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Drug Tunnel Features Power, Elevator; Drug War Next Door Hits Home; Corruption in Afghanistan: Convicted Mayor Still in Power; Cracking down on Wall Street; Madoff Victims Infighting; Seeing the Light, Courtesy of the Bionic Eye; People Are Getting Their Tongues Stuck on Poles in Cold Weather

Aired December 11, 2009 - 13:00   ET

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


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Betty, so much.

Well, five American men, alleged turned away by terrorists, now getting better acquainted with the Pakistani justice system. Did no one here at home even see this coming?

Plus, remember that financial disaster on Wall Street that helped tank our economy? Sure, you do. How do we make sure it doesn't happen again? Congress pushing forward on an answer.

Well, it's deep underground, and on every American street corner, a war next door, that no fence, no army, no border can keep out. We're going to look beneath the surface this hour. And next, on illegal drugs, the deadly business of feeding an endless demand.

Want to bypass the border? Just dig yourself a tunnel: 900 feet long, 90 feet deep, starting in Mexico, ending in America. Oh, and don't forget the elevator, phone lines and ventilation system.

Atlanta's not near any border, yet it's a hub for the Mexican cartels. Your city may be, too, or it may be next.

Think drugs are a victimless crime? Meet the victims. Every day is a nightmare on the streets of Juarez, Mexico. The night's even worse.

It's basic economics. If some people really, really want to buy something, other people will find ways to sell it. If the drugs are in Mexico and the customers here, the drugs will be here, too. And if you seal up the border, well, the cartels will build tunnels like the one that our Anderson Cooper explored with CNN photographer Neil Hallsworth in Tijuana.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: This is a commercial warehouse in Tijuana, we're just on the other side of the U.S./Mexican border. You can see right over here, the border is right there. Those are the trucks actually coming across the border right now. The border fence is right there about 50 feet from where I'm standing.

Now, this looks like just a regular commercial warehouse. The tunnel is hidden. It's concealed inside this warehouse. But if you first step in the warehouse, you never know this is, you know, anything -- that anything illegal was going on here.

The secret entrance is extraordinary. Let me show you, too. It's in a small warren of rooms, and you come into what you think is just a regular bathroom. There's a toilet here. There's a tile floor. It looks like the bathroom is still under construction. But this entire floor is actually attached underneath to a hydraulic lift, so the entire floor lowers down. You can see it's now-- it's about six or seven inches lower from the wall. If it was in its full upright position, you wouldn't even know that this was a drop-away floor.

To get underneath the bathroom floor to show you the hydraulic equipment that Mexican authorities have actually created a hole here. They've actually put a ladder in, so I'll just climb down.

Now, over here is the hydraulic equipment that is attached to the bathroom floor above. So, the toilet that we saw is just up here, just in this room. They basically -- this is the kind of hydraulic lift that would be seen in an auto body store. A car would normally be put on that, and the entire bathroom floor is attached to this to lower the floor any time they wanted an entrance to the secret tunnel.

There's large pieces of wood that were discovered here. Obviously, these pieces of wood would be taken deeper into the tunnel, would be used to shore up the sides of the tunnel. There's also four large blocks of Styrofoam. Authorities believe it was used to try to muffle the sound of the drilling.

As we said, this is the most sophisticated tunnel they've ever discovered and certainly the most sophisticated one I've ever seen. There's light bulbs and there's an electrical system. There's -- actually, this is an air vent. You can see there's actually cool air circulating in here, so fresh air is circulating which is important the deeper you go. There's even a phone system. The phones -- phones still work. That way people inside the tunnel could communicate with anyone up above.

But what's really remarkable here is what I'm about to show you. This, this is the motorworks for an elevator. It's a primitive elevator. There's no doubt about it. But they brought this down here. This is the elevator itself. It's basically a large cart on wheels. We're going to take you down and show you what -- what happens then.

You really get a sense when you're going down in this tunnel, just the amount of work that it took to build this. Look, you can really see the bore marks that were used to tunnel deep underground. It must have made a lot of noise. I mean, this is solid rock here that they are -- that they are digging through. And they use -- clearly, they use heavy machinery. Look, this is all jackhammers, mining equipment.

We're now 90 feet deep. And there's the electrical system is still in place. There's plugs here. There's an electrical box. There's still the ventilation system, the lights still -- whoa. The lights still work down here. And the phones are even this deep underground. All right.

We've probably already crossed into the United States. As I showed you up at the top outside the warehouse, it's a very short distance from the -- from this warehouse to the border. So we're probably already now into the United States.

The question, of course, is where was this tunnel going. Where in the United States was it going to pop up? This tunnel was never finished because authorities discovered it in time, but it goes about 900 feet underground.

It's tall enough here, you can pretty much stand almost -- almost straight up. I'm 5'10", so it's probably almost six feet, I guess, right here.

This is solid rock that they are -- that they drilled through, so it took an awfully long time. You can imagine how difficult the conditions were down here, even though with the ventilation system, the primitive electrical system down here, it's still got to have been a daunting challenge.

So, authorities pretty sure a major drug cartel's behind this. They're not sure exactly which one. This might be some evidence. A lot of these sandbags say Sinaloa right here. You can see it, Sinaloa, Mexico. Sinaloa is another state in Mexico, and there's a large cartel there, called the Sinaloa cartel. So it's possible the Sinaloa cartel is behind this. At this point they simply don't know who's responsible for digging this tunnel.

So, come to pretty much the end of the tunnel. There's a lot of equipment still being stored here. As I said, this tunnel was never finished. U.S./Mexican authorities discovered it in time and raided it, so no drugs, as far as we know, were ever brought through. There was mo exit point into the U.S. There was still apparently digging somewhere. I think authorities are still trying to figure out exactly where the end point was going to be.

But there's no telling how many other tunnels like this are being built right now, somewhere along this border.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Well, Anderson will have more on the tunnels and the people who build them on "AC360" tonight at 10 Eastern, only on CNN.

OK, you don't live in Tijuana or Juarez or Atlanta. You know drugs kill and drug smugglers murder, but it's not your problem, right? Well, take a look again at this map that we -- was first published in March in "the New York Times." Each of these dots actually represents a distribution network or supply point for a Mexican drug cartel. Only North Dakota, Delaware, Maine, and Vermont are dot-free, but even they are not drug-free.

And when it comes to filling the drug demands on the East Coast, one city stands apart, and that's our next stop.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Joe DiMaggio's done it again. Joe DiMaggio's done it again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: That's right, it was 58 years ago today when America truly could say, "Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?" The Yankee Clipper retired on this day in 1951. You haven't seen the No. 5 in Yankee pinstripes since.

(MUSIC)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Location, transportation, population, resources, even climate. The same things that draw legal commerce to Atlanta also draw the illegal kind: drugs, guns, dirty money. I want you to see a report that first aired back in April.

CNN's Brooke Baldwin took us to the war next door and as it hits home.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Drugs, weapons and cold hard cash is a lethal combination fueling the Mexican drug cartels. And according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, now a new city has emerged as the staging ground for this deadly trade.

RODNEY BENSON, SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, ATLANTA DEA: Metro Atlanta is a hub for business in the southeast. It's also a hub of operations for Mexican organized crime.

BALDWIN: Atlanta, prime real estate for drug distribution, according to the DEA's top Atlanta agent, Rodney Benson. He agreed to take CNN on a special aerial tour to illustrate how these deals go down, starting with the southern city's web of freeways.

BENSON: You can go east, west, north, south from metro Atlanta, moving shipments of drugs from the southwest border all the way up the eastern seaboard.

BALDWIN: Before that can happen, the driver must wait here, at truck stops just like this one, often in broad daylight.

BENSON: A truck driver arriving to a place like this will then wait. It could be -- it could be as soon as an hour. It could be two or three days. Then they'll receive instructions.

BALDWIN: Next the driver heads to a warehouse. Benson says there is plenty to pick from in Atlanta. There, the drugs are parceled out and sent to dealers throughout the U.S.

But the drivers aren't done. They use this same truck to smuggle money and guns back into Mexico. In 2008, Atlanta led the nation with $70 million in confiscated cash, according to the DEA. And last September, federal agents, along with local law enforcement, rounded up 34 members of Mexico's Gulf cartel in the Atlanta area alone, part of a nationwide effort called Project Reckoning.

(on camera) If you think that drug cartels are keeping their high-dollar drug operations in the gritty inner city, think again. The DEA says they prefer the suburbs. They move into quiet, middle- class neighborhoods just like this one, where they set up shop, stockpiling drugs and cash before distributing them.

(voice-over) Last July a group of men with cartel connections lured a Rhode Island drug dealer to this Gwinnett County home. They chained him, beat him and held him hostage, demanding he pay $300,000 they say he owed. The DEA raided the home before it was too late.

BENSON: There's no doubt in my mind that, if we didn't act when we did, he would have been dead.

BALDWIN: Three men got caught and pleaded guilty, but the rest escaped.

Benson says the explosive growth of Hispanic immigrants in metro Atlanta is another reason why Mexican cartels come here, allowing them to blend in and disappear. Enabling this deadly drug trade to rage on, spreading roots in this southern city.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: In the 1980s, my next guest ran a narco empire that took in $100 million a year. That was one heart attack and a ten-year prison term ago. Today Brian O'Dea is legit: a film and TV producer and author of a book titled "High Confessions of an International Drug Smuggler." He joins me live from Toronto.

So, Brian, what is it that we are not doing?

BRIAN O'DEA, FORMER DRUG SMUGGLER: We're not legalizing drugs. And, therefore, we're not taking care of the problem.

Look, I wrote an op-ed a couple of years ago that I went to the Toronto Research Library, and I took headlines from the papers in 1922 and '23, and I put it together. And I removed one word and substituted another word. I took out the word "booze" or "alcohol" and substituted it with "drugs," and it read exactly like what I just heard running on CNN. It sounded like and read like it took place yesterday. It took place in 1920, 1922.

There's a group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, made up of thousands of former police officers, current police officers, judges, lawyers. They say alcohol prohibition, drug prohibition, same problem, same solution.

PHILLIPS: Now, I don't want to get into a debate about legalizing drugs or not, but I do have to challenge you on that. If you look at the numbers -- and the DEA, you know, every number of years puts these numbers together.

And the last numbers that we found from a few years ago, you know, 15 million Americans smoked pot. You've got 1.5 million regular meth users, 2 million regular users of cocaine, and that's just the beginning.

I mean, you legalize drugs, doesn't that just up those numbers incredibly? And then you're dealing with an increase in addiction and drug-related crimes. And I mean, there's got to be some source of discipline.

O'DEA: That's not true.

PHILLIPS: We're such a -- we're not a disciplined society. You know that.

O'DEA: What you just said is not true, and it's proven out in -- just take, for example, Portugal, where the greatest single social issue in Portugal in 2001 was drug addiction and the fallout from drug addiction.

So, they did a very, very brave thing in Portugal. They legalized all drugs: heroin, coke, crack, all those awful drugs that are absolutely the worst thing to happen to somebody is to be hooked up on them. But they legalized all drugs there. Because the hammer of corrections doesn't work for something that's a disorder psychologically.

And so what they did was they increased their approach, their educational and their willingness to help people heal from these addictions. They stopped locking them up, and they started educating.

The result, since 19 -- since 2001, in the few years since then, drug addiction has decreased in heroin, for example, by half. The number of addicts looking for help has increased by 100 percent. The years when kids start using drugs has risen by a year and a half. Everything that we said could never happen, doing it that way, has happened. How can we continue to do the same thing and expect different results?

We've thrown $1 trillion at this futile war on drugs in the past 40 years, and all we have to prove -- to show for it are increased arrest rates. We brag increased arrest rates. That's not something to brag about.

PHILLIPS: Well, it took you a long time to get arrested. Let's move into that, because I want the nitty-gritty of how you even made this happen, and how easy it was for you.

I know you dealt with Mexican agents, with U.S. agents. I mean, you dealt with police. You were able to get this stuff easily. But put into perspective, back when you were an international smuggler, and you were bringing in millions and millions of dollars, living a pretty fat lifestyle.

How did you do it? How easy was it? Where did the drugs come from? And how were you able to create such an easy-flowing supply?

O'DEA: Well, it begins in the source country, and I'll give you the run of how it starts and it ends here. It begins in the source country. Most of the source countries for drugs are countries that have -- that aren't as well off as we are. And they have police officers and military personnel who aren't being paid the type of money that they would like to be paid, who don't have enough money. And so it becomes easy to pry these people with money. Money works.

And so to move drugs from within those countries, from, say, in the interior of those countries, out to the sea where they, then, get put on boats and brought over here, you have to pay off all the way. And so that's how we get it out of those countries. And how we got it into this country was by having a business that looked like business as usual.

For example, fishing boats. We had fishing boats in Alaska. These boats fished the seasons. They were our -- all of our crews were known people in the fishing communities in Alaska and Washington. And a few times we just replaced the fish with pot and packaged it just like it was fish and brought it into the harbors where we brought in fish regularly and knew all of the people. Off-loaded it into tractor-trailers, and just drove them down the highway and put them in warehouses and distributed it in trucks.

And trucking companies looking like trucking companies, shipping what looked like cedar, having weigh bills that said they were cedar shakes in our trucks, and that's how we did it.

On this side, it has to look like business as usual. And on the other side, you paid to get -- to get it to the sea.

PHILLIPS: Who were your popular clients? Because obviously, we've talked so much about the various groups that deal, the various groups here in America that use drugs. I mean, is it college students that were the main clients? Drug runners within gangs?

O'DEA: People with a lot of money. People just like me and like my friends who were in the business with me. We were guys who otherwise would have been accountants or stockbrokers or brewers, as my father was. You want to talk about a drug problem. And so people just like us, and we sold to people like us, who, in turn, sold in large quantities, in quantities that were millions of dollars at a time.

And we just moved that money around in motor homes, mostly, from one end of the country to another, and then in planes off to Europe or to countries like St. Martin in the Caribbean.

PHILLIPS: Well, I'll tell you what, Brian, when I look at this picture of you and the Dalai Lama, you have come a long way from being an international smuggler to having an awakening with regard to health and lifestyle.

And it's pretty amazing what you write in "High Confessions of an International Drug Smuggler." You really put things in perspective. You give us that kind of hands-on feel for how it all goes down. I really appreciate the candid conversation.

O'DEA: Thank you, Kyra. Thanks for having me.

PHILLIPS: Appreciate it. Thanks, Brian.

O'DEA: You're welcome.

PHILLIPS: We're going to push forward next hour, visiting a place where death is, almost literally, around every corner. CNN's Michael Ware saw it for himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The early reports are that a gunman walked in that door and executed all of them. One of them, a 12-year-old girl, another one 14. And in a gut-wrenching irony, all of this done with the American border crossing just here, 18 yards away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Juarez, Mexico, last year 1,800 people killed in drug violence. That's five people every single day. Much more, next hour.

Top stories now.

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford heading to divorce court. His wife, Jenny, filing papers to end that marriage. She calls it a sad and painful process. She says that he takes full responsibility for his, quote, "moral failure."

The Sanfords have lived apart since June, when the governor admitted to having an affair with a woman in Argentina.

A court hearing today for this Muslim cleric who's accused of lying to the FBI in an alleged plot to set off bombs on the New York City transit system. Ahmed Abzali (ph) is accused of tipping off the main suspect, letting him know federal agents were on his trail.

And he's accused of videotaping ESPN reporter Erin Andrews through hotel peepholes. Michael Barrett is expected to plead guilty next week in federal court. Barrett is charged with stalking. Those nude pics of Andrews, as you remember, surfaced on the Internet.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Well, in just a few minutes we should hear more about those five Americans arrested in Pakistan. They allegedly went there hoping to train to fight American troops in Afghanistan, but the terrorists wouldn't take them.

The alleged jihad rejects are from northern Virginia. The news conference at a mosque in Alexandria where at least one of them attended services. Right now, workers at that mosque say they had no idea the five guys might be up to something like this. But Pakistan says it has the proof. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REHMAN MALIK, PAKISTANI INTERIOR MINISTER: It is -- only I can give you, based on the previous experience. Yes, they do come to Pakistan to take part, you know, in a war against Pakistan, and sometime Afghanistan. And they have been working for al Qaeda, and one of the organizations that you mentioned, it is a proscribed organization in Pakistan. And we have signatures of their contact with the TTP and al Qaeda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: And this has got to be tough. Christmas just two weeks away, and these guys are saying good-bye to their family and friends. So much for there's no place like the holidays. This is a farewell party for some of the 350 members of the Vermont National Guard, bound for Afghanistan for a year.

Americans might be going to fight extremists, but when it comes to fighting corruption, that's an Afghan fight. And if you don't know how big a problem it is, all you have to do is look at the mayor's office in the capital city, and check out this report from CNN's Fred Pleitgen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Kabul's mayor at work. That might not seem like news, except that Abdul Ahad Sahebi has just been convicted for corruption.

MAYOR ABDUL AHAD SAHEBI, KABUL, AFGHANISTAN: It's baseless, without any foundation, without any evidence.

PLEITGEN: Sahebi was sentenced to four years in prison after being judged guilty of awarding a city construction contract without bidding, but the mayor is not in jail, and he's still running the city. That makes Afghanistan's deputy attorney general angry.

"The cost has ordered his dismissal," he says, "so everything he's doing now is illegal."

The matter goes to the heart of NATO's new strategy in Afghanistan. Additional soldiers can bring short-term security, but the U.S. says Afghanistan's government needs to crack down on rampant corruption, as well.

In his inaugural address, Afghanistan's president said he'd make it a top priority. He created a new anti-corruption task force. Their first high-profile case: the mayor of Kabul.

"This case was investigated and then forwarded to the attorney general, then to the court, and then the court issued its verdict," the chairman said, "and still you take our action as a show."

Both a show and a farce, says Kabul's mayor. He shows me documents he says prove Afghanistan's attorney general was trying to get him to illegally evict people from land plots in the city. When he refused, he was busted on what he says are totally baseless claims.

SAHEBI: It is a clear that there are some people, some groups, who their personal benefit is endangered.

PLEITGEN: The U.S. envoy to Afghanistan seems unimpressed with the Karzai government's effort to clamp down on corruption.

KAI EIDE, U.N. REPRESENTATIVE IN AFGHANISTAN: I fear a situation where the discussion of new commissions and new structures will lead to postponement of actually addressing the problems that exist.

PLEITGEN: Afghanistan's government says it's trying to address those problems. The results so far: a mayor convicted of corruption, still in office, accusing the country's anti-corruption body of being corrupt.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Kabul.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: And you could see the pink slip coming a mile away. I'm talking about the Texas prison guard who apparently didn't search the convict before he was transferred between prisons. This is the con who conned people into thinking that he was paralyzed.

The secret was pretty much out after he pulled a gun and escaped on foot. The state's putting together a review board to see how Arcade Comeaux pulled the wool over everyone's eyes about his, air quotes, "paralysis" and how he got that gun.

They're fighting mad at Bernie Madoff, and now victims of one of history's biggest scams are turning on each other.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Cracking down on Wall Street. About time, don't you think? The House is the final stretch now of a long-awaited bill to tighten the financial screws, and a final vote is expected today. That measure speaks to the stuff that led to the financial crisis, and it's one of President Obama's priorities.

Before the final vote, a crucial test for one of the bill's central features. An amendment would kill a proposed consumer financial protection agency. Another would give bankruptcy judges the power to rewrite mortgages.

They got plenty of reason to be ticked off at Bernie Madoff, but why are they mad at each other now? It's been a year since Madoff's arrest for one of the biggest-ever investment scams. Some of the victims have gotten a portion of their money back, but a lot haven't. And that means some serious infighting. Here's CNN's Allan Chernoff.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHERNOFF (voice-over): Bennett Goldworth thought he was set for life when he retired three years ago at age 50. He bought a waterfront condo in Ft. Lauderdale and said good-bye to New York and his job selling real estate.

BENNETT GOLDWORTH, MADOFF VICTIM: I felt like I had everything I wanted in life. It was great.

CHERNOFF: A decade of investing with Bernard Madoff gave Goldworth the financial security to enjoy the good life in Florida, until Madoff's arrest.

GOLDWORTH: Hi, Scott. It's Bennett.

CHERNOFF: Today Goldworth is back in Manhattan, grateful to be selling homes again. He's grateful also to be among the first to receive a full $500,000 insurance settlement from the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, which insured direct accounts of Madoff.

GOLDWORTH: I'm one of the fortunate ones. I was very happy. I thought -- I really was very pleased.

CHERNOFF: But other Madoff victims, like Judy and Don Rafferty, senior citizens who have had to come out of retirement, have gotten nothing.

JUDY RAFFERTY, DENIED COMPENSATION: I felt as though we were cheated. I felt violated.

CHERNOFF: The Rafferty's for years had withdrawn what they believed were earnings from their Madoff account. The trustee overseeing restitution Ervin Becard (ph) says the Rafferty's withdrew more than they invested and therefore are entitled to nothing.

J. RAFFERTY: They changed the rules in the middle of the game, which I don't think it fair at all.

GOLDWORTH: The net winners should be at the back of the line. That's all. You know, the first thing that should be addressed is that everyone gets back everything they invested.

J. RAFFERTY: He got his money back. Why wouldn't he feel comfortable? It's the people who haven't gotten their money back that are not happy.

CHERNOFF: What bonded Bernard Madoff clients, victimization, now divides some them. The Rafferty's feel once again they're victims while other Madoff investors like Bennett Goldworth have received compensation to get back on their feet.

(on camrea): So far, the trustee has reviewed more than 11,000 Madoff victim claims and approved only about 1,600. That's less than 15 percent.

Allan Chernoff, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Let's talk about seeing the light. This lady never thought she would, until now. And it's all thanks to her bionic eye. Stick around for this. It's pretty amazing.

(COMMECIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Well, you're about to meet a woman who has poor vision, but she's not complaining about it. As a matter of fact, she's thrilled. Get ready for an amazing medical breakthrough, one that's helping the blind to see. Here's Sanjay Gupta.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA CAMPBELL, STARTED LOSING VISION AT 13: I'm sorry.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Barbara Campbell's began to dim when she was just 13. The first hint, it came at school.

CAMPBELL: The teachers called my parents in and said she is not seeing stuff on the page.

GUPTA: Years later, it got much worse.

CAMPBELL: There was an open manhole I was about to go into, and it was very scary. And that was a huge wake up call.

GUPTA: Then one day Campbell's vision was gone.

CAMPBELL: Everything is a gray, foggy haze.

GUPTA: Cells on Campbell's retina that detect light had deteriorated until five months ago when she began seeing glimpses of light using what some are calling a bionic eye.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an electronic device that essentially stimulates the retina electronically.

GUPTA: First an operation to implant a computer chip directly into the eye.

This is where Campbell's story starts to sound like science fiction. The letter "E" is registered by the camera. That's the first step. After that, the camera sends a signal wirelessly to the back of Campbell's retina, again transmitting the information of the letter "E".

And then that "E" subsequently goes to the back of Campbell's eye all the way to the back of the brain to a part of the brain that is actually responsible for sight. So you have a camera and a microchip, and it allows her to see once again.

CAMPBELL: Now I can see that the lights are on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For patients that have had no vision for years and years, these are really major milestones for them.

ARIES ARDITI, LIGHTHOUSE INTERNATIONAL: We can take somebody who is totally blind and turn them into somebody with very, very poor vision. That's really the first time in history that we have been able to do that.

GUPTA: Doctors caution that retraining Campbell's eye and brain could see could take years. Her vision is in black and white and will never be perfect. Still, Campbell has dreams.

CAMPBELL: I am not sure it's going to happen, but seeing colors, that's my number one thing. If I could see colors again, my plan was to go to the Grand Canyon.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Pretty amazing stuff. We're definitely going to follow-up with Barbara.

Meantime, if you just want to know more about this, log on to CNN.com/health.

Top stories now. Swine flu. You ain't so bad. H1N1 still dropping in the U.S., widespread in only 14 states last week. Down from 25 this week before. But here's the bad news: the regular winter flu is actually starting to show up now.

And talking out of turn? A hearing in California today targets the attorney for Nancy Garrido, who's accused of helping her husband kidnap Jaycee Dugard and keep her captive for 18 years. The lawyer's accused of talking about the case in public, despite a gag order.

A prize-winning journey wrapped up. President Obama's back home after accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. Now, this is just a brief layover. The president heads back to Europe next week to global -- or to appear, rather, at the Global Climate Summit.

All right. We also want to let you know that we are following the live news conference that's going to be starting any minute now out of Alexandria, Virginia. We're waiting for this press conference with regard to those five Americans arrested in Pakistan, allegedly went there hoping to train to fight American troops there.

These alleged jihad rejects are from northern Virginia. One of them actually attended this mosque. We heard that members of that mosque are going to come forward and give their side of the story as we follow how this develops.

We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

PHILLIPS: Pushing forward now on the illegal drug trade, then and now. Meet a Colombian man trying to atone for the sins of his drug lord dad, the infamous, merciless, Pablo Escobar.

And on patrol in a city so bloody it's called Baghdad on the border, Juarez, Mexico, just a couple miles and a couple minutes from American soil.

Also ahead, it's not quite taking candy from a baby, but it's pretty darn close. Three women accused of trying to steal toys from tots.

Like chestnuts roasting on an open fire and Jack Frost nipping at your nose, tongue on a flagpole rescues are a sure sign that winter has arrived. Haven't you seen "Christmas Story"? Time to chill with CNN's Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's like being tongue tied to a pole.

FROM YOUTUBE: This is the dumbest thing I've ever done.

MOOS: Frozen to a pole on purpose and if you thought it only happens in movies like "A Christmas Story" --

"A CHRISTMAS STORY" FROM MGM: Stuck, stuck, stuck!

MOOS: Well, real kids have gotten stuck three times in just the past few days from Vancouver, Washington --

CALLER: And we have a student that stuck their tongue on the flag pole.

MOOS: -- To this Boise, Idaho, fence post, three separate incidents.

KTVB: Numbness, my tongue's really numb.

MOOS: In which kids like this one had to have their tongues liberated. In Spokane Valley, Washington, the dark-haired girl used her cell to call 911 to rescue her 13-year-old friend.

DISPATCHER: How is she stuck to the pole?

CALLER: We were retarded and she stuck her tongue to the pole.

MOOS: The second girl put her tongue on the pole only after the first girl put her lips on the pole and the lips came off without a problem, but not the tongue in temperatures of about 10 degrees.

"A CHRISTMAS STORY" FROM MGM: Don't leave me, come back!

The bell rang.

MOOS: In the movie the kid is abandoned, but in real life the friends stuck by the girl whose tongue was stuck.

DISPATCHER: Tell her we'll get somebody there to helper were, OK?

CALLER: OK. Are you laughing? DISPATCHER: No, I'm not. I feel bad for her.

MOOS: As for how best to get a tongue unstuck --

YOUTUBE: Are you really stuck?

I'm stuck.

OK, breathe on it. Go.

MOOS: Breathing isn't usually enough, nor do we recommend the technique used in "Dumb and Dumber." The best method is room- temperature water, said the captain who rescued the laughing 13-year- old.

VOICE OF CAPT. JOHN LEAVELL, SPOKANE VALLEY FIRE DEPT: Just poured it on there, and within about 10 seconds her tongue pulled off.

MOOS: Sore but OK. So, kids, don't you dare risk your tongue over a dare.

"A CHRISTMAS STORY" FROM MGM: I triple dog dare you!

MOOS: The captain didn't bother to give the girl a tongue lashing, figuring it had been lashed enough.

LEAVELL: I did ask her why she did it and she said --

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Straight to Virginia, that news conference from the mosque, where one of those American men were arrested in Pakistan. This was the mosque that one of them attended.

ASHRAF NUBANI, LEGAL COUNSEL: And I'd like to start, my name is Ashraf Nubani and that's spelled A-S-H-R-A-F-N-U-B-A-N-I, Nubani, and I am the legal counsel for the (INAUDIBLE) center, the mosque here, and I will be moderating this brief conference. Some of these speakers, which I will introduce, aren't going to be taking any questions, but we're going to try to deal with your questions as much as we can to be responsive. I'm going to start by asking, we have Dr. Essam Tellawi and I will allow him to spell his name when he comes to the mike and he represents the center. He's the spokesperson and -- of the Islamic center. And, please, for all of the -- for all of you, again, we're very limited in terms of the things that we can say, because of the ongoing investigation. And also out of respect for the families who have asked for -- for confidentiality and asked for privacy. So, we would ask you to respect that. We'll try to be as responsive as possible. I'll start with the Dr. Tellawi.

DR. ESSAM TELLAWI, ISLAMIC CENTER SPOKESMAN: My name is Assam Allawi (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you speak louder? TELLAWI: OK. I was asked by (INAUDIBLE) to be the spokesman and let me just mention to you, this is my first press conference in all of my 53 years of life, so you can tell that I am a little nervous, but I shall begin. This message is a very, as you can see, a small mosque that has been around for about eight or nine years. It serves the community of the Alexandria area. Our community is a very small community. If you really want to count them, it is very easy to count them, because there is maybe 60 to 80 families that lives in the area that (INAUDIBLE). We have very limited activities (INAUDIBLE) in terms or in comparison to the other (INAUDIBLE) in the area.

We have five daily prayers and after each prayer (INAUDIBLE) within 30 minutes you could probably not find anybody here. I am sure many reporters came in earlier and they have to wait hours to see somebody coming in. That is the norms of the (INAUDIBLE). In regard to the teaching in this (INAUDIBLE) and I am sure this has come about many times before, we have, to let you know and everybody knows, that, to let everybody know, that the teaching of this (INAUDIBLE) is the teaching of the Koran, the holy book for Muslims, and the teaching of (INAUDIBLE) and that is the teaching of the prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him.

Those are teaching of moderation, tolerance, peaceful interaction with our neighbors, with other faiths, and we concentrate on community and unity community and family togetherness. And, we concentrate on (INAUDIBLE) that is raising up our children the righteous way (AUDIO GAP) education for our children. In regard to the families, the five families, I ask all of us to pray for them. They are going through severe hardship. It is a very painful experience to see this happening to them and happening to our community, because we are very close to each other. And we pray that they come back safe and we pray for a speedy resolution of this matter.

As you know, as our legal counsel mentioned, everything is still under investigation and the investigation is going on, so we cannot say really anything further and I want to thank you for being here.

NUBANI: Thank you, Dr. Tellawi. And also before I forget we are trying to circulate around a sheet. We'd like to have your names, the media outlet you're from and a place to contact you. We have a prepared statement for the mosque which we will make available through e-mail after this is over and we can get to our e- mail and Internet. Next I'm going to introduce Mustafa /.... He will spell his name. He is a volunteer youth coordinator and he is going to give a brief statement as well.

MUSTAFA ABU MARYAM: Spell my name. My name is M-U-S-T-A-F-A, Abu Maryam, M-A-R-Y-A-M, in the name of God most gracious, most merciful. Our youth group has always focused on community service, community involvement and community oriented events. Our main focus is to be a positive force of good in our young men's lives, to be a deterrent of wrong groups and gangs and all other negative influences out there, to be a positive model for these kids. We tried to keep them busy with sports, you know and positive discussions so that, they can receive the true understanding of Islam, the teaching of our prophet Mohammad, may peace and blessings be upon him, intended for us. In our weekly topics, we discuss very basic Islamic knowledge like fasting, like prayer, marriage in Islam, avoiding drugs, avoiding alcohol, et cetera. Our group discussions never talked about politics, never talked about ongoing conflicts, never talked about fighting against anyone, indirectly or directly.

On the contrary, we always promoted being compassionate toward others and good stewards of humanity. Our youth group did many things together, like going swimming, playing basketball, soccer, volleyball, camping and the like. Besides this, we would try to help our community for example cooking during Ramadan meals as well as helping out with the parking. Our whole focus was community, community, community. During my time knowing these young men, I never observed any extreme behavior from them. I never became suspicious that they were planning to do harm to anyone else. I have always known these kids as fun-loving, career-focused children that had a bright future for themselves.

I hope all of this is not true. I hope it is not what it seems to be. I would like to thank the FBI and all other authorities for their swift action and professionalism. Because there is a broader story out there and that is the perspective that the measures that the families and the communities took to be proactive. You know, I think that is really the story. And please pray for us. Pray for our families and thank you.

NUBANI: Thank you, thank you, Mustafa. Finally I'm going to introduce xxx who is not unfamiliar to most of you. He's the executive director of mosque (ph) and has been following this case from the wider community. I will allow him to give a brief statement as well, thank you.

MAHDI BRAY: Thank you so much and thank you for coming. I'm M-A- H-D-I Bray, B-R-A-Y, executive director of the Muslim American Society, freedom foundation as well as an executive member of the American Muslim task force in which the parent organization of this (INAUDIBLE) is also a member of the Islamic Circle of North America. Let me just reiterate what I know ICNA and this (INAUDIBLE) to be about since it is my local community and I have prayed here sometimes and I have actually even given sermons here or a sermon here, two actually.

And certainly, this community Islamic Circle of North America values lawfulness, peaceful coexistence and human dignity rooted in justice and let me assure each and every one here today, that they will continue to promote those values, because they are the core values of our faith. I certainly want to also reiterate the point of the concern that this close-knit community feels for the family. When you have children and something goes wrong, it is painful. You need all of the support that you can have and this community and the broader community of northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. certainly offers its prayers and support for the family members in these trying times.

I think it is important to remind everyone that indeed, it was the action of the family, this mosque and the national Muslim organizations and this attorney that actually mitigated a lot of these circumstances. Certainly, this could have been much worse than what it appears to be today, had it not been that the families, the mosque, and the Muslim community responded in both a lawful and responsive manner in terms of this particular case.