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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Exposing Congress' Hidden Spending; Interview With Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel; NBC Caught Up in Paris Mania?
Aired June 21, 2007 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It is the longest day of the year. And the list of stories that we could be covering in Washington is nearly as long. Then there's -- there's the immigration debate. There's stem cells and why all those attorneys general were fired.
So, what did lawmakers actually accomplish this week? Yes. Well, they will get back to us on that, I suppose.
Don't get us wrong. All these debates and bills are important. We're not making light of them. But, tonight, we think it's more useful to tell you about something that Congress, for years, has not wanted you to know about.
As, you are about to see, most in Congress still don't want you to know about it. What's the secret? The secret is how they're spending your money. They're buried deep inside the bills they pass. And what it's costing all of us, billions of dollars.
They're called earmarks, though one top lawmaker, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, now doesn't even like using the word. She prefers legislatively-directed spending.
Whatever you call it, senators and House members have put in 32,000 requests to spend your money on their pet projects. Last year, they approved $29 billion in earmarked items, for everything from schools and hospitals, to ski lifts and runways for airports with practically no airport traffic.
And get this. They weren't even disclosing who sponsored what until after the fact, after your money was already dished out.
Well, today, Illinois Senator Barack Obama became the first presidential candidate to disclose his earmarks. But he's a rarity in Congress, and even within his own party, which says it stands for transparency and accountability.
Well, so do we.
CNN's Drew Griffin tonight is "Keeping Them Honest."
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Before they came to power, Democrats vowed to fix the broken earmark process. They promised complete transparency, no secret spending, no backroom deals. REP. DAVID OBEY, (D) HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS CHAIRMAN: I'm now trying, and so is our leadership, to reduce earmarks by at least 50 percent.
GRIFFIN: So, has anything changed? "Keeping Them Honest," we put our intrepid CNN interns on the case. They called the offices of every single member of Congress, asking just one question.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm calling with CNN, and I'm trying to see if we can get a copy of the congressman's earmark request for this year.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was calling because we're trying to obtain a copy of the congressman's earmark requests.
GRIFFIN: What they found wasn't exactly a show of complete transparency.
RACHEL REYNOLDS, CNN INTERN: At first, I got quite a few yeses. And, so, I got all excited, and, oh, yay, Congress is being nice to me. And then they said they would e-mail back or call back. And, by the end of the day, I had nothing.
GRIFFIN: Our results? After three days of actually calling each and every House offers, 34 members of Congress, just 34, sent us their earmark requests.
But, since then, a wave of pressure has apparently changed some minds. Our report caught the attention of political bloggers, demanding Congress release its requests. "The Chicago Tribune" ran an editorial, asking why members of the Illinois delegation were being so secretive.
And, today, Barack Obama raised the stakes in the presidential race.
(on camera): And guess what? Our interns' phones are now ringing with calls from Congress. Eleven more U.S. representatives have decided to release their requests for our money.
(voice-over): As it stands right now, 45 have turned over their requests. Sixty-eight flat-out refused. Six told us they did not make any earmark requests. But the majority, 316, never responded. We should note that some we called were downright hostile.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was really mean about it though.
GRIFFIN: Not even letting us finish the question, like an aide to New York Democrat Charles Rangel.
TODD SCHWARZSCHILD, CNN STAFFER: When I called Congressman Rangel's office, I got one of his press aides, who, before I could even answer the question, said, no, I know what you're going to ask me. No.
And he said, good day, and then hung up on me. GRIFFIN: Word of our requests apparently traveled fast in the halls of Congress.
CHAMISE JONES, CNN INTERN: When I called and asked for the earmark requests, he was like, no. And he was like, just like no one else is going to give it to you. I knew about you. I heard you were calling. I was waiting for you to call me.
GRIFFIN: "As long as we're not required to release them, we're not going to," said an aide to Louisiana Republican Jim McCrery.
But some didn't need our prompting.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Bye-bye.
Maverick freshman Democrat Nancy Boyda, New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, and Republican John Campbell of California all had already had posted their earmark requests on their Web pages.
Last week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi hailed a new, open earmark process, saying, finally, the American people will know where their money is going.
And then she said this:
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: If I just might direct the record to another place, why don't we just leave this room today forgetting the word earmark? This is legislatively-directed spending, as opposed to executive spending.
GRIFFIN: And, Ms. Pelosi, for the record, a member of your staff told us you would not reveal your legislatively-directed spending requests.
COOPER: You know, it seems like the process, Drew, is opening up, somewhat, though most of the Democratic leadership doesn't seem to want it to at this point. But still, 45 out of 435 is a dismally small number.
GRIFFIN: It is a small number, but we're getting more and more. There is an opening going up.
You know, I talk to a lot of these freshman Democrats who have been frustrated on a lot of ethical issues they thought that they would address right away, Anderson. And this was one of them. They are frustrated with the leadership. They are frustrated with not knowing when and how to release their earmark requests under the ever- changing rules.
So, what we have done is given them an opportunity to just release them all right now. And now we're up to 45. The pressure is on. The blogs are going. And a lot of people writing into our blogs have said, they're calling their own congress man and woman and asking for their earmark requests. COOPER: And, if they get any better response, if you at home and you get a better response, let us know.
Drew, stick around.
Democrats have promised to come clean, as we said, but many are not. They're also promising to cut earmarks in half, though some might see that as simply turning an extraordinary waste of money into an ordinary waste of money.
CNN's Joe Johns has done some digging into who stands where on this, Democrat and Republican.
Tonight, he's also "Keeping Them Honest."
JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the guys who get it, the members of Congress who just come out and say, this is the money they want for projects back home.
Democratic Senator Barack Obama wants $300 million in total earmark requests. That includes $33 million that he and other senators want to promote civics education.
Republican Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia wants $500,000 for a courthouse and $255,000 for a SWAT team in Charleston.
Congressman Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, a member of the House leadership, wants money for the Chicago Park District's Theater on the Lake.
In all, the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense found at least 56 members of Congress who have, in one way or another, publicly disposed their requests for pet projects, also known as earmarks. Those are the guys who come clean.
STEVE ELLIS, TAXPAYERS FOR COMMON SENSE: You know, every day, as people continue to ask their elected representative to disclose, and as the media asks representatives to disclose, the number keeps creeping up, in some way, shape or form.
JOHNS: But most members of Congress are still hiding behind the secret earmark process.
(on camera): Remember, there are more than 530 members of Congress. And they have put in an astonishing number of earmark requests, more than 32,000, certainly worth billions of your dollars. Some members say they will eventually reveal the earmark requests for money are theirs, but only if and when the requests make it into spending bills.
(voice-over): Republican Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee says, that's her plan. But she still claims to be an earmark reformer, fighting against the practice of secretly slipping goodies in for folks back home or for lobbyists. Democrats say, that's nuts, that Republicans are talking out of both sides of their mouths.
(on camera): The suggestion is that, somehow, you all are being hypocritical by not releasing the earmarks that you're asking for, even though you're arguing against earmark secrecy. Are you being hypocritical?
REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: Not at all.
One of the things that we have been very clear on is talking about the abuse of earmarks. And, when you're talking about taking a bill to the floor that has a slush fund, and that bill is going to go to the Senate, and there's going to be a slush fund, and then, when those bodies get together in conference, then you're going to airdrop these earmarks in there, and nobody knows what they're going to be until then, that is a process that does not serve the taxpayer well.
We're saying, put it in the bill. Put your name beside it.
JOHNS (voice-over): So, now, as usual, Democrats and Republicans have formed a circular firing squad, accusing each other of faking it on earmark reform, as if they all weren't to blame.
You would think that full disclosure might solve everything. But, "Keeping Them Honest," some of the really hard-core budget hawks, like Congressman Jeff Flake, argue, it's not saying what you ask for. It's about not asking for so much money in the first place.
(on camera): Now, why is it that don't you request them, when everybody else does? It would hurt your district, it would seem, yes, no?
REP. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: No. I think earmarks are overrated. You know, whether I get a little money for a museum or a sidewalk, I think my constituents would rather have me be a little more fiscally responsible. I think that they want an end to the practice of earmarks.
JOHNS: (voice-over): End earmarks completely? Not anytime soon.
But people are saying, at least tell us who is asking for all those billions of your dollars.
Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: And, if we knew who was asking for what, it might be less likely that they would be asking for so much.
We heard a bit about Rahm Emanuel a moment ago. He chairs the House Democratic Caucus. A few days ago, he called us, taking exception to some of our earmark reporting. So, we invited him on the program to make his case.
Congressman Emanuel and I we spoke earlier this evening.
COOPER: Congressman Emanuel, you released your requests for earmarks on Monday. So far, only 45 out of some 435 congresspeople have actually released the earmarks.
Shouldn't the American people know what their representatives want to spend taxpayer money on?
REP. RAHM EMANUEL (D), ILLINOIS: Sure. And they're going to, because that's some of the things that the Democrats have done.
Let me take people two steps back and then drive through. In the past, nobody knew who was sponsoring anything. Nobody knew what they voted on until a year after the fact, and they found these roads to nowhere and other types of projects.
The reforms we put in place is, you have to -- I have to put all my name on every project and every what I call community investment I'm asking for.
Second, you know before you vote on it, not a year after the fact. And, third, we have cut in half the amount of earmarks. I took the extra step because I wanted to show everybody there will be good things and things people want to ask questions about.
COOPER: There's no doubt that the Democrats have pushed for greater transparency and some of these new rules are going to ensure that.
COOPER: But, still, people are only going to be able to know who requested the -- the earmarks that actually make it into the bill.
COOPER: And what the Democrats were trying to do is...
COOPER: ... is trying to make it so that -- that, only after the bills had passed the House and the Senate, would they actually be revealed.
EMANUEL: Two -- two things.
One is, the ones that are in the bill are the ones that you should know about, because those are the only ones that chance -- have a chance at becoming law.
COOPER: No, but shouldn't we know what our congresspeople want to spend our money on? EMANUEL: That's what -- that's what the constituents will say.
Do you have your right to know everything? Yes, you do. And that's why 45 of us have taken those steps. And other members will take the steps that they think is appropriate.
What happens on the legislation is what has a chance of becoming law. And that's what you are going to know. And, remember, it's in direct contrast to what happened for the last 12 years of Republican rule.
COOPER: You have taken this extra step. You said, you know what? It's important that everybody in the country knows exactly how -- all my requests. Whether or not my requests actually are -- get into a bill, whether or not all my requests are approved, you think it's important that people know.
EMANUEL: Well, I let...
COOPER: And you should be applauded for that.
COOPER: But most of people in Congress seem ashamed, almost, or want to keep this stuff secret.
COOPER: I don't understand why. Can you explain to...
EMANUEL: Well, first of all, I understand the desire to say, oh, Congress isn't doing this.
I'm going to stick on this one point. And I'm going to Johnny One Note with you. We made a pledge. That pledge was kept. Republican Congressman Jeff Flake praised us for that pledge.
That -- and, so, I'm more than willing to say, what more we should do? But I won't get to the what more until we acknowledge that actual, real transparency, real accountability was kept -- was made that's different than the past.
And, in fact, Republicans who have been championing this had acknowledged Democrats did the tough stuff to get this done.
COOPER: I am going to try one more time and be Johnny One Note on my side.
EMANUEL: And I will be Johnny One Note on my side.
COOPER: I know. We're two Johnny One Notes.
But you said...
EMANUEL: I hope we're not losing audience share doing that.
COOPER: You said you don't want to talk about -- about what other Democrats are doing.
You are in the Democratic leadership.
COOPER: Are -- will you advise your fellow Democrats to -- to do what you did and just put out their requests? Again, the only way people know whether these requests are valid or not is -- and...
EMANUEL: It's not the only way. It's not the only way.
COOPER: Well, it really is for us people at home, you know, to be able to go online and look, you know, what does my congressman want to spend my money on, and what do these other congressmen want to spend my money on?
EMANUEL: Well, first of all, if a member comes to me and asks, I tell them why I did what I did.
Nobody -- no reporter asked me. Nobody in my community asked me. And I understand you say, you guys at home. But the fact is, if a member asks my advice, I will say, hey, let me tell you what my -- my kind of reasoning for this.
And I gave them the reason. I led the efforts, with other Democrats and Republicans, for this type of transparency. The things that I noted to you were done. I led that effort. I took this extra step, so people have, not only in the district, in my district, but the larger public, given that you said I have this leadership role, have the confidence of my -- that transparency, that I'm practicing what I preach.
COOPER: Congressman Emanuel, appreciate your time. Thank you.
EMANUEL: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: We're going to continue to ask members of Congress about their earmark spending, seeking the truth, no matter how long it takes.
If you would like to find out how much your congressman if requesting, you can try calling their office. If you have better luck, as I said, than we did, let us know. We're keeping track on our Web site, CNN.com. You can just search using the keyword "earmarks."
Many of you are losing faith in lawmakers on Capitol Hill. There's no doubt about that. Here's the "Raw Data."
A new Gallup poll shows, only 14 percent of Americans have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in Congress -- 14 percent. That's an all-time low.
Meanwhile, confidence in the presidency was at 25 percent, 34 percent for the Supreme Court. And confidence in the U.S. military was at 69 percent.
Well, straight ahead tonight, you think big oil companies should pay higher taxes for raking in billions of your taxes at the pump? Details tonight in "Raw Politics."
Also coming up: It's hard to believe this actually happened or could happen. But it did. Check it out.
COOPER (voice-over): The university told them their daughter died of natural causes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A very healthy 22-year-old girl just doesn't die.
COOPER: She didn't. It was murder. Police had a suspect within three days, so why did the school stick to its story for two months? We're "Keeping Them Honest" -- tonight on 360.
Also tonight, the incarcerated heiress grants an interview, and NBC is reportedly paying $1 million for it. "What Were They Thinking?" -- ahead on 360.
COOPER: So, full disclosure. We have absolutely no idea why this woman is famous or what the obsession is about. Frankly, we don't really care.
But then we learned what may await the self-promoting socialite when she's released from jail. And I have got to tell you, that got our attention today. And we think you should know about it.
COOPER (voice-over): "The New York Post" says NBC will pay the convict $1 million for her first post-jail interview. That's a million bucks to an already rich heiress who was arrested for drunk driving and who violated her probation. NBC reportedly beat out ABC and Barbara Walters' full-court press to get the exclusive.
HOWARD KURTZ, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I have never seen anything like it. And it is embarrassing for networks that ought to be spending time on, what, more serious issues to be just swept up by this Paris mania.
COOPER: The details only add to the outrage. "The Post" says it took a personal phone call from the president of NBC, Jeff Zucker, to persuade the blonde-haired celebrity to appear on "The Today Show," but only if Meredith Vieira would ask her the questions. It seems she's not a fan of co-host Matt Lauer. Or is that the other way around?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE")
LARRY KING, HOST: Why is Paris Hilton a story?
MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, "THE TODAY SHOW": I ask myself that question a lot.
KING: Me, too.
LAUER: You know, I really do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: A spokesman for the confined "Simple Life" star won't deny or confirm the report.
In a statement, NBC News says it has not and will not pay for an interview. But it seems networks definitely have a way around no-pay policies.
KURTZ: For example, CBS buys a Michael Jackson concert, and "60 Minutes" just happens to get an interview with the gloved one. Sometimes, the broadcast networks pay an interview subject for home video or pictures. So, what should be a clear, straight, solid line can get a little squiggly.
COOPER: The anger over the interview is growing. The group Mothers Against Drunk Driving said they are -- quote -- "appalled that someone would be rewarded with a million dollars for basically being arrested for drunk driving. MADD would rather see those dollars go to the elimination of drunk driving."
RACHEL MADDOW, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: They find ways to not sound like they're paying for content and not sound like they're paying their news sources -- sources -- when they really are. And I think it hurts their credibility in an -- in an irretrievable way.
COOPER: Her special treatment behind bars led to charges of double-standards and discrimination.
AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: It is clear to many of us that Ms. Hilton was afforded a kind of treatment that was not afforded many people that are of working-class or poor economic status of any community, and in the African-American community of any economic status. COOPER: Now, with freedom just days away, the world will find out how she was depressed, alone, and afraid in jail. And, for that, she will get $1 million.
COOPER: So, let's just repeat. She who shall not be named is reportedly going to earn a million dollars for driving drunk, being a public spectacle, and she gets to dictate who does the interview, reportedly.
Joining us now, Marc Lamont Hill, a professor of American studies at Temple University in Philadelphia.
Professor, thanks for being with us.
MARC LAMONT HILL, PROFESSOR OF URBAN EDUCATION AND AMERICAN STUDIES, TEMPLE UNIVERSITY: My pleasure.
COOPER: It does seem like she is, basically, profiting off drunk driving.
HILL: That's exactly what's happening.
And this is a tragic circumstance. The media has already made this a spectacle. We have already turned this from a tragic circumstance of individual irresponsibility into this media circus. And now we are rewarding her problematic behavior by making it profitable. It's tragic.
COOPER: And it tarnishes, I mean, any credibility of a news organization, that, somehow, this woman gets to dictate who does the interview and -- and what show it's going to appear on. And, I mean, I guess NBC Entertainment, reportedly, is the one who paid the money. But, frankly, it's going to be on a news program.
It's not really the choice. I mean, anyone has the right to choose who they want to interview them.
The problem here is that NBC has found, allegedly, a backdoor way to pay her, which is a direct violation of their policy. It's unethical for any news organization, any true journalistic organization, to pay for interviews. It sets a very dangerous precedent.
And, to be perfectly honest, they have been doing it for quite some time now.
COOPER: Yes. There seems -- there's a lot of ways to do it, as was said in the piece. I mean, you pay for photographs or videotape.
COOPER: It's all backdoor way. You're a professor of American studies. What does it say about our culture?
HILL: Well, it says a few things.
One, it says that every aspect of our lives, you know, is permeated by this, you know, bottom-line, capitalistic desire. Even the things that are supposed to be protected from this, like the news media, is susceptible to profit-making.
And, also, is says that the American public is obsessed with this media spectacle. We love a good, you know, train wreck. And -- and people are willing to pay millions of dollars to -- to give people fuller -- more full access to Paris Hilton. That's a very sad state for American culture.
COOPER: Will -- will you watch the interview?
HILL: Oh, of course.
COOPER: No. But, so, aren't you part of the problem?
HILL: Oh, yes. I said we. I am as susceptible to this as anyone else. I mean, of course, I do it for research purposes. But...
COOPER: Oh, OK. All right.
HILL: Of course, you know, just like you are going to do it for journalistic purposes.
HILL: But, nevertheless, you know, I mean, I am obsessed by the spectacle that is Paris Hilton.
I -- but, you know, again, there's a bigger problem here. And that is, how are we going to, you know, protect ourselves against drunk drivers and against, you know, irresponsible behavior, if we continue to make it profitable?
COOPER: Well, also, the other question is, this is a young woman who reportedly told Barbara Walters -- young woman -- she's 26 -- this is a woman who told Barbara Walters that she wants to, you know, change her life around and -- and work for good causes.
One, perhaps, way to do this would be, if she really is getting a million dollars from NBC, to donate that money in a very public way. So, we will see if that actually happens.
HILL: Yes. I won't -- I won't hold my breath.
COOPER: Yes, I'm not going to hold my breath either.
Professor Hill, it's good to have you on the program. Thank you very much.
HILL: My pleasure.
COOPER: Here's Kiran Chetry with what's coming up tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRAN CHETRY, CO-HOST, "AMERICAN MORNING": He devoted his life to fighting crime, but now it seems he has had a change of heart, Anderson. After nearly 1,000 arrests, a former narcotics cop is now fighting on the other side of the war of drugs, actually teaching people how to get around the law.
We're going to meet him and find out why tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING." It all begins at 6:00 a.m. Eastern -- Anderson, back to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Up next tonight: "Raw Politics" and one of your ideas for the 360 campaign song.
Also ahead: What do you do if someone asks you for something you don't want to give them? If you're Dick Cheney, you try to strip the person asking of their job. Can he do it? Some answers from the White House -- ahead on 360.
COOPER: So, that's the Scissor Sisters' "I Don't Feel Like Dancing," one of my favorite groups, no doubt about it. And it's one of the suggestions that you sent in for our presidential coverage theme song.
Got to tell you, not really what first comes to find for a campaign theme song, but we will consider it. We have been getting a lot of suggestions so far. We hope you keep sending your suggestions for 360 political coverage music to our blog.
That's what, you know, Hillary Clinton did. So, we thought, why not try it ourselves?
For more information, go to CNN.com/360blog. We will choose the winning song in a couple weeks. And, in the meantime, keep listening each night for the song you picked. See if it gets on.
There's a famous singer and songwriter in "Raw Politics" tonight, but the roundup starts with oil, a big win for big oil. Here's CNN's Candy Crowley.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: In "Raw Politics" tonight, Anderson, raw fuels and raw emotions on Capitol Hill.
(voice-over): Senate Republicans blocked an attempt to tax oil companies to help pay for alternative fuels. One Republican called the oil tax an attempt to stick it to the big boys. You think? On the same bill, senators agreed to an increase in fuel-economy standards to 35 miles a gallon, the first major increase demanded of carmakers in two decades.
Hell hath no fury like a Ron Paul supporter. The head of Iowans for Tax Relief says he's been inundated with mostly out-of-state phone calls, protesting Paul's exclusion from a forum next week. The beleaguered director says the Paul people posted his home phone number, and calls are running 60-40, 60 percent -- quote -- "relatively polite, 40 percent harassing."
The little-noticed campaign of Chris Dodd is hoping star power will bring some shine.
CROWLEY: Singer/songwriter Paul Simon will be along for the bus ride through Iowa July 4. The Dodd campaign says, Simon has been tireless in service of the country and the two are longtime friends. Loves him like a rock.
No, this is not a tryout for "Music Man." It is seersucker Thursday on Capitol Hill, a celebration of summer, Senate-style. Don't ask.
Also on Capitol Hill, Senator Robert Byrd cast his 18,000th vote today. Talk about a paper trail.
First, Rudy Giuliani's Iowa state chairman quits to take a job in the Bush administration. Then, his South Carolina chairman gets busted on cocaine charges. Then, Giuliani gets hammered for failing to show up to meetings of the Iraq Study Group. And, insult to injury, the New York mayor who is getting all the great press is Michael Bloomberg, and now this, taken to task by the patriarch of Iowa's political coverage.
(on camera): "The Des Moines Register"'s David Yepsen says, Giuliani showed up 50 minutes late for a speech. "That's rude," Yepsen wrote. That's a pretty big screw-up.
And it's also, Anderson, "Raw Politics."
COOPER: It sure is, Candy. Next month, the presidential candidates are going to have to answer your questions at the CNN-YouTube debates. It's never been tried before. You can learn about the debates and how to submit your questions at CNN.com/YouTubeDebates. You have got to make a video. It's got to be under 30 seconds.
A lot of details to find out about. Check it out at CNN.com/YouTubeDebates.
Let's get caught up on some of the day's other headlines.
Erica Hill joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, roadside bombs and other attacks in and around Baghdad have killed 12 U.S. troops in just the last 48 hours, those deaths bringing the overall U.S. death toll now to 3,545. Sixty-eight Americans have died this month alone.
The Associated Press reporting the Bush administration is nearing a decision to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba. Under a proposed plan, the A.P. says detainees will be transferred to one or more Defense Department facilities where they could face trial.
And the Space Shuttle Atlantis planning on spending the summer solstice cooling its heels in space, but bad weather kept it from touching down today in Florida as planned. So the crew is going to try again tomorrow.
Mission managers will activate its backup landing site in California to give the shuttle two options. Atlantis has enough power, by the way, Anderson, to orbit until Sunday. So they can hold out a little longer if needed.
COOPER: Let's hope so.
HILL: Time, now, for "What Were They Thinking?" Yes.
COOPER: What were they thinking?
HILL: You're really going to wonder after this one. It really got to me.
Imagine this. Well, it's going to be tough for you to imagine, because you're not about to have a baby by C-section. But for a woman, you're getting ready to have your baby. There is the doctor. He's got your life, your baby's life, in his or her hands. And he says, "You know what? I'm going to hand the scalpel over to my kid."
HILL: Yes. Teenage kid. Happened in India. Doctor actually videotaped his 15-year-old son -- 15 -- performing the surgery. He wanted to get his son a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's youngest surgeon. Right.
COOPER: Unbelievable. HILL: So then he decided -- right -- he decides to show the tape to members of the Indian Medical Association. They weren't so impressed. He could now lose his license and face criminal charges.
The doctor, in turn, has accused the medical association, of -- get this -- being jealous of his son's achievements. And he said, "Hey, you know what? Not the first time my kid has done it. I've been teaching him for three years."
COOPER: Wow. Excellent. Good comeback.
HILL: Mom and baby are OK. But yes. No, don't want him delivering my next kid. Thanks.
COOPER: Unbelievable. Erica, thanks.
Up next, what's the vice president thinking? You already know he's got a thing about secrecy. Wait until they see how far he's allegedly going to keep something quiet.
Plus, these stories.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (voice-over): The university told them their daughter died of natural causes.
BOB DICKINSON, FATHER OF MURDERED STUDENT: A very healthy 22- year-old girl just doesn't die.
COOPER: She didn't. It was murder. Police had a suspect within three days. So, why did the school stick to its story for two months? We're "Keeping Them Honest".
You have to go to the end of the earth to see them. But it's a trip worth taking.
JEFF CORWIN, ANIMAL EXPERT: Oh, my goodness. Look at this.
COOPER: One of the most spectacular animals in the world. And why it's vanishing from a planet in peril. Tonight on 360.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Whether it's the now-famous undisclosed location during 9/11, or his fight to keep big oil's precise role in drafting the country's energy policy a secret, Vice President Cheney has always preferred playing things close to the vest. Too close for some, according to the Democratic chairman of the House committee dedicated to oversight. In other words, "Keeping Them Honest".
This time, he says that Mr. Cheney has simply taken secrecy and raw power too far. Details now from CNN's Suzanne Malveaux.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The vice president's office is keeping a secret. The secret is over how many secrets it keeps.
An order by President Bush requires Cheney's office to tell the National Archives how many documents it classifies or declassifies each year. For years, the vice president's office has refused.
Now, Cheney's solution to the dispute: just abolish the office asking for the records. That, according to Congressman Henry Waxman, who heads the congressional committee investigating the matter.
He warned Cheney in a letter that his actions could be downright criminal. Saying, "I question both the legality and wisdom of your actions."
For Cheney's part, his camp would neither confirm nor deny whether they sought to abolish the National Archives office seeking the vice president's records. But they did respond to Waxman's accusation, saying, "We are confident that we are conducting the office properly under the law."
That executive order Mr. Bush signed in 2003 requires all agencies, and any other entity within the executive branch, to report its records for classifying top-secret documents. But according to Waxman, the vice president's office is now claiming it is not an entity within the executive branch.
Sound cut and dry? Not exactly. If abolishing the National Archives office doesn't work, Cheney's office has another tactic. They say, as vice president, Cheney also serves as the president of the Senate, which means he's in the unique position of straddling the executive and legislative branches.
STEVEN AFTERGOOD, FEDERATION OF AMERICAN SCIENTISTS: It's transparently silly. If it were true, then we would have to rewrite all of the textbooks that we all grew up with. It's obvious that the vice president's office is part of the executive branch. And to claim otherwise is preposterous.
MALVEAUX: Those text books say the U.S. Constitution establishes the office of vice president under executive branch, Article 2, Section 1.
COOPER: Suzanne Malveaux joins us now from Washington.
It seems like there's pretty big inconsistencies here.
MALVEAUX: You know, Anderson, what's also interesting here is that the Bush administration has made the case numerous times for keeping information secret, citing executive privilege and executive power. So it does seem inconsistent now that the vice president's office is now saying he's in this unique position -- Anderson. COOPER: Interesting. Suzanne, thanks.
We'll have more of this with David Gergen and John King later, in the next hour of 360.
Up next in this hour, though, college students found dead in her dorm room. First, the school said it wasn't a crime. Then, more than two months later, they arrested someone for her murder. Why do they try to hide the truth? "Keeping Them Honest", next.
COOPER: A young woman at a large university dies in her dorm room. School officials told students no foul play was suspected. They said the same thing to her family.
That wasn't the truth, though. The truth was that she was raped and murdered. Now, many want to know why the facts were kept secret for so long.
CNN's Randi Kaye investigates.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Last December, Laura Dickinson, a healthy, athletic 22-year-old, was found dead in her dorm room.
B. DICKINSON: A very healthy 22-year-old girl just doesn't die.
KAYE: And yet, he says, school officials led them to believe she died of natural causes. And though skeptical, Laura's family would bury their daughter, unaware officials at Eastern Michigan University had actually been burying the truth.
(on camera) Do you remember having some conversations with university officials at all about how your daughter died? And do you remember what they told you?
DEB DICKINSON, MOTHER OF MURDERED STUDENT: The only thing they said was there was no evidence of foul play.
KAYE (voice-over): The university stuck to that story for more than two months. No foul play. But in fact, campus police were investigating Laura's death, as a murder, even though no one told Bob and Deb Dickinson or students still on campus.
What they didn't know was that Laura had been found on the floor of her room, naked from the waist down, legs spread, a pillow over her face, semen on her leg.
The medical examiner's report obtained by CNN clearly states "foul play suspected." And this lab report from the state police suggests murder. So why weren't the Dickinsons told what really happened?
(on camera) You think as her parents, you had a right to know that she may have been murdered?
D. DICKINSON: Yes.
KAYE: If campus police were investigating this as a murder, why wouldn't the university warn students and faculty? Instead, the day after Laura's body was discovered, university officials posted this message on the school's web site. It reads, in part, "At this point, there is no reason to suspect foul play. We are fully confident in the safety and security of our campus environment."
In the more than two months that passed between the body being discovered and a suspect being arrested, this message was never updated.
(voice-over) Turns out police had identified their suspect within three days of finding the body: 20-year-old orange Taylor, a student at the school. Incredibly, university and campus police kept silent.
It wasn't until Taylor was arrested February 23 that her family and students heard the truth: Laura died from asphyxiation.
Taylor is charged with murder and rape. He denies the charges.
These are pictures of him entering her dorm about 4:30 a.m. The day she was killed. Here, he's in the stairwell just across the hall from her room, about 90 minutes later. Police now admit his DNA matches the semen on her leg.
After the arrest, students demanded answers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you don't know for sure, don't say. Or if you do know, don't lie.
KAYE: The school started damage control.
JOHN FALLON, UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT: I feel pretty good about the way the university handled this.
KAYE: "Keeping Them Honest", we asked to speak with university president John Fallon. He refused. In fact, neither the university nor campus police would tell CNN why they kept Laura's murder a secret.
The victim's father, Bob Dickinson, says after the arrest police told him revealing details might have compromised the investigation.
The school's board of regents ordered an independent investigation. It found the school violated federal law, because it failed to timely and properly warn the campus community.
It also found both the university and campus police may have made a conscientious decision to label the investigation as a death investigation, not a homicide.
(on camera) Do you feel, Deb, that you were lied to? That you were misled? D. DICKINSON: I'm sure they don't think that I was lied to, because they may say that I didn't ask all the questions. But they knew that they told us nothing to find out this horrible thing that happened to our daughter. How could they just think that was OK to not tell us?
KAYE (voice-over): It wasn't OK. But even the family admits, not knowing their daughter had been murdered was easier to handle than the truth.
Randi Kaye, CNN, Ypsilanti, Michigan.
COOPER: Very sad story.
Coming up, wildlife biologist Jeff Corwin on the other side of the world with a look at something you probably have never seen before and may never see again.
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COOPER (voice-over): You have to go to the ends of the earth to see them. But it's a trip worth taking.
CORWIN: Oh, my goodness. Look at this.
COOPER: One of the most spectacular animals in the world. And why it's vanishing from a "Planet in Peril".
Later, in this peaceful setting, a jolting surprise.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ow!
COOPER: No, not that. This.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa! That hurt.
COOPER: We'll take you where the fish aren't biting, they're beating, when 360 continues.
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COOPER: We're going to check in again, tonight, with our team at Madagascar, off the coast of southeast Africa, the latest stop in our "Planet in Peril" series.
It's really one of the most spectacular places we've visited so far. And it is in peril, the land and the animals. There's really no place like it in the world.
Madagascar has been isolated from any other land mass for 160 million years off the southeast coast of Africa. And as a result, many of the animals that live there are as rare as they are unique. And for a wildlife biologist, like Jeff Corwin, it doesn't get much better. Take a look.
CORWIN: As you can see, I am literally trail-blazing my way through this incredibly lush rainforest. It seems like wherever you look, there's some new creature or plant to be discovered.
We're in eastern Madagascar. Of course, this is an island famous for its biodiversity, in that it's unique in that 90 percent of the life that lives here is only found here. The life at Madagascar is endemic.
And with no exception, is one incredibly charismatic species of primate. It's a species of lemur I've always wanted to witness. And hopefully, with luck, we'll find ourselves an indri.
Where did you see them?
(voice-over) With a little expert assistance from local guides at the reserve in Dasi Bay (ph), it did not take long to spot the amazing indri.
(on camera) There's the indri right here. My goodness, look.
We have, looks like four or five indris. They're absolutely amazing lemurs. Russ, these are the largest of the lemurs, aren't they?
RUSS MITTERMEIER, PRESIDENT, CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL: These are the largest of the living lemurs. They get up to about 20 pounds. One of the most spectacular animals on the planet, without a doubt. Look at them leaping. They're what you call vertical clingers and leapers. Rather than moving quadripedally, they bounce from vertical support to vertical support. They can go 30 feet in a single jump.
CORWIN (voice-over): Out of the 100 plus species of lemurs inhabiting the island of Madagascar, the indri is certainly one of the most popular. It is also one of the most endangered.
MITTERMEIER: They are declining because of habitat destruction, and believe it or not, in some places, they're hunted. So that's a great source of concern, because they're slow-breeding. They're obviously an easy target. You can get quite close to them.
CORWIN (on camera): That is one of the eeriest natural calls you'll ever hear in the wilderness like this. It's almost -- it's like a humpback whale.
MITTERMEIER: Yes. It's like the humpback whale sped up.
CORWIN: It's very -- it's very eerie, very melancholy. But basically, it's a vocalization to accomplish territory, isn't it?
MITTERMEIER: Yes. It's a territorial call. It says, "I'm here. Don't come into my territory or we'll fight." And it's a way of avoiding physical conflict. CORWIN: Awesome call.
MITTERMEIER: Absolutely one of the great sounds of the animal kingdom.
CORWIN (voice-over): But it is only here in these remote and pristine rain forests of Madagascar, we can find the indri. They have not been successfully bred in captivity. Not even in Madagascar, which only adds another pressure with regard to their conservation.
MITTERMEIER: There's no backup, no safety valve, in terms of the captive colony. You've got to protect them in the wild.
CORWIN (on camera): And if they disappear, they are -- they're gone forever.
CORWIN: Jeff Corwin, in Dasi Bay (ph), Madagascar.
"The Shot of the Day" is coming up. A beautiful sight, the glory of nature. That's the before shot. We'll show you the after shot and how amazingly different it is in a moment.
But first, Erica Hill from Headline News has a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica.
HILL: Anderson, at least one person is dead and six others missing after flash flooding in New York's Catskill Mountains. Part of a highway was washed away, along with homes, cars and trees after a wall of water hit.
More than 100 searchers are now going home-to-home. They want to make sure everyone is accounted for. More than 30 families were evacuated. As one Red Cross official put it, their world has been wiped out.
On YouTube, a 3-D simulation of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. It took Purdue University researchers 2 1/2 years to put together. And they say it could help engineers design safer buildings.
AT&T Wireless geared up for the big debut of the Apple iPhone. How, you ask? Hiring 2,000 temporary workers to help out when the iPhone goes on sale a week from tomorrow. They're also going to help out through the summer months the much-hyped iPhone has a music and video player and Web browser, as well. It will set you back either $500 or $600, depending on how much storage you want.
And across the pond, happy birthday, Prince William. Hey, maybe he'll get an iPhone. The heir to the British throne now has access to a reported $500,000 a year. It's actually part of the inheritance from his mum, Princess Diana. She, of course, passed away nearly 10 years ago in a Paris car accident.
Now that he is 25, he is also -- get this -- free to choose whomever he wants to marry. Doesn't need the queen's permission anymore, because he's 25 now.
COOPER: There you go. Are you going to get one of those iPhones?
HILL: I would like one. But probably not.
COOPER: Apparently, they don't work with our e-mail system.
HILL: They're not going to -- exactly, yes. Saw that e-mail the other day. It didn't work with the BlackBerry, so we're out of luck.
COOPER: I'm worried about getting it, because as soon as you get it, you know, it's like one of those things. Either a few months from now, there will be a tiny, little version.
HILL: Yes. This is true.
COOPER: And you'll have the old, obsolete one.
HILL: There you go. And no one wants that.
COOPER: I finally just committed to getting a CD player. But now, I hear there's this whole MP3 thing. So...
HILL: Oh, yes. You should really check it out. Then, you don't have to worry about the skip factor.
HILL: But you know, one thing at a time.
Let's check out the "Shot of the Day". And please take a look -- this was a glacier lake in the Southern Andes International Park months ago. That's what it looked like. Five acres full of ice and water. Very pretty.
And here's "The Shot". The lake, it has vanished.
HILL: That's the same lake?
COOPER: Yes, same place. No water. No ice. This 100-foot-deep crater. That's what you're looking at. Down there at the bottom are park rangers. They didn't expect this. A team of geologists and other experts are heading out to the site to try to figure out what happened. There it is before. And let's see it again after. There it is.
HILL: That's wild.
COOPER: The water may have disappeared into cracks in the lake bottom. But they simply don't know.
HILL: Wait, in the lake bottom? Then where does it go? It's like it goes in the cracks and it ends up in China?
COOPER: That's how -- yes. It's a direct line.
HILL: Because you know, as a kid, we all learned that you can actually drill a hole to China.
COOPER: Of course. You can dig a hole, right in your backyard.
HILL: I tried. I never finished. I never made it all the way.
COOPER: Well, you lack commitment.
HILL: I'm going to work on that. Thanks. Thanks for pointing it out on national television.
COOPER: I made it all the way through to China.
We want you to send us your "Shot" ideas. If you see some amazing video, tell us about it: CNN.com/360. We'll put some of your best clips on the air.
So up next, what Congress is burying deep inside the bills they pass, costing you billions. Your money, we're "Keeping Them Honest".
Also ahead, fish out of water and on the attack. They gave our David Mattingly a real smack-down. It's a story you'll want to see again and again and again. It's coming up next on 360.
COOPER: You're watching the only live newscast on cable right now.
Tonight lawmakers spending your money, billions of dollars, on their secret pet projects. Democrats promise to do better and to come clean and cut spending. We're "Keeping Them Honest".
Also, Vice President Cheney doesn't simply want to keep some of his work secret. He doesn't just want to keep his list of what's secret, secret. One lawmaker says he's also trying to put the people who are trying to find out, out of business.
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