Skip to main content


Return to Transcripts main page


Mexico's President Visits; Vicente Fox Effect?; Dear Mr. President; Sniper Trial: Terror Plan; Bird Flu Watch; Buyer Beware; Probe Gone Too Far?; Probes and Politics

Aired May 23, 2006 - 23:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Across the country and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360. Live from the CNN broadcast center in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again. We begin with the battle on the border and the fight over immigration reform. Today the Senate voted down another amendment to its reform bill, which some feared would make it tougher to pass.

The bill is now back on track, but may still face difficulties when it comes to reconciling it with a much tougher House version. And with that hanging in a very delicate balance, Mexico's president today entered the mix by entering America.

CNN's Ed Lavandera reports.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Outside the Utah governor's mansion, more than 100 people showed up to protest Vicente Fox's arrival in the United States.

Inside, President Fox and Governor Jon Huntsman were entertained during a state dinner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please welcome his Excellency, Vicente Fox.

LAVANDERA: The immigration issue will follow President Fox wherever he goes this week. Fox didn't mention the "I" word on his first day in the U.S. Instead, he talked business. Utah's third largest trading partner.

VICENTE FOX, PRESIDENT OF MEXICO: We need to continue strengthening the economic and vocational and cultural ties between ourselves.

LAVANDERA: On the surface, Utah might not appear like a likely place for a Mexican president to visit. But this conservative state has seen its Hispanic population triple since 1990, now more than 10 percent of Utah's population. And many politicians here share the Mexican president's support of a guest worker program. Which angers Alex Segura. He's in charge of the Utah Minutemen, a group fighting illegal immigration.

ALEX SEGURA, UTAH MINUTEMEN: The way the Republicans are thinking now, with guest workers and open borders and such, like they have in the past few years, I think that all compounded together has made Utah a very attractive place.

LAVANDERA: Vicente Fox is walking a fine line on this trip to the United States. Critics say Fox is discreetly trying to influence American policy through the back door, avoiding Washington and meeting with western governors. But those close to the Mexican president say it's not so.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's very sensitive about what's going on in Washington right now. And he's being very careful to make sure that he does not become too much involved or say too much that would damage what's being already negotiated in the Senate.

LAVANDERA: Careful because that's the only safe way for a Mexican president to talk about immigration right now.


COOPER: Well, since he's not -- I mean, as you mentioned, he's walking this political tightrope, does he plan to mention immigration at all?

LAVANDERA: Well, we suspect that he is going to mention it tomorrow. He is scheduled to deliver a speech before the Utah legislature before he leaves Salt Lake City.

And it's not just a question of people who, for example, were protesting here at the governor's mansion who want to hear what Vicente Fox has to say on immigration, but there are many in the Hispanic community here in Salt Lake City who are anxious to hear what he has to say as well.

COOPER: Ed Lavandera, thanks.

At one point President Fox and president Bush were as close as -- well, as close as Texas and Mexico. Now the relationship is more complicated. Here's a quick backgrounder.


COOPER (voice-over): Standing 6 foot 5 in his trademark cowboy boots, Vicente Fox was a big man with big ideas when he became Mexico's president in 2000.

His campaign slogan, combio, Spanish, for change. Fox's victory ended seven decades of one-party rule in Mexico and opened the way for more changes, or at least promises.

Like George Bush, President Fox had been a governor and a rancher. Shortly after winning office, he visited then Governor Bush in Texas, during the heat of the U.S. presidential race. A key part of Governor Bush's campaign, Latin America.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Relations in Latin America will not be an afterthought of mine. It will be of primary concern should I become the president of the United States.

COOPER: After Governor Bush became President Bush, he chose Mexico for his first foreign trip, a visit that seemed to cement their relationship.

FOX: He has a way of dealing with conversation, with negotiations, with dialogue. It's impressive to me because it's my same style -- direct, to the point.

COOPER: In September 2001, days before 9/11, Mr. Fox visited the White House, Mr. Bush's first presidential guest. They discussed immigration reform.

BUSH: I know there are some in this world and our country who want to build walls between Mexico and the United States. I want to remind people, fearful people build walls. Confident people tear them down.

COOPER: But September 11 put immigration reform on the back burner.

And then came Mexico's refusal to support the Iraq invasion, a stand that didn't win points at the White House.

But in 2004, facing reelection, President Bush proposed his temporary worker plan and vowed to pass immigration reform.

BUSH: Under this program, the United States will benefit from the honest labor of foreign workers.

COOPER: That proposal, of course, has led us to where we are today on immigration reform, a bitter national debate, and President Bush's proposal to extend the fence between the U.S. and Mexico.

FOX (through translator): His belief in the building of walls, the building of barriers along the border does not offer an effective response for a relationship between friends, neighbors and partners.

COOPER: Partners, yes. But not for much longer. Mexico elects a new president in July, and under Mexico's constitution, President Fox isn't eligible to run.

FOX: We fully support the businessmen from Utah in Mexico.

COOPER: In Utah today, one last chance to win the change he promised nearly six years ago.


(On camera): So how is he doing? How will his visit affect the debate? We asked CNN Anchor and Commentator Lou Dobbs.


Does President Vicente Fox do more harm than good to his cause by coming to the United States and advocating what he is? LOU DOBBS, CNN, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": I think he's done pretty well. He appears right now, Anderson, to be in charge of U.S. immigration policy and border security, such as it is. I think he's doing very well.

COOPER: You say that why? Because the Bush administration hasn't come out critical of him?

DOBBS: Oh, hasn't come out critical of him, doing exactly what he says. He doesn't want security on the northern border of his nation, and this president isn't providing security on our southern border. Because this is, after all, a president of a government exporting about 15 percent of their population to the United States, sending about 3 million of their citizens into this country so that they can get back more than $20 billion a year in remittances.

This is the same country, good friend, neighbor and partner, as President Fox puts it, who's shipping us -- Mexico is now our leading source of meth, marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. So, you know, it looks like the partnership is going just the way President Fox wants it.

COOPER: It's interesting. He's visiting Utah. And the Hispanic population has tripled in Utah since 1990. And I guess he's going there to show how important Hispanics are and I guess illegal immigrants are as well to the work force in there. It's sort of an odd message, though.

DOBBS: It's definitely an odd message. Until you consider that the Church of Latter-Day Saints, the Mormon church, has about 1 million Mexican converts, has built 12 churches in Mexico, and has a vigorous enthusiasm for as many of Mexico's citizens as they possibly could attract to the state of Utah, irrespective of the cost to taxpayers.

COOPER: Fox is visiting not just Utah, but other states whose governors support comprehensive reform, what they call comprehensive reform, the guest worker program.

DOBBS: Right.

COOPER: I means, you know, some would said, well look, Lou, those governors are on the front lines. Why shouldn't we be following their recommendation? I mean, if they're saying comprehensive reform is the way to go, aren't they the experts?

DOBBS: Well, they may be the experts sitting as governors of those states, but here are a few facts that those experts might consider, Anderson.

One, we're talking about 66 as a minimum -- 66 million new people entering this country over the next two decades under the terms of the Senate legislation. We could be facing a cost -- taxpayers in this country -- somewhere around a half trillion dollars over those two decades in the cost to government -- state local and federal -- to bring those immigrants into this country. The Congressional Budget Office has produced a very small suggestion that as many as 6 million illegal aliens in this country, 6 million to 7 million, would accept amnesty. If the number is 20, that triples, the numbers are exponential, and this Senate hasn't even considered the cost.

But then, of course, this is the same Senate, the same president, the same Congress that has given us now a $400 billion deficit, $4.5 trillion in trade debt and isn't bothered by 30 years of consecutive trade deficits.

The motto seems to be for this administration and this Congress what, me worry? I've got mine.

COOPER: We'll leave it there. Lou Dobbs, thanks.

DOBBS: It's good to be with you, Anderson.


COOPER: And, of course, you can watch "LOU DOBBS" every night 6:00 p.m., Eastern on CNN.

Here's something that might surprise you. Nearly half of all unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. enter the country legally through airports or border crossings.

Here's the raw data.

Between 4 million and 5.5 million people enter the country with tourists or work visas that allow them to visit or reside in the U.S. for a short time. After their visa is expired, they stay.

Between a 250,000 and 500,000 people enter from Mexico with a border crossing card, which allows short visits to the border region, and then violated the terms.

And between 6 million to 7 million people cross the border illegally by evading immigration inspectors.

Up next, more from the border. Thousands of people crossing every day, many of them illegally, smuggled in carpets, even car dashboards. We'll tell you how the feds are trying -- trying to crack down.

And the fight against bird flu. 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta gets a sneak peek at bird flu headquarters right in America's heartland. See how scam artists are trying to get rich by feeding into bird flu fears.

A quick break.


COOPER: Back to the battle over the border, and Mexican President Vicente Fox's visit to the U.S. A key issue, the crossing between San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Mexico, which is the busiest in the world. More than 5,000 people come across every hour. And that is creating a political problem between the U.S. and Mexico. The federal agents, of course, are trying to solve.

Here's CNN's Chris Lawrence.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At precisely the same moment the eyes of the American public are on Mexican President Vicente Fox, federal agents and smugglers are eying each other on the border.

JAMES HYNES, PORT DIR., SAN YSIDRO, CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): If you look close enough in the lanes behind me, you'll see people south of the border watching our operations.

LAWRENCE: The watchers are being watched. When their canines come out, where primary inspections take place, which lanes send more cars into secondary inspection areas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow! Look at that! That ain't supposed to be there!

LAWRENCE: Agents say even some of the Mexican vendors can be spotters. In a sense, spies who signal criminals are crossing the border.

HYNES: Alien smugglers or the drug smugglers, they'll go over us, under us, around us and through us.

LAWRENCE: Human beings, coming to the United States in the most inhumane ways. Concealed in carpets and piled into a car. A little girl tied down inside a seat compartment. An adult woman stuffed inside the dashboard.

HYNES: When we take a mother and child out of a gas tank where there has been gas fumes, clearly their life is at stake.

LAWRENCE: San Ysidro is the largest port of entry in the world. And this year, apprehensions of illegal immigrants are up 10 percent. Agents caught more than 200 undocumented aliens in one day this week.

HYNES: But do I think we're getting them all? I don't think so. But we're getting a very high number.

LAWRENCE: In part because of border politics. Pressure in the U.S. to crack down on desert crossings, drives smugglers back to legal ports of entry. And the Mexican government's policies factor in as well.

JEFFREY MCILLWAIN, HOMELAND SECURITY PROGRAM: President Vicente Fox has a very difficult tightrope he has to manage.

LAWRENCE: San Diego State Professor Jeff McIllwain says Fox faces a dilemma. He has to tighten his own border to improve relations with the U.S.

MCILLWAIN: It's also in the interest to have U.S. currency coming back from people that work here that goes back to reinvest and take care of the various families that are being supported by loved ones in the United States.

LAWRENCE: It's estimated that Mexicans working in the U.S. sent home nearly $20 billion last year. With that sort of money involved, the cold war between agents and smugglers won't stop anytime soon.


COOPER: Chris, I mean, the border agents are at least slowing down these human smugglers, aren't they?

LAWRENCE (on camera): Well, they're at least driving up the cost and making it more expensive. Customs and Border Protection agents interrogate people after they're caught, and they actually ask them how much they paid. By all accounts, it costs more to get smuggled over the border now than even six months ago.

COOPER: Hmm. It's getting to be more difficult.

Chris, thanks.

Chris Lawrence reporting tonight.

As we told you earlier, Mexican President Fox may talk about immigration tomorrow. One Oregon sheriff has been waiting for Mr. Fox to address the issue, but he's looking for a, well, a more personal touch and some cash, frankly.

You see, a few months ago he wrote the Mexican president a letter, asking him for compensation for the problems he's facing with illegal immigrants in his county.

Here's CNN's Dan Simon.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Trumbo drinks 20 cups of coffee a day, but that's not why he's so charged up lately.


SIMON: Trumbo was the sheriff of Umatillo County in Oregon, and the author of a controversial letter to Mexican President Vicente Fox.

(On camera): What do you say to your critics who would argue that this is nothing more than a P.R. stunt?

TRUMBO: It's not a P.R. stunt. It's about right and wrong.

SIMON (voice-over): In his letter, written in February, Trumbo demands that the Mexican government pay his county more than $318,000 for the incarceration of illegal immigrants at the Umatillo jail. That's how much he says it cost local taxpayers last year.

TRUMBO: The thing that bothers me about this whole situation, Dan, is that people have broken the law to come into my home and break the law again. And I don't like that. It's not right.

SIMON: Oregon's farmland communities are a magnet for Mexicans seeking work. Illegal immigration here has soared, in a state that's not used to large numbers of immigrants. Trumbo says that means more crime.

TRUMBO: It just stands to reason, the more people, the more problems.

SIMON: That spike, Trumbo says, has contributed to a severe cash crunch. He says he can only afford nine deputies, but needs three times that to handle the workload. He also doesn't have enough staff to run the jail, so he needs to leave nearly half the beds empty, even though he faces an overflow of prisoners.

TRUMBO: The fact that we have beds being taken up by illegal immigrants is an issue with me because those are beds that could be used by local offenders.

SIMON: Trumbo says the jail lets out about 14 people every day because of a staff shortage.

But some Hispanic residents have criticized the sheriff for his letter, some calling him a racist. Those we spoke to declined to go on camera. We checked with the Mexican embassy in Washington, D.C. They also declined to comment publicly.

TRUMBO: This is not about race. It's about right and wrong. It just happens to be that Mexico's in our border, and that's why we're focusing on that.

SIMON (on camera): Have you heard anything back from President Fox?


SIMON (voice-over): But that doesn't mean the sheriff plans on letting him off the hook. He's already got a running tab for 2006.

Dan Simon, CNN, Pendleton, Oregon.


COOPER: Alarming testimony today from one of the D.C. snipers, as he reveals what could have happened, just how far they were willing to go to terrorize their community and nation. That story is coming up.

But first, the battle against bird flu. 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta takes us inside the building that would be the ground zero if the flu ever strikes the U.S.

And we'll also look at how scam artists are trying to use the bird flu to get rich and prey on your fears.

All that when 360 continues.


COOPER: Terrifying. There's no other way to describe the testimony in a Maryland courtroom today.

John Muhammad, on trial for six of the 10 beltway sniper killings. His young protege Lee Malvo, testifying for the prosecution, telling jurors about how much more killing they had in store if police hadn't caught them.

Reporting for us tonight, CNN's Kathleen Koch.


KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "You took me into your house and made me a monster." The first words Sniper Suspect Lee Boyd Malvo had for the man he once loved and would have died for.

In Montgomery County Circuit Court, Malvo, the now 21-year-old suspect, called John Allen Muhammad a coward. He revealed the 45- year-old defendant had planned a month of terror. His goal -- kill six people a day.

Then, Malvo said, they would begin phase two, using improvised explosives packed with nails and ball bearings to attack children on buses, in schools and at children's hospitals.

Malvo said they were about to begin phase two when they were caught.

Calm and articulate, the young man described how he became distraught when his mentor and father figure first unveiled the plot. He sat in the bathroom for hours crying and playing Russian roulette. Quote, "I loaded one round, spun, put it to my head. Fired, fired, fired. Until I reached the fourth round and then realized this was the one. I just broke down and couldn't do it.

Still, they traveled to Montgomery County, Maryland, that Malvo says Muhammad described as well off, mostly white, quote, "the perfect area to terrorize."

Malvo described how they scouted each shooting location to make sure there were no surveillance cameras, few witnesses, and good escape routes. He was the spotter, saying over and over, quote, "I told Mr. Muhammad he had a go. And he took the shot." Malvo even demonstrated how some victims fell.

Victims' family members cried. One woman so overwhelmed, she left the courtroom sobbing.

Malvo said they trained their sights on other victims. In Washington and Maryland, in Baltimore, he says Muhammad ordered him to shoot pregnant women at a cemetery. Malvo couldn't pull the trigger. In cross-examination, Muhammad questioned Malvo's memory, vision and honesty. Winning out, he confessed to the murders before in seven hours of questioning by detectives. Quote, "So seven hours of lying, is that correct?" "Yes." "That was a sworn statement? And you're sitting here today and this is a sworn statement?" "Yes."

Malvo now says he shot three victims, two survived. He admitted firing the shot that killed Bus Driver Conrad Johnson.

Those in court say Malvo was not the timid, brainwashed boy they had thought he was.

MARY BRANCH, FRIEND OF SNIPER VICTIM: Malvo, I thought he was more controlled by Muhammad. But no, he had a large part in the situation also. And he was very articulate. I mean, I didn't know he was going to be so articulate. He was very articulate. That changes everything, I think, as far as I was concerned.

KOCH: Kathleen Koch, CNN, Montgomery County, Maryland.


COOPER: Well, coming up, scammers, preying on fears of the bird flu. We'll tell you how you can avoid being cheated out of your money.

But first, Erica Hill, from "HEADLINE NEWS," has some of the other stories we're following tonight -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, if Iran attacks Israel, the U.S. will come it its aid. President Bush made that pledge today during his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. This was Olmert's first official visit to the U.S. Both leaders say Iran's nuclear ambitions pose a threat to both Middle Eastern and Western nations.

On Capitol Hill, the full Senate may soon vote on President Bush's pick to head the CIA. Today, the Senate Intelligence Committee overwhelmingly approved the nomination of General Michael Hayden to replace outgoing Director Porter Goss. Now, a vote may come to the Senate floor by the end of the week.

Also in Washington, the federal government apparently withheld information concerning the theft of personal data of more than 26 million veterans. A government source tells CNN authorities waited more than two weeks to report the theft to the general public because they were hoping to catch the crooks first. There hasn't been any indication, luckily, that the veterans' information has been misused.

And in Chester County, Pennsylvania, hope for Kentucky Derby Winner Barbaro. A surgeon who operated on the horse after it suffered a life-threatening ankle fracture in the Preakness stakes on Saturday, says Barbaro continues to improve. He does add, however, the horse still has a long way to go before it's out of danger. But hey, we'll take the good news we can get, right?

COOPER: Yes, I still can't get over that X-ray picture that we had, where you just see all those screws and pins.

HILL: It's amazing.

COOPER: Yes. It's amazing. I guess the cast is still on the horse. It will probably be on for some time and try to keep the weight evenly distributed. That's what it's all about.

HILL: Absolutely. We'll continue to follow it.

COOPER: Erica, thanks.

Well, for almost a decade, scientists in America's heartland have brought brains, intuition and passion to the fight against bird flu. This is the first time they've actually allowed cameras to see their work. CNN's Sanjay Gupta takes us there, coming up.

Plus, Congress is shocked, not so much about the wads of cold cash found in a congressman's freezer -- $90,000 worth. No, they're bothered by the way the feds moved in, raiding an office. Can you imagine? When 360 continues.


COOPER: Well, bird flu making news again. Bottom line, first there is no evidence that it's mutated and can be spread through human contact, none.

But in Romania, the agriculture industry is reeling after 34 cases of bird flu in poultry, leading to the slaughter of thousands of chickens. No human infections have been reported. Important to know, bird flu has not infected birds in America. But if and when it does, a quick response is essential.

CNN has obtained exclusive access to a special facility here in the U.S. that has a key role in the effort.

360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta gives us a look.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Take a look at these birds. They are swans, and they are dying. The strain of avian flu, known as H5N1, has infected their bodies and their brains. They cannot walk, they cannot even hold their heads up.

These birds are not in the United States. But many people in this country are holding their breath. Waiting. Waiting for the birds and for the virus that has traveled much of the globe to arrive here.

Welcome to ground zero for bird flu. If -- scratch that -- when H5N1 is first found in the United States, it will likely be in a dead bird. And it will likely be confirmed right here. Here they have been preparing for that moment for nearly 10 years.

DR. LARRY GRANGER, USDA NATIONAL VETERINARY SERVICES LABS: Whether or not this is H5N1 is a question that needs to be answered. This is where that question would be answered.

GUPTA (on camera): We've made our way to Ames, Iowa. Now, this is one of the biggest laboratories around. And if there are bird flu samples, there's a good chance it will actually end up here to be confirmed.

Luckily, we are not there yet. So the USDA opened their doors to CNN for the first time. Cameras have never been allowed into this unassuming building -- a swipe card and a fingerprint, just to get through the door.

I got all my garb on now. This is just an overall. These are gloves. My booties down here, obviously. Safety glasses back up here, and a hair net. The whole goal, I think, more than anything else, is to protect me from the chickens. And now these chickens are not hot, meaning they don't have highly pathogenic avian influenza, but if they did, I'd probably have to take off all my clothes. I'd have to put on scrubs, be a little bit more sophisticated in my protection and probably have to take a shower on my way out. We might not even be able to get some of the images that we're getting right now because the camera could be a potential problem as well.

(Voice-over): The protective gear makes me feel at least a little more safe. The doors in the rooms are air-locked. Nothing gets in. Nothing gets out.

(On camera): OK, this is the room that I've been talking about. This is the room where the actual chickens are located. Let me show you this. I mean, these are some of the chickens that are probably going to have some of the first cases of avian flu in the country. If there are cases of avian flu, those chickens may very well end up here.

Now, I want to give you a sense of what really happens to a chicken that has avian flu. A lot of people asked me about this. What typically happens is the chicken may develop sinusitis, which is just inflammation of the sinuses. And then they start to develop swelling of the head and of the neck. It actually grows to several times its size. Then eventually, the limbs, you see there in the claws, they're yellow now, but they'll actually turn blue from lack of oxygen. Eventually, the lungs will fail, and that's what will kill the chicken.

And I'll tell what you, what the most striking thing is to me when I heard this, is that entire process that I just described could take place anywhere from 14 hours to seven days. These chickens could go from being perfectly healthy to dead in a very short amount of time.

And that's why we're here today, to try and figure out exactly what happens when bird flu infects these birds and more importantly what happens when that virus becomes something that is spread among humans.

(Voice-over): And so the fight has begun. Lab workers hurriedly preparing. Here they use chicken eggs with nine-day-old embryos. Yes, that is a living embryo.

They showed me how to drill a hole in the top of the egg. They have been injected with the virus. The goal? To let the virus multiply so they can identify H5N1 and fight it even better.

Right now, the virus is still primarily located in birds. Here in Ames, Iowa, they are hoping with all of their work, it stays that way.


COOPER: So Sanjay, you've seen this lab firsthand. Is the U.S. ready for the bird flu you say is coming in your story?

GUPTA (on camera): Well, you know, I think so. You know, this particular laboratory is very good at being able to diagnose, which is very critical, obviously. And that's the first step in obviously trying to get it treated.

My biggest concern, Anderson, as it was going around the country, is actually the public surveillance. You know, if there is a dead bird in a small city in Florida, for example, how do they actually communicate that to places like Ames, Iowa? I don't think that public surveillance infrastructure is in place yet. They're working on that, but that's probably going to be the biggest hang-up.

COOPER: Well, that's of concern. Today -- I mean, just today, there were reports out of Indonesia about a possible human to human infection. That would seem to be a big concern.

GUPTA: You're right. And that is the big thing that everyone's been talking about -- that jump, that mutation, that leap that so many people have been concerned about.

Reading this and having visited Indonesia last fall, I actually met with a 6-year-old boy. There was a concern that maybe he got bird flu from his aunt, which could be a human to human case as well.

It is very hard to tell if that is actually happening, even with this new report. What I can tell you, Anderson, is regardless of what the W.H.O. report is saying today, they will even admit that if it is transmitting itself from human to human, it's not doing it very efficiently. It's not doing it in a very contagious way like the common cold, for example. And that would be obviously much more concerning.

They'll keep an eye on this. They'll be able to tell for sure if it's human to human. We just don't know for sure.

COOPER: Interesting. Sanjay, thanks.

GUPTA: Thank you.

COOPER: It can't be said too often. The big fear about bird flu is that it could mutate into a strain transmissible from person to person. And where there's fear, of course, there is money to be made. As Dr. Sanjay Gupta previously reported, Tamiflu is the only antiviral drug that we have that will combat bird flu.

But the FDA says that phony medications are popping up, claiming that they can do the job.

With that side of the story, here's CNN's Randi Kaye.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just type avian flu or bird flu into the Internet browser and find sites that will sell you avian flue protection kits, food to stockpile. There's even generic Tamiflu, herbal cures. There's only one problem with those...

DAVID ELDER, DIRECTOR OF ENFORCEMENT, FDA: None of these products have any scientific evidence to show that they're safe and effective for either the treatment or the prevention of bird flu.

KAYE (on camera): Would you call this false advertising?

ELDER: I would call it fraud.

KAYE (voice-over): As director of enforcement at the FDA, David Elder polices Internet frauds and counterfeits. Along with U.S. Customs, his agents recently seized 51 shipments of so-called generic Tamiflu, purchased over the internet and on their way to U.S. consumers from China. What alerted them?

ELDER: There is no generic Tamiflu available in this country.

KAYE: Elder shows us how the real and fake pills look alike. But the real surprise, what's inside the pills.

Ten tablets of Vitamin C?


KAYE: This is just the beginning of a crackdown in which the FDA has sent out at least 28 warning letters to U.S. Internet companies that claim to offer a cure or protection.

ELDER: We've seen counterfeit Gucci bags and counterfeit Rolex watches. These are counterfeit prescription drugs. People are taking these to prevent serious illness.

KAYE: We went trolling on the internet to see what else we could find. Right off the bat, we found Avian RX on this Web site, which says it claims to be the herbal Tamiflu.

ELDER: Making a claim that it's an herbal alternative for Tamiflu is equivalent to a prescription drug claim. I am not aware that anybody has submitted an application to the FDA, seeking approval for that claim on that particular product. KAYE: We contacted Jared Wheat (ph), president of High Tech Pharmaceuticals, which makes Avian RX. He told us by phone, his company has "no control over the claims by the distributor on the website." He says he "chose the name Avian RX at random," but he told us he had "changed the name from Avian RX to Defend RX."

The next day, we found Defend-RX being offered. The name of the product had changed, but not the claims about it. And then, when we ordered Defend-RX, we got Avian RX, instead.

When we asked Mr. Wheat (ph) about this, he e-mails us, "no comment."

But the FDA had a comment.

ELDER: The manufacturer of Avian-RX is actually under injunction from 2003 for past practices of marketing products without approval by the agency, and remains under that injunction.

KAYE: However, the FDA will not comment on what, if anything, it's doing about Avian-RX or Defend-RX, saying it can't talk about investigations.

One company does talk to us, the maker of AVN 36. Its Web site,, claims to offer a powerful immune system booster to help protect your family against the bird flu.

But when we asked Marketing Director Gayla Young for evidence...

GAYLA YOUNG, MARKETING DIRECTOR, AVN 36: It's actually not a cure for bird flu. It doesn't really stop it. At this point there is no vaccine for the H5N1 virus, the avian influenza. Our approach is it was created specifically for the immune system and we want to kind of get people's awareness in taking the bird flu a little more seriously.

KAYE: So why call it

YOUNG: When we have that domain name, it's primarily to promote our product, the Avian 36.

KAYE: Young notes the small print does say AVN 36 does not cure bird flu.

(On camera): What will the consumer get as a result of purchasing one of these products?

ELDER: Well, if they purchase it on the Internet, one thing they can be sure of is their credit card will be debited.

KAYE: Is there any way, though, for the average consumer to know the difference between a product that works and a product that is making false claims?

ELDER: There is a way. There are no products currently approved that consumers could purchase over the Internet that are approved for the treatment of prevention of avian flu.

KAYE (voice-over): If all of this seems familiar, it should. Similar promises popped up during the SARS epidemic, and in 2001, with anthrax.

ELDER: Whenever there's public health concerns, there's a small segment of the population that is going to try to seek to profit.

KAYE (on camera): A report by the Italian Wines Union says white wine has the same active ingredients as Tamiflu and might actually save me from the bird flu. Well, that is one bird flu cure I am willing to spend a little money on, just in case. Cheers.

Randi Kaye, CNN.


COOPER: Well, coming up next, a Democratic congressman at the center of a bribery scandal. We'll tell you why the GOP isn't going after him, but after the FBI agents who searched his home and office.

And if you're burnt out on the job, you're not alone. A look at how Americans well, are just working too hard and not playing enough, when 360 continues.


COOPER: Well, the congressman, the cold cash and a new twist to the scandal. That story coming up.

But first, Erica Hill, from "HEADLINE NEWS," has some of the business headlines we're following -- Erica.

HILL: Anderson, the bulls ran out of steam on Wall Street today. Any gains were wiped out in the final minutes of trading, due to inflation fears. The Dow closed down nearly 27 points, the NASDAQ fell 14, the S&P dropped 5. Now, the Dow has lost more than 500 points since May 10th when it was just about 80 points from reaching an all-time high.

On to Houston, Texas, now where a fourth day of deliberations in the Enron trial, and still no verdict. Enron Founder Kenneth Lay and Former Chief Exec Jeffrey Skilling are charged with fraud and conspiracy in the 2001 collapse of the energy company. Both defendants deny any wrongdoing.

And vacation deprivation in America is at an all-time high. That is according to a new study commissioned by the travel website The survey found 33 percent of Americans don't take all their vacation days. In fact, they forfeit an average of four days each year. That's up from three days in last year's survey.

Anderson, I hope you're using all of your time.

COOPER: I forfeit about 30 vacation days every year.

HILL: See, you work much too hard to do that, my friend.

COOPER: Yes, that is probably true. Erica, thanks.

Well, a bizarre situation in Washington tonight. A member of one party is being rocked by corruption allegations and the other party, they're not taking advantage of it.

The person in question is Democratic Congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana, who is accused of accepting bribes. While Republicans are not defending Jefferson against allegations, they are also not aiming their criticism at him. In fact, they're aiming their criticism at the FBI.

CNN's Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash tells us why.


DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): An 18- hour FBI raid of a Democratic congressman's office, allegations in a government affidavit, William Jefferson took bribes and stuffed cash from an FBI informant in his freezer.

In raw election-year politics, this should be manna from heaven for Republicans. So why are they complaining?

REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: But there's ways to do it, and my opinion is that they took the wrong path.

SEN. BILL FRIST (R), MAJORITY LEADER: Yes, I'm concerned because it does involve the constitution.

BASH: They're alarmed that the Bush Justice Department searched a congressional office for the first time in history and may have crossed the constitutional line.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert says he went straight to the president with his and other lawmakers' concerns. Both parties say FBI agents, part of the executive branch, ignored the separation of powers by forcibly entering a legislative office and may have breached the constitution's speech and debate clause intended to shield lawmakers from executive intimidation.

CHARLES TIEFER, UNIVERSITY OF BALTIMORE LAW SCHOOL: What happened Saturday night was an intimidating act by which the Congress is going to be -- the members of Congress are going to be nervous about doing their job from now on.

BASH: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales defended the search as critical to a high-stakes corruption investigation.

ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: We respectfully, of course, disagree with the characterization by some. We believe, of course, that we've been very careful, very thorough in our pursuit of criminal wrongdoing.

BASH: And, he insisted, the search was necessary, given the extraordinary circumstances. In fact, this FBI affidavit supporting the search warrant says a Jefferson aide told investigators relevant evidence was in his office.

And according to sources familiar with the investigation, a federal judge recommended the search after the congressman ignored a subpoena issued eight months ago.

The affidavit also shows investigators were well aware of the potential backlash, setting up a so-called filter team of agents and prosecutors just to make sure they took nothing privileged.

Some legal experts say no one is above the law.

VIET DINH, FORMER ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: There is no constitutional protection for congressional offices as such.

BASH: But Senate Historian Don Ritchie said lawmakers have good reason to be concerned. This unprecedented event sets a new precedent that could someday be abused.

DON RITCHIE, SENATE HISTORIAN: You don't want a situation in which future presidents might use this as an opportunity to punish congressional opponents, and that's one of the big issues.

BASH (on camera): Congressional sources tell CNN they're talking to the administration about ways to avoid that. Ideas like a formal statement making clear the weekend raid should not serve as legal precedent.

But the number two Republican in the House says he's sure Congressman Jefferson's case is going to end up right across the street at the Supreme Court.

Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.


COOPER: Well, more on this back story behind the latest turn in the case. Our political roundtable, best in the biz, is next on 360.


COOPER: Tonight we've been examining the bribery allegations against Democratic Congressman William Jefferson. And we've heard the anger from Republicans over how the investigation has been handled, most notably, the raiding of offices.

Earlier I discussed all this with three members of the best political team in the business, CNN's Dana Bash, Kelli Arena and Joe Johns.


COOPER: Dana, why are lawmakers upset about the FBI searching a congressman's office? I mean, my office can be searched. Your office can be searched. Your company e-mail can be read by employers. Why should lawmakers be any different, in their opinion?

BASH: That's a very good question. You know, one Senator here, Senator John Warner said that, you know, John Doe should be treated the same, in general, as John Warner.

But when it comes down to it, I talked to several constitutional scholars, the Senate historian, and there are different rules in general for members of Congress because they say, look, they have to do different things than regular people, than you and I have to do.

But the bigger issue is, for members of Congress here, is the separation of powers issue, that they have oversight over the executive branch, and they could very well have files in their offices, they say, that could, you know, be an investigation that they're doing of the executive branch.

So if this sets a precedent, they fear, that this -- this could really change things, and it really breaches the fundamental separation of power, as they say.

COOPER: But, Joe, I mean that argument is based on the idea that the executive branch is going to, you know, abrogate its responsibility and do something illegal and order investigations based on political grounds.

I mean, is that really a fair argument? I mean, why shouldn't these guys' offices be completely transparent? I mean, they're working for us, for American citizens. I don't quite get their argument.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, their argument is, like Dana said, they have to do different things. They are protected by the speech and debate clause, for example.

A lot of people I talked to today, people who are -- work in Washington and have for a long time, including some Democratic strategists, say there is an institutional concern here, and that is the thing that Congress has to protect.

The Republican leadership, in fact, is in control of the Congress. They don't want to leave the Congress in worse shape than when they came here. They want members of Congress to have the same rights and to be able to stand up to the administration, to the other branches of Congress without fear of somebody coming into their office, going through all their papers, taking away privileged things, and, perhaps, using them for unintended purposes.

COOPER: Kelli, legally speaking, I guess we are in uncharted territory. Why did the FBI feel compelled to go about the investigation in this particular way, I mean, raiding his office?

KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Justice officials say they actually have been working with the congressman to get their hands on that material for some time. And, in fact, issued a subpoena back last August. But they say they got no cooperation. They got not one single document that they need. At the advice of a federal judge, they moved forward and went to another judge and said, look, here's the evidence we have. We want to get a search warrant. The judge approved it, they went in.

COOPER: Dana, politically speaking, you'd think Republicans, I mean, in some ways would be thrilled that a Democrat was being investigated. What can they gain from defending Jefferson? Is it purely, you know, I mean, is it sort of just protecting themselves because they don't want their offices raided down the road?

BASH: Well, certainly that is a part of it. You know, this is -- that is one of the most interesting twists in this story that you have. Republicans who, as you said, should basically be swinging from the chandeliers politically when they have a Democrat with this kind of evidence apparently built up against him.

But it's sort of in the DNA of Republicans, of conservatives, to really not only protect institutions, but to be very concerned about the separation of powers, about, you know, big brother, if you will, things like that.

If you talk to Democrats, I can tell you, though, Anderson, a lot of them up here say, wait a minute. There's a little bit of hypocrisy going on here. They say Republicans have been fine with some of the other practices of the Bush Justice Department, but when it's treading on their turf they get upset.

COOPER: Guys, appreciate it. Joe Johns, Kelli Arena, Dana Bash, thanks.


COOPER: We'll have more of 360 in just a moment. Stay with us.


COOPER: Tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING," imagine being ambassador to your own tropical paradise, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Also imagine being picked for the job, not because you're a native, but because you're a blunt talking retired New York lawyer.


STUART BECK, PALAU AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: I'm a New Yorker, and I'm not shy. So, I think that's the skill that I can bring to this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have You rubbed anyone the wrong way with that New York style yet?

BECK: It's hard to tell because the reactions were all diplomatic. I don't know what they'd say when they get home.


COOPER: So how did Stuart Beck end up the ambassador to paradise? Find out tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING," starting at 6:00 a.m., Eastern Time. "LARRY KING" is next. His guest, NBC's Tim Russert.

See you tomorrow. Thanks for watching.


© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines