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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Deadly Mall Shooting; Murder-Suicide in Philadelphia; North Korea Nukes; Showdown Iran; Clinton vs. Obama; Wintry Blast; Reality Check; Radioactive Shells; Unintended Target
Aired February 12, 2007 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BEN WINSLOW, "DESERET MORNING NEWS" CORRESPONDENT (on the phone): ... casualties, but police are not saying how many yet. We have one shooter who walked into the Trolley Square Mall here in Salt Lake City, in downtown Salt Lake City and open fire. He is dead.
We have heard from witnesses that there may -- there was an off- duty police officer in the mall at the time who may have gotten into a shootout with the guy. That's what we're hearing from some witnesses; however, police are not confirming that right now.
They say everything is still under investigation. The entire mall is one crime scene right now. And it is being roped off with police tape as we speak. There are a number of S.W.A.T. Team officers here in their tactical gear. They've been going in and out of the mall right now and taking a look at the crime scene, which has been described to me as a lot of blood everywhere.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: What are witnesses saying about how this whole incident unfolded, Ben?
WINSLOW: I talked to a couple who was actually eating dinner, just sitting down to eat dinner and they were in an area where there was a window overlooking. They said they saw the man walk in with a younger man, white, about six foot tall, brown hair, tan trench coat. And they said he had a backpack and he just walked into the mall and started shooting.
They shouted, he's got a gun, everybody get down. And he just started shooting. We understand that he went through several areas.
I talked to one woman who saw -- who was a clerk in one of the shops. She saw the guy shoot a girl in the chest right in front of her and it's just -- there was just a lot of commotion.
People described seeing this man just walking through, aiming this shotgun that he had, what they said was a pump shotgun and just started opening fire on people.
There have been, again, what we know is there are several fatalities. We don't know how many exactly. And we know that the shooter is dead. That is what police are confirming, that there was one shooter and he is dead.
ROBERTS: We just want to point out that we're getting video here from KSL, our affiliate in Salt Lake City. Ben, when you say that people -- that he walked in with his pump action shotgun and just started shooting people, did the witnesses tell you that it appeared to be completely random? Did it look like he was going after anybody in particular?
WINSLOW: One person told me it looked like he was aiming, but who he was aiming at we don't exactly know if there was one specific target or if it was just random. But it appears from what the witnesses have told me, that it was very random, just completely random.
ROBERTS: Ben Winslow of the "Deseret Morning News." Ben, thanks very much. Thanks very much to you, we'll get back to you a little bit later on in this hour if there's a little bit more news to report on that mall shooting. thank you very much. We'll get back if there's more news to report on that, mall shooting in Salt Lake City, multiple fatalities, including apparently the shooter dead now.
More breaking news, to Philadelphia now and another deadly shooting. Authorities say three people were killed and another injured in what appears to be a murder/suicide at a marketing firm in the city's old Navy Yard.
Police tell CNN it happened at the offices of a company called Zigzag Net. Police say the shooter was among the dead in that incident as well.
(END BREAKING NEWS)
ROBERTS: Moving on now to a deal being hammered off to head off a crisis that were it to explode, could make the war in Iraq look tame by comparison.
Tonight, diplomats from North Korea and five other countries, including Russia, China and the United States, are trying to wrap up an agreement that would rein in Pyongyang's nuclear program.
There are serious questions tonight about what the deal would cover and what it doesn't and whether Kim Jong-il can be trusted at all.
The talks are going on in Beijing, where CNN's John Vause is working the story. And he joins us now live.
John, further talks just got under way in the past couple of hours. So what happens now? Are they trying to just really solidify this deal that they brokered yesterday or are they trying to expand it?
JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's pretty much right, John. The senior U.S. negotiator here, Christopher Hill, says Washington has now signed off on this tentative agreement.
A senior Bush administration official describes it as a good first step. We're still waiting to hear officially from the other governments involved in the six party talks.
Right now delegates are meeting again. They're going through the final details. We're told it will be another long day.
As far as the North Koreans are concerned, Christopher Hill says that they have read every word, and he is hopeful that they will sign on.
But when Kim Jong-il is ultimately calling the shots, nothing is certain -- John.
John, the specifics of this plan have yet to be announced, but what do you know about it there on the ground?
VAUSE: What we've been hearing is that this draft proposal is based on a one-page document written by the Chinese.
Stage one would see the north Koreans freeze their plutonium facility in return for energy assistance. This is where everything almost came unstuck over the last couple of days. The North Koreans demanded a massive amount of energy assistance. The delegates said, no, that was too much. Now it appears the North Koreans have backed away from that claim a little.
Now, stage two could reportedly be the most difficult stage at all. That's when Kim Jong-il is meant to give up his nuclear arsenal.
Now, since testing a nuclear device last October it's believed the North Koreans may have as many as 12 nuclear weapons -- John.
ROBERTS: Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton said today, John, that this deal is a very bad idea, that he hopes that the president still has enough time to say no, that it's going to show the United States as being weak while trying to deal with Iraq and Iran, that it goes against established administration policy. But your suggestion is there that the Bush administration is looking at this as a win for them?
VAUSE: Well, certainly on the foreign policy side, Washington is looking for some good news. This is at least a bright spot on the horizon. John Bolton has basically been telling -- he's talking about the line which the White House held for many, many years when it came to North Korea. And that is that you don't punish bad behavior. You don't give in, you don't give them fuel eight in return for giving up their nuclear program.
But at the end of the day, a win is a win is a win and look out for a lot of Christopher Hill in the next 24 hours selling this as a significant victory in the foreign policy area for this administration -- John.
ROBERTS: Well, Bolton is not in the administration anymore and it sounds like they're not listening to him.
John Vause in Beijing, thanks. Appreciate it.
A rough day in Iraq today. Three bombs went off in Baghdad, killing at least 90 people. Meantime, the war of words between the United States and Iran over Iraq is ratcheting up. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ROBERTS (voice-over): These pictures held up as evidence of Iran's meddling in Iraq. Weapons the U.S. says provided to Shia militias used to kill U.S. and coalition troops.
The photos were released Sunday in Baghdad and quickly prompted a denial from Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): But we think that the U.S. is following another policy, is trying to hide its defeats and failures and that's why it's pointing fingers to others.
ROBERTS: And he may in part have a point, according to Iran Expert Patrick Clawson.
PATRICK CLAWSON, HE WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: Inside Iraq it is more acceptable to talk about the foreign rule in causing violence than to talk about the Iraqi rule. So to blame Iran for the Shia random killings plays well with Iraqi audiences.
ROBERTS: But the Iranian weapons were not brand new finds. In fact, they were collected over the past couple of years. So why unveil them now?
To some critics, it looks like an aggressive step toward a new war with Iran. Here's what the commander in chief had to say about that.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I guess my reaction to all the noise about, you know, he wants to go to war, is, first of all, I don't understand the tactics. And I guess I would say it's political.
ROBERTS: In fact, the president probably speaks for many on that front. What are the tactics in play?
The reality is that the administration is trying to send different messages to different audiences.
CLAWSON: The U.S. has for a long time understated the Iranian role in Iraq in the hopes that, in fact, there would be ways found to resolve these issues for, after all, the Iraqi government wants to have as good relations as it can with its large neighbor to the east.
ROBERTS: Now, as the problems in Iraq worsen, U.S. allies are growing restless. On the one hand, the U.S. has to assure its friends in the Middle East that it's willing to stand up to Iran. But at the same time convince its European partners it's not warmongering, a concern boldly stated by Russia's President Vladimir Putin this weekend.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): One state, the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way. ROBERTS: And then there's the domestic Iranian audience where there's been debate recently over whether Ahmadinejad is getting too aggressive.
Publicizing the Iranian weapons at a time like this could add further fuel to his critics at hope, critics, the American government has always been careful to court.
ROBERTS (on camera): As for those weapons that the U.S. military says Iran is providing to Shiite extremists in Iraq, here's the raw data.
EFPs, or explosive formed penetrators, are canisters that detonate to form fist-sized pieces of molten copper that can travel fast, up to 1.2 miles per second. The metal can penetrate four inches of armor at 100 yards.
They are different from other IEDs that we've seen in Iraq, most of which are homemade explosives. They can be any shape or size.
At least 1,327 U.S. troops have been killed by IEDs, making them the number one killer for Americans in Iraq. Another 11,861 have been injured.
New questions as well tonight about one of the U.S. military's most powerful weapons and what it could be doing to our troops off the battlefield.
Clash of the Democratic titans. She voted for the war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have taken responsibility for my vote.
ROBERTS: He was against it.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am proud of the fact that I opposed this war from the start.
ROBERTS: But how do Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama feel about each other?
Eight feet, 10 feet, even 12 feet of snow. Can you dig it? They sure are and they're about to get more. The forecast, ahead on 360.
ROBERTS: It's the economy, stupid, became the catch phrase and the focus for Bill Clinton's run for the White House in 1992. Four presidential campaigns later, and another Clinton is getting a similar message. This time, though, about the war in Iraq. CNN's Candy Crowley report.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They circled each other from afar. She in New Hampshire.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's been cold.
CROWLEY: He in Iowa. The battle of two Titans under way.
In one corner, Hillary Clinton, the Senator from New York, who voted for the Iraq war resolution.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have taken responsibility for my vote. The mistakes were made by this president, who misled this country and this Congress into a war that should not have been waged.
CROWLEY: In the other, Barack Obama, the newby who was not yet in the Senate to vote on Iraq, but says he always a opposed it.
OBAMA: Even at the time, it was possible to make judgments that this would not work out well. I feel good about the fact that my judgment was that we shouldn't be proceeding.
CROWLEY: They are caught up in the maelstrom of Iraq.
CLNTON: I know that there is a great deal of frustration and anger and outrage, that we can't just wave a magic wand and make things change. I wish we could.
CROWLEY: In a party moving ever to the left on Iraq, she has grown increasingly vocal in her criticism of prewar intelligence and the conduct of the war. But that vote sticks in the crawl of the party faithful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to know if right here, right now, once and for all, without nuance, you can say that that war authorization vote was a mistake?
CROWLEY: While she gets roughed up repeatedly on Iraq, Obama is generally applauded for opposing the war all along, for calling for a withdrawal of all troops by next year, though he did face a handful of protesters for whom 2008 is too far away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your name?
CROWLEY: Still, the most unexpected hit of the weekend came from the right and down under. John Howard, the prime minister of Australia, is a close friend of President Bush's.
JOHN HOWARD, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: If I were running al Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008 and pray as many times as possible for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats. CROWLEY: Obama took it and ran.
OBAMA: So if he's ginned up to fight the good fight in Iraq, I would suggest that he calls up another 20,000 Australians and sends them to Iraq.
CROWLEY (on camera): He talks universal healthcare, and so does she. She talks improving education, and so does he. But history will write that the campaign of '08 began where the election of '06 left off, Iraq.
Candy Crowley, CNN, Chicago.
ROBERTS: And Former Presidential Advisor David Gergen joins me now from Boston.
David, I thought that Barack Obama had a pretty sharp comeback to John Howard there. But how do you think this whole dynamic between he and Hillary Clinton is going to play out? It has stayed fairly collegial at this point with sharp innuendo, but do you expect it's going to get nasty?
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: No, I don't. I think it's going to be unusually civil. There's too much at stake for the Democratic Party. Each one knows that the other one could emerge as the nominee.
And there's something more here, too, John. It's not just the traditional, you don't want to scar up your rival too much and lose the general. But there's an overlay of race here. And what Democrats know from the past in places like New York City, for example, if you get a Democratic primary in which there's a Latino or black candidate and a white candidate and the white candidate emerges from a really rough brawling campaign, oftentimes the black voters or the Latino voters will stay home, and the Republican runs off with the general election.
And so that's underneath the surface here. It's not that Barack Obama has caught fire yet with black voters. He has not. Hillary Clinton enjoys a lot of their support.
But even so, you have to be extremely careful as a candidate when you've got this racial divide in the mix as well as the normal rivalries of politics.
ROBERTS: Are you surprised, David, at the level of support that Hillary Clinton has from African-American voters? A recent "CBS News" poll found that 52 percent of African-American voters favored Hillary Clinton, whereas it was only 28 percent for Barack Obama?
GERGEN: I'm not at all surprised. That's really a legacy of the Clinton years. As you know, Bill Clinton was seen by the black community as one of them, in effect. When the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame opened, Bill Clinton was one of the first inductees. Mrs. Clinton shared in that with support from the black community. Those bonds are very, very strong, so I'm not surprised.
But I have to tell you something. At this point, John, I don't feel yet that the voters are focused on issues such as Iraq or their difference on Iraq so much. I think people are now -- especially after this weekend when Barack Obama declared and had that "60 Minutes" interview. My sense from talking to people is they're now shaking hands with Barack Obama for the first time. A lot of people are sort of waking up and asking, who is this person? He looks more interesting than I thought, I want to give it more time, I want to get to know who he is, and then we'll get to the issues.
But I sense we're in an introductory. Everybody knows Hillary Clinton. She's been a staple of American politics for a long time. Barack Obama is relatively new to most people.
ROBERTS: Yes. It's really a day of discovery for a lot of Democrats on the front.
ROBERTS: Let me flip over to the Republican side. Of course, there was news a little while ago, a few weeks ago when Rudy Giuliani's campaign playbook was discovered. And the circumstances surrounding that are still unclear. But the smokinggun.com today, David, put up on its Web site his 1993 campaign playbook.
And among the tactics that he was using was to really coddle Democratic voters in the city of New York. And here's what one of those plays from the book said. It said, quote, "Giuliani is pro- choice. He supports public funding for abortion. He will continue city funding for abortions at city hospitals. Nothing more, nothing less." How's that going to play with conservatives in this Republican primary?
GERGEN: Well, it's going to drive home the fact that Rudy Giuliani, like Mitt Romney, you know, has held much more liberal positions than the party base has held.
Mitt Romney has moved over dramatically, so much so that many people think he's hurt himself in the process. Rudy Giuliani is softening around the edges, but has not moved. I think it's always understood, and this playbook just emphasizes, it's always been understood that the tough part for Rudy Giuliani is going to be to go to the base of this party and convince them that despite his views, they should support him. Because they won't support him because of his views.
ROBERTS: Another play from the book was to distance himself from being a, quote, "Reagan Republican." In the 1993 playbook it said, quote, "The Giuliani campaign should emphasize its candidate's independence from traditional national Republican policies and focus on his un-Republican views on many social issues of concern to New Yorkers, like abortion, gun-control and bias protection for homosexuals."
So now he's running for the Republican nomination. Has he got to try to reinvent himself again?
GERGEN: I think he will run as a Reagan Republican with some variations. But I'll tell you this, John, he better not have too many more playbooks out there. They come out with some regularity, don't they?
ROBERTS: They certainty do. David, thanks very much. Always good to see you.
GERGEN: Good to see you.
ROBERTS: Just ahead on 360, a year of living dangerously in Afghanistan. What an American aide worker saw on the ground that made her lose hope for the mission.
Plus, 12 feet of snow and bracing for more. How a town, buried in white, is coping. A live report just ahead on 360.
ROBERTS: In the northern reaches of New York state, in towns like Mexico and Redfield, they're still digging out, even as another big storm is headed their way.
The region is used to snow, lots of snow. But this much snow? Twelve feet in some places is more than they have seen in decades.
CNN's Gary Tuchman joins me now live from Redfield.
Gary, how's it locking there? And where are you?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, I am in Redfield, New York. The reason we're here is because this town has gotten more snow than any other town in New York state, perhaps a record for one weather system.
You drive through Redfield, it is like driving through a glacial outpost. This is a house. I am leaning against a roof right now. The Yerdon family has let me use their house for a demonstration to show you this is not a snow drift. This is how much snow they have gotten here in Redfield, population 607, in the last 10 days from one lake-effect snow system. It goes all the way to the top of the roof, it blocks their front door, it blocks their windows. And this is the case with every house in this town here.
One hundred forty-one inches, 11'9" of snow in the last 10 days. And that may be an all-time record for one weather system. The reason we can't state clearly it's a record is because in these little towns, they've only had weather measurers for the last 12 years. Though, it certainly is a record for the last 12 years.
I want to bring in Carol Yerdon. She is the mother of the house. She has a 7-year-old son, a husband, who are asleep right now. They have to go to work tomorrow.
How -- I mean, if we had this in Atlanta -- if we had one inch in Atlanta, people would be panicking. Here you have had 141 inches. Are people panicking?
CAROL YERDON, REDFIELD, NEW YORK, RESIDENT: No, we don't panic. We're prepared. You know, we expect winter every year. Sometimes it comes maybe all at once, like it did this time.
TUCHMAN: I mean, December and January had been very warm and relatively snowless, right?
YERDON: Oh, it was unbelievable and there was absolutely nothing to talk about in Redfield.
TUCHMAN: I mean, it seems a little scary to me. Your windows are blocked. Your front door is blocked. Is it a little claustrophobic in the house? It's dark, right?
YERDON: Well, no, that's why you find us sometimes outside. Shoveling never hurt anybody, you know. And so you got to make use of it. My son loves to play in it. My husband plows it, keeps it clear so we can get in and out.
TUCHMAN: You were telling me, though, you are afraid to leave the house, go too far away from the house when you have the snow coming in?
YERDON: Well, it's something some people don't think about. Once you get your driveway clear and then there's another storm coming. When you come back and there's two or three feet of snow on your driveway, you don't want to be left out on the road.
TUCHMAN: You're hearty folk.
YERDON: Well, we try to be. We try.
TUCHMAN: Thank you very much for talking to us.
YERDON: You're welcome.
TUCHMAN: It's cold out. It's 5 below zero, right, Carol?
YERDON: Yes, it is.
TUCHMAN: Cold for you, too, right?
YERDON: It is even cold for us. Yes, it is.
TUCHMAN: Thanks for talking with me.
YERDON: Thank you.
TUCHMAN: One thing I want to add in addition to this record, we are talking about a yearly possible record too -- 420 inches is the all-time record here for a year. That was 10 years ago. Right now they're at 287. That's about 60 percent of that 420, and we're about halfway done with the winter.
John, back to you. ROBERTS: Fabulous there if you like snow.
Gary, thanks very much.
Another wave of winter storms is already battering the Midwest and heading east. Here's a live picture from KCTV in Kansas City. And look at what they're dealing with there. Snow is beginning to come down fairly heavily.
Meantime, CNN Meteorologist Rob Marciano is in Washington. He joins us with the latest on the track of this storm.
Expecting some snow where you are, Rob?
ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We're probably going to get a little bit of snow here, potentially some ice as well. You know, the cold air has been in place for a couple of weeks, but the moisture hasn't really mixed in, with the exception of the Great Lakes helping things out in upstate New York. You saw what happened there.
Now we're tapping some of the moisture, and this is a big storm that is going to affect millions of people, especially the eastern two-thirds of the country.
You see the radar here. Not only does it show the precipitation, the snow to the north, the rain to the east and thunderstorms down to the south. It also shows the circulation. Right now that is right over Oklahoma City.
As we move ahead towards tomorrow, the forecast position of that storm is going to move off to the east and the sides size of this storm will only get larger. The center will be somewhere over Illinois or Indiana. A warm front stretching off to the east, cold front draping down to the south. Along that cold front we could easily see some severe weather, potentially some tornadoes as well. So, we're getting everything when it comes to this storm, from tornadoes, potentially, severe weather down in the south in the form of thunderstorms. Icing conditions potentially across the Ohio River Valley and also banked up against the Appalachians, and then snow especially in through the Great Lakes and then through Upstate New York.
Just how much snow? Let's look at the forecast snowfall potential for the next 48 hours. The darker the colors are, the more snow you can expect to see.
Generally speaking, six to 12 inches expected across central Illinois and central Indiana. Twelve-inch plus swathes, about 100 miles or so wide there. You see it across the Ohio River, mostly north of the Ohio River, from Cleveland up through Buffalo, Buffalo to Albany and north of Albany, and through Upstate New York, 12 inches of snow is certainly possible.
As far as the really big cities across the I-95 corridor, once again, most likely, Boston, Hartford, New York, Philly will be spared the brunt of this storm. But here in D.C., we could easily get some icing conditions. As a matter of fact, John, a winter storm warning has been posted for the D.C. area through Wednesday afternoon for the potential of seeing some sleet, freezing rain, potentially coating this -- the capital with a thin layer of ice. And as you can imagine, that would bring things to a standstill. We'll see what happens.
ROBERTS: My daughter is already looking forward to a snow day. But I'm going to bet you, Rob, that it's not going to snow. And you know why?
MARCIANO: Why's that?
ROBERTS: I gassed up and changed the oil in the snow blower.
MARCIANO: You're right about that. You may be right.
ROBERTS: All right, thanks, Rob, appreciate it.
MARCIANO: All right, John.
ROBERTS: Still ahead on 360, an update on that deadly mall shooting in Salt Lake City.
An American woman in Afghanistan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLLY HIGGINS, AFGHANISTAN AID WORKER: The men literally looked just bewildered, bewildered by me. And so I just felt like kind of a freak of nature really.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: What she saw that turned her high hopes into dashed expectations. And what she says it will take to defeat the Taliban. And is the military keeping secrets from soldiers?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANICE CAMACHO-MATTHEW, GERARD MATTHEW'S WIFE: Because he wasn't told it's out there, he exposed my daughter to this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Troubling new questions about radioactive shells used to destroy the enemy. And the damage they could be doing to our troops off the battlefield. Ahead, on 360.
ROBERTS: Defense Secretary Robert Gates, meeting today in Islamabad, Pakistan, with President Pervez Musharraf. Topping the agenda, Afghanistan. Gates is seeking Pakistan's help in preventing an expected Taliban offensive.
This past weekend Secretary Gates warned NATO allies that failing to commit troops and money to the war would be in his view a mark of shame.
Tonight, a somewhat different view of the war through the eyes of an American aid worker who spent a year in that country.
First, though, a gentle warning that what you're about to see is not pretty.
Jamie McIntyre reports.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was this scene of desecration, the bodies of dead Taliban fighters burned by U.S. psychological operations troops in 2005, that seared the consciousness of an American aid worker just beginning her year long tour in Afghanistan.
HOLLY HIGGINS, AFGHANISTAN AID WORKER: The burning of the bodies over in Kandahar by U.S. psy-ops guys, what to say? I kept too busy to feel rage as the reports rolled in. But if I had been still, that's where I would have been gone. We have been placed at tremendous risk because of their actions. There is no excuse, no justification. There is something broken along the chain of leadership.
MCINTYRE: As Higgins rereads her laptop journal, she says it reveals the ground truth. It's a record, she says, of how well meaning intentions utterly failed there because the Taliban still rules, often using a simple weapon of intimidation.
HIGGINS: It's called the night letter and it's served as notice to holy warriors to fight back against the unholy infidels. It specifically states that any Afghan known to work as a cook or a driver or engage in social intercourse with the likes of us, will result in the execution of the Afghan.
MCINTYRE (on camera): Higgins is now back home in the U.S., but for that year her home was a sandbag compound in Lashkar Gah, capital of Aghanistan's southern Helmand Province, where every year, a bigger harvest of opium poppies fuels the Taliban resistance.
All but one friend told her not to go. Security experts warned she would be a target.
HIGGINS: And that the Taliban are, they're patient and they'll wait and they'll watch and they'll get you.
MCINTYRE (voice-over): Fair-skinned, blonde, the only woman at a U.S.-funded development project, Higgins couldn't hide.
HIGGINS: I had been warned that the locals would believe I was a prostitute brought in from the West to service as the ex-pat staff and that this blatant violation of Islamic morality in the conservative south would put the team at heightened risk for violent retaliation.
There was a lot of staring. The men literally looked just bewildered, bewildered by me. And so I just felt like kind of a freak of nature really.
MCINTYRE: Higgins' job for that year was to show case economic development success stories.
HIGGINS: There was just -- there was really very little to say. And it was heartbreaking.
MCINTYRE: In fact, she could point to only one project, a cobblestone road that for a time provided work for the locals until the funds ran out.
HIGGINS: See how it just -- it's just beautiful. And these are all from the nearby Helmand River.
MCINTYRE: It just didn't last.
HIGGINS: No, it's a drop in the bucket. And, boy, we had to milk it over and over and over and over, because that's what we had.
MCINTYRE: There was little else. Here's the new women's center, with shiny Singer sewing machines donated by the U.S. government. It's empty, unused. All the women scared off by the Taliban.
MCINTYRE (on camera): So after having spent a year there, are you discouraged?
HIGGINS: I am. I am.
MCINTYRE (voice-over): In a "Washington Post" opinion piece last month Higgins wrote, "Now I a home, hearing with dismay that President Bush lauds our work as a success and is requesting more aid for Afghanistan."
HIGGINS: Helmand is no success story. You ask anyone there, anyone.
MCINTYRE: After a year, far from the U.S. military, Holly Higgins' ground truth is this, grandiose plans to improve life there were defeated by Taliban bribes. Roughly $200 a month for Afghans to resist the U.S.
HIGGINS: We could have paid $250 a month for high and -- you know, quick impact, high visibility projects that would have encouraged the citizens to sort of understand that we were their allies.
MCINTYRE: Is it a lost cause? 5,000 new British troops are going into Helmand, but Higgins says it will take money, not military force, to defeat the Taliban.
HIGGINS: They desperately wanted our help. They were happy that we were there. And we've lost that to a great degree.
MCINTYRE: During her year of living dangerously, Higgins learned the hard way that in Afghanistan, good intentions are not enough and disappointment can be as perennial as the spring poppies.
Jamie McIntyre, CNN, Dickeysville, Maryland.
ROBERTS: Up next, back to the war in Iraq. Are U.S. troops becoming victims of their own weapons? We're talking about possible radioactive contamination. See what our investigation uncovered, when 360 continues.
ROBERTS: Before heading into combat in Iraq, U.S. troops are trained to use a vast arsenal. But some veterans now say they are falling victim to one of the items in it. What's more, they say, nobody warned them about the danger.
CNN's Greg Hunter investigates.
GREG HUNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the U.S. military's most potent anti-tank weapon, depleted uranium, or D.U. On impact, it burns through armor like a hot knife through butter, creating a plume of radioactive dust.
Specialist Gerard Matthew cleaned up vehicles hit by D.U. during his five months in Iraq in 2003. He says breathing in depleted uranium dust made him sick.
GERARD MATTHEW, IRAQ WAR VETERAN: I came back with chronic migraines, swelling in my face and vision problems.
HUNTER: Matthew also says his 2-1/2-year-old daughter's birth defect is a direct result of his D.U. exposure. He and seven other vets are suing the Army over depleted uranium.
The U.S. Army insists its own testing of Iraq veterans shows no direct link between D.U. and illness or birth defects in humans.
COL. MARKMELANSON, WALTER REED ARMY MEDICAL CENTER: The radioactivity from depleted uranium is localized within the sight of impact and does not pose a significant immediate health hazard.
HUNTER: The World Health Organization and Institute of Medicine seem to agree. They found no direct evidence linking D.U. to birth defects or cancer in humans.
But a Pentagon sponsored study by the Armed Forces Radiobiology Institute show the combined effect of D.U.'s heavy metal and its radioactivity can damage DNA and may cause genetic defects and tumors in animals and human stem cells. The military says that study does not prove a link between D.U. and illness in humans. But the military has warned about the potential dangers of breathing in D.U. contaminated dust like in this instructional video produced for the U.S. military in 1995.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Heavy metal poisoning may occur, which can cause damage to internal organs and tissues.
HUNTER: That same video talks about radioactive particles that can be trapped in the lungs and possible water and soil contamination.
The Army's leading expert on D.U. hazard awareness training concedes these are all possibilities. But U.S. troops going over to Iraq never saw this tape.
MELANSON: There were lots of errors and conflicting messages in that training video, so it was not finalized and distributed to the troops.
HUNTER: Instead, the Army's official training video used since 2000 describes D.U. contamination this way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Remember, the D.U. intakes exceeding U.S. safety standards do not mean that you will suffer any adverse health effects.
HUNTER: The new video does tell soldiers to wear gloves and masks, especially inside D.U.-damaged vehicles or within 50 meters of fires that may involve D.U. Problem is, some soldiers, like Gerard Matthew, say they never saw it.
Dr. Asaf Durakovic studied the effects of D.U. on veterans of the first Gulf War for the U.S. military. He was alarmed by his findings. Now a private researcher, he also tested recent Gulf War vets, including Gerard Matthew, whom Durakovic says has dangerously high levels of D.U. in his body.
DR. ASAF DURAKOVIC, URANIUM MEDICAL RESEARCH CENTER: Inhalation of uranium dust is harmful.
HUNTER: Even in small amounts?
DURAKOVIC: Even in the amount of one atom.
HUNTER: Durakovic says those small atoms emit radiation for the rest of a soldier's life.
(On camera): Can't that hurt a soldier in the long run?
DR. MICHAEL KIRKPATRICK, DEFENSE DEPARTMENT HEALTH AFFAIRS: It would come, then, to the dose, the total dose in your body. And those particles are very, very small.
HUNTER (voice-over): Matthew's wife wishes her husband had known more about the potential dangers of D.U. JANICE CAMACHO-MATTHEW, GERARD MATTHEW'S WIFE: Because he wasn't told what's out there, he exposed my daughter to this. But it's not his fault. He was just trying to help the country.
HUNTER (on camera): The Defense Department says the U.S. military used 320 tons of depleted uranium munitions in the first Gulf War. And despite repeated requests, they couldn't tell us how much they used in this Gulf War. However, published reports suggest they used between 1,100 and 2,200 tons, as much as six times as in the first Gulf War.
Greg Hunter, CNN, New York.
ROBERTS: Up next, part two of Greg's investigation. Iraq War vets now facing a health battle and taking their complaints to court. Do they have a case? You're watching 360.
ROBERTS: Shells made of depleted uranium can cut through enemy armor, potentially saving American lives. But some now say this battlefield blessing also comes with a home front curse.
Here's part two of Greg Hunter's investigation.
GREG HUNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Samawah, Iraq, spring 2003, site of a fierce coalition offensive. Soldiers operating, sleeping and eating in areas that were hit by depleted uranium, or D.U.
For some soldiers, it marked the beginning of another type of battle. These five National Guard veterans claim they got sick from serving there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just got to the point where I could not physically stand sometimes. The headaches were unbearable. I would get dizzy spells.
HUNTER: They report similar ailments, painful urination, headaches and joint pain. They say Army doctors blamed their symptoms on post traumatic stress. We showed them a tape the Army made in 1995, a tape the Army never distributed. It warned of potential D.U. hazards.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We could have put something over our faces to keep from breathing that stuff in.
HUNTER: The Army's expert on D.U. training concedes some information contained on the tape is true. For instance, inhaling radioactive particles can be harmful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alpha is the least penetrating, but is the most hazardous if it does get into the body.
HUNTER (on camera): So you're saying in part this is correct, but too much information.
ANTHONY YONNONE, IRAQ WAR VETERAN: It really doesn't provide any useful information to the soldier.
HUNTER (voice-over): These vets say they were never warned about D.U. and that's why they're suing the Army, claiming it knowingly exposed them to D.U. dust and failed to properly treat them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They didn't furnish us with any of that information.
HUNTER (on camera): At all?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At all.
HUNTER: Make you angry?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because here we are sick. We don't know why. The Army doesn't know why. And they're just calling us liars.
HUNTER (voice-over): The veterans' claims against the government may be barred by a law protecting the military from lawsuits by soldiers. But a judge is permitting the soldiers' malpractice claims to go forward.
DURAKOVIC: I personally call it not so depleted uranium.
HUNTER: Dr. Asaf Durakovic says his tests of these veterans showed abnormally high levels of D.U. in their urine, seriously threatening their health.
DURAKOVIC: There is genetic change and chromosomal operations in the people who have been found positive with depleted uranium.
HUNTER: The military's current top health expert says tests on thousands of veterans from both Iraq wars have produced very few positive D.U. tests.
DR. MICHAEL KIRKPATRICK, DEFENSE DEPARTMENT HEALTH AFFAIRS: We are not seeing it in 74 individuals from the most heavily exposed. And that, I think, is really the golden standard. If you'll take a look at people who had heavy exposure, internalization, some still having the depleted uranium in their bodies, still excreting very high levels in their urine, and their health appears at this point to be normal.
HUNTER: Some scientists and politicians claim the Army's testing is not sophisticated enough. Connecticut State Representative Pat Dillon helped pass legislation allowing her state to do its own testing of National Guardsmen.
PAT DILLON (D), CONNECTICUT STATE HOUSE: It's a heavy metal. It gets absorbed into your bones. So I don't think that the test that they're using is sensitive enough to find whether or not you've been contaminated.
HUNTER: The Army tells CNN its policy is to give every soldier training in depleted uranium and hazard protection. It also has an updated instructional video produced in 2000. We asked why these soldiers say not only did they not see the video, they knew nothing about D.U. before going to Iraq.
MELANSON: I'm not able to give you any statistics on who received training and who didn't receive training. I can just talk about the training that was provided and what the policy is.
HUNTER: And even if they are trained, the military makes no guarantees these radioactive particles won't hurt soldiers in the future.
(on camera): That little small amount of radioactivity that keeps irradiating the cells over and over again for as long as you live, you're guaranteeing our service people that they won't get cancer from that?
KIRKPATRICK: I can't give that kind of guarantee as a physician. You know I can't do that.
HUNTER: That's what we're talking about.
KIRKPATRICK: There is no guarantee that they will and there's no guarantee they won't.
HUNTER: Dr. Durakovic says, one thing's for sure, a large portion of Iraq is contaminated, particularly in the south where major tank battles took place. He calls it, quote, "a radiological sewer." The Army adamantly denies that.
Greg Hunter, CNN, New York.
ROBERTS: Well, on the radar tonight, Jason Carroll's report on Marine Lance Corporal Robert Pennington. He's facing murder charges for shooting an Iraqi civilian. A lot of comments on the blog tonight.
John, in Bellevue, Washington, writes, "As a former Marine and combat veteran, I can tell you that this Marine is in a terrible position if he was given those orders. He can follow them and be tried as a war criminal or he can refuse and be tried for not doing his duty." And this from Barbara, in Columbia, Maryland, "Well, if he had issues with killing an innocent, as a good Christian might feel, then he shouldn't have shot the man. Period."
As always, we welcome your views. Just go to cnn.com/360blog and weigh in.
Up next, an update on two breaking stories, including a deadly shooting inside a shopping mall.
(BEGIN BREAKING NEWS)
ROBERTS: We have been following a pair of breaking stories tonight. Here's an update for you.
In Salt Lake City, a deadly shooting inside a trendy shopping mall has left as many as five people dead. In addition, a fire department spokesman tells CNN three people were wounded. He says one suspect is among the fatalities and police are searching for a possible second suspect.
And CNN has confirmed three people were killed and another was injured in what appears to be a murder/suicide at a marketing firm in Philadelphia's old Navy Yard. Police say it happened at the offices of a company called Zigzag.Net.
(END BREAKING NEWS)
ROBERTS: There were other headlines around the country as well today. Some of them merely embarrassing.
Erica Hill has our 360 bulletin.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, the FBI is losing three or four laptop computers every month. That's according to a new report from the Justice Department. The report also finds the bureau often doesn't know if the information on those computers is classified or sensitive. The Justice Department's inspector general says the laptops could have things like personal or case information or they could contain classified material on FBI operations.
Testimony is underway in Louisiana's first Katrina insurance lawsuit. A homeowner, who claims Allstate failed to properly pay his damage claim, took the stand today. Lawrence Tomlinson and his wife, Elizabeth, accuse the company of bad faith, and say it underpaid them for wind damage that tore a hole in their roof.
Forget carpooling, the White House says building new highways and charging drivers fees to use them is a better way to ease congestion. The White House made the suggestion in its annual report on the U.S. economy. And there's some new evidence that chimpanzees may have had their own stone age. An international team of researchers reports chimps were using stone tools to crack nuts more than 4,000 years ago. They say their findings suggest a common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans started using tools more than 7 million years ago when the two species started to evolve separately -- John.
ROBERTS: Erica, thanks.
And we want you to help us keep them honest. If there is a wrong that needs to be made right in your community, go online and tell us about it at cnn.com/360.
I'm John Roberts, in for Anderson Cooper. We'll see you again tomorrow night. Thanks for joining us.
Stay tuned, "LARRY KING LIVE" is next.
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