact, David, do you think this will have an effect on midterm elections?

GERGEN: Iraq is a very, very, very strong issue for the Democrats. And to the extent that they argue, hey, look, the president has said he's against all this classification. Not only is he himself the one who authorized the -- the -- the leak of this material, but it's -- so, it's hypocritical, but they were twisting and using classified information to advance their political agenda.

Yes, the Democrats will use that. And, yes, I think it will be helpful.

COLLINS: In fact, on that note, Democrat Senators Harry Reid, John Kerry, believe the president should justify his actions to the American people. Do you think that would help?

GERGEN: It's now clear we know less about the full story on this -- on this whole leak deal than we did -- than we thought we did.

Now, I should say one other thing. There -- there is no indication -- in fact, Mr. Fitzgerald, the prosecutor, seems to be suggesting that the president did not know about the leak of the name of the -- of the CIA agent.

COLLINS: The name in particular was not in that national intelligence estimate.

GERGEN: Right.

So, I think that's very important to understand, that the president does not seem to behind the -- what has often been interpreted as a smear against Ms. Plame, and -- and outing her, in effect.

Rather, this -- the -- the leak went to the classified information about what intelligence the -- the administration had. So, I think this is a -- the president is going to have to answer questions on this. And we will have to see how he does.

I -- it's -- it's -- he's in a very awkward situation right now, because this has raised -- these -- these papers that have been filed by the special prosecutor, in effect, raise questions not only about the vice president, but about the president himself.

And any time a political story like this goes -- gets into the Oval Office, and if you're sitting in the White House, that's the last thing you want. You want this away from the Oval Office, away from the president. You want to make sure it's down in the staff somewhere.

COLLINS: It seems.

GERGEN: This is the first time we have had it into the Oval Office.

COLLINS: Yes.

And we also heard Scott McClellan, White House press secretary, said today it was very much in the public interest, this release of this information.

How so?

GERGEN: It -- it just -- it just boggles the mind that the White House is now arguing, when it's convenient for us, we will declassify information. But, boy, if there's anybody out there who declassifies something that we don't find convenient, we are going to take his head off.

Now, that's a -- that's just not an acceptable argument, you know, we will declare it when it's in the public interest and leak stuff that we want to leak. But if anybody is a whistle-blower in our administration and leaks something that is embarrassing to us, well, we are going to make -- you know, set up a criminal prosecution.

I think that that -- the American people will find that to be an unacceptable standard.

COLLINS: David Gergen, always appreciate your insight. Thank you.

GERGEN: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: And now, were students at one high school planning another Columbine? Police say the classmates planned on going on a shooting rampage that would begin in their school cafeteria -- that story coming up.

Also tonight, keeping your kids safe from Internet predators. John Walsh joins us live to take your questions on children's safety. Call us toll-free at that number there on your screen, 877-648-3639.

And this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORDELON: You know the bad thing about it?

MCNAIR: What is that?

BORDELON: You're matching up to him.

(LAUGHTER)

BORDELON: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: A police stop you will not believe. See how this officer let an escaped killer go free -- coming up on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: April 20, less than two weeks from today, marks the seventh anniversary of the tragedy at Columbine High School. On that day, two students shot 12 classmates and one teacher, before taking their own lives.

We hoped something like that would never happen again, but police in New Jersey tonight say it almost did.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS (voice-over): After-school sports went on as scheduled, but there would be no pep rally tonight at Winslow Township High School. With more than a dozen police officers patrolling the grounds, students here were on edge.

ALEXIS RICHARDSON, STUDENT: Everybody was just scared today. There was nobody in school. Fourth period lunch was totally empty.

COLLINS: Police say three students had a plan for a massacre, one student telling reporters from a local newspaper he had heard the accused boys planning a cafeteria shoot-up, just like Columbine.

ERIK SCHWARTZ, REPORTER, "THE COURIER POST": The plan was to kill students during fourth-period lunch. It was to create a distraction, shoot the gun in the air, get people onto the ground, and then begin to execute them one by one.

COLLINS: Police say the teenagers had a hit list with 25 people on it, including students and teachers.

Around school, word got out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were talking about bringing guns into school. And, you know, there was the hit list.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People who made fun of them, like, definitely, they were on the list.

COLLINS: Luckily, several students told school officials, who contacted authorities. The three students from Winslow, plus a fourth boy from a nearby school, are charged with conspiracy to commit murder and terrorism in New Jersey's first test of it's post-9/11 terrorism law.

SCHWARTZ: The authorities will have to show that there was an offense, in this case, a conspiracy to commit murder, and additionally show that the purpose of committing that crime was to hurt five or more people.

COLLINS: As he walked out of court, the father of one boy called it a misunderstanding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just kids, you know, hanging out together, just hanging out together, you know, having a little wild time.

COLLINS: As the four suspects sit at a youth detention center, pending psychiatric evaluations, a community is asking what happened, as a Web site believed to belong to one of the boys with a login, including the sign of Satan, 666, suggests there was a preoccupation with evil.

JASON NARK, REPORTER, "THE COURIER POST": Their home page has a satanic pentagram on it. And, you know, he cites his -- his one and only hero as Satan.

COLLINS: And many say the boys were heavy into Goth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They wear long, black trench coats, black fingernails, spiked hair, you know, weird kids. COLLINS: No weapons were recovered, but police say one student did try to buy a gun. And one thing is certain: This could have been a story with a very different ending.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One boy, he sat like right next to me in math class. We could have had, like, lives taken. It was very scary.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: In a moment, we will talk with a student from Winslow High and her mom about the ordeal. Also, we will hear from a young man who survived Columbine. Craig Scott was lucky to escape. His sister Rachel did not -- his thoughts about today's developing story in New Jersey.

Plus, the latest on Brian Doyle -- the Homeland Security press aide is facing increasing charges now related to alleged sex acts over the Internet. How could a man with his disturbing past land a job with the DHS?

That and your calls for "America's Most Wanted," John Walsh. Call us toll-free at that number, 877-648-3639 -- more when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: "America's Most Wanted" -- John Walsh will be taking your phone calls. Call in -- when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: More now on the revelation today of an alleged school shooting plot in New Jersey. Four teenagers, ages 14 to 16, have each been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit murder at Winslow Township High and the surrounding area.

No doubt, students and teachers at the school are a bit shaken up tonight. Kacie Laverty is enrolled there. And she and her mother, Kathy, are joining me now from Sicklerville, New Jersey.

And, in Los Angeles Craig Scott. In 1999, he survived the Columbine massacre, but his sister Rachel did not. We will be talking with all of them tonight.

I want to begin with you, if I could, Kacie. Tell us a little bit about what happened and the mood at the school. Was everybody scared?

KACIE LAVERTY, STUDENT, WINSLOW TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL: Yes, everybody's really, really afraid to go to school.

I have some friends that are actually petrified, because they're afraid they are going to get in shot, because they're in fourth period lunch, where it was supposed to happen. And they keep saying it's like going to be the next Columbine or whatever, and that makes us even all more afraid and shooken up about it. COLLINS: Did you miss any school, Kacie?

KACIE LAVERTY: Yes. I didn't go to school today. I was too afraid.

COLLINS: What about the rest of your classmates? I understand that the school was pretty empty today.

KACIE LAVERTY: Well, yesterday, a few people went. A lot of people were absent even yesterday, and everybody that I talked to said that they weren't going to today. And from what I hear only like one- fourth of the school even went. You could actually walk in the hallways for the first time.

COLLINS: What can you tell us about these kids?

KACIE LAVERTY: I don't Really know the kids personally. I just know that they're the Goth kids and wear a lot of black, a lot of black makeup. Supposedly -- I don't know if it's true or not -- but they worship the evil. I really don't know them.

(CROSSTALK)

COLLINS: I'm sorry.

Did you ever notice people giving them a had time on a daily basis at school?

KACIE LAVERTY: Oh, yes. Oh, people tease them all the time, and were always nasty to them. Some people could be really cruel to them at times.

But just a lot of teasing. High school, that's normal pretty much. A lot of people are teased throughout high school.

COLLINS: Kathy Laverty, Kacie's mom, how do you feel about how the school handled it? And are kids feeling safe now? And do you think they will be ready to go back on Monday?

KATHY LAVERTY, MOTHER OF KACIE LAVERTY: I don't know.

They're really -- they are really still really frightened of everything. It seems to me that maybe we haven't heard everything that we need to hear as a parent. I didn't receive anything yet from the school board explaining exactly what happened, trying to dispel some of the rumors that have been going around. Nobody really knows exactly how it all went down, and how these kids were discovered to have had this plot going on.

COLLINS: Well, of course, the great news, terrific news, is that they were discovered.

(CROSSTALK)

KATHY LAVERTY: Oh, Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

COLLINS: And we are happy that you guys are -- are safe tonight.

I want to get to Craig Scott.

Craig, this has got to be an awful, awful sort of deja vu at least to hear about it. Granted, this did not happen in New Jersey, but they're describing these suspects as Goth, which is very similar to the Columbine shooters. What do you think about that? What was your reaction when you heard?

CRAIG SCOTT, BROTHER OF COLUMBINE SHOOTING VICTIM: Well, I travel around the country and speak at a number of high schools, and I run into a lot of Goth kids.

In fact, I ran into some Goth kids in a Texas high school. And I know that Eric and Dylan, the two shooters at Columbine, were very dark and -- and had a number of very negative and hateful influences in their lives.

And I think that -- the some of the kids at schools, you know, are put in these cliques and picked on, and I think it's one issue that -- that drives them to -- or -- or pushes them to do what they do. And, so, when I go into these schools, I really talk a lot about kindness and compassion.

I see a lot of atmospheres at schools with -- with our program, Rachel's Challenge, really affected. And I ran across one girl that wore completely black, black makeup, chains. The next day, after speaking at her school, three of her friends came up to me and thanked me, because they told me that she had come to school the next day after hearing the story about my sister, and her kindness and compassion.

She had washed off all her black makeup...

COLLINS: Wow.

SCOTT: ... taken off all her chains, her black clothes, and said she didn't want to be negative person anymore.

COLLINS: Oh, terrific. I know that Rachel's Challenge is really a great organization. And your speaking has done wonders.

In fact, I want to bring this up to you on that subject. One teaching assistant actually said: "This was just an incident with a bigger picture of problems. All the symptoms were there. They cried out for help."

What warning signs should these schools be looking for, teachers, parents, classmates?

SCOTT: You know, it's really something that -- hindsight is 20/20. And you look back, you can't -- I mean, Eric and Dylan, people didn't see it coming. And, you know, there are some kids that wear all black that are totally nice kids at school. And it's really -- you can't judge kids by their outside appearance. You have to get to know them on who they are on the inside, on the content of their character.

But I think, you know, instead of focusing on some of the warning signs, it's so hard to tell. It's just -- it's, you know, what -- what are the things that students can do, and what are the things that teachers can do in making an atmosphere where people are accepted, where kindness and compassion are -- are contagious?

(CROSSTALK)

COLLINS: Well, we certainly -- we certainly hope people are hearing you tonight, if they haven't heard you speak before.

Thanks so much, Craig Scott, and also to Kacie and Kathy Laverty. We appreciate it.

New questions tonight now about an alleged child predator. Ahead on 360, why didn't a background check turn up this man's problem with porn before the Homeland Security Department hired him?

Also, if you're a parent, what you can do to protect your children from the adults who prowl online for sex -- John Walsh of "America's Most Wanted" will join us.

And we want to hear your questions about child safety. This is your opportunity. Call us, toll-free, 877-648-3639 -- next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: The arrest of Brian Doyle has created a new storm for the Department of Homeland Security, the agency that's supposed to keep the country safe.

On Tuesday, Mr. Doyle went to his job as deputy press secretary at DHS, just like he always did. But, by the end of the day, he was in handcuffs, charged with soliciting a minor on the Internet. He's now awaiting extradition to Florida, where he faces 23 felony charges. And, today, disturbing information about his past came out, setting off new alarms.

Here's CNN's Jeanne Meserve.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Brian Doyle resigned his Department of Homeland Security job today, his 56th birthday, and got blasted from the White House podium.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The allegations, in our view, are repulsive and disgusting, and, if they are true, we cannot express enough outrage at what occurred.

MESERVE: Doyle is now in jail on charges he solicited what he thought was a minor on the Internet. But these are not the first allegations about Doyle, pornography, and the Web.

While he worked at "TIME" magazine, friends and former co-workers say, an internal investigation determined Doyle was viewing pornography, though not child pornography, on office computers.

Though co-workers circulated a petition in his support, Doyle temporarily left his job, and sources say he was required to get treatment from a mental health professional before returning to work.

Congressman Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, wants to know why in the world that didn't show up when Doyle was vetted for his sensitive government post.

REP. PETER KING (R-NY), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Thank God he was dealing with a police officer at the other end. If that had been an agent of al Qaeda or somebody from organized crime, or someone from a foreign government, they would have been able to blackmail him. And, again, he -- he has top-secret clearance.

MESERVE: A knowledgeable source at "TIME" says the people doing the background check didn't contact anyone in management or any of Doyle's supervisors. Even if they had, they might not have learned much. Security checks do not involve subpoenas. And, for legal reasons, many companies, including "TIME," tell investigators very little about former employees.

PETER PETESCH, LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT ATTORNEY: They just give basic information, name, rank, and serial number.

MESERVE (on camera): They are afraid of being sued?

PETESCH: Absolutely.

MESERVE (voice-over): There are other ways for investigators to ferret out embarrassing, illegal, or questionable behavior.

PAT D'AMURO, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: You're not only talking to previous employers. You're talking to co-workers. You're talking to neighbors. You're talking to friends and other associates. You're doing all kinds of record checks, of database checks.

MESERVE: But, if that was done, none of it apparently unearthed the earlier allegations.

(on camera): The Department of Homeland Security says there is no indication security was compromised by Doyle's activities, but the investigation is continuing. Meanwhile, Doyle's attorney is seeking a psychiatric evaluation for his client, who describes as very, very depressed.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: So, just how common is unwanted sexual solicitation online? Here's the raw data. According to the Department of Justice, about one in five Internet users between the age of 10 and 17 has been a victim, and 70 percent of solicitations happen when a child is using a computer at home. Amazing.

On the same day that Brian Doyle was arrested, a teenager named Justin Berry was testifying before Congress about how he was lured into the world of online child porn when he was just 13. Listen to this, and you will understand why his story is especially chilling for parents.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUSTIN BERRY, SEXUAL PREDATOR VICTIM: I was an honor student, and I was class president. My mom had used all the latest child protective software. She checked what was happening in my room.

She occasionally took away my computer keyboard, but she was no match for the child predators, who worked hard to make sure my child porn shows continued.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: As we said, chilling.

And joining me now from South Florida is John Walsh. He's the creator and host of "America's Most Wanted."

John, Brian Doyle was employed by the government. He had to go through federal security clearance to get the job. If our own government cannot spot a sexual predator, how can the rest of us?

JOHN WALSH, HOST, "AMERICA'S MOST WANTED": Well, I will tell you, that is a very good question, because he was supposed to have the highest security clearance, and you would think that there would be more of an effort to find out his background.

And I'm surprised that "TIME" magazine didn't give more information about him. I -- I can only think back of the -- of the report that was recently released by the Vatican, saying that, over the last 15 years, there were 10,000 pedophile priests in the Catholic Church. And I'm a Catholic.

And these priests were moved around. I mean, they were moved from parish to parish, and nobody ever questioned that. Then Cardinal Law moved one priest five different parishes, molested many, many children.

But here's the highest security clearance in the land. I think we really, really have to be much more stringent about these background checks.

COLLINS: Yes. It's flat-out dangerous. Are there certain warning signs, though, to look for in a sexual predator? Tell us what they are tonight, so that we can learn this. WALSH: Well, I mean, he got an early retirement package from "TIME" magazine, because his colleagues complained about him using the computer for child pornography.

I mean, I went to a conference about four months ago in Lucerne, Switzerland, where there was 32 countries there. And Interpol talked about child pornography now becoming a $30 billion business per year. And the vast majority of people who buy child pornography are people in America.

Some of it is produced by the Russian mob, the Rumanian mob. Some of it is made in Thailand, Amsterdam. A lot of it is made here in America.

(CROSSTALK)

COLLINS: How do we stop it? How do we catch them?

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH: How do we stop it?

We make better laws. We make stiffer penalties. And I will tell you what. They caught a couple in Texas a couple years ago that had over 70,000 people that were using their computers to download child pornography for $29 a month, and the credit card companies wouldn't cooperate with the FBI and the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children.

Child pornography exchanged over the Internet is a crime, and it should be punished. And the credit card companies in the United States and the banking industry should cooperate with the federal government. Last year, at the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children, in the Innocent Images program, where we have FBI agents, Customs officials, marshals working at that center, a nonprofit, they caught 1,027 Internet pedophiles posing as children.

COLLINS: Well, so, it's -- it's -- you know, it's out there. It's happening. It -- it's obviously very prevalent. What can we teach our children to protect themselves from the predators on the Internet?

They're using their computers for school. They're using their computers to talk to kids. There has got to be a way to teach them to be careful.

WALSH: Oh, absolutely.

The lines of communication between your children are the most important thing. And that computer shouldn't be in that bedroom, where that child can be there for hours on MySpace.com or one of those chat rooms that you don't know what you're doing, your child thinking that they're talking to a 12-year-old girl, when they're talking to a 55-year-old guy with a rap sheet a mile long, who is trying to lure them to the mall, so they can hurt them. So, put that computer in the living room or in the family room. Look over your children's shoulders. Learn those little jingoes that they have. They have their own lingo. You know, type it in. You will be looking over your shoulder. It will say "POS." That means parent over your shoulder.

And I will tell you another thing.

COLLINS: Oh.

WALSH: There's a bill -- bill before the United States Senate, and it's Senate Bill 1086. It's passed the House of Representatives. It would pass -- it would set up a national child sex offender registry.

This would help parents know who's in the neighborhood and what's going on.

COLLINS: Good.

WALSH: And it's stuck in the United States Senate.

COLLINS: Yes, well, we will keep our eye on that one, for sure, especially with all that is going on right now in the news, anyway.

John Walsh is going to stick around. He's going to answer your questions about how to keep your child safe from predators online. You can call us at 877-648-3639. We want to hear from you tonight -- next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: We're back with "America's Most Wanted," John Walsh. He's taking your calls about how to keep your children safe from sexual predators online.

Our first caller is coming to us from Florida. And this is Sandy.

Sandy, what's your question for John tonight?

CALLER: I'm going through a divorce, and I'm about to become a single mom. I have an 11-year-old son, who will be 12 years old and entering middle school next year. And what I'm finding is that the law says that, at the age of 12, you can leave a child alone unattended, and I'm going to be going to work at 7:00 a.m. His school, middle school, will not start until 9:30 in the middle. We have a...

(CROSSTALK)

COLLINS: So, he's alone a lot. Is that your concern?

CALLER: Well, no, I haven't let him alone. And I don't believe in leaving alone -- leaving my children alone. And this is what I have a problem with, is that I can't seem to find any before- or after-school care for 12-year-olds, and I have a sexual predator that lives on my street. So, my son's going to have to lock the front door, walk past the sexual predator's house to get to a bus stop. And there's no before- or after-school care for children that are 12 and older.

And I don't believe that a 12-year-old is old enough to handle themselves.

COLLINS: So, John, what can she do? What can Sandy do with this obvious concern?

WALSH: Well, there are about 15 million kids that are latchkey children in the United States. They go home, and they are terrorized when they go home.

I mean, I wish corporations provided better child care. I wish that people were a little bit more serious about kids when they're -- when they're latchkey children -- but two things.

When that boy gets in the house, there's tons of rules of protection that you need to talk to him about, about not answering the door, not telling someone on the phone that he's home alone. You can say, hey, my mother can't come to the phone right now. That's not a lie. We don't want to teach children to lie. You can't come to the phone.

And maybe there's an adult that he can call when he gets home safely, and you're really -- there are so many parental controls that you can put on that -- on that computer.

For example, Cox Broadcasting, which is a cable provider, has great parental controls that you should set up, so that he isn't sitting in one of those chat rooms waiting for you to come home, and thinking he's talking to another teenage 12-year-old, when he's really talking to someone that is dying to lure him out of the house.

So, you have really, really got to talk to this boy, open those lines of communication.

COLLINS: OK.

WALSH: And maybe there's somebody in their -- in your school and neighborhood that have the same problems, and those kids could get together and do their homework together.

COLLINS: All right.

We want to get another call in here, John.

Melissa from Colorado, what's your question?

CALLER: Hi, John.

I'm an administrator in a public agency that investigates abuse and neglect. And one of the trends that I have seen is the last several years is the drastic reduction in federal funding and in having automated systems. We are now finding that 50 -- 50 to 60 percent of a caseworker's time is taking -- documenting things, rather than being out in the field to do these very important investigations. So, my...

COLLINS: OK. So, Melissa, sorry. We're running out of time. What's your question for John?

CALLER: My question is, what are your ideas about what a public agency, as well as the general public, should be communicating to Congress?

WALSH: Absolutely.

If you did just one thing tonight, everybody watching this show, if they found out their two U.S. senators, they can go to AMW.com, put in your zip code. We will tell you their address. We will give you a sample letter.

And Senate Bill 1086, which has passed the House of Representatives twice, stuck in the Senate now, even though Bill Frist has been championing it and trying to get out, it would create up a national sex offender registry. There would be penalties if sex offenders don't register or move from state to state.

You have the right as an administrator to know if these guys move next door, and it would really be a start. There's 150,000 convicted sex offenders at large right now in parole violation.

COLLINS: Wow.

WALSH: And they could move next door to you. It's -- that bill needs to be passed in the United States Senate. And some Democrats are holding it up. I don't know why they're holding it up. It has nothing to do with partisan politics. We should have had a sex offender registry a long time ago.

Write your two U.S. senators, e-mail them, and tell everybody you know, Bill Frist trying to get it out.

COLLINS: Yes.

WALSH: And I'm telling you, once it hits the floor, it will be done. It has $2 billion attached to it to help us find where these guys are...

COLLINS: Yes. There's certainly...

WALSH: ... and to track them and let you know.

COLLINS: There's certainly an awful lot of work to be done.

That's very clear tonight.

John Walsh, thank you so very much. And a reminder for you at home: "America's Most Wanted" airs tomorrow and every Saturday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on the FOX broadcast network.

It's police video unlike anything you have ever seen, I almost guarantee it -- an officer being conned by a con.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORDELON: Put yourself in my position.

MCNAIR: Well, yes, but I'm not...

(LAUGHTER)

BORDELON: I know. I'm not -- I'm not -- I'm not throwing you against the...

(CROSSTALK)

MCNAIR: ... prison escapee.

BORDELON: Hey, you wouldn't believe what them guys do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: It would be funny, if it wasn't so scary. Now a killer remains at large -- that story when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: A quick update now on the tornadoes that did such terrible damage today in Tennessee. When you see it from the air, it's something else entirely. This is new video we're getting in from our CNN affiliate WKRN in Nashville.

The area is Gallatin, Tennessee. It's northeast of Nashville, about 20 miles or so. And this is also the area where eight of the 11 people who were killed died. We saw it earlier a little bit on the cell phone camera video that we showed you, too. It's just unbelievable, when you go up in those helicopters.

Wow. We will be keeping our eye on that, as usual, here at CNN.

And now a story that, frankly, took our breath away today -- tonight, a Louisiana mayor is defending the actions of a police officer who stopped an escaped killer, but let him go. The incident was captured on the officer's dashboard camera. It includes the casual remarks the officer made and the suspicious answers the fugitive gave. Above all, the tape shows just how close the prisoner was to getting caught.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARL BORDELON, BALL POLICE DEPARTMENT: What it is, we have got an escapee.

RICHARD LEE MCNAIR, ESCAPED PRISONER: Oh.

(LAUGHTER)

MCNAIR: Where from?

BORDELON: Prison.

MCNAIR: There's a prison here?

BORDELON: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Acting cool, completely unrattled, escaped convict Richard Lee McNair, stopped by Ball, Louisiana, police officer Carl Bordelon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORDELON: Do you have any form of identification on you?

MCNAIR: No, man.

BORDELON: What's your name?

MCNAIR: Robert Jones.

BORDELON: Robert Jones?

MCNAIR: Uh-huh.

Why, I'm not supposed to be on the tracks?

BORDELON: No. That's not the problem right now. Where are you -- what's your address?

MCNAIR: I don't have an address. I'm at the hotel. We're working on the houses and stuff like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: With a dispatcher on the other line, the cop asks the escapee for more information.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORDELON: Hey, this is Carl. Does the subject wear glasses?

What color eyes you got?

MCNAIR: Green. Well, kind of a turquoise blue.

BORDELON: Turquoise blue?

COLLINS: Then what you would think would be the bombshell.

BORDELON: You know the bad thing about it?

MCNAIR: What is that?

BORDELON: You're matching up to him.

(LAUGHTER)

MCNAIR: Well, that sucks, doesn't it?

BORDELON: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: But moments later:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORDELON: Put yourself in my position.

MCNAIR: Well, yes, but I'm not...

(LAUGHTER)

BORDELON: I know. I'm not -- I'm not -- I'm not throwing you against the...

(CROSSTALK)

MCNAIR: ... prison escapee.

BORDELON: Hey, you wouldn't believe what them guys do. I mean, they have got years and years to think about how they're going to do it. Now, I -- when I crossed the tracks down there, I saw you running. I said, well, how lucky can I be?

(LAUGHTER)

MCNAIR: Nope, nope, nope. I'm not no prison escapee.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: The cop agreed. But before letting him go:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCNAIR: ... write down your phone number, your cell phone number, so I can have whoever call you?

BORDELON: Just call -- you got a cell phone with you?

MCNAIR: No. Hell no. I don't even have a cell phone or anything.

BORDELON: Just call 911, is all you got to do. And they will get ahold to us.

MCNAIR: All righty.

BORDELON: That's our quick line there.

(CROSSTALK)

MCNAIR: You have a good day now.

BORDELON: Be careful, buddy.

MCNAIR: Thank you.

BORDELON: All right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: That was him.

As for the officer's actions, the police chief and mayor support him. They say the federal prison did not provide a good enough description. And they released the dash-cam video, so people can see what he really looks like. And that is the important thing.

Richard Lee McNair is supposed to be serving a life sentence for killing a truck driver in North Dakota in 1987. This is his third prison escape. So, if you have any information on where McNair may be now, please call the U.S. Marshals Service. That's the tips hot line there, 866-641-TIPS -- again, that number, 866-641-TIPS.

Unbelievable.

All across the country, people have been thinking about, talking about, and arguing about immigration. So, tonight, we're devoting a special hour to the issue and the question at the heart of it. Are illegal workers stealing jobs and destroying the fabric of American society? Are they energizing the economy? Are they keeping the American dream alive or undermining it? Tough questions -- some remarkable stories.

Don't miss it next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're right street south. It was right in the bottom. God dang, there's about 30 of them, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think, in fact, illegal aliens are ruining Georgia. And I think they're ruining the United States of America.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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