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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Health Care Heat; Jackson Investigators Raid Las Vegas Pharmacy; U.S. Teens Working as Hit Men for Drug Cartels; Rape a Weapon of War in Congo

Aired August 11, 2009 - 22:00   ET

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


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And, tonight, separating health reform fact from fear, and a town hall meeting with a big difference: President Obama. He attended one today in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. So did a guy outside packing heat, carrying a sign calling, in so many words, for death to tyrants -- the quotation from Thomas Jefferson, the handgun, out in the open, permitted under state law -- the combination surprising to many people.

Meantime, at the office of Georgia Congressman David Scott, who took on protesters the other day, someone painted a swastika out front. And, as you will see in just a moment, anger was erupting at town halls across the country.

That said, there were moments of clarity. And we hope to add some of our own tonight.

First, President Obama at Portsmouth High School in New Hampshire in his own words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't believe anyone should be in charge of your health- insurance decisions but you and your doctor.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: I don't think government bureaucrats should be meddling, but I also don't think insurance company bureaucrats should be meddling. That's the health care reform I believe in.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: One woman testified that an insurance company would not cover her internal organs because of an accident she had when she was five years old. Think about that. That covers a lot of stuff.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: You know, they're only going to cover your skin. Dermatology, that's covered, nothing else.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: Let me just say, there's been a long and vigorous debate about this, and that's how it should be.

But I do hope that we will talk with each other and not over each other, because...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Where we do disagree, let's disagree over things that are real, not these wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that's actually been proposed.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: I need your help, knocking on doors, talking to your neighbors. Spread the facts. Let's get this done.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want inflation to skyrocket by just adding this to the national debt. So, I'm wondering how can we avoid both of those scenarios.

OBAMA: I said I won't sign a bill that adds to the deficit or the national debt, OK?

So, this will have to be paid for. That, by the way, is in contrast to the prescription drug bill that was passed that cost hundreds of billions of dollars by the previous administration and previous Congress that was not paid for at all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why have you not used the bully pulpit to chastise Congress for having two systems of health care, one for all of us and one for them?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: If we don't have health care reform, the gap between what Congress gets and what ordinary Americans get will continue to be as wide as it is right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: President Obama this afternoon in New Hampshire, the tone entirely civil.

Not the case this morning in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, where now Democratic Senator Arlen Specter got an earful.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (D), PENNSYLVANIA: You want to be led out of here? You're welcome to go.

Now, wait a minute. Now, wait a minute. Now, wait a minute.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have awakened the sleeping giant. We are tired of this. This is why everybody in this room is so ticked off. What are you going to do to restore this country back to what our founders created, according to the Constitution?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(SHOUTING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Well, it wasn't the only heat directed at Senator Specter in Lebanon. He did, however, soldier on, holding another town hall in Lewisburg, where the tone improved somewhat.

We sent 360's Gary Tuchman there to try and get past the rage, beyond the sound bites, and to really understand why people are so riled up.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are land of the free and home of the brave.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The words of one woman, both angry and concerned.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am very, very, very scared. I believe we are going down. I think this health care reform act is a vehicle not for health care. This is a vehicle to take us down to a path of total socialism and totalitarianism.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

TUCHMAN: At this Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, town hall held by Senator Arlen Specter, it is apparent many Americans see health care reform as an effort to harm the American way of life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hermann Goebbels (ph) said -- as you remember, he was Hitler's advance man -- he says, tell a lie, make it a big one, repeat it often, and it becomes the truth.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

TUCHMAN: Health care and Hitler? Most would agree that's a stretch at best, deeply offensive at worst. But words are weapons to many of the people attending these meetings. They demand to be heard and care enough to show up way in advance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First of all, they're pushing it too fast. It needs to really be thought over.

TUCHMAN: I asked this woman what concerned her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The cost, taking my liberties and rights away from me... (CROSSTALK)

TUCHMAN: President Obama says your liberties and rights won't be taken away; you can keep what you have.

Do you not believe him?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do not.

TUCHMAN: Why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because he has not told us the truth about many other things.

TUCHMAN: So, you just don't trust the man?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. I do not trust him.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): It's a common theme here, lack of trust in the president, lack of respect for many of the men and women who represent them in Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm here to hear Arlen Specter say that he will accept the same health care that he's going to try to give us.

TUCHMAN (on camera): So, you want senator and congressmen not to get any better health care than you get under this new plan?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think -- I mean, what are they? Are they, you know, someone special?

TUCHMAN (voice-over): There are supporters of health care reform here, but their numbers are much smaller, their voices not as loud.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we need it desperately.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Many of the people at these town hall meetings who are against President Obama's vision of health care reform say they are the silent majority. Of course, if they are the majority, what happened on Election Day, when the man who made no secret of his desire for substantial change to the health care system won the White House?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, you work for him!

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Many blame apathy on Election Day. But apathy is not an issue here right now.

(on camera): There are periods of time where there's complete quiet in this room, but it doesn't last more than a few minutes, before people start yelling or shouting angry comments.

(voice-over): But this one was hard for anyone to disagree with.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I want to just express to the press that this is not a Republican or a Democrat, that this is an American...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

TUCHMAN: An issue that continues to snowball during Congress' summer recess.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: Gary, when people come to these town halls, and they have this discussion and the tempers start to heat up, do they leave those meetings actually angrier than when they came in the front door?

TUCHMAN: Well, when the opponents to reform left this auditorium today at Bucknell University, certainly, they're not very happy, but they don't, for the most part, seem to be angry.

And one of the reasons for that, when we ask people, is that there's a grudging respect for the senator and congressmen who come knowing they will be badgered and hold these hearings.

Now, we are in the middle of the state of Pennsylvania today. Arlen Specter represents the whole state, so most of the people were from Pennsylvania. But, yesterday, we were at a hearing with Congressman Steve Rothman in New Jersey. Many of the people there were not from his district.

And they say, our congressmen didn't have the guts to hold a hearing. That's why we had to come here.

And, today, in the second row, right behind me, an opponent of reform said to Senator Specter while he was getting badgered this quote. He goes, "I can't believe you run for this office." And everyone kind of laughed. And we certainly haven't heard a lot of laughs in these town hall meetings.

ROBERTS: Yes. There -- there are certainly a number of Democrats who are holding these meetings, despite the fact that many other Democrats are not. Claire McCaskill another one in Missouri who took a lot of heat today as well.

Gary Tuchman for us tonight in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania -- Gary, thanks so much for that.

Well, given all the heat directed at the president and his party at these town halls, the question is, politically, at least, why even bother? One view is at AC360.com, where senior political analyst David Gergen weighs in. Check it out.

And, while you're there, join the live chat now under way.

Coming up next: Dr. Gupta answering fears and concerns about health care reform with the facts.

Also, more searches in the Michael Jackson case, zeroing in on his doctor. Lisa Bloom and Jim Moret "Digging Deeper" on that -- tonight on 360. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: We have been talking tonight about health care reform, President Obama's effort today to quell the anger and get his message out.

Questioning at his town hall this afternoon in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, was skeptical at times, but it was totally calm.

Other town halls have run the gamut. And we have been showing you some of what Senator Arlen Specter dealt with today, moments of rage, but also genuine doubts about the cost of health care reform.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Social Security, bankrupt. Medicare, bankrupt. Medicaid, bankrupt. You are taking our kids' future and -- post office -- and taking our kids' future and driving it right into the toilet.

We cannot afford this, period. Keep the government out of it. We are doing just fine.

Thank you, sir.

(APPLAUSE)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

SPECTER: Well, I have made a commitment here today earlier that I will not vote for a plan that adds to the deficit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Earlier, you heard President Obama reiterating his own version of that pledge. He also reminded people that the enormous price tag covers 10 years, not just one, something opponents rarely mention.

That said, there are many objections, some more reality-based than others.

360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta is "Keeping Them Honest" tonight. He and I spoke earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: All right, Sanjay, let's tackle that first one, cost. Arlen Specter said he won't sign anything that adds to the deficit. The president said the same thing. Senator Claire McCaskill has said the same thing. But the Congressional Budget Office tells a different story when ti comes to the cost.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: They -- they do. They say it's about $239 billion of potential addition to the deficit. And that was, I think, a -- a wakeup call for a lot of people who are really paying attention to the numbers. It is hard to piece this all together.

What I can tell you, John -- and you and I have talked about this -- I have read through the House bill in its entirety. They way it's written specifically is they say that, unless the Finance Committee can come up with certain money to try and offset some of these deficits, it's not going to pass.

What I think is a little bit more nebulous is this idea that, in the long run, through ideas like prevention, adding more wellness dollars to try and keep people healthy in the first place, how much money is that going to save? Is that going to help offset things in the long run?

ROBERTS: Let's listen to this exchange at Claire McCaskill's town hall today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: "Can you promise that my tax dollars will not fund abortions?"

I can tell you that there is not one word in this bill that would allow federal tax dollars to be spent on abortions.

(SHOUTING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: All right, as you can see, a very hot-button issue.

And, Sanjay, from what you have read of the various bills out there, is she correct?

GUPTA: Well, somewhat correct.

And this -- this is -- is confusing, again, but let me try and break this down this way. This is how I understood it.

There is an amendment out there that basically says there will be no subsidizing of abortions by any private health care plan within this exchange. What it does not say, John -- and this is important -- that it would prohibit the moneys by being used by the public option.

Now, there is someone known as the Hyde amendment -- and this is for people who pay attention to this sort of thing -- that basically says no federal dollars can be used towards federally subsidizing abortion. And the supporters of this public option will say that applies here as well.

ROBERTS: The final thing that we want to get into is whether or not people will be able to keep their own insurance, because the critics of these plans say people will be forced into this -- this public health care plan. And a study done for the Heritage Foundation by The Lewin Group says 88 million people, at least 88 million people, will be forced into the public plan.

Let's listen to this exchange from President Obama's town hall in Portsmouth today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I still worry that if we go to a public option, period, that the private companies, the insurance companies, rather than competing -- because who can compete with the government? The answer is nobody.

So, my question is, do you still, as -- yourself now, support a universal plan, or are you open to the private industry still being maintained?

OBAMA: The only thing that I have said is that having a public option in that menu would provide competition for insurance companies to keep them honest.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: So, it would seem clear, Sanjay, that at least some people are going to go into a public plan. The big question is, how much would that take away from the private plans? How much would it undercut it? And what number of people would eventually end up in the public plans?

GUPTA: Right. That's right.

And that study you quoted, John, has numbers sort of varying, from, you know, tens of millions to over 100 million, possibly going toward the public option. A lot of supporters of the public option say, look, we have got the U.S. post office, and, yet, we have FedEx and UPS. So, you can have private and public competition all existing at once.

There's also this idea that not everyone is going to be eligible for the public option. Just because it's cheaper doesn't mean everyone is going to qualify for it.

Having said, there -- there is this idea still that the public option could start to grow larger and larger. It could become more all-inclusive, all of that on the backs of taxpayers' dollars, and that might eventually crowd out private insurance. And that's -- that -- those are the sort of argument and counterargument right there.

ROBERTS: Dr. Sanjay Gupta helping to straighten it all out for us.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: Doctor, we sure appreciate it.

GUPTA: All right, John.

ROBERTS: Thanks for joining us.

GUPTA: Thanks.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: And up next: the cost of doing nothing. The staggering amount of waste in health care, think it's millions? Billions? Think higher, way higher.

Tom Foreman is running the numbers for us tonight -- "Keeping Them Honest."

Also, the latest search involving Michael Jackson's doctor and the powerful drug that no one should get outside a hospital that Jackson was reportedly getting at home.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: As you have no doubt noticed -- Who could miss it? -- the debate over health care reform seems to be get louder each and every day.

As the decibels climb, here at 360, we are committed to filtering out the racket and focusing on the facts. So, tonight, we are "Digging Deeper" on a new number that was recently thrown into the debate, $1.2 trillion.

According to the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, that's how much of our health care dollars are flat-out wasted each and every year. It's also fully half of what the U.S. spends each year on health care. How could we be wasting that much money? And what's it being wasted on?

Well, Tom Foreman tonight "Keeping Them Honest."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, this study by PricewaterhouseCoopers identifies what it calls three key areas of massive waste.

And the first is us. Medical problems related to obesity, such as heart disease and high blood pressure, cost our medical care system $200 billion a year. Problems related to smoking over here cost us $191 billion a year.

If we just took better care of ourselves, this study suggests we could save as much as a half-trillion dollars that our government and we are currently spending on our problems.

The second big area of waste is clinical problems. Doctors and nurses sometimes prescribe the wrong medicine. They overmedicate. They make other mistakes, too. Patients use emergency rooms for some problems like sore throats that ought to be handled by their regular doctors. The cost of all of that, more than $90 billion.

In addition, this study found that, sometimes, doctors overcharge because they can make more money from it, but also that they're sometimes so afraid of malpractice lawsuits, that they order many tests and procedures just to protect against possible accusations that they overlooked something -- the cost of that, $210 billion a year.

That's why senators in support of reform, like Maryland's Ben Cardin, are being confronted in town meetings by people demanding that legal reform be part of any health reform package.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why isn't tort reform a part of any of these bills?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Of course, this study also found, sometimes, doctors just overcharge, because they can make more money that way.

And, finally, this study found waste in operational costs. Just filing the papers to collect for insurance companies cost up to $210 billion a year. One case the researchers cite is Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. Seven hundred different health plans employers and other groups are involved in paying the bills there, each with its own rules and paperwork.

All of these combined areas could add up to $1.2 trillion in waste, or, as the study notes, more than half of our health spending -- John.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: A staggering amount of money.

Tom Foreman for us tonight -- Tom, thanks so much.

And coming up: Authorities raid a Las Vegas pharmacy used by Michael Jackson's doctor. What were they looking for there? That's coming up in just a moment.

But, first, Erica Hill joins us now with a 360 bulletin.

Hi, Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, Eunice Shriver, the sister of President John F. Kennedy, is being remembered tonight AS a tireless champion of the disabled. She died early this morning at the age of 88. Shriver was the fifth of nine Kennedy children. She also was mother to Maria Shriver, who is of course California's first lady.

In 1962, Mrs. Shriver founded the summer day camp that grew into the Special Olympics, which today operates in 170 countries. Costa Rica's president, Oscar Arias, is sick with swine flu. Government officials say he fell ill on Sunday, complaining of a sore throat and fever. He was diagnosed today with the H1N1 virus. The president's overall health is said to be good. On his doctor's advice, though, he is resting at home this week.

Talk about a jolt from General Motors -- the company today saying its Chevrolet Volt car will get an estimated 230 miles per gallon -- yes, 230. The electric car is expected to go on sale late next year. GM's CEO predicts the triple-digit mileage will be a game-changer for GM. We will see.

It is a boy for Grammy-winning singer Jennifer Hudson -- the 27- year-old Oscar winner giving birth yesterday to her first child, David Daniel Otunga Jr. Her publicist released the news today. The baby is reportedly named after Hudson's fiancee and weighed in at a healthy 7 pounds, 14 ounces -- John.

ROBERTS: Great that they have some good news in that family.

HILL: Yes, they could use it.

ROBERTS: They could certainly use it.

Erica, thanks so much.

Next up on 360: a new raid in the Michael Jackson death investigation. Police search a pharmacy in Las Vegas. Are they getting closer to an arrest? The latest just ahead.

And, later on, teen killers working for drug lords and living in the United States -- the shocking story from this side of the border coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: A major new development in the Michael Jackson death investigation, police raiding a pharmacy in Las Vegas.

A source tells us it sold the powerful drug anesthetic propofol to Jackson's personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray. Another source says Dr. Murray gave Jackson propofol on the last day of his life.

Dr. Murray is the subject of a possible manslaughter charge in the case.

Jim Moret is the chief correspondent for "Inside Edition." He's also an attorney. So is CNN legal analyst Lisa Bloom. And both of them join me now.

Lisa, the search of this pharmacy comes just a day after the coroner's office said that it was withholding the results of the autopsy, including the cause of death, at the request of investigators from the Los Angeles Police Department.

So, what do you make of the timing of this raid on this pharmacy at the same time that the coroner's office is saying, we're at a crucial point in the investigation?

LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think it's good news for Dr. Murray, good news that may be short-lived. But, at least at this point, the police don't feel enough -- they have enough to go forward and arrest Dr. Murray. They're holding up the disclosure of the coroner's report and the toxicology results. They're continuing to investigate.

And they're continuing to investigate propofol, which is the drug that is at the center of this dispute. Apparently, they don't just feel that they have enough yet to connect all of the dots and to indict or to arrest Dr. Murray.

ROBERTS: Jim Moret, do you know what they were looking at Applied Pharmacy today?

JIM MORET, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, "INSIDE EDITION": Well, they were looking for records of all of the drugs sold by this pharmacy, presumably to the doctor. And, specifically, they're looking for Diprivan.

And -- and Lisa is an optimist, I think, because...

(LAUGHTER)

MORET: ... if I were the -- Dr. Murray's attorney, I think I would be holding my breath right now, because I think that they're making it very clear that they're looking solely at Dr. Murray with respect to this propofol. And they may be looking at other doctors as well, but, with respect to the manslaughter investigation, I think he is solely in their sights.

ROBERTS: A question that I had in all of this -- and, Lisa, maybe you could answer this -- is it unusual for the coroner's office to cooperate with the police department and withhold the results of the autopsy report and the toxicology report?

You know, I -- we look back on so many cases that involve criminal charges, or at least criminal investigations, and the coroner's office told the public the cause of death.

BLOOM: Everything about this case is unusual...

(LAUGHTER)

BLOOM: ... you are right, John ,from beginning to the end.

I mean, in most cases, there is not such public interest in the coroner's report, so it just gets issued as a matter of course. In a high-profile case, it is not unusual for the police to ask other agencies to hold back information. Police need to have some confidential information when they doing an investigation. They can't have all of their cards on the table. So, that makes sense.

But, from Dr. Murray's defense point of view, once again, if the coroner is working too closely, hand in hand with law enforcement, that's an argument that he can use at trial. I mean, the coroner is supposed to be an independent agency composed of scientists, issuing scientific results. They're not supposed to be at the beck and call of law enforcement.

Now, I'm not saying they are. All they're doing is withholding the report at this point. But that's the kind of defense case that could be building.

ROBERTS: Jim, the search warrants that have been executed over the last few weeks have been looking into a number of potential charges, manslaughter being the -- the most serious of them, as far as we know.

Do you -- do you think that there's any chance that Dr. Murray could be charged with manslaughter?

MORET: I do.

I think that, clearly, that's what investigators are looking at. You're talking about a drug that you simply can't get a prescription for and also a drug that you can't administer to yourself. So, you need somebody there.

You also have reports that the doctor admitted he administered this drug to Michael Jackson in a setting that's medically unsound. No doctor would do it outside of a hospital or clinic setting. Therefore, they are going to hold this doctor responsible if, in fact, he gave the drug that killed Michael Jackson to him the night before he died.

ROBERTS: What -- what do you think about potential manslaughter charges, Lisa? I mean, if you could defending Conrad Murray, do you think you could get him off, if he were charged with that?

BLOOM: Well, Jim -- Jim is clearly right about the propofol. It should not be administered without safeguards and outside the hospital setting.

The problem is, is the propofol the only medication of significance in Jackson's system? I mean, if there are, let's say, 10 or 12 medications, and if, as I expect, the coroner's going to say that Jackson died from an interaction of toxic drugs, then it may be difficult for law enforcement to pin all of this on Dr. Murray.

And, remember, legally they have to prove causation. They have to prove that Dr. Murray's actions were the cause of death or a significant cause of death. And that means they have to link it all on the propofol. And, remember, that's the drug they're continuing to look at in this pharmacy search today. So, I just don't think they have it yet. They may, but I don't think they have it yet.

ROBERTS: And, again, if they don't charge him with manslaughter, plenty of other things they could charge him with, overprescribing, prescribing to an addict.

Jim, is it your sense that the LAPD wants to make an example of this man?

MORET: I think that they have a lot of pressure on this case. I think that, early on, they didn't secure the property for four days. That was clearly a mistake in this case.

I think they're going very methodically, and not to make an example, but they really need to get some result, and some result that won't have a public outcry, because, clearly, something horribly wrong went -- went on in Michael Jackson's house the night before he died.

ROBERTS: Jim Moret, Lisa Bloom, it's always great to catch up with you. Thanks so much for joining us tonight.

BLOOM: Thank you.

MORET: Sure.

ROBERTS: Much appreciate it.

And let us know what you think. Join the live chat happening right now at AC360.com.

Coming up next, an American soldier serving his country and allegedly serving a Mexican cartel. Did he murder for them?

Also, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Republic of Congo seeing the evidence of an unthinkable crime. Anderson's dispatch from Africa when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Tonight, an American soldier is under arrest for allegedly working as a hit man for a Mexican drug cartel. The soldier, Michael Apodaca, is stationed at Fort Bliss in Texas.

Authorities say the 18-year-old and two other men allegedly killed a fellow cartel member in May after he was exposed as a government informant. All three suspects face capital murder charges.

This is not the first time a U.S. citizen has been accused of being an assassin for Mexican drug lords. With the promise of money and power, young people on this side of the border are recruited into a world of violence.

Ed Lavandera has tonight's "Crime & Punishment" report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Look at the elaborately tattooed eyes, the cold eyes. The faces of admitted murderers, young Americans killing for Mexican drug cartels.

But it took many murders in Laredo, Texas, to track down Gabriel Cardona and Rosalio Reta. One of the first victims was Moises Garcia, gunned down while he helped his pregnant wife and 3-year-old boy into their car. Then the bodies began to pile up. Seven murders in a yearlong stretch, but when investigators found fingerprints on a cigarette box in the shooter's getaway car, the chilling truth unraveled: the truth about Gabriel Cardona and Rosalio Reta.

ROBERT GARCIA, LAREDO POLICE DEPARTMENT: They were very good at what they did. They were professional at what they did.

LAVANDERA: Assassins is what they were. How Gabriel Cardona and Rosalio Reta evolved from average American teenagers into hit men is laid out in court records and these police interrogation videos obtained by CNN.

In this tape, Reta happily details how he carried out his first cartel assassination at the age of 13. "I loved doing it. Killing that first person, I loved it. I thought I was Superman," said Reta.

Detective Robert Garcia is the man sitting across the table from Reta.

GARCIA: That's one thing that you wonder all the time, what made them -- what made them be this way?

LAVANDERA (on camera): Like many Americans, these teenagers started hitting the cantinas and bars just across the border in Mexico. And that's where investigators say the cartel was waiting to recruit them.

(voice-over) These kids were easy targets for the cartel. The two started living the high life. They got tattoos honoring Santa Muerte, the Grim Reaper-like saint honored by drug traffickers.

Cardona had eyeballs tattooed on his eyelids, and markings covered Reta's face.

(on camera) Cardona and Reta should have been in school here. But instead, investigators say they dropped out and joined the cartel's payroll. They drove around town in a $70,000 Mercedes. They were paid $500 a week as a retainer to sit and wait for the call to kill. Then they could make up to $50,000 for a hit.

(voice-over) Prosecutors say Cardona and Reta were hit men for the Zetas, a group of former Mexican special military forces that at the time were doing the dirty work for the notorious Gulf Cartel.

GARCIA: They told us that they're already here. They're sleeper cells. They're already here in the U.S. Not just in Laredo. They're all throughout the U.S.

LAVANDERA: In Cardona's interrogation, he tells detectives the Zetas are moving their operations deeper into the U.S. Cardona says he knows of hits carried out in Houston and Dallas.

Cardona and Reta are in prison now, serving long terms for murder. But before they were arrested, federal authorities recorded a phone call between the two young men. Cardona brags about killing 14- year-old Inez Villareal, the innocent cousin of a Cardona enemy, who was also murdered.

Cardona laughs about torturing both, making "guiso," or stew, out of their bodies in large metal drums. Villareal and his cousin have never been found.

Before the call ends, Cardona says, "There are three left to kill. There are three left." It's a reminder the cartel's work never ends as they recruit the next generation of killers.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Laredo, Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: Recruiting Americans to kill. Will we see more of it?

Joining us now is Fred Burton. He's a counterterrorism expert, as well as a best selling author.

So let's look at this latest case, this arrest yesterday. Private Michael Apodaca, an 18-year-old Patriot missile battery crewman, stationed at Fort Bliss in Texas. Accused of being a hit man for the Juarez Cartel.

Does it surprise you?

FRED BURTON, COUNTERTERRORISM EXPERT/AUTHOR: John, it doesn't surprise me in the least. If you look at the business, it's a dirty business, and the informant that was killed was clearly an operator for the Juarez Cartel.

And then the group that was put together to actually carry out the assassination on U.S. soil, there's information that that individual was also an informant with the U.S. authorities.

So this kind of twist and turn in this business is not unusual, but the fact that it's taking place in El Paso on U.S. soil should be a wake-up call for all of us here in the United States.

ROBERTS: I would certainly think so. Fred, to what extent have these cartels begun to either infiltrate or recruit from U.S. military and law enforcement?

BURTON: We have seen reports of this in the past, John, specifically with the National Guard, with cartel recruitment of individuals.

Look, there's so much money to be made in this business that the informant length is very broad within the public service sector, within all facets of society when you start looking at some of these border towns. So the fact that you have a U.S. Army soldier that was hired to do this is also not surprising.

ROBERTS: This fellow who was assassinated, Jose Gonzalez, who was living in El Paso, living a fairly open life. People thought he was involved in legitimate businesses. Also believed to be a U.S. informant. They got to him pretty easily. They found him out, and they got to him pretty easily. What does that say about who you can and cannot trust?

BURTON: Well, it shows you the internal security and intelligence collection capabilities of the cartels. That they're capable of identifying U.S. government assets that should be protected.

This is the kind of person that should not be killed on U.S. soil.

Now, it shows you their intelligence collection capabilities. It shows you their reach. It shows you their counterintelligence and their surveillance capabilities. If they can kill U.S. government informants, they can pretty much kill anyone they want and get away with it.

ROBERTS: As you mentioned, this was a hit on the American side of the border in El Paso. Hits like this happen all the time on the Mexican side of the border. What does it say about the potential for the violence in this country to increase and spread beyond border towns?

BURTON: Well, I think that we are already seeing that. We have the downstream drug supply network in Atlanta is being controlled by the Mexican cartels. We've had a whole series of abductions in Phoenix. The Phoenix Police Department has done a wonderful job of looking at those. We have problems in Los Angeles as a result of this. There really is no city that's not untouched today with this phenomenon.

And as you move closer to the border, you have more of the violence. Their ability to reach out and touch these individuals is much more opportune for them.

ROBERTS: Not an encouraging picture to be painting for us tonight. Fred Burton, it's good to catch up with you. Thanks so much.

BURTON: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Next, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls it a crime against humanity: women becoming prey in Congo. Anderson reports with a story that you won't forget.

And the sentence is in for Myanmar opposition leader Aung Sun Suu Kyi. We'll tell you her fate ahead on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's trip to Africa continued today with a deeply emotional visit with the victims of a brutal civil war. The secretary toured a refugee camp in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is home to thousands of families who have fled a conflict that has claimed millions of lives.

It's also a battle in which rape has become a weapon of choice. And it is used by soldiers and rebel forces alike. They rape women; they rape children.

Secretary of State Clinton calls it a crime against humanity. She wants it to end, but if anything this reign of violence is getting worse.

Anderson traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006 to report on this horror. The stories are devastating, but they are stories that must be heard.

Here's Anderson's "360 Dispatch."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): At a busy hospital in Goma, a silent little girl sits on a stoop. She's 5 years old now but still cannot speak of the terrible thing that happened to her. Two years ago when she was just 3, she was gang raped by soldiers.

(on camera) The children, as young as 3 years old, raped?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

COOPER: That's crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very crazy and we -- it's difficult to understand the social causes of this event, but we think that people are so disappointed. They've been in better shape for 40 years. Now they all came. So they lost all the hope and they start behaving like animals.

COOPER (voice-over): Dr. Luke Malamo (ph) has a hospital ward full of girls and women who have been raped and developed fistulas, holes in their vaginas or rectums, that make it impossible to control bodily functions.

(on camera) Why do so many rape victims here develop fistulas?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We think that the first reason is that the rape is too violent. Some of them they will use after raping the lady they will use maybe -- they use a weapon, a knife or even a piece of wood, and some of them have been Shot on after being raped.

COOPER: So women aren't just getting raped. They're not just getting gang raped. They're often being Shot internally afterward or people putting objects inside them: knives, clubs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Yes. They are being raped but some of them, mainly those who have fistula tell that after being raped they will be Shot on or just traumatized by a weapon.

COOPER (voice-over): Dr. Malamo (ph) is able to repair the physical damage done by rape in some 70 percent of cases, but some wounds, physical and psychological, are impossible to heal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I was raped by three men, soldiers. They also Shot me in my right arm. When it was happening, I thought I was dying. I was seeing death in front of me. I didn't think I would live.

COOPER: Angela was raped in front of her children.

(on camera) This is all a burn?

(voice-over) She says her attackers also burned her daughter, Bodoli (ph). We agreed to protect their identities because of the stigma still associated with rape in the Congo.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): People in the neighborhood just point fingers and say, "You're a raped woman, and you are infected with AIDS."

COOPER: Angela lives in a compound with her three children and other rape survivors, who say they can't go home. They're supported by a charity called Heal Africa.

(on camera) This is the one meal that Angela's kids will probably have today. She and her children have been living here in Goma for the last five months.

Angela would like to be able to return to her home village, but it's simply impossible. The men who raped her are likely still living in the area. They, of course, have never been brought to justice. And she really has no home to go back to. Her husband has now kicked her out of the house because she was gang raped.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): When he heard I was raped, he just said, "Go on your own. I don't need you anymore. If we live together, you now might have HIV. So you might infect me."

COOPER (voice-over): Like many rape survivors here, Angela's future is at best uncertain.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The only thing I need is some land so I can build a house. I might die, and I want my kids to have that castle. I'm hoping for a miracle.

COOPER: There are few miracles in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The men who rape are rarely brought to justice, and the women who survive must simply try to heal.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: A devastating account of the atrocities that continue to be committed right now in the Congo.

As for Angela, the courageous woman at the center of that report, we were hoping to speak with her today or at least find out where she is. Unfortunately, we were unable to locate her. We hope and we pray that she and her girls are safe.

And there are so many stories like Angela's. You can hear one girl tell hers at AC360.com.

Next, the latest in the crash above the Hudson River. Divers recover more wreckage and search for clues to the tragedy.

Also, $65 million worth of jewelry stolen in broad daylight. We'll tell you where it happened and who police are searching for.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: As always, no shortage of news tonight. Let's get the latest now on some of the other stories that we're following. Erica Hill joins us again with a "360 Bulletin."

Hi, Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, John.

The search for bodies in Saturday's New York midair collision is now over, crews today bringing the last two victims ashore. A crane pulled their plane out of the Hudson. In all, nine people died when that plane hit a helicopter above the Hudson River last weekend.

We are getting our first look tonight from inside the men's prison in Chico -- Chino, rather, California. This is a view of the damage from rioting over the weekend that left 250 inmates hurt, 55 of them seriously. That violence appears to have been racially motivated.

Overseas, the military government of Myanmar sentencing opposition leader Aung Sun Suu Kyi to 18 more months of house arrest. She is, of course, a Nobel laureate and the face of the country's pro- democracy movement. According to the court, she violated terms of her previous house arrest when an American swam across a lake to her home for an uninvited visit.

Both Secretary of State Clinton and the U.N. secretary-general, as well as the Dali Llama condemning that sentence.

Newly-released surveillance pictures tonight of a massive jewel heist in London. Two men caught in the middle of an armed robbery that netted them -- get this -- about $65 million in schwag. The pair, still at large, are considered to be armed and dangerous.

And up in the sky, off the South Carolina coast, it's a bird. It's a plane. Oh, no. It is 96-year-old Pauline Sherman and her great granddaughter, parasailing side by side.

Great Grandma Pauline, by the way, has never even driven a car. It's only the second time she's been on a boat, but she thought, why not try it?

John, her granddaughter, not her great-granddaughter, who went parasailing with her, actually said they're going to have to invent something for her to die of. She's an inspiration to all of us.

ROBERTS: Ninety-six years old and going strong. That's a lot of fun in a parasail.

All right. Here we go. Now our "Beat 360" winners. It's our daily challenge to viewers, a chance to show up our staffers by coming up with a better caption for the picture that we post in our blog every day.

Tonight's picture, here it is. White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel reads to students during a Reading to the Top event at the Department of Education. He was joined by Education Secretary Arne Duncan and White House domestic policy counsel Melanie Barnes.

Staff winner tonight, Ric. His caption: "The administration's new strategy on health care town hall forums."

(SOUND EFFECT: LAUGHTER)

ROBERTS: A lot of back talk from the kids.

Our viewer winner is Bob from Maselon (ph), Ohio. Think I got that right. His caption: "And this, kiddies, is the new health-care reform bill you'll be paying for for the rest of your lives. Don't forget: Social Security will be broke, too."

(SOUND EFFECT: "Ooooh!")

HILL: So many of both the staff and viewer submissions had to do with health care and town halls today.

ROBERTS: I wonder why. Couldn't be that it's captivating the imagination, could it be?

HILL: No.

ROBERTS: Bob, your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way.

Still ahead on 360, a birthday blow-out that took a terrible turn. Just remember: pranks are always fun until someone gets hurt. And candles are fire. "The Shot" is just ahead.

ROBERTS: And later, President Obama, face to face with angry Americans today at a health-care town-hall meeting. What he told them and what happened to the guy outside who showed up with a gun.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: OK, Erica. Tonight's "Shot" is proof that some birthday celebrations really are unforgettable. This video just now getting traction on YouTube, three years after a familiar birthday ritual went terribly wrong. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday, dear Rich. Happy birthday to you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday, dear Rich. Happy birthday to you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday, dear Rich. Happy birthday to you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Oh! Rick's birthday party started off. Nothing too wild. There was cake and candles, the usual singing. But things took a terrible turn, as you saw there, when the silly string and glitter hair spray ambush starts. Rich singed his eyebrows and suffered minor burns on hit sears.

The sister told us that his wife bought the supplies and didn't think the flammability issue all the way through.

HILL: Well, as long as you're not spraying it directly into the candles, in theory there probably shouldn't be a problem.

ROBERTS: It's probably the hair spray more than anything.

HILL: You think?

ROBERTS: I think the silly string itself might be flammable. I've never tried to set it on fire, but I can assume.

HILL: I'm guessing that would go up in flames.

ROBERTS: I think the propellant from the hair spray probably was the real culprit.

HILL: I think it was the glitter.

ROBERTS: Yes. Men shouldn't be wearing glitter anyways.

Erica, great to see you tonight. See you again tomorrow.

You can see all the most recent shots at our Web site at AC360.com.

And coming up at the top of the hour, President Obama's day at a health-care town-hall meeting. Is silly string abuse a preexisting condition? We'll get some answers ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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