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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Bush Gas Plan; Pump Politics; Defense Secretary Rumsfeld makes Surprise Trip to Iraq; Al-Zarqawi Speaks Out; Decoding Al-Zarqawi; Bait Cars
Aired April 25, 2006 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As gas prices go up, the president's approval numbers go down. But don't blame him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And the prices that people are paying at the gas pumps reflect our addiction to oil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: That so-called addiction is fueling consumer frustration at the pumps, and Republican fears that they'll be paying for it in the midterm elections. Facing increased political pressure to do something, President Bush unveiled his four-point plan.
First, Mr. Bush ordered an investigation into whether energy companies are unfairly manipulating gas prices.
BUSH: First thing is to make sure that the American consumers are treated fairly at the gas pump.
MALVEAUX: While the administration was unable to cite any evidence of price gouging now, it did investigate instances shortly after Hurricane Katrina, with mixed results.
DANIEL LASHOF, NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL: There was a lot of hand wringing about price gouging at that time. And, again, after the hearings were over, everybody went back to business as usual.
MALVEAUX: Second, Mr. Bush pledged to boost the supply of U.S. crude oil and gasoline by temporarily suspending deposits into the country's strategic oil reserve.
BUSH: So by deferring deposits until the fall, we'll leave a little more oil on the market. Every little bit helps.
MALVEAUX: But energy analysts say that's not likely to lower gas prices.
LASHOFF: It is something within the president's jurisdiction, and I think it's largely symbolic. MALVEAUX: The president also made another push to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
Third, the president is promoting greater fuel efficiency by urging Congress to extend tax credits for all who purchase hybrid or clean diesel vehicles.
BUSH: Ethanol is good for the whole country.
MALVEAUX: And fourth, Mr. Bush is encouraging investment in alternative sources of energy like ethanol to wean Americans off of foreign oil. But that's considered a long ways off to resolving the pain at the pump.
LASHOFF: I don't think there's anything in the president's plan that will have a short-term impact on gas prices.
MALVEAUX: What is not in the president's energy plan, moves to improve fuel efficiency standards for cars, more stringent environmental protections, and a comprehensive strategy for Americans to conserve.
LASHOFF: Jimmy Carter definitely gave the wrong approach when he indicated that what the primary mechanism to save oil was to sacrifice Americans' living standards. What we need to do is, as the president did say, embrace technology that can allow us to use energy much more efficiently.
MALVEAUX (on camera): The president said he expects oil companies to reinvest their big profits in research for alternative sources of energy. But he ruled out taxing those profits.
Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, the White House.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well the strategic petroleum oil reserve contains nearly 688 barrels of crude. That's enough to last about 59 days. If you're wondering where it came from, here's the raw data.
Most of the oil was purchased off the open markets during the late 1970s and easterly '80s when the price of a barrel was closer to $30. Now, it's about $73. The government says the oil has come from 25 different countries. The Clinton administration ended open-market purchases back in '94, mostly because of federal deficits. Now oil companies, using federal property in the Gulf of Mexico, deposit petroleum into the reserve as a royalty for using that property. That's the raw data.
While the president pushes his plan, and of course the Democrats attack it, tens of millions of Americans are struggling to pay for their gas. Many are growing tired of all the politics at the pump. And they've had enough of the sound bytes. They want a solution.
CNN's Candy Crowley takes a look. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D), MARYLAND: I'm here to stand up for the little guy.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): By the end of the day, more than 30 Senators and a host of House members had, (a), held a news conference.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: Record prices for the American people, record giveaways, record profits for big oil companies.
CROWLEY: Or (b), given a floor speech.
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: The prices at the pump don't reflect our addiction to oil, they reflect a failure in leadership by this White House.
CROWLEY: Or (c), zapped out an e-mail, or (d),...
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: There are five words missing from the president's speech today.
CROWLEY: All of the above.
SCHUMER: Get tough with big oil.
CROWLEY: It was a political gusher, with minority Democrats looking to stick it to majority Republicans who are trying to get out of the way.
SEN. KAY BAILEY-HUTCHINSON (R), TEXAS: People of America are not interested in Democrat charges against Republicans and Republican charges against Democrats. They want more resources so that the price of gasoline at the pump will come down.
CROWLEY: Proposals were almost as plentiful as sound bytes. An emergency energy summit, a 60-day break from the federal gas tax paid for by revoking industry tax breaks.
SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: It's crystal clear that the current spike in gas prices is at least partly due to an act of greed.
CROWLEY: A $500 rebate to consumers also financed by repeal of oil company subsidies, a tax on windfall profits. Lots and lots of proposals.
SEN. JEFF BINGAMAN (D), NEW MEXICO: I think we should bring an anti-price gouging statute to the floor.
CROWLEY: Breezewood, Pennsylvania, is the town that travel built -- motels, fast food, souvenirs and nine gas stations.
PAUL TRENTA, GAS CONSUMER: I can put $100 in this at $3, probably $120 for a 44-gallon tank.
CROWLEY: Breezewood is a crossroads stop where Interstate 70 meets the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Paul Trenta was in his suburban, taking his display booth from his home in Ohio to a convention in Washington.
TRENTA: I don't necessarily blame a political party. I mean, you know, even at the high price of gas right now. I don't see any less cars on the road. So we're sucking down fuel like crazy.
CROWLEY: And that was the thing in Breezewood. Drivers seemed less angry than confused.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The thing that bothers me, is I don't understand the reason for it.
CROWLEY: Filling up on $2.99 for regular, they first found fault not in the oil companies, not in the politicians, but in themselves.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think it's a Democrat/Republican problem. I think we use way too much. We've been spoiled.
CROWLEY: They said they'd definitely vote this fall for any politician who could deliver some relief, but no one actually believed that was possible.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think they're using it to get at voters.
CROWLEY: So while lawmakers talked in Washington, motorists filled up in Breezewood and moved on.
Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Well, the White House may think this four-point plan will ease political pressure, but it may not be enough to rescue the president now and his party in the fall.
Joining me now from Boston, former Presidential Adviser David Gergen now with Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
David, How much do you think this plan is going to help take pressure off the administration right now?
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Not very much. Yes, we give points to the president for speaking to this with urgency, getting to the patient's bedside quickly this time and score one for Josh Bolten, the new chief of staff.
But at the same time, Anderson, the medicine -- this is a partial tourniquet. It's not a full tourniquet. It's not going to stop the flow of problems for the president, especially of the prices of oil at the pump.
What I do think, Anderson, is all of this -- these mixed voices, everybody in an uproar right now about energy prices, gas prices, does give the president an opportunity for leadership. And that is if he comes in with a bold effort to bring Congress together and get a comprehensive tradeoff between supplies and conservation, which would include nuclear power, I think the moment is there when the president might be able to do that.
COOPER: It's also interesting because this is a president who has spoken about this issue. I mean, the State of the Union, as we've talked about, you know, he had that tagline, "We're addicted to oil." The problem seems to be follow-through, and it's not just his administration, it's past administration.
GERGEN: Absolutely. And I must acknowledge to you, it was back in 1973, I was running a speech with President Nixon. We were calling for energy independence. That's been over 30 years. President Ford called for that. President Carter...
COOPER: Can you dust off some of those old speeches?
GERGEN: Well, they're in the mothballs now properly, I think, but, you know, we've been at this for more than 30 years. We keep talking about it, and it's like school reform. We talk more than we do. And, you know, but this is a moment when the -- when you've got the gas prices coming together with a terrorism threat along with this threat of climate change, and a growing fear that this may be irreversible in climate change, that's a moment for real leadership.
I think the president could strike and get a bipartisan agreement on this if he really came down tough, went to the country, used a bully pulpit, went to an evening speech to the country about energy and how we're really going to break this addiction. You're right, he talked about it in the State of Union. How much have we heard him talk about it since then? Not very much. We've been all over the lot with this attention deficit disorder. Talking about Iraq one week, we talk about immigration another week, now we're talking about gas prices.
COOPER: The other question, I guess, is how much the opposition really wants to have that dialogue at this point. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had this to say. I just want to play the sound byte.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: When the oil men, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, strode into town, the showdown began between big oil and the consumer. With the price of gas doubling during the time of the president's presidency, big oil won.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: This certainly seems to be, you know, sort of the tagline, the marching orders from the Democrats, to sort of be pushing this issue. A, is it going to work for them? And does it sort of make them look like they're just trying to make political hay out of this?
GERGEN: You know, it doesn't ennoble the party -- the Democratic party and it does make all of us really even more tired of politics, if that's possible. And as you aptly call it, the politics at the pump. You know, both parties have to rise above their sort of -- their recent traditions of being poisonous and partisan and say, you know, there is something called a country we have to save here. And can we get there?
I think there are some good people on both sides still. It's going to take, in our system right now, it does take presidential leadership. There was a day when the Congress would often take the leadership. That day has passed. We now look to the president. This president is wounded, he's in terrible trouble, but I do think, given that so much is at stake here, that, you know, it's possible to go to the country.
Jimmy Carter, you know, we talked about this. Jimmy Carter, when he was at his worst moment, went up to the mountaintop in Camp David and looked at his naval for a while. But he came down and proposed a bold new energy plan. It was not going to solve problems immediately, and the country rallied to that. It was only a few days later when he fired half of his cabinet, including his energy secretary, the people said, you know, this is administration out of control.
I think this president has an opportunity, if he's really serious, and you know, how is he going to rescue his presidency? He's got to be fearless.
I talked to a CEO who turned around a big company earlier tonight. He said, you know, when you want to change a company, what you've got to do, take your guts in your hand, be bold, and be fearless, you may strike out, but if you act boldly and fearlessly, you've got a chance to lead.
It does seem to me that this moment has come on energy.
COOPER: Of course, the concern is that as soon as the crisis passes, so does the opportunity because people move on to other issues.
GERGEN: Absolutely. We'll talk about immigration and then we'll be back to Iraq and then we'll be back to Iran. But, you know, are we ever really going to take one problem and solve it?
COOPER: Well, it's ADD, that's what it's all about. David Gergen, thank you Appreciate it.
GERGEN: Thank you.
COOPER: The most wanted man in Iraq has decided he's ready for his close-up. Coming up, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. His new message of violence. This tape appeared today on the Internet. What he says and what it means for Iraq and the U.S.
Also this... (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Damn, he got the gun out. They must have new this was stolen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hands up!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Damn!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hands up!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: A little hard to hear, but the cops did know that the car was stolen, and the method? It's a new way to catch car crooks. It's called a bait car. Actually even locks people trying to steal into the car. We'll have that.
And as police uncover more plots by students to shoot up their schools, we'll look at the role the Internet is playing in the plotting and the capturing, when 360 continues.
COOPER: And we have breaking news to report. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is in Iraq on a surprise visit.
CNN's John King joins us from Washington with details.
John, what do you know?
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, just moments ago our pool producer, who happens to be from CNN, Sally Hohn (ph), calling in, confirming the Secretary of Defense's plane, Donald Rumsfeld has in fact landed in Baghdad, Iraq.
Now, the Pentagon not announcing this trip in advance because of security precautions. You were discussing some of them the newer ones, just earlier tonight, this new tape from al-Zarqawi in Iraq, saying that one of the reasons he thinks the insurgents should rise up is because of these visits by key Western officials, like Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, to Iraq. Secretary Rumsfeld, of course, in Iraq at a very difficult political time for the Iraqis, for his president back here in the United States, President Bush; and certainly Secretary Rumsfeld, himself. The new Iraqi unity government just put together.
One of the questions Secretary Rumsfeld, of course, has for that government, how much longer do you think you will need all these U.S. troops? The new prime minister telling CNN just the other day, he thinks 18 months or so. That may not be an answer that satisfies voters back here in the United States this election year.
So, at a time when Secretary Rumsfeld is under fire, himself, and the president says he has confidence in him, this will be a trip watched very closely over the next couple of days. He will meet with Iraqi government officials and also, of course, meet with U.S. troops on the ground.
COOPER: That's what I was actually going to ask next. I mean, do we know how much of this is to meet with Iraqi government officials and try to sort of stress, you know, how closely the administration is watching what their moves are on the ground? Because the administration is basically pinning all their hopes on the Iraqis' ability to form some sort of, you know, coalition government.
KING: You're absolutely right. And we have been down this path before, either just after Iraqi elections or just after the formation of the appointment of a new political leader in Iraq. The hopes rise in the Bush administration that the Iraqi government will get up and running, that the Iraqi people will have more confidence in that government, and perhaps popular support for the insurgency will fail.
We have been down this road several times before. And given that it is an election year here in the United States, it is three and a half years into the war. Fifty-five percent of the American people saying in our new CNN poll, they think it was a mistake top send in U.S troops; 58 percent in that poll, saying neither side is winning. The United states, of course, there you see the number for, Is it a mistake to send U.S. troops to Iraq? A majority there. Who's winning in Iraq? The fact that 58 percent say neither side is a damning number for the Bush administration, more than three years into this war, Anderson.
So, most importantly, from a policy perspective, is the answer Secretary Rumsfeld gets from the new Iraqi leaders about how long will they need U.S. troops, what steps will they take to try to end the sectarian violence in their own country? And, of course, always on these trips, he then will try to go give a pep talk to U.S. troops.
That, from a public perspective, are the best pictures of these trips. Very important, of course, to the troops, some of whom are on their third, even fourth deployments in some cases.
But the policy aspect, the meetings with the Iraqi government, trying to then come back to report to the president. Does he think this time -- does the government think this time this Iraqi government actually will get up and running? That is the big question. Not only facing the Iraqi government, but certainly the president of the United States.
And again Secretary Rumsfeld is in the hot seat himself. Many retired military officials saying he should have been fired a long time ago. The president says no.
COOPER: And of course, the background of this is the politics of all this. You talked about the policy and the public. The politics of the trip, how much of is it to sort of shore up support, or if that is in fact what he needs to do among generals on the ground or among troops on the ground or at least just reinforce the notion that he is still the president's man.
Secretary Rumsfeld, just for our audience who is just joining us, we can say now, has landed on a surprise trip to Iraq. John King reporting. Thanks, John.
On the same day that Secretary Rumsfeld visits Iraq, the most- wanted man in Iraq showed his face, really for the first time in a new terror message. That is coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wait a minute. Is this a camera? Look. Look! Am I playing? Karla, is this a camera?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: They're not playing, neither is law enforcement. Alleged car thief, there, noticing there's actually a camera in the car that they've just allegedly stolen. A car stolen every 25 seconds in this country. Sometimes the thief is caught with a camera. We'll show you what the cops are doing in what they call bait cars.
And the dissatisfied students who plot to turn up their schools, turning to the internet for information and community, of all things, next on 360.
COOPER: Just moments ago defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, landed in Iraq for a surprise visit. This, of course, comes on the same day that the al Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, made his own surprise move by stepping out of the shadows, really showing his face intentionally for the first time. One of the world's most wanted and most elusive terrorists has posted a taped message on the Internet.
CNN's Nic Robertson reports.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): In a stunning departure from his usual super secretive ways, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is deliberately showing his face on video for the first time. Revealing not just how he looks, wearing what intelligence sources say is a suicide bomber's belt, Zarqawi also says he wants to lead Iraq's Sunni minority to victory by sharing leadership with the insurgency.
ABU MUSAB AL-ZARQAWI (through translator): I bring you the good news of establishing the Mujahidin Shura Council in Iraq. It will be the nucleus of establishing an Islamic state where the word of God is the highest.
ROBERTSON: The new video is in sharp contrast with Zarqawi's bloody atrocities in the past. Seen here on a video of two years ago wearing a mask, while beheading U.S. Engineer Nick Berg. In the slickly produced new video, al Qaeda's leader in Iraq echoes his boss, Osama bin Laden, calling U.S. troops in Iraq Zionist crusaders and accusing President Bush of lying to Americans.
AL-ZARQAWI (through translator): Every time the Mujahidin strike, it makes you lie more and more, claiming that everything is under control, but your lies are exposed to everyone far and near.
ROBERTSON: But Zarqawi, seen here firing a heavy machine gun on what is almost a political campaign-type video, is aiming his message mostly at Iraq's Sunnis, threatening them not to join Iraq's new security forces and telling them victory over the U.S. is close at hand.
AL-ZARQAWI (through translator): By God, these are the last moments before the crusaders announce their defeat in the land of the two rivers.
ROBERTSON: Using images of himself, getting updates on the fighting, he is incredibly, for Jihadis, at least, projecting a more acceptable image, yet also making it clear he's still the boss. He is also seen watching a video of a crude missile being tested. Appropriately named, "Qaeda One," (ph) reasserting his goal of fermenting civil war.
AL-ZARQAWI (through translator): We believe that any government which is formed in Iraq now, whether by Shiites or the liberal Zionist Kurds or those who are just Sunnis, would only be a stooge.
ROBERTSON: Intelligence experts and tribal leaders have been saying for months Zarqawi wants to legitimize himself among Iraq's Sunnis.
COOPER: And Nic Robertson joins me now, along with CNN Terrorism Analyst Peter Bergen.
Nic, Zarqawi's taking a risk by showing his face here. We've only had sort of grainy images of him before. What is so important that he would make this move?
ROBERTSON (on camera): He wants to set himself up as a leader of the Sunnis. That appears to be what he's trying to do here. And he obviously feels comfortable about his security in Iraq. His survival up until now, appeared to have depended on him using disguises, according to intelligence officials. Even at one time, apparently falling into U.S. captivity and being released because they didn't realize who he was. Now he's blown that cover.
COOPER: Peter, were you surprised that he would come out in a video like this?
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Yes, mildly, but I don't think, you know, I mean, there have been a lot of pictures of Zarqawi circulating in the past, and CNN has acquired some during the war in Iraq. So, he was taking a risk, but not a huge risk, because those pictures are readily contemporary that we've already seen. So, I think it was a calculated risk that he felt was worth doing.
COOPER: And Peter, who was the audience for this tape?
BERGEN: Well, I guess it's, I mean, al Qaeda and its affiliates around the world, the insurgency in Iraq, us. I mean, everybody, basically. Obviously by putting it on the Internet, you're getting the widest possible distribution. If you put it to Al Jazeera, actually Al Jazeera will only take very small portions of it. Very small portions of it will end up on CNN. In this case, this whole tape is out there, the whole half hour of it, and it's available to anybody who wants to see it.
COOPER: Nic, what do you know about those missiles?
ROBERTSON: This is the first time we've heard them discussed. They're the first time we've seen them. We've seen other Jihadi videos, where they've fired missiles at weapons; missiles at aircraft, supposedly bringing them down; at helicopters and airplanes. But this is the first time we've seen something and been told this is a new device. This one can fly apparently many, many miles -- Anderson.
COOPER: Peter, what's amazing, too, when you look at the Zarqawi tape, is how much it looks like bin Laden tapes that we've seen in the past. I mean, from the gun being right behind him, to, you know, him walking along, surrounded by bodyguards. I mean, you interviewed bin Laden. Did it strike you that this is kind of the same iconography?
BERGEN: I think so. But what is also interesting is that you know, if it was just sort of trying to set himself up as a sort of parallel, you know, leader to bin Laden, this tape actually kind of goes against that because he mentions bin Laden in very glowing terms. He introduces a couple of clips from bin Laden on the tape. And also for Ayman al-Zawahiri. So, he makes it, I think, fairly clear on the tape that he regards himself as still part of the larger al Qaeda organization.
COOPER: Peter, he also, though, disses any Sunni who is involved in the political process in Iraq currently.
BERGEN: Yes, and of course, the tape appears to have been made the same day that the political process have made a big step forward with this election of the new prime minister.
COOPER: Nic, what does it tell you that he can turn a tape (a), that quickly and seem to be able to walk around, you know, at least in this tape relatively freely?
ROBERTSON: You know, the intelligence assessments have been that Zarqawi is able to get around Iraq, that he has disguises. So perhaps it's no surprise that we see him coming out in the open and doing that. I think the very fact that he's willing to do that shows just how comfortable he's feeling at this particular time -- Anderson.
COOPER: Peter Bergen, does he have -- I mean, is this, in some ways also a recruitment pitch, a pitch for more money, I mean, to backers to show that he's invigorated, to show that he's still out there and still, you know, holding meetings?
BERGEN: I guess so. Yes, I think all these tapes, they have several fund-raising propaganda, recruitment, all the above. Proof of life. So I think these tapes have, you know, multiple purposes. And it is interesting, as we're watching this videotape, the extent to which this does really mimic some of the bin Laden footage, as you mentioned earlier in the program -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, it's so, I mean, the images are -- you know, you put them side by side, they're almost identical in some ways.
You know, Nic, there's talk on this tape that some of the recent attacks that these guys have staged are response to visits by Condoleezza Rice, by the British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. Is this the first time that we've heard that they are attacking as direct retaliation to visits by Western dignitaries?
ROBERTSON: It is. It definitely is the first time we've heard this sort of thing. What Zarqawi is doing on this tape is he's playing to Sunni fears. In the western part of Iraq, in the tribal part of Iraq, a lot of the tribal leaders there living in exile will tell you now that the U.S. mishandled the tribes, removed the leadership, created a power vacuum, if you will, that Zarqawi has come in and exploited that and making people live in fear. And that's what we're seeing here. He's telling people explicitly, don't join the security forces. He's telling them that the new government in Iraq will be Shia dominated, that you will be the losers. So there's a very strong message here for the Sunnis in this western part of Iraq.
COOPER: Nic, good to have you now; and Peter Bergen, thanks as well.
Well, caught in the act. How a crook's joyride may end with a nonstop trip to jail. They're called bait cars, and the drivers think they're getting away with some new wheels, but well, they would be wrong about that, and the hidden cameras show it.
Also tonight, more school shooting plots uncovered. You may be surprised at how in a number of cases authorities were tipped off. And if you've ever wondered what goes through the mind of a teenage school shooter, you will hear from a killer's own lips.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EVAN RAMSEY, CONVICTED SCHOOL SHOOTER: If I pull out a gun and shoot you, there's a good chance that you're not getting the help. You're going to bleed to death and die. That part of reality didn't click for whatever reason.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Evan Ramsey was 16 when he shot a student and his principal to death in '97. What's his reality now? We'll have my conversation with him when 360 continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wait a minute. Is this a camera? Look.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Yes, ma'am, that is a camera. If you own a Honda Civic, Accord or Toyota Camry, you may want to see if your car is still where you left it. They are the three most popular vehicles to steal. The truth is a car is stolen every 25 seconds in this country. And all of us, any car owner are at risk. Which is what makes this next story so compelling. It's a new way, really, to catch car thieves. Bait cars, they're called, rigged with cameras that catch criminals in the act. As you're about to see for yourself.
Here's Ed Lavandera.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Ever wonder what car thieves do once they've swiped a hot new ride? Well, thanks to the magic of hidden cameras, now you can see for yourself. First, they always look around for something else to steal. Some smile and laugh. Some reach for the car's cell phone. Some brag about how easy it was.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just got it (explicative deleted) I got it from Wal-Mart, some stupid (explicative deleted). I parked right next to it. The person left their keys in it.
LAVANDERA: And the car thieves are as diverse as the cars they steal. There are male thieves and female thieves. There are young ones and even older ones. Some like to drive to rap music. Some prefer to go a little bit country. Believe it or not, most put on their seat belts. But there's nothing quite like that moment when the thieves realize they've been caught red-handed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The A.C., do I --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wait a minute. Is this a camera? Look!
LAVANDERA: These cameras are used by dozens of police departments nationwide in vehicles known as "bait cars." Reid Stacy is a Dallas police officer. He says using these cars to catch criminals is just like hunters trying to catch their prey.
REID STACY, DALLAS POLICE OFFICER: You know, if you go hunting, you got to know exactly what you're looking for and you got to know what kind of equipment you need to take care of the job.
LAVANDERA: Stacy and his fellow officers in the Dallas P.D. Auto Theft Squad, have a fleet of bait cars. They won't say exactly how many. But this Honda Civic is just the kind of car thieves love to steal. But you definitely don't want to steal this particular car.
ALBERT ALANIS, DALLAS POLICE OFFICER: For someone that doesn't know, they don't even think about that. They see the nice stereo, they see the nice wheels, you know, they hear the engine. The nice seats will be stripped for another vehicle.
LAVANDERA: The officers leave the bait cars in the parts of town where cars are most often stolen. Then they wait for the criminal to take the bait.
(On camera): All right, they're setting up the bait car now. The way it's going to work is, once it's armed, the moment this door opens, it triggers the alarm and sets off the videotape. And we'll take it out for a test drive.
The car is on. Looking around, you can't -- you know you're being videotaped, but you can't really see the camera anywhere.
(Voice-over): A few miles away in the police department's dispatch center, the bait car's movement sets off the alarm.
GREG FREGEAU, DALLAS POLICE OFFICER: Once the alarm goes off, it gives GPS coordinates of where the actual car is at. And once it starts moving, you'll start knowing that the car is moving and what speed it's headed and the direction it's traveling.
LAVANDERA (on camera): If I were really stealing this car, I'd be out of the parking lot.
FREGEAU: I can tell right now that he's got the ignition on. And he's traveling 19 miles an hour.
LAVANDERA: Everything seems to be going well so far.
FREGEAU: I can disable the ignition on that car, click of a button.
LAVANDERA: I'm in second gear, and the car has completely just stalled out.
FREGEAU: The car is coming to a stop.
LAVANDERA: I'm trying to restart it, but nothing. Nothing. The car is dead.
As the car stalls out, the doors lock. That's it. I'm stuck. Can't get out. I can't open the doors. Officers swoop in and make the arrest. It wasn't me, you know? And just like that, our joyride is over. Nice.
(Voice-over): Because of these bait cars, Dallas police say auto theft has dropped 10 percent in the last year. Police departments nationwide are reporting similar trends. Officers hope it makes thieves think twice.
FREGEAU: Just the thought of it, possibly being in one of our cars, hopefully someone will have second thoughts on stealing that car.
LAVANDERA: The FBI estimates that about 1.2 million cars are stolen every year in the United States. Police officers hope bait cars will help slow that trend down. Word appears to be spreading on the street. Proof is on the videotape. Just listen to these thieves wonder out loud if the car they're driving is a trap.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about those cars that you talked about where people -- they leave them, and they have keys in them.
LAVANDERA: Listen to how confident the driver is that this isn't one of those cars.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This ain't one. They would have already -- they would done it in the mall parking lot where it would have been safe to.
LAVANDERA: But when the police lights turn on, some just freak out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Damn, he got the gun out. They must have knew this was stolen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hands up!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Damn!
LAVANDERA: The prize for the most entertaining bait car goes to the Columbus, Ohio, police department. When a thief gets caught here...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, look (explicative deleted)!
LAVANDERA: The radio starts blaring the theme song to "Cops."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh! (explicative deleted). Just locked us in!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I can't!
LAVANDERA: Ed Lavandera, CNN, Dallas.
COOPER: I love that. They start blaring "Cops." That story first aired on "PAULA ZAHN NOW," which you can see weeknights at 8:00 right here on CNN. How creative is that?
Well, from street, to school crimes. Police say they have uncovered several school shooting plots in recent days. Coming up, we'll see how they turn to the Internet for clues.
And my interview with a convicted school shooter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) EVAN RAMSEY, CONVICTED SCHOOL SHOOTER: One of the things I told myself is that this is where it all ends. This is where people picking on me stops. Nobody will have anything bad to say about me anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That certainly wasn't the case. In '97, 16-year-old high school student Evan Ramsey shot a student and principal to death. He looks back, in a moment, at those dark days, when 360 continues.
COOPER: Well, the way authorities all around the country tell it, over the last few weeks, they have foiled school shooting plots that, all told, could easily have dwarfed the Columbine tragedy. There have been at least nine different cases, and altogether, 28 teens have been arrested in connection with various plots.
One plan apparently was dubbed "Columbine Part Two," another was to target preppie students. Some called for the use of explosives.
What is particularly interesting about these new cases is the role that the Internet has played in many of them.
CNN's Drew Griffin investigates.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The student arrested at a Washington state high school had in his home weapons, including a homemade bomb. He also had a downloaded Internet copy of the anarchist cookbook with instructions on how to make a bomb.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's kind of scary that actually somebody would actually think about doing that to us.
GRIFFIN: The 16-year-old suspect's blog on the popular personal information site called myspace.com had a warning. The last entry, let me give you reason to shun me and call me evil. I am feared. I am hated. I have lost it, and I am nothing.
In Kansas, this 18-year-old and four younger high school students are accused of plotting an attack to mark the anniversary of Adolf Hitler's birth and the deadly shooting at Colorado's Columbine High. They communicated via the Internet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those were serious allegations. And they scare me. You know, I was frightened as I read those. So I have to be mindful of the public's safety.
GRIFFIN: One of the things linking these and other potential tragedies together is that the same high-tech communication that may have helped launch their planning also revealed warnings that helped police stop them.
In Washington state, a text message alerted a friend who then alerted police.
In Kansas, the would-be attackers put out a much more public warning, a posting on myspace.com.
LARRY MAGID, BLOGSAFETY.COM: It's a good thing that these kids in Kansas put this information on the Internet so that an alert woman in North Carolina could find it and turn them in. The Internet in this case was a hero. It prevented the tragedy.
GRIFFIN: Larry Magid is a technology consultant and co-founder of blogsafety.com. He advocates the safe and monitored use of the Internet for our children, and like most of us, is shocked by what those children can find here.
Take a look at what we found in just five minutes of searching. How to build a bomb, how to build a suicide bomb, how to buy an AK-47, how to find friends who like Adolf Hitler. Magid says it's all here and then some.
But if you think you can somehow ban information from the Internet or stop people from posting ways to blow up a school, you are simply fooling yourself.
MAGID: Well, blaming the Internet is like blaming the messenger. Kids are on the Internet, and there's really nothing we can do about it, even if we shut them off from home, they'll find a way to get online somewhere, from a cell phone or a friend's house or a library. So blocking the Internet isn't really the solution -- at least not for your average kid.
GRIFFIN: What will work, he says, is knowing what your kids are thinking, as well as what they're looking at and who they're talking to over the Internet.
STACA URIE, NATIONAL CETNER FOR MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN: It's probably a better idea to take a proactive approach with children and teens. Educate them about what the risks are. Educate them about what they may encounter online, how to avoid them. And empower them to have a safer online experience that way.
GRIFFIN: And yes, says Magid, parents should conduct their own Internet searches on their own children.
MAGID: You can search. You can search for them on Google or other search engines. And you can go into MySpace and search for the name. And believe it or not, you may find their name because kids are encouraged to use their real names. Or look at their school web page on MySpace, to see if you can locate them, to kind of check in with them and see what they're saying to the rest of the world.
GRIFFIN: It was just that kind of warning to the rest of the world that stopped at least two potential tragedies in just the last week.
Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.
COOPER: Well, he walked into his high school, took out a gun and shot another student and his own principal to death. He was convicted of his rampage. A teen killer is in prison now. Looking back at what he did, I spoke to him behind bars. My interview, coming up.
COOPER: Well, over nine years ago, in February 1997, 16-year-old Evan Ramsey entered his high school in Bethel, Alaska. He pulled out a .12-gauge shotgun and he murdered a student and the principal. Today he's serving a prison sentence of 198 years at the Florence Corrections Facility in Arizona.
As psychologists offer, you know, their answers to the questions of why students kill, perhaps the best clues come straight from the source.
I met with Evan Ramsey face to face.
COOPER: Well, let's just start from the day. How long in advance -- when did you start planning it? How long in advance of the shooting did you actually seriously start planning it?
EVAN RAMSEY, CONVICTED SCHOOL SHOOTER: About two weeks.
COOPER: What was the initial thought? I mean, when you first thought of it, what was the idea?
RAMSEY: I told myself I have to do something to get everybody to leave me alone. The first thought that came to mind. I took it and ran with it.
COOPER: To leave you alone because they had been picking on you?
COOPER: How were they picking on you?
RAMSEY: I had beat up, I've been spit on, and I've been called names, I've had things thrown at me.
COOPER: So, the morning it happened, you got up. What went through your mind?
RAMSEY: One of the things I told myself is that this is where it all ends. This is where people picking on me stops. Nobody will have anything bad to say about me anymore. All of -- all of my problems will go away.
COOPER: And did you really think it would end your problems?
RAMSEY: Yes, I did. Back then, I would have been willing to bet all the money I would ever make in my whole lifetime, that that was when my problems were going to end.
COOPER: When you walked into the school in the morning with that gun, did you have a list in your head of who you wanted to get, who you wanted to kill?
RAMSEY: There was a list of people that I wanted to shoot at. Keep in mind that I didn't understand how life worked at the time. I didn't know that when you shoot somebody, they don't just get back up.
COOPER: What do you mean?
RAMSEY: I did not understand that if I, like using myself in using an example, if I pull out a gun and shoot you, there's a good chance that you're not getting back up. You're going to bleed to death and die either right there or on the way to the hospital. That part of reality didn't click for whatever reason.
COOPER: I don't know, I think it's probably hard for some people to believe that you didn't know, you know, dead is dead.
RAMSEY: I based a lot of my knowledge solely on video games. You shoot a guy in "Doom," and he gets back up. You've got to shoot the things in "Doom" eight or nine times before it dies. And I went with that concept on -- with -- from the video game and added it to life.
A lot of people can see it as a copout, but they don't stop and think about, well, I was 16 at the time, and although a 16-year-old is supposed to know right, they know right from wrong, but they don't know it completely.
COOPER: What did it feel like to pull the trigger?
RAMSEY: I'm going to get what I want. These people, I'm going to scare these people away. Nobody's going to pick on me. There won't be any more verbal or physical abuse from anybody.
COOPER: So it felt like relief?
RAMSEY: Yes. There was great relief.
COOPER: What do you want people to know?
RAMSEY: What kids are going through. It's not that bad. I saw my treatment as so bad. If I would have had somebody to sit down with and say, it's not that bad, you don't have to react this way, there's other means, that it might help somebody. It can always be worse, and it's always going to get better.
COOPER: My conversation with Evan Ramsey.
Erica Hill, from "HEADLINE NEWS," joins us with some of the business stories we're following -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Anderson.
Interest rate worries helped to drive down stocks today. The Dow fell 53 points, the S&P dropping just over six, while the NASDAQ lost three. We should point out here that all those declines, though, were less than half a percent.
Now, one reason people are a little worried interest rates could rise, is a stronger than expected economy. Consumer confidence rose this month to its highest level in almost four years. That's according to the Conference Board.
And then there's this. Also on the rise, sales of previously- owned homes edging up slightly in March by less than half a percent. But it is the second straight month they have climbed after five months of falling. And analysts say, if the economy continues to hold up and gas prices keep climbing, well, the feds may then have reason to raise interest rates.
There you go, just, you know, stirring the pot.
COOPER: Stirring the pot.
HILL: More things to worry about.
COOPER: Oh, great. Add that to the list. Erica, thanks a lot.
So we don't do many, perhaps she should say any, hockey stories on 360. Who knew the hockey playoffs were in full swing? I didn't. But tonight we're going to because tonight it's "The Shot." It's actually our second shot of the night. We had one in the 10:00 hour. I believe it's unprecedented.
Take a look, tonight's Senators-Lightning game in Tampa. It was the Senators-Lightning game. See there, that's how much I know about hockey. What's the old adage? I went to a boxing match, and a hockey game broke out? The fight capped a tough game with 129 penalty minutes, whatever that means. And five fighting majors. I have no idea what that means. These guys got into it and got into it some more. Ottawa, it turns out won, eight to four.
And that's "The Shot" and my ignorance about hockey.
More of 360, in a moment. Stay with us.
COOPER: Looking at a live picture of the Empire State Building. The colors are pink, pink, and yellow, I am told, in honor of the Tribeca Film Festival which is happening in New York this week.
Coming up tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING," a tall ship -- or tall story, I should say, on a tall ship. In search of ghosts on Connecticut's sea coast.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RENAY BLASE (ph), TALKS TO GHOSTS: I talked to 10 people total. There are about five that I spoke to in here.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, "AMERICAN MORNING" CO-HOST: Renay Blase (ph) is not talking about real people, but ghosts.
BLASE (ph): There are a few in here, though.
O'BRIEN: You can feel them?
BLASE (ph): Yes.
O'BRIEN: And -- OK, you're freaking me out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Freaking us all out. There have been some strange sightings on the world's oldest, "old and whaling ship, aye." So why are the ghosts hanging around, we ask? Tune into "AMERICAN MORNING," starting at 6:00 a.m., Eastern, to find out.
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