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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Out in the Open

Aired August 6, 2007 - 20:00   ET

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


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And we do appreciate that no boo (ph) rule, Suzanne.
Thanks for joining us, folks. OUT IN THE OPEN tonight, some breaking news. We're at the scene of this mine cave in that we've been telling you about throughout the course of the day. Is there any hope for these six trapped miners inside there?

Also, they're soldiers, they're Christians, but where is their true loyalty? Soldiers in big trouble for mixing those too.

Guess where Iraq's insurgents, guess where they may be getting their guns? Have you got a mirror at home? Well, you might want to put it up and look at it, look at yourself. That's right, us. That's where they're getting it.

Also, what do you think of a mayor who's against gay sex and for tiny toilets. We're going to put the two together for you.

We thank you for being here.

But we're going to begin, of course, with this breaking news story. It's the cave-in that was first reported to the Emery County sheriff's office. It was about 4:00 a.m. Utah time.

Sheriff Lamar Guymon is with us now. He's on the phone joining us, to try and bring us up to date on what's going on. Sheriff, what's the latest there? We understand that there's some kind of rescue effort going on. Can you try and detail that for us?

LAMAR GUYMON, SHERIFF (on phone): We have several mine rescue teams, some of the finest rescue teams in the nation are here on site and have been here all day. We are in the process of trying four different ways of entering the mine. At this point there is still nothing, other than what's been released so far.

SANCHEZ: Why is it so difficult? You mention that there are four ways they are trying to get into the mine. Do you know where these six miners are and what's the best approach at this point, do we know?

GUYMON: They know where the miners are. It's just a matter of getting to them. The earthquake that happened this morning -- there was an earthquake that was reported at our office early this morning caused damage in the mine and it sealed off the area where these miners are at. SANCHEZ: So has there been any communication with them up to this point? If not, are you trying to communicate with them? And if so, how?

GUYMON: They have been trying to establish communications all day long. As of right now, there has been no communications with them.

SANCHEZ: Do we know how far down they are?

GUYMON: They are in the mine approximately three and a half miles.

SANCHEZ: What's the closest point where rescuers are to them at this point?

GUYMON: I would think probably halfway in.

SANCHEZ: Halfway in from the side or from the top?

GUYMON: They are about halfway to the front.

SANCHEZ: Halfway coming in through the front. I understand there is also another entry point they are using. There was this mine opening that was last used back in 2004. It has been closed since. And they are also trying to see if they can come in that way. Why are they doing that and what would be the benefit of that?

GUYMON: I have not heard that and I am not aware of that.

SANCHEZ: You haven't heard that at this point?

GUYMON: No.

SANCHEZ: What's it like for some of the family members there that I'm sure you have been dealing with. This must be really desperate straits for them.

GUYMON: It's devastating. They have no idea where their family is OK or not. Everything is unknown at this time.

SANCHEZ: Sheriff, we thank you sir for joining us and for bringing us up to date. We know you have your hands full over there. It is going to be an extremely busy night for you. If you get any information, we're going to be checking back with you from time to time.

The "Associated Press," by the way, is now reporting that the Federal Mine Safety Inspection have issued more than 300 citations against the Utah mine since January 2004. We also did a little bit of digging on our own on this and we found that these mine cave-ins are a lot more common than many of us had thought. Now, take a look at this.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, there were more than 13,00 cases of what officials call mining ground fall nationwide between 1984 and 1999. A full report, a full 40 percent are unexplained. We simply don't know the cause of those -- 30 percent of those causes by the way came from human activity, according to officials and reports like drilling or blasting. Another 15 percent came from mine roof support systems that just suddenly failed.

Let's talk to Bruce Dial now. He has been in the mining industry for more than 35 years. He's a certified mine safety professional and he's good enough to join us now to share some insight into this. From your experience Mr. Dial, what do you think could have caused this collapse? Because they are going back and forth now at this point on whether or not this was an earthquake. What do you think?

BRUCE DIAL, MINE SAFETY PROFESSIONAL: Well first, they said there was an earthquake that caused the roof to cave in. Then as they got to looking at the seismic activity in the charts, it's more likely that the roof fall is what they picked up on the seismic activity rather than the earthquake causing the roof fall.

SANCHEZ: So really, instead of the of earth quake causing the cave-in, it was the cave-in that mimicked the earthquake.

DIAL: That's my understanding at this point, yes.

SANCHEZ: Is that definitive at this point or are they still going back and forth just to see if we can nail this down?

DIAL: There are different people going both ways. Some people are saying it's the earthquake and some people are saying it was the rock fall that was actually picked up as the earthquake.

SANCHEZ: You know mines as well as anybody. So I know this is a very direct question, but I'm going to ask it of you. What are the chances that these men are still alive?

DIAL: Well, it all depends on how big the rock fall was and how close it came to where they were working. If it came in on where they were working, right on top of them, they are more than likely dead. If it came in behind them and just cut off their escape way, most likely they did have room to live and there is air to breathe.

SANCHEZ: Mr. Dial, could you stay with us for just a moment? I understand now that we might be having a news conference that's coming in that we're going to be checking in. All right, this is Robert Murray, head of mines. We're going to listen in to what he has to say. This is the latest update coming in now live.

ROBERT MURRAY, MURRAY ENERGY CORP: On top of the rescue effort myself. What are the four approaches? The men that are trapped -- there are six -- are right here in these entries. We started early this morning. I was here quite early, and we started immediately, and much of it was underway to get a lot of machinery in here and drive up in here and clean up the rubble, the coal that has come off the rocks and drive to where the men are.

Now the epicenter of the earthquake is 5,000 feet right here according to University of Utah, as best they have pinpointed it to us and the information we have right now. There are six mind out panels of coal here.

And apparently then the earthquake reached across and damaged this area. At about crosscut 136 is where the rubble begins, and it's about 1,700 feet from where our men could get this morning. Some of you were here around 8:00, and you heard me say this was as far as we could get.

That is 1,700 feet from where the men are. We started back another 300 feet to start cleaning up the rubble. You've seen machinery going by here all day, massive, very large machinery, we are sparing absolutely no expense to get all of the machinery that we need and can find in here to this section.

You have seen dozens of truckloads of machinery, those of you who have been here since this morning -- and I know some of you have -- and seen the machinery going in there, to get this in the mine and speed this up so we can drive to the men.

We don't know whether that area damaged by the earthquake extends 100 feet, 200 feet or the entire distance to where these men are. Generally in this area -- a condition like that will extend about 1,000 feet, and then there will be an area not damaged where the men are. That's what we're hoping for.

The four courses of action. One of them was to come in here -- this was the one I had the highest hopes for. I'm disappointed to report that our efforts have not been fruitful in this approach to get to the men. What we did is we sent two rescue teams and about 20 of our employees in the mine, and they broke out what we call a seal here and they went in on apparatus. And they were trying to get down through here, so it would only be 55 feet to drive from this entry over to where the men were.

And that was our best approach because we could get to the men and know whether they are alive or not within a matter of less than 24 hours.

However, our crews are now on their way back out of the mine as they ran into impassable conditions right here. They ran into impassible conditions here and here, and actually were driven out of here and none of them were injured.

So that the condition we have and the falls that occurred while they were in there, everybody got out safely. There is one more thing we can do and that's break this seal here, and we're examining that now to come down this entry and try to get over here.

SANCHEZ: So there you have it. There are four different approaches that they are considering right now. That's Robert Murray. He is the president of this particular mine company. He says that they are sparing absolutely no expense at this point to try and bring as much personnel and as much equipment as they can to try and see if they can find these guys down there. The hope of course is -- you heard him talk about all of the rubble that has fallen down. But there is still a possibility, he seems to be indicating, that there is some kind of chamber where they might be able to find these guys, and that's the hope at this point.

Although he did admit while he was talking that there are some things they found down there that at this point don't seem to be very promising.

Let's go back to our own guest that we were talking to, Mr. Dial, who was explaining to us moments ago just before we cut away what he thought the precarious situation these men may be in at this point. And you know, for those of us who don't understand the mining industry, which is a very obviously tight-knit community, can you tell us what it would be like for these men at this point, if indeed they are still in some kind of sealed chamber? What's their situation right now? What would it be?

DIAL: Well, they would try locate each other, and once they located each other, if they were in separate parts of the mine, they would get all together and they would share resources they have, like drinking water, food.

Also they would take turns turning on their cap lamp so they all wouldn't be burning at one time. That way their light source would last longer. They're basically sitting there trying to conserve energy, hopefully there's air moving through there so they don't have to use their self-rescuers.

SANCHEZ: What does it say that we haven't heard from them in any way, shape or form. They obviously have to have some kind of way to communicate, whether it's a cell phone or banging on a pipe, right?

DIAL: Right, there are several ways. One would be the hard wire method, like a telephone line. But that would most likely be cut with the rock fall. They did have some walkie-talkies, is my understanding, that there are two of those, and there are other ways like every 15 minutes they get up and take a timber and just bang against the wall or the top just to try to show people they are alive, but evidently they haven't found anything like that.

SANCHEZ: And they are trained to do so, right?

DIAL: Yes, that is part of their additional training before they go into work in mines, what to do in a disaster like this.

SANCHEZ: Hey Mr. Dial, thanks so much, sir. Bruce Dial, joining us. We might be getting back to you as we try and put this piece together.

Let's bring in our own expert now, our meteorologist Chad Myers. He's been following this story throughout the course of the day. Chad, there is something here that we at least have to A, clear up, or leave as I suppose a confusing part of the story.

We heard Mr. Dial tell us moments ago that he thought that really it was the cave-in that mimicked an earthquake then we heard Mr. Murray say that, no it appears that he has been told by Utah officials that it was an earthquake that caused the cave-in. Do we know at this point which is which?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The answer to that is no. And the answer to what they're thinking is that this is going to actually take about 48 hours to figure it out, to figure out the shake pattern of the seismographs around Utah, what happened, how it happened.

Now there's a clue to this. You can't draw any conclusions, but the shaking occurred about one mile or less deep into the ground. Most earthquakes are deeper than that.

Here's the mine entrance. Salt Lake City was way up there by about 100 miles. Now the shaking actually occurred three miles from this mine entrance as we were showing you all of those maps.

The CEO was showing you where all those maps were. Most of this mine is actually to the west of this entrance although there is still some of the permit area to the east and to the southeast.

So there's the earth quake and there is where the entrance is, three miles away. Well, that's far away. Obviously there was no mines there, but in fact there is.

This is the mine permit area here. It's going to pop on in red. You will notice that the earthquake location is in fact inside this permit area and about one mile or less deep.

Guess what? That is the mine, that's where the mine is. So can we conclude that it was shaking in the mine? Did the top fall down and that's where the shaking came from or did something shake and then things fell down?

Well no, we can't determine that yet. The seismologist are going to look at that.

One more thing I want to show you. I want to show you the shaking, how it actually happened, what it looked like. If there was an earthquake, you would expect to see a large moment, a big sign here, maybe a small break and then when the earthquake made the roof fall in. You might actually get two separate signatures. We don't have that, it is one long signature.

And Rick, every line here -- I know it's hard to see -- every line is a minute. So this thing was here. That's one minute, two minutes, three minutes of really very violent shaking and then it settled down into the rumbling that was aftershock.

SANCHEZ: You know what, I'm being told that we got Ted Rowlands on the scene now.

But before I let you go, Chad, I have a question for you that I think a lot of folks at home are probably wondering as well. Why wasn't there -- is there any kind of warning system from seismologists? Aren't there companies, these mine companies required to hire somebody on staff that might be able to tell them and ring a bell and get those guys out of there?

MURRAY: You know, there is a fault here. The fault, the plateau, shaking does go on here, but there's no way.

SANCHEZ: There's not enough time.

MURRAY: There's no forecast of an earthquake. When it flips, it flips.

SANCHEZ: Ted Rowlands is joining us now. We understand we've finally been able to reach you. It's kind of been iffy all day long.

Let's go to you live now from the scene. Ted, pick up the story from there from what you've been able to learn from officials. We are still trying first of all to parse whether or not this was an earthquake that caused the cave-in or a cave-in that mimicked an earthquake. What can you share with us on that?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, mining officials who are updating the media right now are convinced it was an earthquake and that is what caused this cave in.

Some bad news to report. Over the last few minutes, they did report that one of the four pronged approaches doesn't seem to be working. Going through the old mine shaft and breaking those seals has created some problems.

They still have one potential option with one of those sealed entrances, but the rescue crews encountered some trouble. In fact, the way they made it sound is they to flee quickly, some of those rescue crews. Nobody was hurt in that.

But bad news, because that would have been the quickest way to get to these six trapped miners. Now it's onto these other three prongs, one to burrow through basically, this debris field which they're not sure of the size and it could take days. The other way would be to use the helicopter.

They will start to drill tomorrow morning. They will drill tomorrow morning through the mountain, and at that point they will start to go exactly where these miners are.

They know where the miners are, and they are going to use this helicopter, but they say two to three days minimum to get to them that way.

So overall bad news in this community. I can tell you, people have been coming up here bringing food for rescue workers. People are volunteering to help. This community is on pins and needles hoping for the best from these six trapped miners who have been here since 2:00 in the morning local time. And nobody knows their fate at this point, but people hoping and praying that they are all right. Rick?

SANCHEZ: Ted Rowlands following the story really throughout the course of the day for us. We have really been on top of it, trying to bring you the very latest information. It's kind of been really back and forth, as we try to reach some of those officials.

Some of the information still sketchy as you can see. Some officials saying one thing. Ted seemed to clarify for us that it does appear at this point that it was an earthquake that actually started this cave in. What a desperate situation for those six people underground.

We're going to stay on top of this. We're going to be watching the situation in Utah. And we're also going to be taking you back there live as soon as there are new developments. And we expect that there will be other people speaking.

Also this, on ward Christian soldiers isn't just an old-time hymn. The U.S. military is actually disciplining some modern soldiers, including generals, for quote pushing their religion while in uniform. Next, should they apologize? Should they be fired, as some are asking? We'll have it for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't like coming on the air and having you come after my church and me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: That is Mitt Romney. He loses his cool. He says tired of defending a position on being a position on being a Mormon, and the flip flop thing as well. This story has got some legs.

And guess where Iraq's insurgents have been getting their guns? Warning, it may make you mad. I'm Rick Sanchez, we're OUT IN THE OPEN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back, I'm Rick Sanchez.

OUT IN THE OPEN TONIGHT, this is a story that's going to make you think. Some big trouble for seven top military officers who took part in a promotional video for a Christian group. The Defense Department's inspection general says that the officers violated ethical rules before they wore their uniforms when they appeared in that video you're looking at right there. Now this is just the latest development in a story that we've following: the role of religion in the military. Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr files this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Seven military officers, including four generals, engaged in misconduct when they appeared in this 12-minute video endorsing a Christian Evangelical group. The incident happened three years ago. And the misconduct finding has just been issued by the Pentagon's own inspector general after an investigation of how the promotional film was put together by a group called Christian embassy. VINCE BROOKS, U.S. ARMY: Christian Embassy really gives us a tremendous opportunity here in the Pentagon as leaders that carry a lot of responsibility as soldiers on a daily basis to stop and reflect.

BOB CASLEN, U.S. ARMY: I see a brother in the Lord in these fellowship groups and I immediately feel like I'm being held accountable because we're the work of Jesus Christ.

STARR: Some parts of the Christian Embassy video feature officers in uniform and were shot within the Pentagon, apparently to promote the group. The inspector general said that's an ethical violation.

(on camera): There is religion here at the Pentagon. This is the multi-faith chapel. Here all religions are represented. In fact in just a few minutes, military members of the Islamic community will be here to offer their private daily prayers. But no one of any faith while on active duty in uniform goes out and actively seeks converts.

(voice-over): There have been religious missteps by the military before. In 2003, army lieutenant general William Boynton was criticized for appearing before church groups saying President Bush was appointed by God. In 2005, the Air Force Academy, some cadets and faculty were found to have inappropriately engaged in promoting certain religions. Michael Weinstein is the founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which asks for the IG investigation.

MICHAEL WEINSTEIN, MILITARY RELIGIOUS FREEDOM FOUNDATION: They were absolutely promoting. That is all that they were doing. I told you, our researchers have now found that numbers of them have led Christian Embassy bible studies. They were well aware what this was about.

STARR: The inspector general's report has unsettled some chaplains who don't seem convinced that there was any wrongdoing.

COL. WILLIAM BROOME, PENTAGON CHAPLAIN: As a Christian, I should be able to say that my religion helps me to be a better army chaplain or army officer. I should be able to say that without worrying about whether or not I've crossed some type of a line.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: Now several of the generals have apologized, some say they didn't know they were appearing in a promotional video. But the military is looking at corrective action against all of those who appeared. Rick?

SANCHEZ: Fascinating story, Barbara Starr, thanks so much for bringing us up to date on that.

Let's talk to somebody now who you saw in Barbara's report, Mikey Weinstein. We saw him just a moment ago. And he's a former air force officer, served in the Reagan administration. He's the founder and the president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. So given your title, I can imagine what your beef is but go ahead and explain it to our viewers.

WEINSTEIN: Well, it's very simple, Rick. What we've got here is situation that is a national security threat every bit as significant in magnitude, width and breadth internally as that presented externally by the now resurgent Taliban and an al Qaeda that our national intelligence estimate has recently stated is at least as strong as it was on 9/11.

SANCHEZ: Whoa, whoa, whoa, you are comparing American soldiers to the Taliban?

WEINSTEIN: I'm telling that's what happened, the blending, the total of this radical Christian right-wing organization, the Christian Embassy and its tentacles are all through the Pentagon. This is all over the Department of Defense.

In fact, if you look at the report, the Department of Defense report, Major General Pete Sutton stated that his own Turkish car driver, when he was in Turkey, presented him a newspaper where it showed a picture of himself with a Christian Embassy where he was identified as being a member of a radicalized Christian fundamental organization and the general had to explain himself to the Turkish general staff. Part of his job for the Pentagon was to create good relations between ourselves and Turkey.

SANCHEZ: But Mr. Weinstein, the military has come out and said they're going to discipline these guys. They're essentially saying --

WEINSTEIN: No, they didn't say that, Rick. Rick, you are wrong. What they said was they advised the services to quote, "take corrective action." I expect they'll probably be having...

SANCHEZ: ... What is corrective action? When your boss says we are going to call you in and we're going to have to take corrective answers as a result of your behavior, they are disciplining you, aren't they?

WEINSTEIN: No. This is something that ought to be handled with a court-martial. If you look at lower people on the chain of command, when they wear their uniforms, those that have been to Iraq three and four times and they're participating in anti-war demonstrations, these are people that are being faced with court-martial. This is a serious breach of mixing fundamental Christianity.

SANCHEZ: And you're right. Most people would agree with you, they shouldn't do this while wearing their uniforms. That we do live in a country where we're supposed to separate the two, just like they shouldn't go to a Barack Obama campaign and campaign for him or George Bush or anybody else. You're not supposed to mix those two. It's really a question of severity though. You want them all fired for doing this and you think it's a problem that's rampant throughout the entire military?

WEINSTEIN: We have 737 U.S. military installations, Rick, scattered in 132 countries around the world. The Christian fellowship and Christian military fellowship have a tripartite goal. The first goal is they want to see a spiritually transformed U.S. military, secondly with ambassadors for Christ in uniform put in power by the holy spirit.

SANCHEZ: Who is doing this? Who? Who do you say is doing this?

WEINSTEIN: This is the officers Christian fellowship and the Christian military fellowship. It's ubiquitous, it's in the very air conditioning of our honorable and noble U.S. military, Rick. It's not a small matter. That's why our foundation is here.

SANCHEZ: We don't believe it's a small matter either. That's why we have you on as a guest. We appreciate you sir for sharing your point of view and obviously, there are those in the Pentagon who would probably disagree, at least with the severity issue. We'll have you back.

Well, you're not going to believe this one. The U.S. military has also lost track of some of the things in Iraq like, are you ready for this? 200,000 assault rifles and pistols. Who is to blame? And are the insurgents now using those guns our military lost against our soldiers? Good question.

And then later, a mayor who wants to install tiny toilets on a Florida beach. Why tiny toilets? It's the gay thing, we'll be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back, I'm Rick Sanchez. Another story that's "Out in the Open" tonight, is America giving weapons to insurgents in Iraq. Well, there's a new government report that says the Pentagon has lost track of almost 200,000 AK-47 assault riffles and pistols, like the ones you just saw there.

AK-47s have been a favorite weapon for insurgents in the past. Those guns were originally supposed to arm Iraqi security force. Now they may well be in the hands of the insurgents shooting at U.S. forces.

Now, this report, also says that most of the missing weapons were sent to Iraq between 2004 and 2005 when General David Petraeus, who now commands all U.S. forces in Iraq, was in charge of training the Iraqi security forces.

With me now, Rachel Stohl, She's the senior analyst for the Center for Defense Information.

Rachel, thanks so much for being with us.

RACHEL STOHL, CTR FOR DEFENSE INFORMATION: Thanks for having me.

SANCHEZ: You know, I guess the tough question has to be: is there a possibility that these same weapons are now in the hands of those insurgents? I mean, is there any way to know that?

STOHL: Well, the problem is we really just don't know. When you lose hundreds of thousands of weapons, it's difficult to guess where they could have ended up. But it's entirely likely that they are being used against U.S. soldiers and in the field.

SANCHEZ: Who's trying to track these down? Anybody been able to find them or find where they may have gone?

STOHL: I'm not sure the Pentagon has undertaken efforts to try and find these weapons. I think certainly that's a first step trying to discover what went wrong and where these weapons have ended up.

SANCHEZ: How does something -- I mean, look -- I mean, what's going on here? How does something like this happen? I mean, if this happened in a company, people -- heads would roll, right? I mean, how do we hear reports about this not only in the government, but in the military, as well, money lost, guns lost, how big a problem is this?

STOHL: Well, it really boggles the mind that there wasn't a system put in place to keep track of these weapons. I mean, that's what the Government Accountability Office found. There was no system put in place by the Department of Defense or by the U.S. military to keep track of the weapons that were being distributed. And we're not giving away candy on the street corner. We're giving away lethal weapons tools of violence.

SANCHEZ: So, let's clear this up. They were sent there to be used by Iraqi police and somehow all of them are just gone, missing, disappeared? Did any of the Iraqi police officers get any of them?

STOHL: Well, sure, the report found that some of them were in fact accounted for, but that there was this 200,000 -- nearly 200,000 weapons, body armor, as well as helmets, that they just don't know what's happened to them. And best-case scenario, they are where they're supposed to be. They were distributed to Iraqi security forces, which could be military or police. But the worst-case scenario is that some of them may in face have ended up in the hands of insurgents. And this actually isn't a new study. This came out at the end of last year. The special inspector for Iraq Reconstruction said: There is evidence that U.S. weapons are seeping out of stockpiles that we intended for police and security and are ending up in the hands of criminals and insurgents.

SANCHEZ: What we try to do in this business is try to make people accountable for mistakes like this. If we were to look for someone in this case, given what you know, who should be held accountable?

STOHL: Well, the reality is, there's plenty of blame to go around. I mean, you could blame General Petraeus, as you mentioned, he was in charge of this project. There's also those in the Department of Defense and the higher ups that just didn't insist on a policy. And then, of course, you can blame the Bush administration for part of this. There has been no systematic of comprehensive small arms policy in Iraq dating back our initial invasion in March 2003. Because these weapons have never been taken seriously, we're left with a situation where we now have nearly 200,000 weapons can't account for.

SANCHEZ: Rachel Stohl, we thank you for sharing your insight on this story with.

STOHL: Thanks for having me.

SANCHEZ: Interesting stuff.

You think immigration reform has gone away? Well, no. It's actually just being divvied up now 50 different ways. What do we mean? Well, remember when we tried to pass this bill through the entire nation? It didn't. So, now states are picking it you up. Are they any better at doing this than Washington? Should they be doing this? That's next.

Also, you've got to see more on this one. Needless to say, better not try that again. We'll be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: And we welcome you back. I'm Sanchez. Here's one that gets people riled up: Immigration. It's immigration reform that may have gone down the tubes in Washington, but it's alive and well, Where? In America's states. In fact, take a look at this. There's a brand new report from the National Conference of Legislatures, it says that 41 of 50 states have now passed 170 new laws to try and take control of immigration in this country. Well, that's more than double the number of now immigration laws that the states passed in 2006.

But it makes you wonder, when it comes to immigration reform, should the states be taking over what it seems the federal government was supposed to do?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Welcome to Arizona where it's now against the law for employers to hire illegal immigrants. Before the boss gives you a job, he or she has to check your name against a federal database.

Now, let's look at Illinois. The legislature there passed a bill forbidding employers from using that exact same database because lawmakers think it contains too many errors. Outrageous? Confused?

Here's why this is happening. In the vacuum left by Washington's failure to deal with immigration reform, states and localities are going in all sorts of different directions.

Hazleton, Pennsylvania, for example, made national news by passing a tough and tight immigrant law. A judge recently declared it unconstitutional, but it would have fined businesses that hire illegal immigrants and penalized landlords who rent to them.

Arkansas, has forbidden state agencies from doing business with contractors who employ illegal immigrants.

Twenty-six states have passed restrictions on who can get a drivers license. Texas is among 11 states to pass tough new penalties against human trafficking, but California lawmakers felt generous. They passed a law saying migrant workers qualify for public benefits like housing, income and education support. With no direction, from Washington, the states seem to be going in 50 directions when it comes to immigration reform.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: Have we mentioned, this is one that's going to get some folks riled up? Let's go to our panelists. Republican strategist, Cheri Jacobus who's joining us, you can see that she's there in Washington with her smiling face.

Constructional attorney and commentator, Mark Smith, is here in the studio with us, as well, as criminal defense attorney and TV host, Lauren Lake.

My thanks to all of you for being with us.

This is not something the local government should be doing, Isn't it? I mean, why can't the federal government -- this is not a state border, it's a national border issue.

Mark, start us off.

MARK SMITH, CONSTRUCTIONAL ATTORNEY: You know, I agree, to a large degree, that the federal government needs to step up and protect our borders, but the fact is the federal government is simply not doing it and to me everybody, not just the state and local government, but all of us have an obligation and duty to protect the country from invaders, and that's what illegal immigrants are, they're invading the country. We have a right to fight back.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Go ahead, Lauren, jump in.

LAUREN LAKE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTY: I just want to say, you know the government has been ineffective, inadequate. There has been nothing going on with this issue, Mark, and now for the states to have to jump in is ridiculous, and many of these regulations are potentially unconstitutional (INAUDIBLE) because they contradict federal policy. This is a problem. We can't leave 50 states doing 50 things where we've immigrants going state to state, going, well, this state can do this, I can't do this here. This is a national issue.

SANCHEZ: Didn't they call it anarchy when we were in sixth grade?

LAKE: This is ridiculous.

SMITH: That's ridiculous. I mean, we have, for example, there's plenty of areas where we have a patchworks of state laws, like gun laws.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Let's go to Washington, Cheri Jacobus, you deserve to get into this. So, here's your entry point.

CHERI JACOBUS, CAPITOL STRATEGIES P.R.: Look, the fact of the matter is, the immigration bill in Washington went down because of the amnesty provisions. I think everybody in this country agrees, I mean, we need to do something about illegal immigration. It's a huge cost to taxpayers and we need to have our borders protected and that's why this is going on in the various states...

SANCHEZ: Here is the point...

JACOBUS: The fact of the matter is there probably should be some sort of a federal and state partnership.

SANCHEZ: Great.

JACOBUS: But, with the acceptation of what you see in California, all of these states are basically doing the things that the American people want, what the people told Congress, told Washington, they wanted and because of these amnesty provisions, it went down in flames.

SANCHEZ: Let me stop you real quick, because this is important. There was a bill, there was a proposal, and it probably wasn't perfect, but it did do a lot of the things that these states are now trying to do, guys. It was going to say, look, no more illegal immigrants as of January 1 of this last year. Everybody who's country, we want your fingerprints, we want to know where you are, you're going to have to pay $5,000 if you want to stay in this country, and everybody ran like that -- like scared little girls. Why? Why -- Mark.

SMITH: Well, obviously, it's a political problem that you have. People in Washington that don't want to enact the laws that need to be enacted. And the bottom line is that is -- unless the federal government steps up and protects the border, it's perfectly acceptable for the states and municipality to step up and try to do...

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: The point is, why do the states have to do this? Why did the federal guys -- why didn't they get it done? What were they afraid of?

LAKE: Many of these regulations are going to end up being discriminatory of people who are of different nationalities. On a state level, this can be really problematic. I don't think people understand what a huge issue this can be with states enacting different laws on different levels...

(CROSSTALK)

SMITH: It's only a problem if you've... SANCHEZ: All right, we've got your point. Mark, we thank you, we've got to leave it there. You guys are great. I wish we could continue this discussion, but because of breaking news we have to go on. Cheri Jacobus, Mark Smith, Lauren Lake, thanks to all of you for being here.

Mayors usually want to be popular, right? But Fort Lauderdale's mayor is the target of protests, now. What's his problem and what does it have to do with tiny toilets? This one gets a little bizarre. We'll be back. Stay with us and we'll explain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: And we welcome you back. I'm Rick Sanchez. Pay particular attention to that man right there in the middle of the screen. That is the mayor of Fort Lauderdale, Mr. Naugle, they call him. We're bringing this "Out in the Open," tonight. This is a bitter battle in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The city mayor is under intense pressure to resign from opponents, they say he's damaging the city on what they call attacks on gays and lesbians. But, this gets even more interesting than that, or at least to a certain extent, bizarre. National gays and lesbian rights groups are accusing the mayor of being homophobic, but as Susan Candiotti reports, the mayor isn't backing down.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It all started over a single stall toilet, like this one.

VOICE: Your time to use the toilet has expired.

CANDIOTTI: A high-tech portable toilet. Mayor Jim Naugle wanted to buy one for the beach in Fort Lauderdale. He said it was a good way to prevent men from having sex with each other, which they might do in a larger bathroom.

MAYOR JIM NAUGLE, FORT LAUDERDALE, FL: We don't have reports of men and women having sex in the bathrooms, at least we haven't had reports of that. It's men having sex with men and I feel that it's necessary for an elected official to tell it like it is and if that's fault I have, then I don't subscribe to political correctness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People aren't going to stand for this.

CANDIOTTI: Not surprisingly, a coalition of national gay and lesbian rights groups has taken offense, calling the mayor insensitive at best, homophobic at the worst. The coalition wants the mayor to be censured or resign.

Signs at a recent rally told him to "get lost." In the air, "surrender." "Flush Naugle" t-shirts and signs are everywhere. The mayor stirred up thing again when he voted against having a gays and lesbian literary collection, part of it about graphic sex, housed in a public library. The city and county commission approved it, anyway.

Mayor Naugle also reportedly said, he call homosexual men gay because, "most are unhappy."

NAUGLE: We're all sinners and that you, you know, you love the sinner and hate the sinner.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): After all that controversy, the mayor called a news conference, which he said would be an apology, but that news conference wasn't exactly what the city's gay and lesbian community expected.

(voice-over): The mayor, in fact, claimed that the so-called gay sex problem was worse than he thought.

NAUGLE: I want to apologize to the children and to the parents of our community for not being aware of the problem.

CANDIOTTI: The fact is though, that police report only four incidents of alleged male sex acts in public bathrooms since November 2005, and none on the beach.

DEAN TRANTALIS, FMR VICE-MAYOR: He wasn't there to apologize. He was there to grandstand.

CANDIOTTI: Former vice-mayor Dean Trantalis was the first openly gay man to serve on the Fort Lauderdale City Commission.

(on camera): What do his comments meant to you, personally?

TRANTALIS: I feel betrayed and I think he's betrayed not only me, but he's betrayed the entire community here in Fort Lauderdale.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): The mayor has taken on gay tourists who spend an estimated $1 billion a year, a group the visitor's bureau targets in its advertising. Naugle worries they might go to bath houses and worsen the spread of AIDS, citing a record increase of new AIDS in the county, the highest in the nation.

(on camera): Are you saying that tourism dollars should not be spent to attract gay visitors to South Florida, because they might contract AIDS, here.

NAUGLE: It's not the men coming here, spreading the disease, unfortunately, it's people going home with the disease that maybe they didn't have before they visited Fort Lauderdale.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Gays and lesbians say the mayor may, in fact, be pulling them together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's igniting our community. And you know what? We'll be stronger because of it.

CANDIOTTI: Mayor Naugle may not have to worry that this will be a campaign issue, because of term limits, he cannot run for re- election. His current term expires in 2009 and he claims he has no plans to seek higher office.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, Fort Lauderdale. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: And there's yet another part of the mayor's brouhaha with gays. He's now targeting the Fort Lauderdale's Convention and Visitor's Bureau saying that they should stop targeting bath houses for gay visitors. Well, the visitors bureau says it doesn't promote gay bath houses now, in fact, they say they never have.

You've got to see some of these next pictures that we've put together for you. The driver of the car that's going airborne is only the winner of this year's Indy 500 and the husband of actress Ashley Judd. We've got the pics and that's not the only one. The best pics of the day, next, here. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: We welcome you back. I'm Sanchez. Time to show you now video in its purest form. These are our top video pics of the day, as you see right there, and that young man is falling potentially four floors. His name is Jake Brown. Now watch what happens there. You see that over there? That's the skateboard that he loses and then he starts to kick his feet.

The reason he says he was kicking his feet is -- and we'll look at it one more time, Willie -- because he was trying to turn his body around so he could land on his back, just like he did right there. That thing you see flying off, those are his shoes. It's the only thing he lost. They took him to the hospital, checked him out and essentially, he's doing just fine.

Here's video No. 2, this is from Michigan, now, This is the driver of car named Dario Franchitti, he's the husband of actress Ashley Judd, by the way. Look at the hot hit that he takes from the other drivers. I was real concerned that he may have been seriously hurt. But it turns out, he wasn't. When they checked him out, they said the only thing wrong with him, jokingly, is that he had marks from the other cars on his helmet.

Video No. 3, and this is an amazing story from Israel. A father is out with his son, they're at the beach when suddenly, the father says the 8-year-old boy is missing. And they say that he somehow drifted off into the water. The good news, this is the Dead Sea, and the solidly factor is so high here that nothing sinks, you stay on top of the water, floating, including this boy. So, as a result, for six hours he floated until finally rescuers were able to catch up with him, bring him back, and deliver him to his father. They said he was dehydrated, he was tired, a little sunburned, but other than that, he was doing fine.

And those are today's "Top Video Pics."

LARRY KING LIVE at the top of the hour, as well. Ahead, the diva of Dixie cooking. Go to Savannah, Georgia, eat her stuff, Paula Deen, talking about how she overcome years of panic attacks that kept her prisoner in her own home.

Great show, we'll be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I want to update you now on the search for the trapped coal miners in Utah, really a desperate situation, out there. It's been about 15 hours since this cave-in was first reported at the Crandall Canyon Mine in Central Utah. Those are some of the very first pictures that we have gotten from the scene.

May have been caused by an earthquake. I say "may" because there's still some discussion about this. Officials don't know if the trapped miners are alive. Drilling machinery is being brought because the quickest, most promise is route to the trapped miners may be impassable.

I'm Rick Sanchez. We'll look for you again tomorrow right here at 8:00.

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