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CNN NEWSROOM

Florida Coroner to Release Report on Smith's Death; British Demand Release of Military Members

Aired March 25, 2007 - 17:00   ET

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


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: On the hot seat, top senators are talking about the future of U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. We'll take you to Washington for the very latest.
What killed Anna Nicole Smith? It's been the subject of speculation for weeks now. Now we may finally get some answers about her mysterious death.

And pups for peace? Man's best friend is the newest tool in the war on terror.

Hello everyone, I'm Fredricka Whitfield and you're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

First this hour, the confrontation with Iran. It deepened today on parallel fronts within the last few hours, Tehran responded to newly-approved U.N. sanctions by announcing plans to limit cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watch dog group. United Nations inspectors have been allowed to keep tabs on the Iranian nuclear program. But today's announcement makes their status unclear. A trip to a key facility had been expected this week. Iran insists the new sanctions will not deter its ambitions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MANOUCHEHR MOTTAKI, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: The main point in this issue is to stand on political will for solution, not to ignore, not to avoid the essential right of our nation to realize and enjoy its rights to have nuclear technology of course for peaceful purposes.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: With the nuclear disagreement getting hotter, there's the sudden dispute with Britain now over Iran's seizure of more than a dozen Britons at sea. Today Iran won't say where the captures are being held and its refusing request to let British officials actually see them. With the latest now from London, CNN's Robin Oakley.

BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN EUROPEAN POLITICAL EDITOR (voice-over): The 15 British sailors and marines, one of them a woman, were captured Friday by the Iranian revolutionary guard corps navy. Tehran alleges they trespassed into Iranian waters as they patrolled the Persian Gulf on anti-smuggling duties. On Sunday the affair took a new turn with Tony Blair using a meeting of EU leaders in Berlin to warn Iran's leadership they must swiftly release the captives.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: This is a very serious situation. And there is no doubt at all that these people were taken from a boat in Iraqi water. It simply is not true that they went into Iranian territorial waters. And I hope the Iranian government understands how fundamental an issue this is for us. We've certainly sent those messages back to them very, very clearly, indeed. I hope that this can be resolved over the next few days. But the quicker it is resolved, the easier it will be for all of us. But they should not be under any doubts at all about how seriously we regard this act which was unjustified and wrong.

OAKLEY (on camera): Mr. Blair's been strongly supported by other EU leaders, by while British ministers remain hopeful of an early release for the men, the prime minister's intervention will inevitably ratchet up the tension. That's already been increased the by the U.N. Security Council vote to intensify sanctions against Iran over its uranium enrichment program. Robin Oakley, CNN, London.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Finding common goals between two deeply-divided sides. That's a strategy U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is taking as she tours the Middle East in pursuit of an Israeli- Palestinian peace deal. She's meeting with Israeli's prime minister at this hour. Earlier she met with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. She talked to reporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: When it gets extremely important to begin to establish in parallel a common agenda to move forward toward the establishment of a Palestinian state. And in order to do that we have to begin a discussion of the political horizon so that we can show to the Palestinian people as well as to the Israeli people, that there is indeed hope for the kind of peace that will come when the Palestinians have their own state, their own Democratic and peaceful state.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Rice heads to Jordan tomorrow for meetings with King Abdullah and a second round of talks with the Palestinian president.

In Washington today, more U.S. senators expressing serious concerns about the U.S. attorney general, and his role in the firing of eight federal prosecutors. For more on this developing story, let's go live to the White House and Ed Henry. Ed?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Fred. That's right, today three Senate Republicans, Arlen Specter, Lindsay Graham, and Chuck Hagel, all raising sharp questions about the attorney general's credibility. But important to note that all three stopped short of calling for Alberto Gonzales to resign. Instead they basically said they want to hear from him. They want him to testify under oath on Capitol Hill. And we learned for the first time today that that testimony will come in mid-April before the Senate Judiciary Committee when Congress returns from a spring recess. Now I shouted a question to the president today about the attorney general. He did not acknowledge or answer that question. But yesterday in his weekly radio address, the president did offer, yet, another vote of confidence for Alberto Gonzales. Despite these newly-released Justice Department documents, coming out late on Friday evening, showing in about ten days before the firing of these U.S. attorneys late last year, the attorney general was involved in a one-hour meeting with top aides. In general, about the dismissals. This seems to contradict what the attorney general said at a press conference earlier this month when he insisted basically that he was out of the loop, not involved in this decision, directly leaving it to others. Now Republican Senator Orrin Hatch appearing on CNN's "Late Edition" today backed up the attorney general, while Democrat Joe Biden wants the attorney general to go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ORRIN HATCH, (R) UTAH: Ii called the attorney general on that. And he said, well, we did have a meeting but it was a general meeting. It wasn't about specifics. And I don't think his comments are inconsistent at all. I think people are trying to make them inconsistent.

SEN. JOE BIDEN, (D) DELAWRE: Gonzales has to answer for a lot of very bad judgments. The reason I voted against him in the first place was because everything from Abu Ghraib to his memoranda relating to the international treaties on torture. I thought he was a very bad choice and not just a bad name, but he's the president's man, he's not the people's man and he should be the nation's lawyer, not just the president's. So I think it's time for him to step aside.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: Now the White House has thus far refused to allow Karl Rove and other top White House aides to testify under oath. Democrats threatening subpoenas. That battle could make it all the way to the Supreme Court, a showdown over executive privilege. In the meantime, all eyes this week will be on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Specifically Thursday, that's when Kyle Sampson, the former chief of staff to the attorney general will testify voluntarily. Will he contradict the attorney general, what he has said and will he implicate, White House aides? Certainly some big questions facing Sampson this week. Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right, Ed, thanks so much from the white house.

So is indeed this controversy leading to a constitutional showdown? It's a political conflict with some history going back to America's first president. Here's CNN's Gary Nuremberg.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY NURENBERG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush says forcing presidential aides to testify before congress could limit his ability to get frank advice. BUSH: I'm worried about precedents that would make it difficult for somebody to walk into the oval office and say, "Mr. President, here's what's on my mind."

NURENBERG: Although there is no specific grant of executive privilege in the constitution, George Washington refused a House request for documents in 1796.

NIXON: I must and I shall oppose any efforts to destroy this principle.

NURENBERG: It wasn't until 1974 in rejecting Richard Nixon's claim that executive privilege allowed him to keep secret that the Watergate tapes that the Supreme Court found an implicit loosely defined privilege.

NIXON: I began by telling the president that there was a cancer growing on the presidency.

NURENBERG: John Dean was a Nixon White House counsel who testified before the Senate Watergate committee and has written about executive privilege.

JOHN DEAN, FMR. NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL It is pretty much what a president says and his mood that morning when he wakes up and decides how he feels about his aides testifying.

BETH NOLAN, FMR. CLINTON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I testified as counsel to the president a couple of times.

NURENBERG: Beth Nolan is among nearly four dozen Clinton aides who testified before congressional or judicial investigators.

NOLAN: I do think it crossed the line

NURENBERG: The Bush administration didn't like the trend.

DICK CHENEY: There's been a constant steady erosion of the prerogatives and the power, of the oval office, with the continual encroachment by Congress.

NURENBERG: So the administration citing constitutional obligation began to assert the privilege.

ANDREW CARD, PRES. BUSH'S FMR., CHIEF OF STAFF: That oath causes for him to preserve, protect and defend the constitution. And there's no conditional cause to it.

NURENBERG (on camera): Despite absolutist claims that both the White House and on Capitol Hill, historically, it's been compromised that resolves the disputes.

NOLAN: I think there is a perfect opportunity here for a little more give from the White House.

NURENBERG: We should learn this week whether it's an opportunity either side will embrace. Gary Nurenberg, CNN, Washington.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: A couple falls overboard from a cruise ship. Coming up, you'll hear from a fellow passenger.

And tomorrow, the medical examiner unveils the autopsy report of Anna Nicole Smith. Later, we'll get some perspective from a COURT TV reporter who's been covering the case.

And an Alaska town decides to give away some land. There were a lot of takers. We'll talk to one of them, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: A powerful earthquake rocked the coast of central Japan today. At least one person was killed, 160 others injured. The magnitude 6.9 quake knocked down buildings, cut power and triggered a small tsunami. There's been one powerful aftershock. People in the quake zone are on alert now for more. Meantime, two strong quakes also hit the pacific island nation of Vanuatu today. The quakes had a magnitude of 7.2 and 6.0. No reports of damage or injuries. And police say a tsunami alert passed without incident.

Several roads in Indiana remain closed today after heavy rains caused several rivers to jump their banks. The White River crested at over 12 feet late last night in Hamilton County, Indiana. Other rivers aren't expected to reach their high water marks until later on today or tomorrow. Homeowners are piling up sandbags and they're taking other precautionary measures as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're just trying to get out what you can?

TIM BLOOM, NOBLESVILLE, INDIANA RESIDENT: Yeah, yeah, just basics for now. We're going to pile our furniture all up on blocks.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

(WEATHER REPORT)

WHITFIELD: Well, they don't believe it was weather-related in any way. Still, it was a dramatic rescue taking place in the Gulf of Mexico getting everyone's attention. Two cruise ship passengers who fell overboard are now alive and well. They were rescued after a four-hour search. The ship was sailing from Galveston, Texas to Cozumel, Mexico. The passengers, a male and a female in their 20s fell off a balcony on the Grand Princess ship. CNN's T.J. Holmes talked with another passenger about what he saw.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

KEVIN SHAW, CRUISE SHIP PASSENGER: She was a little cold, bundled up, had her head down as they took her off the rescue craft on the seventh deck I guess that would be and brought her into an elevator and while they were bringing that boat up on the side of the cruise ship we actually saw the man in the water as well and we're yelling at the rescue boats to get over there along with the Coast Guard helicopter that was on scene. And right then, they pulled him from the water as well. As I say, he was naked at the time but he was yelling and waving to us in the water.

(END OF AUDIO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Carnival says the rescued passengers appear to be in satisfactory condition. And they plan to stay on the cruise and continue with their vacation.

Wounded in war, now battling to find the best care.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you telling me that my 26-year-old has to go into a nursing home? I can't do it. And that's not the reality of it and I'm not going to accept it.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So does that mean leaving the VA.?

And they, right there, they're called pups for peace. Find out how these dogs from Israel are helping in the fight against terrorism here in the U.S.

And check out the rest of our NEWSROOM team. There's Rick Sanchez and the rest of the crew working on what's ahead for this evening. He'll be joining us here on the set to give us a preview.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: More troops are returning from battle with traumatic brain injuries. And Veteran's hospitals providing the best care, are they? CNN's Ted Rowlands takes a closer look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Staff Sergeant Jared Behee was hit by a sniper's bullet in Iraq which crushed part of his skull. Army National Guard Sergeant Cory Briest was hit by a roadside bomb. Marine Corporal Josh Cooley had a piece of shrapnel the size of a credit card go through his eye and into his brain. All three men came home from Iraq with traumatic brain injuries, each was sent to a different V.A. hospital for rehabilitation. And all three families say they were so fed up with the V.A. care that they turned to a private hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It felt like his care was being slighted. Not a lot was being done to rehabilitate him.

ROWLANDS: Jared Behee was at the V.A. hospital in Palo Alto, California. His wife Marissa, says after three months, she pulled him out. The last straw, she says, was when they bought Jared a new wheelchair and told her he would need it for the rest of his life.

MARISSA BEHEE, WIFE OF WOUNDED SOLDIER: And you're telling me that my 26-year-old is going to a nursing home? I can't do it and that's not the reality of it and I'm not going to accept it so I'll see what our options are.

ROWLANDS: The Behees ended up at Casa Colina, a private non- profit rehab center in southern California, which as it turned out, was covered by their military insurance.

BEHEE: We got here in October. By November, he had his Purple Heart ceremony and he could stand on his own. By January, he was walking totally unassisted. That wasn't a goal of the V.A. or they wouldn't have spent the money for the wheelchair.

ROWLANDS: A year and a half after he arrived, Jared's recovery is so far along, he's now working as a volunteer at the hospital's rehab center. The other two families also claim that private care has made a difference. Josh Cooley's mother says two weeks after moving to Casa Colina from the Tampa V.A., her son was able to speak.

CHRISTINE COOLEY, MOTHER OF WOUNDED MARINE: I was doing something for him and I leaned over to give him a hug and I said, "I love you" and he said, "I love you too mom." And it was just like, oh my God.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you doing?

ROWLANDS: Jenny Briest pulled her husband Cory out of the Minneapolis V.A. She claims they were ready to give up on Cory after less than a week in rehab.

JENNY BRIEST, WIFE OF WOUNDED SOLDIER: And they gave him five days before they said that they were going to put him down on the nursing wing floor.

ROWLANDS: Jenny says a nurse at the V.A. told her about Jared Behee's case so they followed to Casa Colina.

BRIEST: Right away when we got here they started working on his swallowing and his speech. That to me was just precious. When he said his first word and it was our daughter's name, it was the best. I mean, you can't put money on it. Having him sit next to my son and our daughter at the dinner table, it's -- he wouldn't have gotten that at the V.A.

ROWLANDS: These families turn to private care out of frustration. They think wounded soldiers and their families should be told from the beginning that private care is an option. Dr. Stephen Ezeji-Okoye is deputy chief of staff at the Palo Alto V.A. He and other doctors say nobody anticipated the number of brain injuries coming out of Iraq. They insist the V.A. has added enough staff to handle the load.

DR. STEPHEN EZEJI-OKOYE, PALO ALTO VA HOSPITAL: V.A. care, I believe is excellent. And we are doing everything we can to look at our process and to make sure not only does it stay excellent but it gets better.

ROWLANDS (on camera): This is where Staff Sergeant Behee was treated. And they even say that if he would have just stayed here, he would have made the exact same progress as he did at Casa Colina.

EZEJI-OKOYE: I think we're better now than we were then. But I think he would have made the same gains if he stayed here.

ROWLANDS: The Behee's say they'll never believe that. But the lead physician at Casa Colina says that Dr. Ezeji-Okoye might actually be right. But he also believes that the V.A. does need help from private facilities to handle the overwhelming number of brain injuries.

DR. DAVID PATTERSON, CASA COLINA HOSPITAL: Fifty percent of all combat-related injuries or traumatic brain injury, you have a volume issue that needs to be dealt with.

ROWLANDS: According to doctors at the V.A. cost is not a factor. They say if they really thought private care was better, they'd have no problem recommending it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good job.

ROWLANDS: While there may be disagreement as to which care is better, what's clear is that these young men and all of the others deserve the best. Ted Rowlands, CNN, Pomona, California.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Straight ahead, the latest on the Anna Nicole Smith case, as the medical examiner prepares to reveal a cause of death.

And fighting terrorists with dogs train in Israel. Find out what U.S. authorities are trying in this tactic.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Well, we've heard the rumors, seen the court battles and wondered aloud about the paternity of her baby. But in the 6 1/2 weeks since Anna Nicole Smith's death, we still don't know the cause. Broward County medical examiner Joshua Perper's long-awaited autopsy report is expected tomorrow. "COURT TV" correspondent Jean Casarez joins us from our New York studios with the latest.

Jean, six and a half weeks, that's a long time and still no word of the exact cause of death. Do your instincts, or perhaps, the instincts of some of your sources say that certainly what will be revealed is that there was some foul play in her death because this death report has taken so long?

JEAN CASAREZ, COURT TV CORRESPONDENT: Well that's the question. That's the question we all want answered. I think the important thing is tomorrow is the day we've been waiting for, because what Doctor Perper will do first of all denote what the cause of death was. And that is based on his medical findings. Medically speaking, what caused her death.

But then he will go into probably the manner of death. And I think that this is probably what stalled him several weeks ago. Because of what he said were two pieces of evidence he had just found. Now the manner of death can include natural, accidental, suicide, homicide, or undetermined.

But I think what also is of significance, tomorrow, is that this will be a dual press conference, with the police chief of the Seminole Tribe. And they have been conducting a death investigation. And I think he will say one of three things. Number one that our death investigation found no evidence of foul play, so it has concluded. Or he could say that his investigation will go on, or he could say that his death investigation will now become a criminal investigation.

And that's when I think Broward County Sheriff's Department will be brought in, because they have a very sophisticated crime scene investigation unit.

WHITFIELD: So death investigation, that's interesting. Because every coroner or medical examiner doesn't necessarily launch into a death investigation after they've done any kind of preliminary, I guess, autopsy or discovering any findings within the body. This death investigation involves a host of other people, doesn't it? You mentioned the police department. There was evidence that was brought forward to Doctor Perper. He wanted to examine that further. Does it mean that he had to question a number of other people that perhaps who are not in the investigatory phase of an investigation?

CASAREZ: Well, Dr. Perper said, when he came out, after that six-hour autopsy, that he was going to interview witnesses. Speak with her doctors. That, that was just part of his autopsy report. He wanted to do it. The Seminole investigation has been different. And I don't think a death investigation is that out of the ordinary. But many times it just concludes with no findings at all of foul play because --

WHITFIELD: But differing here, because this is a high-profile case, this is a celebrity?

CASAREZ: And I think also, it's a relatively, it's a young person, and just all of a sudden they died. I think that would promote a death investigation in and of itself.

WHITFIELD: Lots of things held up this report. There was the funeral. There were even kind of all of these machinations about whole the paternity case, et cetera. What we learn tomorrow, might that lead to yet something else to further hang up the whole paternity issue, or might this mean the green light to resolve the paternity issue over the baby girl?

CASAREZ: I think the paternity issue is separate and distinct because a paternity test, it is believed was taken in the Bahamas. It's now being analyzed in the United States. So that's separate and distinct. This, I think, is a question of, was there foul play? Did she die of natural causes? Was it an accident? It was suicide? Was it even undetermined that the point?

WHITFIELD: What are some of your insiders saying? Natural causes or foul play?

CASAREZ: You know, I think we're just going to have to wait. I think tomorrow's so important because everybody's been speculating. Let's get the facts and that'll come tomorrow.

WHITFIELD: All right. Jean Casarez, thanks so much, with Court TV appreciate your insight.

CASAREZ: Thank you so much.

WHITFIELD: And, of course, you want to stay with CNN tomorrow because we will be carrying that press conference live with Doctor Perper at 10:30 Eastern tomorrow here on CNN.

A salacious murder trial in Georgia is over. A former 911 operator found guilty of murdering her boyfriend with antifreeze. She was convicted in 2004 of killing her police officer husband in the same way. The jury returns tomorrow to consider whether to impose the death penalty.

And talk about a grim reminder. A man in Florida is convicted of vehicular homicide. His sentence? He's ordered to display a large picture of his victim in his home after serving two years in prison. Along with the caption, "I'm sorry I killed you."

All right, here's something else to ponder. How can a Middle Eastern group called Pups for Peace help fight the war on terror here in the United States? Oh yeah, it helps, if you learn Hebrew. Here's CNN's Sumi Das.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUMI DAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Call it, mission unusual. In February, Rich Faulk and seven other California law enforcement officers headed for Israel. Their task? Spend two months with legendary bomb dog trainers, Pups for Peace, and learn how to use this. Perhaps the most sophisticated explosive detection weapon available.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The dogs are very effective. They can sniff odors, a million times better than any other human beings or machine

DAS: The dogs are widely used in Israel, which has been on the front line of terrorist bombings for decades.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately for them, they've had too much experience encountering suicide attacks and IED attacks. And with the relationship that our law enforcement has developed with some of their security services, we're really able to discuss a lot of their tactics and their strategies.

DAS: Rich Faulk is starting to pick up his new partner's language. RICH FAULK, CALIFORNIA LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: Hebrew's getting better and better every day. The first couple of times when I said something to Rocco he kind of looked at me and said, Heh? What are you saying?

So, I'm getting the "kaleptol" (ph) for good dog. And "lashaev" (ph) for sit, and "kapace" (ph) for search. I'm getting all of those commands down, you know?

DAS: So man and dog are learning to detect explosive materials. Many not yet prevalent in the U.S. Here, they're drilling at a train station. In California, they'll scour trains to ports, all forms of transportation, dogs sniffing for trouble.

FAULK: I've got to learn Rocco, and his traits, and when he does, what we call a change of behavior, when he identifies an odor, to be able to read him and he's got to be able to read me.

DAS: Pups for Peace says its dogs have stopped numerous attacks, but citing security reasons, details are scarce.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're sharing the same values of freedom and democracy, and unfortunately we're sharing the same enemies. That's why I think it is important to share the information.

DAS: The 400,000 plus bill for this dog training is footed by California's Homeland Security grants.

FAULK: We're hoping that we can outfit them with the best training the world has to offer encountering tomorrow's terrorist attacks today.

DAS: Man's best friend, the latest tool in the war on terror. Sumi Das, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: So an Idaho man takes up an Alaska town on its offer of free land. I'll speak to that man and the town's mayor straight ahead.

And a couple of New Jersey radio hosts are stirring controversy with their hard-line message against illegal aliens. Will they apologize? Should they? You're in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: So now the bargain of the century. Remember the story about a remote Alaska town offering land to anyone who wants it, and they had to give like $500? Well, as you can imagine the response was overwhelming. Well joining me now is Jeremie Dufault, who is a law clerk, who is in Boise, Idaho, and he got one of those plots of land. We'll talk to him in a second.

And the mayor of this innovative town, Mike Pearson, of Anderson, Alaska, is on the phone with us. Glad you could both be with us.

Jeremie, let me begin with you. You hear this town have these plots of land. All you have to do is put your application in, give $500. What was the draw for you, to a place you've never been in Anderson, Alaska?

JEREMIE DUFAULT, ANDERSON, ALASKA PROPERTY OWNER: Well, Fredricka, I saw the article in the newspaper. My friend Chris Waddle (ph) and I, we thought wow we can't pass up on an adventure like this. This is something from days past where they used to give land away in this country.

WHITFIELD: Right.

DUFAULT: And we thought, why not try and do this here? The 21st century version of Oklahoma Land Rush and also, too, I mean, the kids.

WHITFIELD: And so part of it -- oh, go ahead, sorry.

DUFAULT: The kids that were up there that started this whole project, Darrell Frisbee (ph) in his social studies class, they were absolutely incredible. I need to meet these kids who came up with this innovative idea to expand their town.

WHITFIELD: So, not only did you say I'm jumping on this, but you jumped on a plane within a few hours and became one of those many people who lined up. You're standing out there in below-zero temperatures, right, on order to be the first in line to get a plot of land?

DUFAULT: Yes.

WHITFIELD: Tell me what that experience was all about.

DUFAULT: Well, it was quite an experience. I mean, we had luckily had some frequent flyer miles. Chris Waddle (ph) and I. We got on the plane probably about five hours after we saw the article. It was a tight squeeze. We figured if we couldn't make it up to Fairbanks that evening, you know, on Saturday night, we weren't going to get a plot of land.

WHITFIELD: All right so what were --

DUFAULT: It seemed like an offer.

WHITFIELD: Sorry, about that. So then what were your impressions? Once you got to Anderson, did you say, uh-oh, big mistake? What am I doing here? Or oh, yeah I really want to live here?

DUFAULT: Oh it worked out, because only nine people ahead of us in line. So it was perfect. We were sure to get one of the 26 lots. It was gorgeous. And were 40 miles away from Denali National Park, and pretty close do Fairbanks, Alaska. We thought this is a place we could definitely spend the summer, at least.

WHITFIELD: Wow, that's incredible.

Well, Mayor Mike Pearson on the line with us now. You really did try to pump up your town, saying it's a beautiful place to kind of get away, but certainly a place that offered great quality of life. Jeremie took the bait there, and he's one of the lucky ones. You had an incredible response, didn't you? Was it difficult to try to dole out the land?

MAYOR MIKE PEARSON, ANDERSON, ALASKA: No, I think we had that part of it figured out pretty well. I think that we could have gotten in big trouble if thousands of people had come in time. I think that part was just as much luck as anything else.

WHITFIELD: And was it as simple as first come/first serve? Or was there -- were there other factors that eliminated some of the contenders?

PEARSON: We had contenders call in from New York City saying that they had a snow blizzard and that they weren't able to get out on the flights to make it here in time. So you know, there was a lot of people, they couldn't come up with the $500 refundable deposit. You know, calling up, well, can I come up next week and pay it? So we had, I think, just the right amount of people show up.

We have about roughly 10, 15 alternates in case somebody doesn't go through that we could pass the land on to. And it was 22 below, I believe, the first night, and about 10 below second night. So these people got there, and they got their feet wet, well, they got their feet cold with the project. And I think that it was a tight, good group of people that was in line there.

WHITFIELD: Wow, that's incredible. So Jeremie, you get there, it turns out you get a plot of land, but part of the deal is you have to start building right away. So what are your plans? You're going to leave Boise, Idaho and set up shop there in Anderson? Or kind of a getaway place for you?

DEFAULT: Well, I think for now it's going to be a getaway place. We'll kind of do it in stages. Build a cabin. We have two years to do it. But Mayor Pearson was absolutely right. The people up there were fabulous. We have a neighbor now, Chris and I, who is a wood cutter. He's going to help us clear our lot and also do some the additional work there. So it should be great.

Yeah, it was a wonderful experience altogether. I heard it was colder than negative 22 and negative 10, though.

WHITFIELD: I'm sure it felt that way.

DUFAULT: Exactly.

WHITFIELD: Jeremie Dufault, thanks so much. Congratulations to you and Mayor Mike Pearson, congratulations to you, too.

DUFAULT: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Because now you 500, at least 500 new residents to your town, that's awesome.

PEARSON: And we, I believe I looked at the list, and the people that were selected for the 26 slots there were 17 kids. And that's what it was all about. So hopefully in two years, we'll have at least 17 more kids in our school.

WHITFIELD: All right. Well, that's great. Well, congrats to all of you.

PEARSON: Thank you, now.

WHITFIELD: And good luck.

DUFAULT: Thank you, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, Rick Sanchez with me now. Would do you it?

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: If they hold on to it long enough, what with global warming, they will have beachfront property in about 40 years, right?

WHITFIELD: Well, might not be too bad for some folks, either.

SANCHEZ: You think you are in Alaska and but before you know it you're getting a suntan. You're relaxing in you skivvies.

WHITFIELD: Right, right.

SANCHEZ: Having a great time up there.

WHITFIELD: What's ahead in the NEWSROOM?

SANCHEZ: Maybe not.

We will hit Gonzales big at 7 o'clock tonight. And that's an incredible story. Because now you're getting a lot of press coming out of the folks out in Washington. Some senators, Republicans, mind you, who are now, shall we say challenging the credentials of Mr. Gonzales.

And I think Arlen Specter probably said it best this week. It comes down a question whether or not -- the president can do this, all right. You've heard the term, he serves of the pleasure of the president. If the president wants to get rid of the guys, get rid of them. The question is, were they gotten rid of because of political reasons?

WHITFIELD: Right.

SANCHEZ: Did someone say, we need someone else there. Or get him out because there's a trial ongoing.

WHITFIELD: It still wouldn't be that unusual either, you know?

SANCHEZ: But highly unethical.

WHITFIELD: It's how it was done.

SANCHEZ: If it's done purely for political reasons.

And the other thing we're looking into is Iran, of course. And now that they're threatening to put these guys on trial, that certainly raises the stakes somewhat. I think we're looking at the possibility of this thing being escalated this week. Those are the two biggies.

WHITFIELD: We'll be watching, the biggies, and you.

SANCHEZ: With baited breath.

WHITFIELD: Thank you very much, Rick.

(LAUGHTER)

WHITFIELD: All right, well, this is, too, a very serious subject. Illegal immigration: The subject is popular, talk show fodder. But a couple of New Jersey radio guys are accused of now crossing the line in broadcasting hate. CNN's Jim Acosta explains why.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, thirty-six, Jersey Guys. The center of the storm again.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): When radio shock jocks Craig Carton and Ray Rossi, AKA, the Jersey Guys, sound off on the issue of illegal immigration, they do it in their usual take no prisoner's style.

CRAIG CARTON, "THE JERSEY GUYS": If you are here illegally, you are breaking the law.

RAY ROSSI, "THE JERSEY GUYS": Right.

CARTON: No better, no worse than a guy who robs the liquor store, or the guy that waits to case your house out and rob you of your belongings. You are a criminal.

ACOSTA: And they don't stop at calling undocumented workers criminals. The Jersey Guys are urging their audience to report anyone who even looks illegal to Immigration officials. Using what they consider a catchy name to publicize their campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: La Cuca -- what is it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gotcha.

ACOSTA: La Cuca Gotcha, a not-so-veiled take on the old Mexican folk song "La Cuca Roche", or "The Cockroach." But not everybody is singing along.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't think the implication is there that you're talking about finding cockroaches? CARTON: I do not.

ROSSI: The name itself is really from an 18th century Mexican song. The song is probably as.

ACOSTA (on camera): La Cucaracha means cockroach? That's what it means.

CARTIN: Apparently it does. But goal wasn't to call Hispanics or illegals cockroaches.

ACOSTA: State lawmakers and Hispanic groups in New Jersey accuse the Jersey Guys of whipping of xenophobic vigilantism, like the Minutemen with microphones.

WILFREDO CARABALLO (D), NEW JERSEY ASSEMBLYMAN: The broad brush characterization against Latinos by the Jersey Guys dehumanize a portion of our state's population and it fosters hate.

ACOSTA: Franklin is an illegal immigrant who lives in New Jersey but doesn't want his last name used. He's afraid the Jersey Guys are making him a target. He says he risked his life coming to America. Stowing away on a train, like this one.

FRANKLIN (through translator): In God's eyes, we're all the same, the only difference between us and the people on the show is that we're foreigners, and they're from here.

ACOSTA: How could you call this La Cuca Gotcha and it not be racist?

CARTON: We didn't mean it with any offense. The name to me is irrelevant. It's what the program is. And the program is to get rid of illegal immigrants because they're a danger it our country.

ACOSTA (voice over): To defend themselves, the Jersey Guys held a press conference and aired it live. The toughest questions --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People want to know if you're not desperate for ratings?

CARTON: That's a good question.

ACOSTA: Came from the Spanish-speaking reporters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Latin community is looking for an apology.

CARTON: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have something to say to them?

CARTON: I will not apologize to any community because I don't know believe that I have offended the Latin or Hispanic community.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Jersey Guys are not the problem, the problem are the illegal aliens.

ACOSTA: Boosted by their on air support, the Jersey Guys vow to continue La Cuca Gotcha.

ACOSTA (on camera): Are you keeping the name?

CARTON: Yes.

ACOSTA: The name's not going anywhere?

CARTON: No.

ROSSI: No.

CARTON: And we don't apologize for any aspect of this project.

ACOSTA (voice over): And that includes the end date for the project, May 5th, also known as Cinco De Mayo. Jim Acosta, CNN, Trenton, New Jersey.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Well, a tense moment caught on camera. Straight ahead, our Jeanne Moos will look at some of history's kind of famous flinches. You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Some hot issues on the Hill this week. The debate over dollars and deadlines in the Iraq war moves to the forefront again. Tomorrow, the Senate is expected to begin debate on a supplemental spending bill. It requires U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq by March of 2008. Republicans say they'll fight to strip out the deadline provisions.

And on Thursday, the former chief of staff for U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testifies before a Senate committee. He'll be questioned about the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

The embattled attorney general and the proposed troop withdraw from Iraq, two topics that are sure to get some traction on the presidential campaign trail, which, for Republicans, will be a rather quiet one tomorrow with Arizona Senator John McCain, attending a fundraiser in the Texas capitol tomorrow evening.

And tomorrow's Democratic campaign calendar is a little more crowded. Highlights include Senator Barack Obama in Florida. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton campaigning in California, and Delaware Senator Joe Biden, addressing the Communications Workers of America in Washington.

Well, we all do it -- jump or duck -- at a sudden noise or movement. But when it's caught on camera, it makes Jeanne Moos list the famous flinches.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): When things go boom --

(EXPLOSION)

-- and cameras happen to be rolling, you can bet that videotape is going to get rolled over and over again. Everyone was comparing how the new U.N. secretary-general tended to --

(SINGERS): Duck and cover.

MOOS: While the hard-nosed Iraqi prime minister --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nouri al-Maliki really never even moved.

MOOS (on camera): The blast in Baghdad got us thinking about that most human of reactions -- the flinch.

(Voice over): We, in the media, do a lot of flinching.

(HORN BLAST)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry, that scared me.

MOOS: With our clumsy lights and our falling lights.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The challenge that he made to his Democratic opponents.

MOOS: There's a lot to make us flinch.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first day to allow citizens -- excuse me, we're having some technical problems in the studio.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a fire in the studio.

MOOS: Sometimes we desert the ship. And sometimes we're the last ones to flee.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We're actually now getting some fire. Some rockets have been fired.

MOOS: Anderson Cooper doesn't flinch at mortal danger. Anderson flinches at frogs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just --

COOPER: Whoa!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Relax there.

MOOS: One of the most fearsome non-flinchers was the since- executed president of Afghanistan, in the middle of an interview, his interpreter had an epileptic seizure. You'll hear him scream and then fall into his leader's lap. Naji Bullah (ph) never bats an eye; the interpreter recovered. JOHN ROBERTS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In front the Israeli defense force

(EXPLOSION)

That's what I said.

MOOS: Coolness under fire counts, except when you are seriously worried about a chemical weapon's attack by Saddam.

(SIRENS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, it looked like it might have been an explosion in a crowd there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My apologies. He's putting on a gas mask.

MOOS: Who wouldn't flinch if you think you're under a poison gas attack?

We played childhood games that teach us not to flinch. It becomes a test of manliness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going it flinch.

MOOS: That's what they all say until the jet swoops by a little too low.

Sometimes it pays to duck, as Ann Coulter found out facing a pie thrower. The secretary-general shouldn't feel bad about ducking. It could have been much worse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody please put that -- ah! Jesus Christ! (BEEP)

MOOS: We, in the media even practice self-inflicted flinching.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh! Oh, man.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Oh, don't duck too much. Still much more ahead on CNN. At 7:00 Eastern find out how someone tried to sneak into the U.S., using Niagara Falls.

I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The latest on the top stories and then "Lou Dobbs This Week."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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