Return to Transcripts main page
PAULA ZAHN NOW
Interview With Miami Police Chief John Timoney; Families of Terror Suspects React to Arrests
Aired June 23, 2006 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And glad to have all you out there with us tonight. Appreciate your dropping by on a Friday night.
Here's what's happening at this moment.
U.S. intelligence experts are now analyzing the videotape just out today from al Qaeda's number-two man, Ayman al-Zawahri. The tape shows him grieving in front of a picture of terrorist Abu Musab al- Zarqawi, who was killed earlier this month in an American airstrike. Al-Zawahri is calling him a hero and a martyr, and promised revenge for his so-called murder.
Concern about Korean missile tests move the U.S. and Japan -- agree to cooperate on stronger missile defense systems. The U.S. has also just completed the largest war exercises in the Pacific since Vietnam.
In Sedona, Arizona, wildfires burning there since Sunday have now consumed some 4,000 acres. People there are now bracing for strong winds that could put even more homes and resorts in danger.
Moving on now to the "Security Watch" tonight -- the very latest on a plot the government claims was the beginning of a terrorist attack potentially even more devastating than 9/11.
We first alerted you to the stunning details as they were breaking late last night at this time during our hour, allegations of a spectacular plan by a group of extremists to blow up buildings in Miami and the country's tallest skyscraper, the 110-story Sears Tower in Chicago -- a particularly chilling note: Most of the suspects are American citizens.
Now, some see this as an ominous new trend in the war on terror. Others have big doubts about the case tonight.
Susan Candiotti is in Miami. She has been working on this story ever since it broke, and she has just filed her report.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They had no money, weapons or supplies, yet, the government claims this seemingly inept group of seven planned to pull off a full-scale terror ground war against the U.S. -- their alleged base of operations, this windowless warehouse in a rundown section of Miami.
ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: What we have is a situation where individuals here in America made plans to hurt Americans.
CANDIOTTI: Hurt them by blowing up the Sears Tower and government offices.
R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA, U.S. ATTORNEY FOR MIAMI: They sought supplies, including weapons and vehicles. They took reconnaissance photographs.
CANDIOTTI: The government cites these photographs of Miami's FBI headquarters, the Miami Police Department, and a nearby federal courthouse and detention center. The government showed off what it said were secretly shot photographs of each participant in meetings that allegedly plotted attacks.
The indictment charges, the group's leader, Narseal Batiste, claimed soldiers would -- quote -- "Kill all the devils we can" in a mission -- quote -- "as good or greater than 9/11."
Whether the accused could have pulled it off as the question. According to the indictment, a government informant who pretended to be a member of al Qaeda infiltrated the group over several months. The group's leader is charged with pledging his allegiance to al Qaeda. He wanted boots for his half-dozen soldiers, a rental car to shoot surveillance photos of possible targets, bulletproof vests, machine guns, and $50,000 in cash to blow up the Sears Tower.
But the indictment alleges the group's leader said his plans were delayed because he was having trouble with his organization. What kind of trouble was not described.
ACOSTA: They certainly had the will. They were searching for the way, which is the bottom line.
CANDIOTTI: In a Miami federal courtroom, five of the seven, all handcuffed, appeared briefly before a judge. Each testified he owned no property. Two said they had jobs. All got court-appointed attorneys, and will be arraigned next week.
Relatives said the suspects don't like President Bush and hate the war in Iraq, but never talked terror.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My son, he don't have a heart to kill people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He ain't got no heart to kill nobody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He ain't go no heart to kill nobody.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't have heart to kill people.
CANDIOTTI: Authorities said they made the arrests now because they made their case.
GONZALES: Well, we took action when we did, because we believe we have an obligation to prevent America from another attack here. CANDIOTTI (on camera): Al Qaeda wanna-bes or not, the FBI insists this obscure group of religious zealots had to be stopped. Yet, given their lack of money, guns, bombs or training, it's not clear whether they were all talk and no action.
Susan Candiotti, CNN, Miami.
ZAHN: So, what's it like to find out you may have a homegrown terror group right in your own backyard? I'm going to ask Miami Police Chief John Timoney that question in a few minutes.
But, first, the men who committed the atrocities of 9/11 all came from outside the U.S. to attack the Pentagon and the World Trade Center towers, symbols of America known all over the world.
But with the Miami arrests, some experts see a frightening new trend, homegrown terrorists preparing to strike from within.
Here's homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Sears Tower, a landmark, a symbol, on the list of potential terrorist targets since 9/11. But the threat against it, once believed to come from abroad, came, in this instance, from within.
ROBERT MUELLER, FBI DIRECTOR: They were persons who, for whatever reason, came to view their home country as the enemy.
MESERVE: It is a product of the war on terror, officials say, unexpected and unwelcome. With al Qaeda disrupted, the seeds of jihadist ideology have dispersed, germinated, and grown into small, local terror cells.
MUELLER: These extremists are self-recruited, self-trained and self-executing. They may not have any connection at all to al Qaeda or to other terrorist groups. They share ideas and information in the shadows of the Internet.
MESERVE: The bombers who attacked the London transit system a year ago are said to have had no direct al Qaeda link, likewise, the alleged Toronto terrorists arrested earlier this month, who are said to have wanted to blow up the Canadian parliament and behead the prime minister.
And now there are the purported plotters in Florida, who were caught because someone who knew them grew suspicious.
JOHN PISTOLE, FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Let's just say that they were doing things that came to our attention through people who were alert in the community.
MESERVE: Members of local cells plot and plan where they live and work. They belong there. They do not stand out. They are, in short, hard to find. A homegrown cell that originated in this California prison was only stopped after some members were caught robbing gas stations and investigators stumbled on to evidence of terrorism.
The absence of a larger organizational hierarchy decreases the likelihood of communications intercepts or unusual travel that might raise alarm bells. The key, say experts, is old-fashioned police work.
GEORGE BAURIES, FORMER FBI AGENT: You have to have a constant surveillance of what's going on within the community. And that means that agents have to be out there working with their informants.
MESERVE: Officials make it clear finding and stopping these homegrown cells must be a priority.
GONZALES: And, left unchecked, these homegrown terrorists may prove to be as dangerous as groups like al Qaeda.
MESERVE (on camera): No one has a real handle on the number of homegrown terrorists in the United States, but officials are worried that their number could be multiplying, and their danger growing.
Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.
ZAHN: And joining me now, Steven Emerson, the author of "American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among us."
Always good to see you, Steven. Welcome.
STEVE EMERSON, TERRORISM ANALYST: Hi.
ZAHN: So, we have established the men charged had no weapons, no training, no materials, no money. Were they competent enough to ever get past the planning stages of this plot?
EMERSON: Well, Paula, they -- they didn't have money or -- or training or -- or weapons at that particular time that they were arrested.
But let's take the corollary. Let's say there wasn't a U.S. operative who had infiltrated the group. Let's say they had made contact with a real al Qaeda bankroller or arms dealer, and then they acquired the weapons. I have no doubt that, if they had the money and the weapons and the training, they would have carried out these attacks.
So, I think we have to be understanding of why the FBI tried to, early on, stop the operation by arresting them.
ZAHN: Why are you so convinced they could have pulled this off?
EMERSON: Look, there's no guarantee that they could have pulled it off.
But the fact remains that they definitely had a motivation to kill as many as they could. They wanted to actually exceed the number of dead occurring during 9/11. They hated Americans. They swore allegiance to bin Laden. And, so, if they had the material and the explosives, the possibility is that they could have pulled it off. And I would rather not take that chance.
ZAHN: I don't think anybody out there would ever want to play with that chance. What can you tell us about the Seas of David group that they are seemingly thinly associated with?
EMERSON: I'm not really familiar with it.
You know, what -- what -- what I have seen happen, particularly among black Muslims, are these different types of sects that emerge, such as the one in California that was interrupted last year plotting to blow up synagogues and National Guard facilities that came out of a prison.
They are very small and contained. They spread a jihadist ideology among them that is easily obtained from the Internet. It's the virtual jihad. Any time you have an Internet connection, you can bring it into your living room. And all they need is a charismatic leader who is going to motivate them to carry out an attack.
ZAHN: Steven, what is so -- seems so strange about this group of men -- we have just heard Jeanne Meserve talking how these folks who are usually in homegrown terror cells blend in rather elusively with their community.
But these guys are described by neighbors as always wearing black, always stating publicly that they were going to give their lives to God. Isn't that a little bit unusual?
EMERSON: It certainly is a little bit unusual, because you expect them to be much more circumspect about how they go about their training.
On the other hand, they were true believers. And, in the Virginia jihad case, they used to train every weekend in paintball exercises, under the cover that it was just paintball. But they were really preparing for jihad.
So, I think that these are telltale signs that sometimes indicate what their true motives are.
ZAHN: And we will be discussing more of that throughout the broadcast tonight.
Steven Emerson, always good to see you. Thanks for your time.
ZAHN: We are going to move now to our nightly countdown of the top-10 most popular stories on CNN.com, 17 million of you going to our Web site today.
AT number 10 -- the murder of a journalist in Somalia. Cameraman Martin Adler was covering a rally for Britain's Channel 4 News this morning, when he was shot and killed. Adler recently covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Number nine -- in Ohio, two days of severe storms causing major flooding near Cleveland. One firefighter was killed while rescuing two people stranded in a jeep. Thousands of homes lost power. And a flood watch is still in effect for the area tonight.
Numbers eight and seven next -- plus, a deeper look at the Miami terror suspects and the strange motivation that drives domestic terror.
ZAHN (voice-over): Just who are the seven Miami suspects, soldiers with a passionate cause accused of plotting a violent jihad. What would drive people to allegedly declare war on their own country?
And "Vital Signs" -- Morgellons disease, sounds like science fiction, more and more people tormented by mysterious threads growing deep under their skin. Is it all in their heads or has medicine encountered a startling new disease?
All that and more just ahead.
ZAHN: So, if the terror arrests in Miami have you thinking about your own security, how would you feel about having surveillance cameras on every corner in your neighborhood, so, everyone can watch on their on TV sets? That story is coming up.
First, though, here's what's happening at this moment.
In another incredible breach of data security, personal information on 28,000 American sailors and their families popped up on a civilian Web site, information like Social Security numbers and dates of birth. The Navy has begun a criminal investigation.
Baghdad is under a curfew after rival militias fought near a Shiite mosque. Across Iraq today, at least 17 people were killed in shootings, bombings and executions.
And now onto the latest twist in the Duke lacrosse rape case -- newly released police notes indicate the exotic dancer who says she was raped by team members at an off-campus party changed her story several times. The notes were released by an attorney for one of the three players charged in that case.
Continuing now with our top story, the seven men arrested in the alleged Miami terror plot were living in a windowless warehouse in a poor neighborhood. And the details we're learning just about them tonight raise as many questions as they answer.
Now, some of the suspects are described as practicing Catholics. One, supposedly, was into witchcraft. They don't smoke. They don't eat meat. They read the Bible. They have no money, practice martial arts, as though they were in military training.
Well, Drew Griffin has been in the neighborhood where two of the suspects grew up, talking with friends and neighbors, who can't believe these arrests happened.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If they were homegrown terrorists, they grew up here on this Miami street.
Stanley Phanor was born in this house. Lyglenson Lemorin moved in across the street with his mom when he was just 6. And, today, the two mothers, both Haitian, told us, in disbelief, there were no terrorists raised on 45th Street.
ELIZENE PHANOR, MOTHER OF TERRORISM SUSPECT: My son never make nothing wrong. He never drink. He never smoke. He never go (INAUDIBLE)
GRIFFIN: Elizene Phanor says her son is a single man, a construction worker, who did have trouble with the law and went to prison for concealing a weapon. But he's been out of trouble since joining a religious prayer group, a Christian group that devotes itself to the Bible.
PHANOR: My son never make nothing wrong. My son just go work, go read Bible. After that, every Friday he have money, he just give it to me (INAUDIBLE) to pay.
Everything. You see that?
GRIFFIN: Distraught with news her son is being accused of terrorism, she brought us into her home to show us the home improvements that her son did for her, the furniture he bought for her, even his work clothes and his well-worn Bible.
PHANOR: He have this (INAUDIBLE) He have this to -- for tile. Why (INAUDIBLE)
GRIFFIN: Raised Catholic, she says her son would never hurt anyone and would never plot against the country they both love.
PHANOR: President Bush, help me, please. (INAUDIBLE) about my son. My son is good from your country.
GRIFFIN: Across the street, Lyglenson Lemorin's mother, who barely speaks English, could only say, through her daughter-in-law, her son is innocent.
JULIAN OLIBRICE, MOTHER OF LYGLENSON LEMORIN: And that boy never...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He never been in jail, never. And they call him illegal immigrant on the TV.
GRIFFIN: So, how can their alleged involvement be explained? How can the FBI seem to have so much information that two men from this low-income immigrant neighborhood were plotting to blow up buildings?
Sylvain Plantin is Stanley Phanor's cousin. He says the religious group, deeply devout in its studies, practice abstinence from drinking and sex and even curse words, and the group's devotion to self-control may have been taken the wrong way.
SYLVAIN PLANTIN, COUSIN OF STANLEY PHANOR: When the people see that they was doing self-defense things, they thought they was part of al Qaeda. They have no -- no -- no -- they -- they're not -- they're from down here. They ain't got no business in al Qaeda.
GRIFFIN (on camera): Did they -- did they dress in black and all that stuff?
PLANTIN: Yes. No, they -- OK, listen, they dressed in black dickey uniforms with the patch of Star of David. That's why they call it the Seas of David.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Plantin, who calls his cousin Sunni, also says one man in the group, the so-called leader, was a mystery. No one knew much about him. He suspects, neither did his cousin.
(on camera): You think these guys were brainwashed or...
PLANTIN: No, no. They wasn't brainwashed, because Sunni would never do anything to harm anybody. He was...
PLANTIN: ... guy.
GRIFFIN: So, you think he didn't know about this?
PLANTIN: He didn't know anything about this.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Both mothers say they are now relying on the legal system to free their sons. But they're worried, because they say the same legal system somehow arrested the wrong men.
Drew Griffin, CNN, Miami.
(END VIDEOTAPE) ZAHN: And joining me now, Miami Police Chief John Timoney.
Thanks for joining us, after a very busy day, sir.
JOHN TIMONEY, MIAMI POLICE CHIEF: Good evening, Paula.
ZAHN: Good evening.
So, were you surprised that the FBI has found what they are calling a homegrown terrorist group in your own backyard tonight?
TIMONEY: Well, I -- I was not surprised. Obviously, I was kept abreast of this by the FBI, regular briefings, as the case unfolded over the last six, seven months.
And, so, I -- I knew a week ago this was going to be happening on Friday. And, so, I -- I was aware of everything that was going on. I don't have details, finite details, of the -- of the entire investigation, but I was kept abreast of it.
ZAHN: Were you were familiar with Seas of David before the FBI tipped you off that this group was allegedly operating in your hometown?
TIMONEY: I -- I had not heard that term until I -- until today. There was another term. Mura Siantz (ph) was -- was the term that I had heard, which is supposedly a break-off Muslim group.
ZAHN: Does this group have a foothold in your city, beyond these seven men who were arrested last night?
TIMONEY: No, not -- Paula, not that I'm aware of. That's a -- it's a mixed neighborhood with -- with -- traditional African-American neighborhood. And it's adjacent to Little Haiti, obviously, recently arrived Haitian immigrants. Some actually -- some of these kids here are -- are second-generation -- generally, overall, a good neighborhood, some problems, but basically a good neighborhood.
ZAHN: This is something that all local law enforcement has feared.
ZAHN: We have heard federal officials predict that these groups were...
ZAHN: ... up and operating around the country.
Describe to us how, going forward, this changes your strategic work.
TIMONEY: Well, it's obviously -- for the entire law enforcement, I -- I think law enforcement, along with the average citizen, has a stereotype in his head or her head regarding what a terrorist should look like, you know, Mohamed Atta walking through an airport in New York. That's not the case.
You know, beginning with last July 7 and 21 bombings in London, we saw that they don't fit the stereotype that we have, that they're homegrown -- the same thing in California about three or four months ago, and now two weeks ago in -- in Canada, a whole other group, and now today in Miami.
And, so, there is no stereotypical, if you will, potential terrorist. And, so, it really -- what -- what -- what we really need in all of these cases is for community residents to come forward, and if they see something that seems out of sorts or not -- not quite correct, to give us a call and let us at least...
TIMONEY: ... check it out.
ZAHN: And that is apparently what sources tell us in part triggered this investigation.
Chief John Timoney, thanks for your time tonight.
TIMONEY: Paula, good to see you.
ZAHN: Good luck.
And there was no sign of any terror jitters in downtown Miami today. And I should have congratulated the police chief on this one.
A quarter-of-a-million people packed the streets to celebrate the Miami Heat's NBA championship. The event started with a parade, ended with a rally outside the team's arena. No trouble was reported, but dozens of people had problems because of the hot, muggy weather.
Now, the seven suspects never had any contact with al Qaeda, just a federal informant posing as a member of that group. So, how strong is this case? And could the defense claim entrapment? That's next.
Also, would you feel more secure if your neighborhood was filled with surveillance cameras that you and your neighbors could watch 24 hours a day? I guess that might depend on what you're doing on camera.
Right now, number eight on CNN.com countdown -- prosecutors in Kansas are trying to decide whether to file charges in connection with a brutal attack during a high school basketball game. A 14-year-old, as you will see in this video, was pummeled by another player at a game back in March. So far, prosecutors have held off because both boys are minors.
Number seven -- Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, the only Democrat in President Bush's Cabinet, says he will resign next month. Mineta served for five-and-a-half years. He oversaw the creation of the Transportation Security Agent -- Agency, that is -- right after 9/11 -- numbers six and five straight ahead.
Please stay with us.
ZAHN: Welcome back.
More now on the Miami terror case -- the indictment says the Miami terror suspects wanted to blow up the Sears Tower and wage war against the U.S. government. Yet, they happened to be dead broke. The FBI says the plot was more aspirational than operational. And the suspects never had any connection to al Qaeda, just apparently to a federal informant who claimed to be part of the terrorist group.
As you will see, all of this has some people wondering if the Miami seven have an entrapment defense on their hands.
Chief national correspondent John King takes us "Beyond the Headlines" tonight.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To prosecutors, a textbook post-9/11 sting operation.
R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA, U.S. ATTORNEY FOR MIAMI: Our mission, given to us by President Bush, is to prevent terrorism.
KING: To others, though, an indictment that raises fresh questions about aggressive administration tactics in the war on terror.
PAUL CALLAN, FORMER PROSECUTOR: I would have expected to see a lot more meat in this indictment.
KING: The indictment runs just 11 pages and acknowledges, those charged did not have the necessary tools or money to launch bombing attacks. And, it concedes, they had no contact with al Qaeda -- meetings and offers of help, instead, from an FBI operative posing as an al Qaeda representative.
CALLAN: He agrees to supply machine guns, boots, and other equipment to these conspirators. He's really involved in every aspect of the crime. And, you know, that gives rise to the possibility that these men will have a good entrapment defense.
KING: The government says the case is solid.
ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: They did request equipment. They did request funding. They took an allegiance, swore allegiance to al Qaeda.
KING: Intent is key to the government's case. The indictment says alleged ringleader Narseal Batiste first decided to first bomb the Sears Tower and other targets, then went looking for al Qaeda help. CLARK KENT ERVIN, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Then that's not an entrapment issue. The intent was preexisting. It was simply a question of means.
KING: The Miami case came on the same day of other news that stoked one of the country's most polarizing post-9/11 debates, where to draw the line between aggressive law enforcement and civil liberties, like free speech and privacy.
COREY SAYLOR, GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS DIRECTOR, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN- ISLAMIC RELATIONS: They are just casting a very wide net and seeing what falls into it. And most of what falls into it are innocent people.
KING: The administration approach reflects the post-9/11 mind- set of a president and a vice president who favor strong executive powers.
RICHARD B. CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's important to remember how significant 9/11 was. And we are now engaged in a constant effort, obviously, to protect the nation against further attack. That means we need good intelligence. It means there have to be national security secrets. It means we need to be able to go after and capture or kill those people who are trying to kill Americans. That's not pleasant business. It's very serious.
KING (on camera): The administration makes no apologies for its tactics and insists in this case, being aggressive kept threats from turning into attacks. John King, CNN, Washington.
ZAHN: And joining me now, one of the men you just heard who is critical of the process in John's report, Paul Callan, a former prosecutor in New York City. Welcome back.
JOHN CALLAN, FMR. NEW YORK CITY PROSECUTOR: Nice to see you.
ZAHN: So, can you explain something to us tonight, how these men who were not involved with al Qaeda could end up being indicted the way they were?
CALLAN: It's a bizarre indictment. Just to give you background on it. Two of the counts of the indictment are that they provided aid to a terrorist organization. Those are the counts, OK? And that law was passed to prevent people from contributing money to al Qaeda, and sending it overseas to HAMAS. They are charged with that.
In this case, the FBI agent infiltrates them and he agrees to provide support to them. Remember, the informant says he'll get the guns, the equipment, and everything that they need to do, blow up the buildings and do the things they're going to do. So, in essence, the FBI, in orderer to make the case, has agreed to support a terrorist organization. It kind of flips the entire statute upside down. At the end what they're saying, the government's theory is that they were donating themselves to al Qaeda and therefore they were providing support to al Qaeda. It's a really, it's kind of a stretch as a theory under the statute that they are charged.
ZAHN: And as you said in John King's report, there's no doubt in your mind that the defense is going to plead entrapment here.
CALLAN: Well, they are going to plead entrapment. And the entrapment doctrine says that, you know, if the government puts the idea in your mind to commit a crime, it's not really a crime. It's not fair. It would be like a drug dealer, like an FBI agent dealing drugs to you, and then they swoop down and arrest you for possession of the drugs. That's classic entrapment. Here, the defense is going to say, these hapless residents of this warehouse didn't have the wherewithal to do anything until this FBI agent came along, claiming to be a representative of al Qaeda, and for all we know, he may have administered this oath that they claim was taken in support of al Qaeda. We don't know that yet.
ZAHN: Paul, you are a sophisticated prosecutor, you can't tell me tonight that the government didn't think about this as a potential defense.
CALLAN: Well, I think the government did think about it as a potential defense, but I also think that they felt that they have to send a message that they are aggressively investigating and prosecuting home grown cells, sleeper cells, across the country. Because they're afraid, this group looks like a hapless group. I don't think they could blow up the Sears Tower. I don't think they could find an elevator in the Sears Tower. But, maybe this indictment will send a message across the country to others who are more serious that the FBI is out there. They are aggressively investigating. They are infiltrating and there will be prosecutions.
ZAHN: Alright, maybe they will be sending that message, very quickly in closing, but will this case fly in court?
CALLAN: Well, I think there's probably just enough to sustain the indictment in court. In other words, I don't think a federal judge will dismiss the indictment. But boy, I think they are going to have a tough time convincing a Miami jury that entrapment did not occur in this case. Remember the FBI agent agrees to provide the guns, the equipment. As a matter of fact, he even gives them the camera that they use to take pictures of the federal building. They say they need a van to do surveillance, the FBI gives them the van. So, the FBI supplies all the equipment and seems to be supplying a lot of the ideas about the conspiracy will occur. You have got to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. I think they're going to have a real battle in Miami.
ZAHN: Alright, we'll be watching this with you. Thanks for being here.
Coming up next, we're going to show you the next step in surveillance. A neighborhood filled with security cameras that everybody can watch, all the time, on their own TVs, even at home.
And then a little bit later on, we're going to dig into a really bizarre medical mystery. What kind of disease makes tiny bits of string come out of your skin. Sound to bizarre to be true? Well thousands of people say they suffer from it. So why aren't some doctors so convinced?
Number six on our CNN.com countdown. First though Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban are keeping the specifics of their upcoming wedding in Australia top secret. Now come on, wouldn't you expect that? But local media reporting that the ceremony is set for Sunday night in Sydney. And we're sure there will be hundreds of cameras there to celebrate that intimate moment.
Number five, Darren Mack, the man police say killed his wife and then shot and wounded a judge in Reno last week is now in custody tonight. He surrendered in Mexico late last night. Numbers four and three right after this.
ZAHN: So here's what's happening at this moment. Just moments ago, word from California that the Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger rejected the president's request for an additional 1,500 national guard troops for border duty. California has already agreed to allow 6,000 to join the effort. But, the governor said any more would spread the guard too thin.
The president puts a limit on eminent domain. A new order limits seizures of property by the federal government. Last year, the Supreme Court narrowly ruled that towns could take a person's home or business to make way for commercial development.
Move on to our nightly look at gas prices, our crude awakenings as we get ready to head into a holiday next week. State with today's highest prices are in Red. Oh, look, we're way over there in the west. Lowest in green. The average today for unleaded regular, $2.85. And, here's the trend over the last few weeks for you to look at.
The Sears Tower in Chicago was the allegedly the target of the Miami terror plot, and officials in Chicago now have an extensive surveillance system set up to protect that city. And in particular, the Sears Tower, which is the tallest building in the U.S., but in part of London, all people have to do to check out their neighborhood is switch on their TV sets. Paula Newton has tonight's eye opener from London.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The remote is at the ready. The TV is tuned. The cameras poised and John Bellamy's prying eyes become London's latest weapon in battling crime. His local community channel keeps an eye on the whole neighborhood, switching shots every ten seconds.
We get a virtual tour of his neighborhood in East London, where a new pilot project has mounted cameras on most corners.
JOHN BELLAMY: We had a little bit of a scuffle the other night. NEWTON: And the residents get a front row seat on all the action.
BELLAMY: The number there, on the screen now, you ring that number up.
NEWTON: If anyone sees anything suspicious, they can call or email police, via an anonymous tip line. The neighborhood gets the service as part of the digital TV and Internet package, but public money paid for the installation.
BELLAMY: There's the pub. That's the one on the corner.
NEWTON: The idea that a neighborhood watch with high-tech tools can fight crime.
BELLAMY: The police can't be everywhere. The risk of being recognized or found out on camera has got to be a deterrent, so, it's -- at the moment, it's pluses, isn't it, as opposed to minuses, you know.
NEWTON: The truth is, what you see on the streets is not exactly riveting stuff. But still, the project is a hit with viewers sucked in by the never-ending show.
BELLAMY: It's nice to see -- to look around, to see what's going on.
NEWTON: In your neighborhood.
BELLAMY: It's curiosity, yes. Yes. And it's mostly the same old view all the time. But there again, the movements and the people are different, so it doesn't get boring.
NEWTON: But it is controversial. This is, after all, a program that allows, even encourages people to spy on their neighbors.
(on camera): You could see how this would be unnerving for some. Your every move is tracked and watched potentially by all those nosy neighbors. And yet, some here in London say they have the track record that proves this kind of community policing works.
(voice-over): The entire country, especially London, seems to be in a constant state of surveillance. There are more than 4 million cameras trained on almost every corner.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twist it clockwise to move in.
NEWTON: That's one camera for every 15 people. On any given day here, you can be caught on camera more than 300 times.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Crossing Great Windmill (ph) street. Continuing on Salisbury (ph) avenue towards Piccadilly Circus.
NEWTON: On a random walk through central London, they could track and trace my every move with a better view than most police officers walking the beat.
AUDREY LEWIS, CITY COUNCILLOR: We've seen a reduction of 33 percent in street crime in the area. And that's fantastic. People are crying out to have CCTV. They feel secure. They feel they can wander the streets at night, that somebody's out there keeping an eye open for anything wrongdoing.
NEWTON: But critics warn the viewing of surveillance video should be left to the professionals, not your next door neighbors.
JEN CORLEW, HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: This is a bit voyeuristic. It's a big like a little big brother in the community. So, there's a lot of room for abuse. And I don't think that putting it in civilians' hands rather than the police hands is really effective.
NEWTON: Still, this surveillance service will be rolled out to as many as 70,000 homes by early next year. And as far as many residents are concerned, seeing is believing. They just feel safer knowing someone is watching.
Paula Newton, CNN, London.
ZAHN: And moving up on close to the top of the hour. "LARRY KING LIVE" is coming up at 9:00. Hi, Larry.
LARRY KING, HOST, LARRY KING LIVE: Hi, Paula. I missed you again in New York.
ZAHN: I know. It's crazy. Next time. So who's joining you tonight?
KING: I'll be there the week of the 10th, and I will find you.
ZAHN: I'm writing it down.
KING: We have got a great show tonight. Regis Philbin will be with us. Plus, Brandon Routh, Kevin Spacey and the director Bryan Singer of "Superman Returns." Have you seen it yet?
ZAHN: Plan to. Is it good?
KING: It is unbelievable. I saw it this morning. It's a great film. It's not just a summer action flick. It's a great movie. Great script. And this kid, Brandon Routh, next big star.
ZAHN: I'm going to follow up on all those predictions, Larry. I know what I'm going to go see this weekend. Thanks.
We're going to move along now and turn our attention next to a very strange disorder. Thousands of people say tiny strings are growing out of their skin. But could they be faking it? That's what some doctors think. We'll show you.
First, though, number four in our cnn.com countdown. Federal health officials say 44 customers at unlicensed tattoo parlors in Ohio, Kentucky and Vermont have developed an antibiotic-resistant skin infection.
Number three, the Pentagon says a rocket fired from a warship successfully locked down a -- that is knocked down a short-range missile. This comes as the U.S. and other countries are watching North Korea's reported preparations to test a long-range missile.
Number two is next.
ZAHN: And now, a baffling medical mystery. Think for a moment what it would be like if you have teeny tiny strings growing out from under your skin? Sound pretty bizarre? Well, a lot of doctors think so. But in fact, some don't buy it at all, even though thousands of people claim it's happening to them. Medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has tonight's "Vital Signs."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kind of bluish.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's kind of a semicircle, and the top is kind of reddish.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It sounds like something from "The X-Files."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The very first one was kind of a creamy white.
COHEN: People claim they have strings, not hairs, but strings, growing out of their skin.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's all a system, they are all connected together.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are just these awful little black things that intertwine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is this black spot back here.
COHEN: Doctors and nurses can't believe what they are seeing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are blue, they are red. They sometimes move, which is really bizarre.
GINGER SAVELY, NURSE PRACTITIONER: This didn't seem like anything I had ever seen that was coming out of the human body.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a mystery. It really is.
COHEN: The mystery starts here, in west Texas.
CAROL ARLEDGE, RANCHER: Good boy. Put your nose in there. COHEN: Rancher Carol Arledge was one of the first people to see white fibers and black specks popping out of her skin. She went to her dermatologist.
ARLEDGE: She said, I can't believe you did this to yourself. I was like, I didn't. And I said, well, do you want me to come back if it doesn't get better. She said no, if it doesn't get better, you need to find a psychiatrist.
COHEN: So, did Carol Arledge do this to herself? She says no.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You still have some active lesions there.
COHEN: And did Marny Winky (ph) scratch these sores into her own face? She also says no. Carol, Marny and thousands of others from various parts of the country complain of similar ailments. They say it feels like something's crawling beneath their skin and that they are sick and exhausted. The patients call it Morgellons Disease. On websites people post pictures they say prove it's a real illness. Now, even the Centers for Disease Control is looking into it.
GINGER SABLEY, NURSE PRACTIONER: These lesions on your head, just so I can clarify this ...
COHEN: Nurse practitioner Ginger Sabley was one of the first to people to treat Morgellons patients.
(on camera): You know all this sounds kind of crazy.
SABLEY: Yes. But, I know what I see, with my own eyes.
COHEN: She works with doctor Raphael Stricker, who says it reminds him of another disease he treated as a young physician.
DR. RAPHAEL STRICKER, TREATS MORGELLONS PATIENTS: I was in New York at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, when we started seeing all these gay men and drug users with these weird infections and nobody had a clue what it was.
COHEN: The mystery of Morgellons soon caught the attention of a Tulsa, Oklahoma researcher, Dr. Randy Weimor. His search began here.
DR. RANDY WEIMOR (ph), RESEARCHER: Here's a lovely red.
COHEN: He wondered, could the fibers in the skin simply have rubbed off of people's clothing?
WEIMOR: Here's a nice blue material. That probably will have some loose fibers that can be pulled off with scotch tape.
COHEN: When you took all of these clothing fibers, and put them under the microscope, did it look like the fibers underneath the skin of the Morgellans patients?
WEIMOR: No. Not at all. Totally different.
COHEN: Satisfied the fibers weren't textiles, he consulted with other colleagues at Oklahoma State University.
DR. STEVE EDDY, OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY: I didn't know what to think at first. I, of course, did a little research.
DR. RONDA CASEY (ph), OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY: I will admit at first I was skeptical.
COHEN: Doctors Ronda Casey and Steve Eddy agreed to see Morgellons patients.
CASEY: That is not a hair, the blue thing there. I'm going to get that. I would like forceps in this light.
COHEN: We were there when they brought in four patients.
CASEY: I'm going to see if I can get that little purple looking thing.
COHEN: Extracted fibers out. Made slides and looked at them under a microscope.
CASEY: Oh, it's red.
EDDY: It's red and blue.
COHEN: And this is what they saw. Black, red and blue fibers, lurking under the skin. Now, they've seen about 25 patients, and the OSU doctors are convinced Morgellans is real. But the medical establishment says they are wrong.
DR. NOAH SCHEINFELD: Morgellons is not real.
COHEN: Dr. Noah Scheinfeld is assistant professor of dermatology at Columbia University.
(on camera): So, this is all in their heads?
SCHEINFELD: It's all in their heads. This is somebody that's picking at themselves. And people can pick at themselves for all kind of reasons.
COHEN: But how does he explain the fibers? Dr. Scheinfeld says once the patients create a sore, they shove fibers into it.
CASEY: There was absolutely nothing on the surface there.
COHEN: But the OSU doctors say that's impossible. They say they found most of the fibers away from the sores, under unbroken, smooth skin. Still, no matter who you believe, there was one question no one here could answer for us. You looked at these fibers under the microscope. What do you think they are?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I have absolutely no clue.
COHEN: But Doctor Vitaly Citovsky thinks he might know.
DR. VITALY CITOVSKY, SUNY STONEYBROOK: We take this piece of skin, and then we extract genes from them.
COHEN: This biologist from SUNY Stoneybrook said he found a gene that only exists in plants inside the skin of the Morgellans patients. Many of the people who claim to have Morgellons have spent time working in the soil.
(on camera): Do you think in a couple of years you might be eating your words, maybe research will show you're wrong?
SCHEINFELD: In this case, I don't think so.
CASEY: I would challenge any of these physicians that think we are just feeding into the delusions to come and examine a group of these patients, and see what I've seen.
ZAHN: All right, so, Elizabeth, what are they suggesting here? If some of these patients have worked in the soil, just the mere exposure to the soil would make them more likely for these threads to have attached to their bodies? I don't get it.
COHEN: You know, Paula, that's completely unknown. The doctor you just saw at SUNY Stoneybrook, he's only done very preliminary work. He said, it's interesting to see, when I look into the skin of these Morgellans patients, I see DNA from something that could only come from a plant. He doesn't really know how it got there or what to do about it. He's just made that observation, and a lot more work would have to be done to answer some of the questions that would follow that observation.
ZAHN: So, very quickly, in closing, why can't lab work confirm one way or another what these pieces of string are, fiber are?
COHEN: In one word, really the answer is money. It would take money to test these fibers and to find out exactly what they were. And the doctors who truly believe that these fibers are real, they don't have the money. They are doing this here and there in their spare times. Most other doctors would say, money, you want money, this thing isn't real. Why should we give you any funding. So, it sort of sits there like that. There isn't the funding to do the kind of testing you would need to really figure out what these fibers are.
ZAHN: Fascinating, but very odd indeed. Elizabeth Cohen, not you, but the information in the piece. Thank you.
Right now, let's take a biz break.
ZAHN: Number two in our countdown, in Iraq, at least 17 people killed, in attacks in three different cities. Bombs also killed two U.S. soldiers.
The case that's rocked the Sunshine State tops the countdown tonight. See what it is, right out of the break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ZAHN: And the fed accused seven men of being part of a plot to blow up Chicago's Sears tower and buildings in Miami. That's it for all of us. Thanks for joining us. Have a good weekend. See you Monday night.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com