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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
New Details Emerge in Polygamist Compound Raid; American Airlines Cancels Hundreds of Flights
Aired April 9, 2008 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: We have got more on that breaking news you have been following: new information, new legal papers, horrifying new details about what allegedly went on inside one of Warren Jeffs' polygamist compounds.
The young woman whose allegations touched off a massive raid reportedly directed authorities to a bed in a temple where she said acts of abuse took place.
360's David Mattingly is live with exclusive new details on that and the search for this young woman, whose cell phone plea helped start it off.
Also, a deprogrammer and former FLDS member on what hundreds of children may soon be facing in the outside world.
Then, later, more than 1,000 flights grounded for safety inspections, more than 100,000 travelers stuck, but that's not all. 360 has uncovered another danger that has already struck 22 times recently, and pilots fear could one day kill.
Plus, new polling on the Clinton-Obama race, and a McCain dream ticket that could be either him, her, or both in -- get this -- her home state, a blue state, New York.
So, who is John McCain's magic running mate? Stay tuned. We will tell you about that.
We begin, though, with David Mattingly and tonight's breaking news, details from FLDS church compound in Texas, as well as the ongoing search for the woman whose allegations ignited this story in the first place.
David, what's the very latest?
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Campbell, these new details coming from a newly unsealed search warrant in this case.
We're learning for the first time that this 16-year-old girl who claimed that she was physically and sexually abused is naming her husband, naming him, Dale Barlow, age 49, accusing him of being her abuser.
What we don't know is why authorities are looking for this particular Dale Barlow. He is a sex offender from Colorado, a man who served time there for a sex crime involving a minor. He reportedly called his probation officer and says he doesn't even know this 16- year-old girl.
So, that's just one of the mysteries unfolding in this long and strange case. And now those -- really disturbing information coming out of this document was that investigators were led by information from a confidential informer to what looks like a sex bed inside the temple, possibly used in rituals after marriages, where adult men may have -- married to underaged girls, age 16 and under, possibly as young as 13 or 14, and then immediately after that having sex, consummating that marriage in the bed in the temple -- just one more disturbing note in a case that started with a still missing 16-year- old girl.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): It is a story with far more questions than answers, but one perhaps looms largest: Where is the girl whose story of physical and sexual abuse launched the massive raid on the polygamist compound?
JONI HOLM, CHILD PROTECTION PROJECT: I believe she is in danger. And -- and if you -- if they stop looking for her, we will never find her.
MATTINGLY: Joni Holm is a child protection activist who helps girls running away from polygamist compounds, like the one in Texas. She says the missing girl's extended family fears she may have been taken away and hidden from authorities.
HOLM: She is still somewhere in Texas, and they need to look. They need to find her, because she is still there.
MATTINGLY: Meanwhile, attorneys for the compound were in court arguing over how the state should handle evidence it takes from the ranch. Afterward, there was no comment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to do my talk in the courtroom.
MATTINGLY (on camera): Outside the courthouse, new details are emerging of a standoff that occurred Saturday night when authorities attempted to enter the temple. Law enforcement sources tell us that men from the compound attempted to block the doors. But then they moved away at the last minute when officers brought in a battering ram.
After that, they say they encountered very little resistance, and, as they searched from house to house, the only guns they found were for hunting.
(voice-over): And restrictions now appear to be easing at the compound. Just like the women, men are now allowed to leave the ranch, but they cannot return. Authorities say they still don't know how many men there are.
BROWN: And, David, I am guessing that it looks like now we now know why the men were trying to prevent authorities from coming into the temple?
MATTINGLY: This temple is supposed to be a very holy place. No one but members of the sect were supposed to go in there. And perhaps now we know why, that their rituals would be revealed. In this search warrant that was unsealed tonight, it is showing that this so-called sex bed was in there, possibly part of a ritual, where adult men were being married to possibly young girls, and then consummating that marriage immediately after the ceremony.
BROWN: And, David, still no comment of any sort from the FLDS compound itself from anyone there, right?
MATTINGLY: That is correct.
We tracked down their attorneys after they were in court today. They said they had no comment. They were going to let all of their talking be done inside the courtroom.
BROWN: All right, David Mattingly for us tonight -- David, thank you.
And we are digging deeper for a look at what these children may face in the days and the months to come.
Steven Hassan is a mind control expert and the author of "Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think For Themselves." He's joining us now from Boston. And, in Las Vegas, Flora Jessop, who escaped the FLDS and now runs the Child Protection Project.
Welcome to both of you.
Flora, let me start with you and ask you first about this breaking news, the authorities finding this single bed where men would consecrate their spiritual marriages, supposedly. Is this a normal practice in these communities?
FLORA JESSOP, FORMER MEMBER, FUNDAMENTALIST CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS: Yes it is. There is -- there's so much. There's -- these communities are so rife with abuse.
And it is very common for them to do the consummations of the marriages in front of others, to ensure that God has witnessed the marriage, if you will.
BROWN: So -- so, this was taking place on this bed, but with an audience?
JESSOP: At times, yes, then that could be occurring, yes, depending on the -- the superiority of the priesthood leaders, especially.
BROWN: Flora, the girl who called the authorities said she was warned against leaving the compound, that she was told apparently that, if she left, that she would have to cut her hair and have sex with many men. I mean, does this sound like what you were told when you were in FLDS? JESSOP: Absolutely.
All of us girls were told and taught that, if we left the community, the -- the group, that we would become whores on the street, that that's what the outsiders would make us do. We were taught that anybody who smiled at us from the outside were trying to entice us to hell, that they were Satan's disciples trying to entice us to hell.
BROWN: And, Steven, FLDS members are told, as she just said, they are going to face eternal damnation if they leave. How do you convince someone that they're not going to hell?
STEVEN HASSAN, MIND CONTROL EXPERT: How do you convince somebody?
Well, essentially, when I am called in by a family member to help rescue a loved one or a runaway comes to me, I engage them in a psychoeducation program. As a licensed mental health counselor, I teach them about the psychology of influence, hypnosis, mind control, and teach them about other cults, and then ask them, gently, questions about themselves to compare their experience with what these case examples of destructive authoritarian groups are doing.
BROWN: And, Flora, you were 18 when you left.
BROWN: What was it like when you first came out? How did you adjust?
JESSOP: It -- it took me about five years to get to the point where I could stand in a group of people and feel like I wasn't always on the outside watching.
But it's -- it's -- it's a very interesting experience. You feel like you step into a black hole, and you just freefall, and you just -- you are always expecting, waiting to hit the bottom of that hole, and you never do.
BROWN: Was that the hardest part of it, that it was so isolating and -- and lonely on the outside initially?
JESSOP: That was part of it, but also the fear, the absolute fear that I felt for everybody, the racism, rabid racism that is taught in these cults, these -- these groups. We have got the -- that kind of stuff.
It's -- to give you an example, we were taught that black -- that black people were actually born white, that God had changed their skin color, so that everyone would know they were sinners. If we spoke or we got too close to a person of color, then our skin would -- would change, and we would become black as well, because their sins would rub off on us.
I got stuck in a grocery store line with a black person in front of me, and I was terrified that I was going to be black by the time I got out of the store. That's what they do to you.
HASSAN: But, Flora?
BROWN: Go ahead, Steven.
HASSAN: Wouldn't you say now that you are free, and you have learned about mind control, your life is far superior, and that there is hope?
JESSOP: Oh, absolutely.
With the help of people like Steve Hassan, we have been able to overcome those fears. But it is going to be a very difficult transition.
JESSOP: But we can also successfully transition those children with people like Steve Hassan helping us.
BROWN: Well, Steve, go ahead.
HASSAN: But these ex-members are role models, and they help undo the phobias that have been instilled in members in the authoritarian groups.
BROWN: Is that a way to go about it? Because that was going to be my next question. When -- when you are talking about people with an education level that Flora just described, when they know virtually nothing about the outside world -- you know, we're hearing these reports of teenagers who didn't know what a Crayon was -- where do you even begin?
HASSAN: With love, with kindness, with -- with taking -- taking your time. Caseworkers are going to need to dress in very conservative clothing. They're going to have to learn the -- the loaded language that the cult uses, like being sweet.
HASSAN: Maybe Flora can comment on what "being sweet" is.
BROWN: What is it?
JESSOP: Keeping -- when they tell you, "Keep sweet," it means you must -- it means obey and submit, period.
HASSAN: Exactly. In other words, don't think. Don't question. Don't rebel. You have to be a clone. You have to be an obedient robot.
Flora, you know, more than 500 women and children gone now from -- from the Eldorado ranch. What happens now?
JESSOP: God bless Texas.
BROWN: What happens now? Is this the end of that compound?
JESSOP: No, it is not. It is the beginning of the end.
If -- if we can get these children and these women successfully protected in Texas, it is the beginning of the end of that compound. But you have to keep in mind that the FLDS has compounds in South Dakota, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Mexico, Canada. This is a very huge organization.
HASSAN: Yes, and I am concerned that something could be done legally or whatever, and that everybody is shipped back and sealed again.
JESSOP: Yes, and that's our fear as well.
HASSAN: I'm very worried about that.
BROWN: Still a lot of developments lying ahead, for sure.
Steven and Flora, thanks to both of you tonight. Appreciate your time.
JESSOP: Thank you.
HASSAN: You're welcome.
BROWN: Check out the live blog at CNN.com/360 -- lots of comments and questions about polygamy tonight.
As Flora Jessop just mentioned, there is, of course, a vast FLDS empire beyond Texas. The question tonight, what are followers up to in those places? Up next, 360's Gary Tuchman on the ground in the heart of FLDS country.
And then later: massive flight groundings at American Airlines. But 360 goes one step beyond, uncovering other terrifying problems with a fleet that passengers do need to know about. We're going to have details in this Special Investigations Unit report -- when 360 continues.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (MUSIC)
BROWN: That is the altogether eerie voice of Warren Jeffs, as we look at this aerial shot of his Texas polygamist compound, the song, "Yearning For Zion," the name of the ranch, YFZ. From a plane, the outpost is strange and self-contained, with its own school, housing, even a cheese and dairy factory.
Many of its residents are from two isolated towns along the Utah and Arizona border. Together, they form the heart and soul of Warren Jeffs' earthly kingdom. Thousands of polygamist families still call the community home. What do they think about the Texas raid?
We wanted to know, so we sent CNN's Gary Tuchman there for answers, up close.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the Arizona-Utah border towns where Warren Jeffs' sect is headquartered, a monument in a park commemorates the 260 children taken from their families during a polygamy raid in 1953.
Now the same sect -- and it appears many of the same families -- have been separated again at a compound over 800 miles away, in Texas. Church followers are told never to talk to outsiders.
(on camera): Have you heard what's been happening in Texas with the raids at all?
(voice-over): But a man named Nefi (ph) did telling us he will remain prayerful and dedicated to his church.
(on camera): Are you angry? Are you mad about this raid?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
TUCHMAN: How come?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I am going to be at peace about it. It's in the lord's hands. And we will leave it at that.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): This follower did not want her face shown.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it's very unjustified. It's -- it's religious persecution.
TUCHMAN: There are other polygamist families who live in this community who aren't supporters of Warren Jeffs and his church.
MARLYNE HAMMON, WIFE OF POLYGAMIST: I had five mothers. We had 38 children in our family.
TUCHMAN: Each one of these women had their families split during the raid five-and-a-half decades ago.
M. HAMMON: It was very scary.
TUCHMAN: Priscilla Hammon was born just after the raid and lives in a polygamist marriage. She says she has many children and grandchildren.
(on camera): Are they scared they could be taken away?
PRISCILLA HAMMON, WIFE OF POLYGAMIST: Absolutely. Any child would be that watched.
TUCHMAN: Do you tell your children, don't worry; nothing will happen to you?
P. HAMMON: How can I possibly promise my children nothing will happen to them, when I see something like this taking place?
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Fawneta Caroll was 7 years old when she was split from her family in the 1953 raid. She now believes one of her 24 sisters was in the Texas compound with her children.
(on camera): Do you think there's any justification for this?
FAWNETA CAROLL, WIFE OF POLYGAMIST: Not taking all of those children, no.
TUCHMAN: How come?
CAROLL: If there is abuse, that should be investigated and taken care of. But I do not see how you can use that to justify taking 416 children out of their homes and away from their families.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Marvin Wyler has been married to three women at once and has 34 children. He left Jeffs' church. But 10 of his children are still in it. He doesn't know how many of them might be at the Texas compound.
(on camera): It must be a very helpless feeling, not knowing if your family has been separated, what is going on?
MARVIN WYLER, FORMER FOLLOWER OF WARREN JEFFS: Yes, I -- they may be suffering terribly, and I don't even know to -- to cry with them. I'm just crying for all of them.
TUCHMAN: Does it scare you, though, that it could happen here, like it did in 1953 and 1944?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Scare? No. It could.
TUCHMAN: The distrust and dislike of outsiders originated for many here with the 1953 raids. Based on what is happening now, 55 years later, it is very likely this society will only become even more closed.
(voice-over): The followers seem calm, but the paranoia towards the rest of society seems more pronounced.
BROWN: Gary, what do we know about the suspect, Dale Barlow, because he is from Colorado City, right?
TUCHMAN: Yes. And this is a strange part of the story, Campbell, because Dale Barlow not only is from here. His parole officer believes he is here. He may be a few blocks from us right now.
He is not a wholesome character. About a year ago, he was convicted of a sex crime with a minor. He went to jail for 45 days, has been on parole since then. His parole officer here said he sees him regularly. He says he just saw him yesterday. He says he has to apply for permission to leave the states of Arizona or Utah. He hasn't done that. So, as far as his parole officer is concerned, he hasn't left this area.
And this alleged crime happening on Easter Sunday, just a couple of weeks ago. So, it's very mysterious about this particular suspect.
BROWN: All right. Gary Tuchman for us tonight -- Gary, appreciate it.
Coming up next, we're following the money trail -- a look at the cash linked to Warren Jeffs' empire. Believe it or not, you, the taxpayer, could be picking up some of the tab. We're "Keeping Them Honest."
Plus, more than 1,000 flights canceled by American Airlines today. And we have uncovered more potential trouble for the airliner at the center of today's story. The Special Investigation Units report -- when 360 continues.
BROWN: And we're going to have more on that breaking news tonight -- new details coming out about what was going on inside a temple at that compound.
But, first, we want to go to Erica Hill, who is joining us with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Campbell, we have some more breaking news coming out of Texas, this, though, about a tornado which has hit near the town of Breckenridge.
Our affiliate KTXA now reporting there is extensive damage near the city's airport. At least five homes have been destroyed. Officials say at least 15 people were injured. We can tell you, though, most of those injuries, we're being told, were minor. Just three people have been treated so far at a hospital. We will continue to follow that tornado in Texas.
Meantime, the Justice Department tonight revealing an Ohio man has been indicted on charges he made racially motivated threats against U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The suspect is also accused of threatening to blow up the Supreme Court building in Washington.
And Boeing is delaying the launch of its new 787 Dreamliner for a third time. This pushes it well into next year. The company has already pre-sold hundreds of the fuel-efficient jets and sunk billions into making them -- Campbell.
BROWN: All right, Erica.
More ahead -- more trouble in the skies -- American Airlines canceling more than 1,000 flights for safety inspections. And there is another danger that some pilots fear could be deadly. Drew Griffin's investigation is coming up just ahead.
Plus, the prophet's profits -- how you could be helping to pay for Warren Jeffs' kingdom. Randi Kaye is following the money.
And, on a lighter note, here's tonight's "Beat 360": three newborn babies listening to music in the maternity ward of a hospital in the Slovak Republic...
HILL: With headphones that are as big as they are.
BROWN: I know.
BROWN: They're adorable, though.
And tonight's staff winner is Maureen. Her caption: "The new version of 'Rock-a-bye baby.'"
BROWN: That's pretty good.
BROWN: Oh, you are making me -- you are making me miss my baby. Stop that. OK.
HILL: Yes, I'm with you.
BROWN: Think you can do better, go to CNN.com/360. Send us your submission. And we will announce the winner at the end of the program.
BROWN: More on our breaking news now. That is Dale Evans Barlow. In new court documents released tonight, a 16-year-old girl says he beat, choked and sexually assaulted her after their so-called spiritual marriage. Well, that girl was the one whose phone call led to a raid on the polygamist compound in Texas.
Now let's look at the church's money.
Randi Kaye is "Keeping Them Honest."
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was supposed to be Warren Jeffs' private sanctuary.
MICHAEL WATKISS, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: He was going to repopulate his flock with his own seed, bringing in the best-looking, the youngest girls down here.
KAYE: Instead, he went to prison.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you Warren Jeffs?
WARREN JEFFS, DEFENDANT: Yes.
KAYE: And the 1,700 acres he dropped an estimated $800,000 on, far out of reach.
With the self-proclaimed prophet locked up, someone still has to foot the bill here, right? But who? "Keeping Them Honest," we followed the money and found, you, the taxpayer, may be picking up part of the tab, along with people like this man, living hundreds of miles from Texas, in Mesquite, Nevada. We met him two years ago, when we first started tracking Jeffs' cash.
(on camera): Is any of the money from here or all of the money here...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have anything to say.
KAYE: ... do you donate any of it to the church, to Warren Jeffs?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have anything to say.
KAYE: Here's how it works. Former members of Jeff's FLDS sect tell me men are ordered to work for construction companies owned by FLDS church members, and turn over at least 10 percent, sometimes all, of their paychecks.
One police investigator tells me this funnels $2 million a month to Jeffs' church. That's $24 million a year, shared among his compounds, including the YFZ ranch in Texas.
Rena Mackert, who left the sect in 1977, believes some of her 31 siblings were living in the Texas compound. RENA MACKERT, FORMER MEMBER, FUNDAMENTALIST CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS: My brothers worked on construction crews, were paid absolutely nothing. The kids that do get paychecks, they're -- they know, the minute they start that job, the paycheck goes to the prophet.
KAYE: When Jeffs was on the run in this SUV, Mackert says he demanded an extra $1,000 a month.
(on camera): It is not exactly a sophisticated operation. Often, cash is simply driven across state lines. In 2005, Seth Jeffs, Warren Jeffs' brother, was stopped by police in Colorado. In his car, they discovered more than $140,000 cash, thousands of dollars worth of prepaid credit cards, and a cash-filled donation jar with Warren Jeffs' picture on it. The label read, "Pennies for the Prophet."
(voice-over): The money trail doesn't stop there. Investigators and former followers say the sect is beating the welfare system, costing you money.
Members apply for food stamps, then send that food to Texas. Also, with multiple wives and only one marriage recognized as legal, the other wives claim to be single moms with dependents, making them eligible for government aid. They collect welfare, lots of it. And it's all legal -- money out of your pocket and into the polygamists'.
BROWN: And Randi Kaye with me now.
So, how do other people in the sect live, if they're giving up most of the money?
KAYE: Simple answer, not very well. They're really at the poverty level, Campbell. They're living in their trailers. You have huge families crammed into trailers. I'm told you have children sleeping in cars.
This church is actually breaking them. They're funneling all of their money or most of their money, in some cases, to Warren Jeffs and the church, so he can live really...
KAYE: ... very well.
KAYE: I mean, certainly, that compound in Eldorado is palatial by polygamist standards. He has that 400-foot -- 400-story tower, the temple. Millions of dollars from loyal followers were funneled that way, so he could have this monument to himself.
And, really, they wouldn't have it any other way, I'm told by these former members. They believe so strongly in him, so strongly in his power, in his faith to save them, that this is what they are willing to do.
BROWN: All right, Randi Kaye for us tonight -- Randi, thanks.
And, up next: tens of thousand of passengers stranded, after American Airlines cancels another 1,000 flights. The electrical inspections they're doing may be only the beginning. Drew Griffin has new details about another safety concern that you won't see anywhere else.
Also ahead: the Republican team that could be a nightmare for the Democrats' so-called dream ticket. We have got the new poll numbers -- coming up on 360.
BROWN: About 100,000 American Airlines passengers -- well, they would have been passengers if they hadn't have been stuck, stranded, no doubt some other "S" words also apply.
They were stuck today when American grounded another 1,000 flights today so they could inspect or, in some cases, reinspect each and every one of their Boeing MD-80 jets to check the wiring. American calls it a question of just complying with regulations and technicalities, not a safety issue.
"Keeping Them Honest," Drew Griffin and the CNN special investigations unit have learned it is by no means the only issue involving American MD-80s. As you're about to see, what they uncovered is very real and potentially deadly.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): American Airlines Flight 862 circling Miami, 138 on board. Nose landing gear broken. On takeoff it just stayed down. The pilot couldn't bring it back up.
As controllers in the tower try to see if it's bent, the pilots dump fuel. In the end the gear holds, the MD-80 pilot makes a perfect landing and one CNN has learned is becoming all too routine at American.
Just between November and February, by the company's own count, 22 planes had nose landing gear that didn't work properly.
SAM MAYER, PILOT: I raised the landing gear and immediately heard a noise that's not normal.
GRIFFIN: It happened to Captain Sam Mayer on a freezing cold day in December. He just took off from Minneapolis and knew he was in trouble.
MAYER: Our windshield started to cover with ice from the bottom, working its way up. As we were running the emergency procedures, there was a pop. Everyone's ears blew out. We realized that we had lost the pressurization of the aircraft at that time. We made a quick PA: "We're going back to the airport. We'll be on the ground in three or four minutes."
GRIFFIN (on camera): This was an emergency landing.
MAYER: Oh, absolutely. And when I got out of the aircraft and went outside, it was absolutely stunning. The aircraft was literally a popsicle.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): A popsicle, he says, because the malfunctioning nose gear disabled anti-icing systems. His wings and tail were freezing over. On the ground, he says, he called American's fleet manager who told him the company was working on the problem.
MAYER: I felt good after that call and then watched the next month 10 or 11 more. I think that speaks for itself.
GRIFFIN (on camera): There have now been 23 landing gear incidents with American's MD-80s, and pilots tell us any one of them could have been a potential disaster.
But guess what? An American Airlines spokesman says their MD-80s fly an average 1,200 flights a day. Twenty-three malfunctions isn't that many.
(voice-over) American spokesman Tim Wagner said the company has identified three issues, all related to cold weather. He said the manufacturer, Boeing, needs to fix the problems. And he says the pilots are unnecessarily alarming the public, because a landing gear that doesn't retract isn't as big a problem as failure to extend. We have not had failures to extend with the MD-80 landing gear.
The FAA seems unconcerned, as well, telling us it's aware of the problem. But since pilots have been instructed what to do and because all the aircraft landed safely, the agency determined that there was no safety concern.
American Captain Todd Wisig (ph), a safety committee member with the Allied Pilots Association, which by the way, is in contract talks with American, says he fears his airline wants to save money on something that once was sacred: maintenance.
CAPT. TODD WISIG (ph), ALLIED PILOTS ASSOCIATION: I think that if it's -- if there's an attitude change to where we're just going to do what the FAA minimum is, I think a lot of airlines will probably start to adopt that.
GRIFFIN: And while American tries to figure out what's causing the landing-gear problems and what to do about it, the company has told its MD-80 pilots to review their emergency procedures.
MAYER: That was their solution to the problem, was make sure you're real familiar with what to do and what doesn't work when your nose gear doesn't come up.
GRIFFIN: Boeing did send CNN a statement, saying it's committed to safety but had no comment on the MD-80 landing-gear problem.
BROWN: And ever since your report on Southwest Airlines whistleblowers, we have seen airline after airline canceling flights to re-inspect or inspect its planes. Summer travel season so close, a lot of people are asking just the most basic question: is it safe to fly?
GRIFFIN: You know, acting director of the FAA, Robert Sturgill, last week pointed out that we're in the safest period ever in U.S. aviation history. His answer is certainly yes.
But critics of the FAA, Campbell, say, "Look, all of these problems point to one main problem. The FAA has been too lax with overseeing the inspections of these airlines."
And while -- while it is safe to fly, I think it's fair to say, as the FAA now is being forced to crack down on these inspections, you're going to see a lot more cancellation troubles through the summer as they increase inspections to see if these airlines are living up to the letter of the law, which is these airworthiness directives. So I think there's going to be a lot of painful itineraries through the summer season.
BROWN: Yes. A lot of headaches. All right. Drew Griffin. Drew, thanks.
GRIFFIN: You bet.
BROWN: Up next, forget Clinton and Obama. A new poll says this is the real dream ticket. Candy Crowley has the "Raw Politics."
Also ahead, the city of San Francisco takes drastic steps to keep the Olympic torch safe. They play hide-and-seek with it.
BROWN: There has been a lot of talk about a Hillary Clinton- Barack Obama dream team ticket. But a new WNBC/Marist Poll points to a potential nightmare for the dream team.
Registered voters in New York said they prefer John McCain- Condoleezza Rice ticket to a Clinton-Obama ticket, 49 percent to 46 percent. They chose McCain-Rice over Obama-Clinton with Obama heading the ticket by an even bigger margin, 49 percent to 44 percent.
Pretty provocative, given that New York is considered a solid blue state. CNN's Candy Crowley is here with the "Raw Politics."
So Candy, how can a McCain-Rice ticket beat an Obama-Clinton ticket in a blue state like New York, where Clinton is the Senator?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's remember that polls are snapshots, No. 1. And Campbell, you and I can take a bet here and decide the stakes. I will bet you anything that New York will not go Republican this fall. But, remember where we are right now? We are in the middle of a very tense, some times very nasty Democratic race. It tends to turn people off. I think, this is less about the popularity of McCain and Condi Rice than right now how people are kind of looking at this Democratic race, going, "Oh, my goodness, you know. Never mind."
The Democrats can put this behind them. And I think they can pretty safely put New York in their column.
But I think what Condi Rice does do for the ticket is make it interesting. You know, we noticed in that same poll that, when you paired up McCain with Joe Lieberman, he didn't do nearly so well.
So there's clearly, to me, a hunger out there for something that not only is different but for something that really represents a step forward for America, which a lot of people think either a woman president or an African-American president or vice president, for that matter, would do.
BROWN: And Candy, there's also a new Gallup tracking poll, showing Obama with a 10-point lead over Clinton. And for only the second time since January that Obama has had a double-digit lead. What's behind this?
CROWLEY: Well, I think a couple of things. First of all, in late March is when this slide for Clinton really began to happen. The Wright story, which damaged Obama, began to kind of fade. The first thing that happens to Clinton is the Bosnia story. That hurt her. And we began to see her kind of go down in the tracking poll.
The next thing you heard, as early April began, was she needs to get out of the race. She can't possibly win. And this was followed by the Mark Penn story, her senior adviser, it turns out, is promoting the Colombian trade deal that Clinton opposes.
I think all three of those things drove her numbers down and brought him up. I will tell you, however, that these are daily polls. Depending on how Pennsylvania turns out, they can turn on a dime.
BROWN: All right. Candy Crowley for us tonight. Candy, as always, thanks.
CROWLEY: Thanks, Campbell.
BROWN: Up next, more tough questions from the top U.S. commander in Iraq. We've got a highlight from round two on Capitol Hill.
Plus, from back-door deals to making friends with the enemy, what's really been going on during the troop build-up in Iraq? We're going to hear from CNN's Michael Ware.
And then later, forget where's Waldo? Where is the Olympic torch? How the Olympic flame took and undercover turn or two on the streets of San Francisco today.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, COMMANDER, MULTINATIONAL FORCES IN IRAQ: We very much share the frustration. Those of us who have been at this for a long time obviously want the war to end as much as anybody else, perhaps maybe more.
We're not after the Holy Grail in Iraq; we're not after Jeffersonian diplomacy. We're after conditions that would allow our soldiers to disengage. And that is, in fact, what we are doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: General David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, was grilled for a second day by members of Congress. And today he hinted that he would argue against any order from the next president to bring U.S. troops home quickly.
General Petraeus has faced tough questioning about the success of the so-called surge. Well, tonight a reality check on whether it's working as well as the general says.
CNN's Michael Ware is "Keeping Them Honest."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking foreign language)
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is how we first introduced you to this man, Abu Fahad (ph), his face blurred to protect his identity. Today we can show you his face, because he was murdered. His crime: siding with the U.S.
His was a true front line of the surge. It was his own neighborhood. Defending it against al Qaeda and Shia death squads, he did it all under contract with U.S. forces.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody is there just watching.
WARE: When President Bush unveiled his surge strategy in January last year, ordering 30,000 extra troops to Baghdad, he vowed their mission would prevail.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This time we will have the force levels we need to hold the areas that have been cleared.
WARE: But the surge is much more than force levels. It's a shift in strategic thinking, comprising many components.
First is to pay one American enemy to assassinate another American enemy. In other words, accept the Sunni insurgents' offer for them to target al Qaeda. It was like hiring an instant army of 70,000, all now on Washington's payroll.
Some treat al Qaeda without mercy. These men now hold the areas cleared of al Qaeda, this senior insurgent commander tells me. "It's the agreement that made the violence against the Americans go down," he says. "And if the Americans say it was because of troop numbers, that will provoke the resistance."
Even Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, an opponent of the U.S. presence, plays a part in the surge. Just last week, his Mehdi Army militia was drawn into fierce combat by an Iraqi government military offensive in the southern port of Basra. That is, until Muqtada and Iran ordered the cease-fire.
It's made a difference, as has Muqtada's nationwide cease-fire declared last year.
These paratroopers patrol an area dominated by the Mehdi Army, and they captured what have once hunted down those militia members.
CAPT. JEREMY USSERY, COMMANDER, BRAVO COMPANY: As you know, as of the last, six, eight, maybe ten months, the coalition forces have said, "We're willing to work with anybody that is willing to pursue peace as one of their objectives."
WARE: A clear sign of the new strategy is a line of blast walls built by Americans. They encircle neighborhoods and separate Sunni communities from Shia, cementing the militia's' sectarian cleansing and turning Baghdad into a segregated city.
Even changing how Iraqis get married. For this groom, a Sunni marrying a Shia, collecting his bride from the neighborhood controlled by the Mehdi Army could be a death sentence.
"I was forced to decorate two cars for the wedding," he says. "One for driving in my neighborhood. And another for traveling through hers."
But the surge remains an undeniable success. Though spiking in recent weeks, attacks nationwide are down 60 percent over last year, with violence at low levels not seen since 2005, according to the U.S. military.
In fact, sectarian killings in Baghdad have plunged by as much as 95 percent. These successes would evaporate without U.S. troops. But they depend on their home-grown help: U.S.-backed militia leaders, like the man we met, Abu Fahad (ph).
"We had to start this, but we are putting death in front of our eyes. We're being put under a lot of pressure to stop."
Soon after, someone did stop him. And with America cutting deals with its enemies, thousands more Iraqis like him are the key to the surge.
BROWN: Michael is joining us now from Washington.
And Michael, you pretty much dismissed yesterday's testimony from General Petraeus as -- as political theater. You were at the hearings today. Do you still feel the same way?
PETRAEUS: Well, it's not so much political theater on the general's part. It's more that -- the whole stage-managing of the event itself. That's what truly struck me. Perhaps because I'm so fresh from the war zone, and I'm imminently returning here.
I mean some of us, like the general, live this conflict, day in and day out. And what has really appalled me is, despite being a political cynic by nature, is the fact that these hearings were more about three presidential candidates and national politicians trying to represent their own interests and politics, rather than sparking a true discussion or true debate about the war, its cost, and its consequences.
Nonetheless, there was some refreshing things that came out of it. One of them is that there appears to be a growing realization at last among Democrats that this war is not finishing. That you just can't yank your troops out, no matter how badly you want to. Because -- the price that you will pay will be so significant.
So, we even heard a slight change in tone from Senator Obama. Even talking to Senator Kerry, he gave a much more nuanced -- nuanced assessment or appraise of what withdrawal would mean. That's pretty refreshing.
The other thing is that the issue of Iran, the true heart now of this conflict begin to bubble more so to the surface during the hearings.
So General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker represented the situation best they could. There are certainly things about their assessment I wouldn't agree with. For example, their reliance and their highlighting of this Iraqi government as their ally. I mean, please. I think that's quite a stretch.
But nonetheless, in terms of the nature of the conflict, how grinding it is and how America has got to stay this course in the sense that you can't put this to timetables, that was right on the money -- Campbell.
BROWN: All right, Michael Ware for us from Washington tonight. Michael, thanks.
And we should mention you're sitting down, too, with General Petraeus tomorrow. We look forward to seeing that interview tomorrow night.
And just ahead. No one ignored this elephant in the room. All eyes were on her as she attempted to make history. Our "Shot of the Day" is coming up.
But first, Erica Hill joins us again with the "360 News and Business Bulletin."
HILL: Hey, Campbell.
In San Francisco, massive crowds today of both pro- and anti- Chinese protestors, forcing officials to reroute today's Olympic torch relay. The security was so heavy, actually, the two runners carrying the flame were forced to walk. At the last minute, officials also changed the site of the closing ceremony.
Meantime, the office of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says he will skip the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. He's been under intense pressure from human rights campaigners to boycott the event. But a spokeswoman insisted that Brown's decision is not a boycott and that he had never planned to attend the ceremony.
And new report from the International Monetary Fund predicts U.S. economic growth will slow to just a half percent this year. That is the worst pace in 17 years. The translation here, you can probably guess, mild recession, Campbell.
BROWN: And now we're going to go to our "Beat 360" winners. If you're new to this here's how it works. We post our picture on the Web site.
HILL: You dance to the music.
BROWN: Erica -- Erica dances to the music.
And then you face off with our staff to come up with the best caption. So here's tonight's picture. Three newborn babies listening to music in the maternity ward of the hospital in the Slovak Republic. It is part of an experimental program to enhance infants' wellbeing after birth.
Babies reportedly like the music of Mozart and Vivaldi best. So how do they know? That is a very good question.
HILL: That's what I wondered, too.
BROWN: Tonight's staff winner is Maureen. Way to go, Mo. Her caption: "The new version of Rock-a-bye-baby."
(SOUND EFFECT: BABY CRYING)
BROWN: And tonight's viewer winner is Scott. His caption: "Three peas in an iPod."
HILL: I love that one.
BROWN: Very good.
HILL: They look like iPods in their little white ensembles.
BROWN: So cute.
Anyway, you can always check out all the captions we've received on our Web site at CNN.com/360. Just ahead, the elephant in the room and a day she'll never forget. She was in her own little -- well, OK, not little, huge bubble. We're going to explain that, coming up.
Plus breaking news, disturbing new details about the raid at a polygamist compound in Texas. We are learning more about what may have happened to young girls inside the FLDS ranch.
BROWN: All right. Now, today's "Shot." We've all heard about the elephant in a room. But what about the elephant inside a bubble? And it would have to be a very big bubble. And it was.
Meet Tai who appears to have helped bubble artist, Fan Yang -- did you know there was such a thing? -- set a new world record. Yang used a pulley system of bubble wands to wrap Tai in a soapy film on a specially built platform for the occasion.
Seventy onlookers watched the spectacle inside a California barn. That's after pressure from animal rights advocates forced a switch in venue. They were concerned Tai was being treated in a trivial and sensationalistic manner. According to witnesses, though, Tai seemed eager to touch the bubble.
And the Guinness record final say, she may be the largest land mammal ever wrapped in a bubble.
HILL: Campbell, I'm guessing there's not a lot of competition.
BROWN: Who else is out there, trying to wrap land mammals in bubbles?
HILL: I didn't even know that there were bubble artists, though.
BROWN: There you go. You learn a lot on this show. I'm telling you.
HILL: We take you all around.
If you see some amazing video out there, tell us about it at CNN.com/360. And while you're there you can also read about our Webby nomination. We're pretty excited. We'd like you to help us come up with our acceptance speech, just in case we're lucky enough to win.
So coming up at the top of the hour, the latest on tonight's breaking developments out of Texas. Horrifying new allegations of sexual abuse at one of Warren Jeffs's political compounds and the search for the woman who blew the whistle. We've got that and more when 360 continues.
BROWN: More on that breaking news we've been following. New information, new legal papers, horrifying new details about what allegedly went on inside of one of Warren Jeffs's polygamist compounds.
The young woman whose allegations touched off a massive raid reportedly directed authorities to a bed in a temple where she said acts of abuse took place.
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