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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Congressional Report Criticizes Hurricane Katrina Response; Interview With Acting FEMA Director David Paulison; Killer of Carlie Brucia Pleads For Mercy

Aired February 14, 2006 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again. Thanks very much.
We begin with a developing story -- accountability for the mistakes made before and after Hurricane Katrina. Now, we are not just talking about bureaucrat bungles and missing millions. We are talking about mistakes that cost people, Americans, our fellow citizens, their lives. Tonight, we are one step closer to finally -- finally -- getting some answers.

A congressional report that will be issued tomorrow, in the bluntest of language, calls the response to Hurricane Katrina, down to the local officials, all the way from the White House to local officials -- quote -- "a failure of leadership." Five hundred and twenty pages long, the report, in a word, is blistering. And it was written by Republican lawmakers.

A lot of ground to cover this hour.

"Keeping Them Honest" for us tonight, CNN's Jeanne Meserve -- Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the report says that leaders failed to lead at all layers of government -- quote -- "We are left scratching our heads at the range of inefficiency and ineffectiveness that characterized government behavior right before and after this storm. But passivity did the most damage. The failure of initiative cost lives, prolonged suffering, and left all Americans justifiably concerned our government is not better prepared to protect its people than it was before 9/11, even if we are."

The report, more than 500 pages in its entirety, does not make any recommendations, but does include an exhaustive list of findings, relating to the three-week period before, during and after the storm. It says President Bush did not get enough advice, and says earlier involvement by the president might have resulted in a more effective response.

It faults Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff for not moving more quickly to activate the national response plan, and for appointing Michael Brown to head the national response, though he wasn't trained to do the job.

It says that federal agencies, including DHS, were unfamiliar with their roles and responsibilities, that DHS and FEMA lacked adequate trained and experienced staff, that the Department of Defense didn't coordinate effectively with the Department of Homeland Security, that equipment, personnel and training shortfalls affected the National Guard response.

It says that a lack of government public communications strategy and media hype of violence further delayed the relief effort. There was poor planning and pre-positioning of medical supplies and equipment, the report says, and -- I quote -- "Leadership required decisions to be made, even when based on flawed and incomplete information. Too often during the immediate response to Katrina, sparse or conflicting information was used as an excuse for inaction, rather than an imperative to step in and fill an obvious vacuum.

The Katrina response was, the report says, a national failure, an abdication of the most solemn obligation to provide for the common welfare -- Anderson.

COOPER: It is a blistering report. It was written predominantly by Republicans. The two Democrats who were on the committee who were kind of observing the proceedings, they said it didn't go far enough. They said they wanted names named, people, investigators, held accountable.

MESERVE: And, particularly, they wanted Michael Chertoff held accountable.

They say they want to see him removed from office. The White House was asked about that today. They said they are still foursquare behind the secretary. And a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security called the suggestion -- quote -- "outrageous" -- unquote.

We're going to talk to Senator Lieberman, who is running his own investigation on the Senate side. We are going to talk to him in the next hour on 360.

Thank you very much.

In -- in case you think this disaster is over, remember, there are tens of thousands of people without homes, families who face eviction from the hotel rooms they have been crammed in to, and still bodies unidentified and missing.

And, in Arkansas -- take a look at the pictures on the screen there -- 11,000 mobile homes that have been sitting empty in the city of hope for months now, tied up in red tape. And now, according to a Homeland Security inspector who testified yesterday, they are literally sinking in the mud.

Yesterday, federal officials said the trailers may end up in the dumpster, unused by Katrina victims. They were meant to shelter them. And they -- according to this inspector, they may be unused. The math behind this is mind-boggling. It's enough to make you scream -- 10,777 mobile homes sitting empty in Hope -- the average cost per trailer, almost $28,000 -- that's the number we came up with when we did the math, based on the numbers that FEMA has so far released -- which adds up to a potential loss of $301.7 million.

That's taxpayer money, your money, my money. Why aren't the mobile homes installed where they're needed? FEMA's rules and red tape.

"Keeping Them Honest" for us tonight, CNN's Susan Roesgen.


SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Welcome to Hope, Arkansas, a small town with a huge problem. These are 11,000 mobile homes FEMA has parked in Hope, more mobile homes than the town has people. But no one's living in these mobile homes. They're 450 miles from the Gulf Coast.

And Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu says FEMA just can't get it right.

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D), LOUISIANA: Well, it's another example, Susan, of the mismatch in planning that has gone on. And it really is, again, to the point, that, even on FEMA's best day, they're not suited to manage this catastrophe.

ROESGEN: FEMA rules prevent mobile homes from being put in a floodplain, which rules out much of the hurricane-hit area in South Louisiana. And, yet, these mobile homes are sinking anyway.

When we met with Hope Mayor Dennis Ramsey, he said the town told FEMA the soil was too soft to support the mobile homes. But FEMA went ahead with the deal anyway.

DENNIS RAMSEY, MAYOR OF HOPE, ARKANSAS: Yes. That's something we made -- made them aware of when they were looking at this. It's -- it's a gumbo soil out here. And, if it gets wet, it does tend to -- to bog.

ROESGEN; That bog is so bad, that FEMA is now spending more money to jack up the sinking mobile homes, instead of moving them out. In fact, a Department of Homeland Security report revealed this week that the mobile homes have deteriorated so much, they eventually might have to be destroyed, without anyone ever having lived in them. That's how FEMA may end up blowing $300 million in taxpayers' money.

LANDRIEU: It does not surprise me that FEMA would waste $300 million. So, again, that picture of those trailers and that whole story is just another evidence that the old kind of contracts are not working for this new desperate situation. And when the administration will fully realize this, I don't know, because it has almost been six months.


ROESGEN; Today, I talked to some people right here in New Orleans, Anderson, who really want some of those mobile homes.

The New Orleans Police Foundation says it is negotiating with FEMA now to try to bring hundreds of those 11,000 mobile homes to two different sites right here in New Orleans to give the New Orleans police officers and the firefighters who have been living on a cruise ship since the hurricane hit, to give them a place to say, when that ship sails away at the end of February.

COOPER: Susan Roesgen, thanks.

Let's just remember, folks there are tens of thousands of families who need trailers. So, this is not just some -- some idle story we're doing.

As Susan reported, officials said that the mobile homes in Hope, Arkansas, have been damaged from sinking in the mud. But that's not the story we got today from acting FEMA Director David Paulison.

Here's what he told me earlier.


COOPER: Director Paulison, I want to talk about these mobile homes in Arkansas -- nearly 11,000 of them sitting there, wasting away, while -- while tens of thousands of people remain -- remain homeless and badly in need.

According to the Arkansas mayor, Dennis Ramsey, the city of Hope actually warned FEMA before they signed the deal to buy the mobile homes that the soil in this spot would not support the weight of these mobile homes. And, yet, you know, the deal was signed, and -- and they have been sitting there for months, sinking in the mud. What is going on?

DAVID PAULISON, ACTING DIRECTOR, FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: Well, first of all, I -- I sent staff out today to look at the mobile homes, after the reports last night on TV and listening to the inspector general.

They're -- the mobile homes are fine. There's not one mobile home that has been damaged. They're going to be usable. Mobile homes last a long time, 15, 20 years. So, we are going to use them. I don't know where the information came from that the inspector-general got, because -- but some -- because somebody gave him bad information.

COOPER: Well, let me just read to -- to our audience what he said. It was Richard Skinner from Homeland Security.

He said -- and I quote -- "Since they were not properly stored, the homes are sinking in the mud, and their frames are bending from sitting on trailers with no support."

You say, that is absolutely not true?

PAULISON: That -- that is not accurate at all. The -- the wheels may be in some mud. We're in the process of actually bringing in gravel to -- to stabilize the soil.

But we have trucks that can move them around, if the water -- if they get standing water. And the only ones that are on jacks are the 80-foot mobile homes. And that's the way they are supposed to be stored. They are being stored properly. They're being taken care of.

We will use all the -- all of these mobile homes sooner or later. You know, they're -- what -- we had a major, major catastrophe, 2.3 million people evacuated. Ninety-three percent of them could not go back -- a lot of people dispersed across the country.

So, when these things were ordered originally, they ordered mobile homes and travel trailers. And we are being -- make -- making great use of the travel trailers. The mobile homes, we're not being able to use as much as we thought we were going to, for a couple reasons.

One, the floodplain area -- we can not put a mobile home into floodplain. But we can use travel trailers in people's driveways. And, two, some of the parishes, especially in the northern part of the state, out of the floodplain, are not willing to -- at this point, to let us put some of our mobile home parks down there. I think that will loosen up in a little while.

COOPER: Has FEMA made any mistakes, in your estimation? I mean, when -- when you look at your own agency, what are you critical of? What do you want to see them do better the next time?

PAULISON: Well, that is a pretty open-ended question there.

There's obviously a lot of lessons that we learned for -- for Katrina, things we -- FEMA could have done better, things that the entire federal government could have done better, things that the local and state governments could have done better.

So, what we're trying to do is take all of those lessons learned, put them in place, for not only this hurricane season, but for the future...

COOPER: But are -- I mean, are you...

PAULISON: ... responses to these types of disasters.

COOPER: Are you really doing that? Because, I mean, you know, there's -- there's a lot of people who just doubt FEMA, or, I mean, doubt all -- you know, doubt the state, doubt the local, doubt all the people you mentioned.

But -- but -- but, you know, I can only talk to you about FEMA, since that's what you're in charge of. I mean, is that really happening? Are you really implementing changes? What -- how do we know that?

PAULISON: Well -- well, we're absolutely implementing changes.

We did better in Hurricane -- in Hurricane Rita. We do much better in Wilma of getting ahead of the curve, getting supplies down there. Our communications with the states was tremendously better. There was a -- a significant breakdown in communications between the federal government, the state and the local -- and the local officials, and even inside of DHS itself. And we're fixing all of those things.

Our logistics supply train needs a significant overhaul. We're looking at that very carefully. Our procurement guidelines, a lot of things that simply didn't go as smoothly as they should in Hurricane Katrina, we're going to be making -- we are making improvements to this.

Secretary Chertoff is 100 percent behind us. Deputy Secretary Jackson worked with us almost on a daily basis to make sure we have the resources and the people in place to make these -- make these improvements.


COOPER: Well, that was acting FEMA Director David Paulison.

So, he's saying that the trailers are not ruined, and, in fact, they are going to be used. The inspector from Homeland Security testified before Congress yesterday, saying that they are.

We're going to ask FEMA tomorrow morning to give us -- to -- yet again to try to give us access to the site. We have asked to see -- see the trailers for ourselves, the mobile homes. Susan Roesgen went out there. She was rudely told she couldn't actually go in with the congressmen to look at the site.

So, tomorrow, we're going to put in another request to see if FEMA will actually let us examine these trailers. We will see.

Up next, the vice president, the man he shot, his heart attack and why the news of it was kept from you and me.

Later, her abduction was caught on tape. tonight, you're going to hear Carlie Brucia's killer try to explain the unexplainable -- what her family had to say about that as well.

You're watching 360.


COOPER: A setback for the man the vice president shot in a hunting accident -- that story is coming up.

First, Erica Hill from Headline News joins us with some of the other stories we are following -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson. It's getting worse -- protests against the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed claiming two lives today in Pakistan. Torched buildings there include a hotel, banks, and a Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Authorities suspect outlaw Islamic militant groups are inciting violence to undermine the government of General Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani president, who has friendly ties with the United States. In Baghdad, Saddam Hussein and three of his co-defendants today saying they have gone on a hunger strike to protest their treatment by their trial judge -- Hussein also interrupted proceedings, shouting -- quote -- "I say to all Iraqis, fight and liberate your country." A guilty verdict could result in Hussein's death by hanging.

Here in the U.S., law enforcement officials say they have broken up a smuggling ring that has been responsible for ferrying more than 100 people from several countries across the U.S.-Canadian border. Seventeen arrests have been made. More are expected.

And the bald eagle one step closer to coming off the endangered species list -- this week, the Interior Department released, for comment, a draft (INAUDIBLE) how the bald Eagle can be protected in the future. Forty-three years ago, there were just 417 known nesting pairs in the lower 48 states. Well, today, there are about 7,000 known pairs.

So, it's good news.

COOPER: Good news. Good to know.

Thanks very much, Erica.

For a while, it was good for a joke, but there's nothing funny about it now. Harry Whittington, the man Vice President Cheney shot, is back in intensive care tonight, could end up spending another week in the hospital. He had a heart attack this morning.

Just like after the shooting, the White House and the vice president's office kept quiet about it -- not a very comfortable silence, if you go by the shellacking that spokesman Scott McClellan took for a second straight day at the White House, but business as usual by most accounts for Mr. Cheney.

Reporting for us tonight, here's CNN's Dana Bash.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Since Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot his hunting companion Saturday evening, he has remained silent -- ducking into the White House early this morning, and, later, away from our cameras on Capitol Hill.

Word today that his victim, Harry Whittington, suffered a mild heart attack produced the first official written statement from Cheney's office, acknowledging that the incident had even occurred, now providing specifics: that Cheney was notified Whittington's complications around 12:30, when his chief of staff quietly passed him a note during a meeting on the Hill.

A half-hour later, he was in the White House, watching the doctors' televised press conference updating Whittington's condition. Around 1:30, the vice president called Whittington to wish him well, asking if there was anything he needed. The vice president said that he stood ready to assist.

The White House press secretary, fully aware of Whittington's heart attack earlier in the day, continued to try to change the subject.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If you all want to continue to focus on this, you all can spend your time on it. We're going to keep -- keep focusing on the pressing priorities of the American people.

MALVEAUX: Two of McClellan's predecessors criticized the handling of the matter.

Ari Fleischer, Mr. Bush's press secretary, told "Editor & Publisher" magazine, "It would have been better if the vice president and/or his staff had come out last Saturday night or first thing Sunday morning and announced it.'

Marlin Fitzwater, who served Ronald Reagan and the first President George Bush, said the vice president ignored his responsibility to the American people and is appalled by the whole handling of this.

Following an evening of late-night jokes by David Letterman and others over the accidental shooting, early in the day, the White House also tried to lighten the mood. Ahead of a visit by the college football champion Texas Longhorns, the press secretary joked, his orange tie had nothing to do with the team colors, but a signal to Cheney that he was not a hunter's target.

(on camera): The tone, obviously, became more serious as it became clear Whittington's condition had deteriorated. Vice President Cheney will have his first public appearance when he speaks before the Wyoming state legislature on Friday. The question remains whether or not he will comment on his friend's condition before then.

Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, the White House.


COOPER: Suzanne, thanks.

Back to the medical side of the story, though.

According to his doctors, Mr. Whittington suffered a silent heart attack. What is exactly is a silent heart attack? That's what we wanted to know. And what, if anything, does it say about the extent of his injuries or his chances for recovery?

Those answers tonight from 360 MD Sanjay Gupta.

So, Sanjay, explain to us, first of all, how the pellets may have caused this mild or silent heart attack?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, this is an unusual situation, for sure, Anderson. That's the first thing we are saying. But let me show you. I have -- I have a little model here. And I think this is a -- sort of demonstrates what we're talking about. It sounds like the pellets actually went through his chest wall, in between the ribs, and actually migrated, or moved, towards the beating heart, and actually embedded itself into the muscle of the heart.

And you can see there, this is pretty thick muscle, you know, so, the -- the pellet actually gets inside of that. This causes a little bit of damage to that area of the heart. And some people call that a mild heart attack. He didn't have any chest pains. So, it wasn't one of those Hollywood heart attacks, where you put your hand to your chest.

But you can take a look here, though. You have got the pellets sort of next to the heart. Subsequently, they migrate towards the heart. What happens there, the heart gets irritated by that, starts to beat very quickly, starts to go into some abnormal rhythms, in this case, atrial fibrillation. And he has all the signs of a mild heart attack, which is why he is now in the intensive care unit -- Anderson.

COOPER: So, they're going to leave this -- this foreign object in his heart?


You know, it -- it sounds a little peculiar, for sure, but this -- this happens all the time, you know, not necessarily in the heart, but leaving foreign objects in the body.

For example, bullets are left in the body all the time. It's a risk-benefit-ratio thing, Anderson. I mean, taking the pellet out, in this case, might involve surgery. It might involve cutting part of his heart muscle, taking it all out. That's a big operation for anybody, especially a 78-year-old.

The flip side of it is, he could be just fine. He could have absolutely no further consequences of this. And that is what they're hoping will happen.

COOPER: And -- and what if the pellet continues to move?

GUPTA: If the pellet continues to move, he may show continued signs of this abnormal heart rhythm. Perhaps, more heart muscle will actually be affected by it as well.

But, still, even without surgery, it's possible to get those things under control with medications, possibly with blood thinners, usually, maybe even sometimes shocking the heart back into a normal rhythm, if needed.

COOPER: And doctors say that he underwent cardiac catheterization this morning. What -- what is that?

GUPTA: Cardiac catheterization, basically, is -- so -- so, he has a heart attack. They want to figure out exactly what happened.

What they do is, they put this little catheter in the groin and thread a catheter up into his heart, injecting dye into the heart, into all the blood vessels leading to the heart as well, get some really good pictures of the heart that way, and figure out if there's any blockages that might have caused his heart attack.

You -- you got to remember, Anderson, when -- when he had these symptoms of heard attack, no one really knew, was this due to the pellet or was this due to the fact that he was just a 78-year-old guy with a potentially bad heart? That's what they were trying to check out. That's what they figured out. And -- and they realized that it was actually due to this pellet.

COOPER: All right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks.

GUPTA: Thank you.

COOPER: The vice president is an avid hunter, of course, which gives him something in common with millions of Americans, but not so many of his predecessors. In fact, whether you're talking about photo-ops or foul-ups, you're a lot more likely to find a five iron or a fishing rod than a shotgun.

Here's CNN's Bruce Morton.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Do politicians love to hunt? Well, some.

Theodore Roosevelt went after big game, went exploring -- a genuine enthusiast. Dick Cheney loves to hunt. There has been story after story about his hunting trips, though none, fair is fair, quite as dramatic as this last one.

Harry Truman? He would rather have played poker. Dwight Eisenhower organized a partridge hunt in North Africa during World War II and hunted as president. But, when he had his druthers, you would him on a golf course.

John Kennedy, a biographer recalls that Lyndon Johnson bullied him into shooting a deer once on the LBJ ranch. But he didn't like it, and didn't fish much either, though, of course, he loved to sail.

Johnson himself hunted deer and doves on his ranch, though he sometimes stocked game so heavily, you could argue there wasn't much sport in it. Richard Nixon? This man was so out of tune with nature, he went walking on a beach in a business suit. Stalking game in the wild? Forget it.

Jimmy Carter grew up in rural Georgia, fished as a child, went hunting with his father when he was a kid who could only carry a B.B. gun. Ronald Reagan? No -- chopped brush and rode at his ranch, but cared so much about wildlife there, he had rattlesnakes trapped and carted away, not killed. George Herbert Walker Bush loved fishing -- grew up in Maine, after all -- hunted some. Bill Clinton went duck hunting in Arkansas, but, one friend recalled, like the people, the camaraderie, more than actually seeing how many ducks he could kill.

This president likes to hunt quail with family and friends, especially on New Year's Day. John Kerry, the man he beat, spent time posing with guns, but voters probably saw more of him pursuing exotic sports, windsurfing and so on.

So, some do and some don't. But if I were a quail or maybe even just a hunting companion, I know who I would steer clear of. The vice president is often in what's called a secure location. But that means secure for him.

The last vice president to hit anyone, by the way, was Aaron Burr, who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804. Harry Whittington was much luckier.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Well, coming up in a moment, Carlie Brucia -- how a girl the a face of an angel -- that's what her parents always said -- how she fell into the hands of that monster, and what the monster had to say today in court about why he kidnapped and killed her.

Then, life-saving lessons -- how to make sure what happened to Carlie never happens to someone you love.

A break first.

From New York and around the world, this is 360.


COOPER: So, what can you do to keep your children out of the hands of a murdering predator? Life-saving information coming up on 360.


COOPER: Well, you, of course, remember this tape, the sinking feeling you must remember the first time you saw this tape, the now notorious security camera videotape -- a young girl, a vibrant girl, being led away from a car wash by a hulking man she clearly did not know. This, we all feared, looking at those pictures, could end badly. And it did, very badly.

Today, in a Florida courtroom, the hulking man in that tape, already convicted of the murder of that vibrant young girl, Carlie Brucia, pled for his life. Until the judge rules, Joseph Smith's fate remains undecided, but not the fate of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia. That was settled two years ago.

CNN's John Zarrella reports.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Carlie Brucia vanished February 1, 2004, never making it home from a sleepover at a friend's house. The next day, after talking with police about a missing girl in the area, car wash owner Mike Evanoff looks at tape from his surveillance cameras.

MIKE EVANOFF, CAR WASH OWNER: I just came in and saw her walking and him walking. And it just -- right away, right when I saw that, it just threw chills and -- chills and shivers right in my body. And...

ZARRELLA: The video, grainy and only 10 seconds long, is chilling.

Carlie is a half-mile from her home. A man in a mechanics uniform walks up to her outside the car wash. He leads her away. The manhunt begins.

A mother in agony pleads for her daughter's life.

SUSAN SCHORPEN, MOTHER OF CARLIE BRUCIA: Please, help me bring my baby home.

ZARRELLA: Shown on local and national television, the video brings hundreds of leads. Surely, someone would recognize the man on the grainy tape. And they do.

EDWARD DINYES, WITNESS: I seen Joe with the uniform from the back side, from the front side. The way his hair was cut, the way that he walked, his gait, was just like, you know, Joe walking through the shop. I mean, it -- he has got a different type of walk to him. And, then, when I watched him reach out for the -- you know, reach for the girl, I knew it was him.

ZARRELLA: The tips led police right to Joseph Smith.

Three days after Carlie disappears, Joseph Smith is arrested at his house on cocaine possession and a probation violation. Police believe they have their man. These charges give them enough to hold him.

After his arrest, Smith's brother John visits him in jail, and later the brothers talk by phone. Later at the trial, John Smith testified about those conversations and against his brother.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did he say anything about how it ended?

JOHN SMITH, JOSEPH SMITH'S BROTHER: When I asked he wasn't sure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you mean? What did you ask? And try to speak up again. Remember you've got try to articulate.

SMITH: I asked if she was dead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what did he say?

SMITH: He said, "I don't know. She could be."

ZARRELLA: John Smith testified Joseph told him what he had done to Carlie Brucia and that the body was hidden near a church.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was that an open field at the church?


ZARRELLA: John Smith tells police where to find Carlie Brucia. February 5, 2004, her body is found on the grounds of the Central Church of Christ in Sarasota.

SHERIFF BILL BALKWILL, SARASOTA COUNTY, FLORIDA: The body of a beautiful 11-year-old girl, Carlie Brucia, has been found. Joseph Smith is under arrest for the abduction and murder of Carlie.

ZARRELLA: At Smith's trial, on November 17, nearly two years after the murder, the jury deliberates less than five hours.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We the jury find as follows to count one of the charges: the defendant is guilty of murder in the first degree as charged.

ZARRELLA: After the verdict, Carlie's mother can no longer contain her anger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You will get yours!

ZARRELLA; What Joseph Smith will get is now up to the judge.

John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.


COOPER: Well, coming up, a killer begs for the one thing he never gave his young victim, mercy. The man who murdered 11-year-old Carlie Brucia broke down in court today as he pled for his own life. In his own words tonight you'll hear why he thinks he should not be executed.

And later tonight, keeping them honest over Katrina. Why in the world did the government spend $300 million on trailers that are still not being used? It's an easy question. The answers remain elusive.

You're watching 360.


COOPER: The law is supposed to be objective and impersonal, but there was nothing objective or impersonal about what happened in Florida today at the sentencing hearing of Joseph Smith, where one day after the family of the girl he murdered looked the judge in the eye and spoke their piece, the man convicted of that killing did the same thing himself, addressing the judge to speak his piece. Facing life imprisonment or the death penalty, a merciless murderer asked for mercy.

It was stunning.


COOPER (voice over): Joseph Smith began by asking for forgiveness.

JOSEPH SMITH, CONVICTED KILLER: I want you to know that I take full responsibility for the crimes. I don't understand how it all happened. I was angry at myself and very high. I knew in the beginning that I was wrong but I could not stop.

COOPER: He pleaded for leniency from Judge Andrew Owens with a packed courtroom looking on, blaming drugs and depression for his crimes.

JOSEPH SMITH: I never would have expected or believed that I could commit this horrible crime. I can only hope that I will -- that I will be an example to others of what drugs, depression and regards -- no regards for yourself can lead to, because it is a very dangerous combination.

I want to tell you and Carlie's family and my family and this community how very sorry I am for this terrible crime. Every day I think about what I did and I beg god for forgiveness. I will continue to think about the pain I caused her the rest of my life.

COOPER: He went on asking to be spared the death penalty as his mother watched and sobbed.

JOSEPH SMITH: The only reason that I can see to ask you to give me a lighter sentence is for the sake of my family. I do not want to see my children hurt any further.

I'm hopeful that I can still be a positive influence to them. If I'm sent to death row, I won't be able to talk to them -- there are no phones on death row -- or visit with them.

COOPER: Carlie Brucia's family, of course, will never get another visit from the girl they called their angel. Yesterday, in the same room, Carlie's loved ones tried to describe their loss.

ANGELA LAKIN, CARLIE BRUCIA'S AUNT: It's hard to describe the pain that is felt without having to feel so much loss. It simply cannot be put into words.

For those of us family members left, we don't get to hear her sing, we don't get to see her dance, hear her laugh. We will no longer have sleepovers or go shopping at the mall or talk about boys. We are left with no answers to our questions, so we beat ourselves up every day, day in and day out, and will continue to be in the pain in our hearts and our souls forever until we meet her again.

LAURIE JANE BRUCIA, CARLIE BRUCIA'S AUNT: Our family has been left with an overwhelming sadness and a void that pictures just can't fill. Our Carlie, our hope for the future, for the better part of human beings that she possessed, innocence, is gone forever.


COOPER: Well, sad to say, what happened to Carlie Brucia did not have to happen. When we return, a family safety expert will share some tips to help you keep your kids out of the hands of strangers.


COOPER: Still on the heartbreaking subject of what happened to little Carlie Brucia and the plea by her killer today for mercy. We spoke a short time ago with someone we've consulted before, family safety expert Bob Stuber in Sacramento, about what Carlie might have done and your kids can do to keep from falling into the hands of strangers.


COOPER: So, Bob, you've seen the surveillance tape of Carlie Brucia's abduction. What can we learn from it? I mean, how can kids actually protect themselves in that kind of a situation?

BOB STUBER, FAMILY SAFETY EXPERT: You know, I think one of the most important things we got from that surveillance tape was how fast this kind of thing happens. It comes right out of the blue. You know, you're not really expecting it, so you have to have an idea of what you can do beforehand, because you're really not going to think about it on the spot.

For instance, when this guy first grabs her, there's a technique we teach called the windmill technique. It's where you rotate your arm in a forward direction. And if you look at that surveillance tape real close, you can see how a technique like that might have been able to make a difference.

COOPER: So actually just doing the windmill you can actually brick free from a grasp. What about if a child is on a street and being followed by someone in a car?

STUBER: Well, you know, this is really important because it goes back to how simple and logical safety can be. If somebody's following you in a car and you feel that this is a dangerous situation, take off running. That's the right thing the do. But choose your direction.

Run the opposite direction that the car is pointed. This gives you a head start, makes it harder for them to chase you because they have to turn around. And by the time they do, you can already be finding somebody that can save you.

COOPER: For a lot of parents, it's a nightmare thinking about their child being thrown into the trunk of a car. If a kid is in a trunk of a car, is there anything they can do then?

STUBER: You know, there's not a lot you can do in the trunk of a car. You can kick and scream, nobody's going to hear you, nobody's going to see you. But here's something that will work. Disconnect the brake or taillight wires.

Now, you can teach a 3, 4-year-old how to do this. You pull them real tight. The wire's at the rear of the trunk. It takes the brake or taillights out.

Now, the police may -- in fact, there's a 50 percent chance that the cops will pull the car over, not because you're in the trunk, but because it has no brake or taillights. Then they're going to be able to hear you and come and rescue you.

COOPER: All right. What about if your little kid is on a bike?

STUBER: That's a big one right there. And this technique has saved peoples lives around the country.

If you're riding your bike and somebody tries to grab you off that bike, which is a common scenario, hold on to the bike. Don't let go. By holding the bike, you make yourself too big and bulky to be put in to a car, and it's very hard to separate a child from a bike.

And keep remembering, these guys have to work fast. They don't have time to sit around and play with this.

COOPER: That's good advice, holding on to the bike.

What if you're at home -- a child's at home? Is there one most important safety tip for them to do when they're there?

STUBER: You know, there's a bunch for when you're at home. But the one most important one is don't unlock the door.

As long as you're on the inside of that locked door, you're in control. But as soon as you unlock it and even open it just a crack to talk to somebody, you've compromised everything and somebody can push their way in.

Keep that door locked. You can look through the peep hole, you can talk through the door, you can look out a window. Don't unlock the door.

COOPER: Bob Stuber.

Good advice -- thanks.

STUBER: You bet.


COOPER: Well, before the police caught Carlie Brucia's killer he was caught by a camera, more and more what authorities call the eyewitness that doesn't blink. The security camera is part of our lives.

That's coming up.

And a report dog owner will want to watch about one of the most popular treats in the country. But some owners say it is dangerous and possibly even fatal.

360 continues.


COOPER: Well, there is one more aspect to the terrible Carlie Brucia case that bears looking into. It is this irony: no one actually saw her abducted. But then after the fact we all did on videotape. It says a lot about how many lenses we all have trained on us these days.

CNN's Gary Tuchman investigates.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It was this chilling surveillance video of a stranger grabbing Carlie Brucia by the arm and dragging her off that led investigators to Joseph Smith, the man convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering her.

GRANT FREDERICKS, AVID FORENSIC VIDEO EXPERT: Those images were what directed the police to a possible suspect.

TUCHMAN: Video surveillance cameras are helping law enforcement track and catch criminals. Some call the security camera the new star witness.

FREDERICKS: If there's a camera in the area, that unbiased witness, that witness that never blinks, is going to give law enforcement and the courts the best opportunity to evaluate what really happened.

TUCHMAN: About 30 million public and private surveillance cameras in the United States have their eyes on us, according to the Security Industry Association. More than 800 police agencies have their own in-house forensic video experts and the technology to analyze surveillance video when it unwittingly records a crime.

FREDERICKS: Crooks are used to seeing the cameras. I think they have this invincibility attitude that, well, I'm not going to be able to be identified on camera and, therefore, I have no fear of conviction. Well, they're dead wrong. They can be identified.

TUCHMAN: Carlie Brucia's killer isn't the only high-profile criminal caught by the cameras. Last May, Patricia McDermott was gunned down in Philadelphia one morning on her way to work. Surveillance cameras outside a hospital recorded it all. Juan Covington was soon identified and charged.

In Connecticut, security cameras linked a string of jewelry robberies and murders over two months to Christopher DiMeo. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.

And in Florida, this university surveillance camera helped identify the teens who allegedly beat up a number of homeless people, one of whom was killed. Some experts say security cameras have lowered crime rates and suspects caught on tape are more willing to cooperate with authorities.

FREDERICKS: When you put an image of a suspect committing a criminal act in front of that suspect in an interview, they will almost always provide a confession. They will admit, OK, you got me.


TUCHMAN: It's believed the 30 million surveillance cameras being used in the United States generate more than four billion hours of video every week. And you think you watch a lot of TV.

The experts say over the next five years the number of cameras will increase dramatically, not just doubling, not just tripling, but quadrupling to around 120 million. And that's all by the year 2011 -- Anderson.

COOPER: That's amazing. How likely is it that in any given city in the United States, you know, you're being videotaped throughout the day?

TUCHMAN: If you're walking down the streets of any substantially-sized city in this country, you are being televised.

COOPER: Amazing. All right.

Gary Tuchman.

Thanks very much.

Coming up, the latest on the condition of the man shot by Vice President Cheney in a hunting accident.

But first, Erica Hill from "Headline News" joins us with some of the business stories we're following tonight -- Erica.

HILL: Hey, Anderson. And a much more upbeat business report to start you off tonight.

A good day on Wall Street this Tuesday. The Dow Jones industrials closing above the 11,000 mark for the first time in more than a month. At what are the factors there? A rise in retail sales which helped to ease worries about a consumer spending slowdown.

Another factor, lower oil prices. The cost of a barrel sank below $60 for the first time this year, which also brought down prices for unleaded gasoline and heating oil futures.

Good news all around.

Traders are focusing more on rising supplies, though they remained concern that problems with Iran and Nigeria could hurt the flow of oil. The former head of Enron's broadband unit says he knowingly misled investors. Kenneth Rice testified today in the trial of his former bosses, Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling. Enron's broadband business had been a key part of the company's growth story. Rice, though, said it never made a profit and it was struggling before Enron collapsed.

And taxpayers shockingly have been short changing the U.S. government by billions of dollars. A new report from the IRS finds a $345 billion tax gap in 2001.

Now, it says the biggest problem came from people who failed to report income from business ventures. The information comes from a three-year study of tax returns filed for 2001. And the IRS says tax collectors will benefit from the research and the agency will be able to better focus its audits.

Just hopefully not on you or me -- Anderson.

COOPER: I know. I was going to say, why are you looking at me like that when you say "audits," huh?

HILL: Moi?


COOPER: All right, Erica. Thanks.

I want to thank our international viewers for watching.

Ahead, though, on 360, a lot ahead, Vice President Cheney allegedly keeping secrets. Why did it take 20 hours for word of his hunting accident to get out? We'll take a look and update you on the condition of the man he shot.

Plus, trailers meant to help hurricane victims now can't be used. More than $300 million of your tax dollars could have been wasted on them. We'll show you how that money might have been spent.

And it is Valentine's Day, in case you forgot. So you might as well face it, you're addicted to love. Do you know why, though? We'll explore the actual science of love, what happens in your brain when you fall for someone.

That's next on 360.


COOPER: A hunting accident involving the vice president, the White House was hush-hush for 20 hours. How did that happen? We go inside the secrecy next on 360.


COOPER: Good evening.

Tonight, birdshot and secrecy. The vice president accused of stalling information about his hunting accident while the man he shot suffers a heart attack.


ANNOUNCER: The man shot by Vice President Cheney suffers a minor heart attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of the birdshot appears to have lodged into a part of his heart.

ANNOUNCER: Did the vice president pull strings to keep the story quiet?

A shocking new surgical procedure for women in the most private of places.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was good for me, too.

ANNOUNCER: It's got some women cheering but critics up in arms. 360 investigates.

And Greenies is the most popular dog treat on the market. So why do some owners and vets say it killed their dogs?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was my baby. This was, like, part of my life.

ANNOUNCER: 360 brings you both sides of the controversy.


ANNOUNCER: From across the U.S. and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.

Live from the CNN studios in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: Well, what sounded like a joke yesterday took a serious turn today. The man Vice President Cheney accidentally shot during a hunting trip this past weekend is back in intensive care tonight.

Harry Whittington remains in stable condition. Doctors now say they are concerned about his heart.


COOPER (voice over): As of last night, things seemed to be looking up for Harry Whittington. He was out of intensive care, he was alert, and doctors say he was carrying on lively conversations.

But at 6:30 this morning doctors noticed a problem, an irregular heartbeat. Soon, Whittington was back in the ICU, where it was discovered that a piece of birdshot had lodged in or near his heart, causing what doctors described as minor heart attack.

DR. DAVID BLANCHARD, CHRISTUS SPOHN MEMORIAL HOSPITAL: We knew that he had some birdshot very close to the heart from the get-go, but in point of fact, it has now got to the point where it has caused some inflammatory changes and has moved in a position where it has caused some irritability of the muscle of the heart.

COOPER: Exactly where the birdshot is remains a question. As of now, doctors have no plans to remove it surgically, and they hope they never have to since Whittington is 78 years old. In fact, they say they are highly optimistic that Whittington will be able to go on and live a healthy life even if the pellet is not removed.


COOPER: Well, tonight there's new information out about how this accident was handled.