Return to Transcripts main page
Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Hillary Clinton Grabs Big Lead in Democratic Presidential Race; Keeping Them Honest: Katrina
Aired June 11, 2007 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
A lot going on tonight, including stories of what is going wrong here nearly two years after Katrina and what is going right. We're "Keeping Them Honest."
Also ahead tonight: the heiress in the hospital wing of L.A. County jail, reports that her illness boils down to claustrophobia and -- get this -- ADD.
We will also look tonight at why Hillary Clinton has jumped ahead to a big lead in the polls, even though a big percentage of Democratic voters call her unlikable. What's her secret? Some new poll numbers may hold the key.
But we're back here in New Orleans to check on the progress since the storm. We have been back many, many times in the last 19 months. Tonight, we're standing in front of the 17th Street Canal levee. We're at a pump station. When we last visited, about a year ago, at this location, crews working gave us a bird's-eye view of the work in progress -- the rebuilding and improvements about 25 percent done back then.
Well, since then, they have installed a new pumping system, these massive floodgates that were standing by. And they say this location is operational. Operational and adequate, though, are two different things.
We are going to investigate what kind of protection these levees actually are going to give to the city of New Orleans this summer, if a storm hits.
We begin, though, with a sad and eerie twist, something you would be more likely to see in a novel about New Orleans than the morning papers. You probably remember the videotaped beating of Robert Davis, the retired schoolteacher who had come back to New Orleans after Katrina to check on his property.
The tape showed Davis being kneed and hit on the head several times. He was charged with a string of crimes, including resisting arrest. All charges were later dropped. Two former members of the New Orleans Police Department were scheduled to face trial next month in connection with this beating.
Yesterday, the body of one of them, Lance Schilling, was found at his home, dead of a gunshot wound to the head -- the bullet's entry point consistent with suicide.
In a city still struggling to heal, it is yet another possibly self-inflicted wound.
Here in New Orleans, dozens of bodies from Hurricane Katrina still have not gotten a decent burial. Did you know that? Some of them are unidentified, some unclaimed, all of them lying in a kind of bureaucratic limbo.
The question, nearly two nears since the storm, is, why?
CNN's Susan Roesgen investigates.
SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the first few days and weeks after Katrina, search teams recovered more than 1,000 bodies in the New Orleans area. And most of the dead were identified and buried -- most, but not all.
Every day, New Orleanians drive past this unmarked warehouse on Poydras Street near the Superdome, never knowing that the bodies of 100 men and women lie in plastic wrapped caskets inside. Thirty are still unidentified. DNA tests have found no matches. The rest are identified, but unclaimed by families who haven't been able to bury them.
DR. FRANK MINYARD, ORLEANS PARISH CORONER: I hate to go over there. And I have always -- but it -- what were we going to do? I mean, we were lucky to find Poydras Street.
ROESGEN: The New Orleans coroner, Dr. Frank Minyard, has a plan, but not yet enough money to pay for it. Minyard wants to put the bodies in mausoleums in a memorial designed to look like the shape of a hurricane.
The memorial would be here in an old cemetery. But ground hasn't been broken yet, because the memorial would cost about $1.5 million, and the coroner has only been able to collect about $250,000 in private donations. And he's unwilling to move any of the bodies that have been identified, but unclaimed out of the warehouse.
MINYARD: I just think -- I mean, you can't spread these victims all over. This is a memorial for the hurricane.
ROESGEN: So, this is where the bodies remain.
But Terry Kent, who believes one of her relatives may be among the unidentified bodies, says the city has waited long enough to give the dead a proper burial.
TERRY KENT, RESIDENT OF NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA: Please bury those bodies. Even if she's not there, those people need to be buried, too. Everybody needs a resting place.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: That was CNN's Susan Roesgen reporting.
Last year, in a borrow from the report you're about to see, New Orleans racked up 162 murders. And the criminal justice system managed to win just three convictions. The question is, why?
Well, one answer clearly lies in a system that many say didn't work all that well even before the storm. But another has to do with a problem nationwide, all the people who see something and say nothing.
Leslie Crocker Snyder is a former New York prosecutor and judge. She's also an author. For the last six months or so, she has been here in New Orleans on a Justice Department fellowship working in the New Orleans district attorney's office.
Appreciate you being with us.
LESLIE CROCKER SNYDER, FORMER NEW YORK SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: Nice to be here.
COOPER: People not coming forward and talking about the crimes they have witnessed is a major problem.
SNYDER: It is.
COOPER: But you say the real problem is a lack of leadership?
I think it's a lack of total -- total lack of leadership in the entire city. And, if you think about New York, in comparison -- and I have to use New York, because I'm from there and I know it -- whether you like Giuliani or not, we had a crime problem. He came in. He dealt with it. He appointed great police commissioners based on merit, not on nepotism, which seems to be the rule here.
He was -- he was -- he made them accountable. He stayed on top of the situation. Mayor Bloomberg has Ray Kelly. Every day, they go over crime stats. Kelly knows everything that's going on.
Here, there is a total lack of leadership in the city. There's a lack of leadership in the police department. There's a lack of coordination. There's a lack of responsibility. And I think, if more people would be aware of that and be willing to do something about it...
COOPER: Because -- so, it's not just a lack of police officers or a lack of law enforcement personnel, which some say; it's really -- it's a leadership problem?
SNYDER: I think it's strictly a leadership and coordination and cooperation problem.
COOPER: I want to play something for our viewers that Mayor Nagin recently said at his state of the state speech. Let's listen -- state of the city.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAY NAGIN (D), MAYOR OF NEW ORLEANS: According to the U.S. attorney, since the end of January, of the 68 subjects who have been arrested by NOPD and the feds, 66 are still in jail, and 50 have already been indicted. That's pretty good results.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You know, it sounds good. But getting an indictment is not the same as getting a conviction -- 162 murders last year, only three convictions. How is that possible?
SNYDER: Well, there are a lot of reasons.
One reason is that the police don't necessarily bring a really legal case to the district attorney's office. And that's why you need experienced DAs. I'm in a unit that has experienced DAs, the violent offenders unit, and that is doing well. It's the one thing that is doing well.
COOPER: You raise the point, I mean, there are good people working here in the police department, in the DA's office.
SNYDER: That's right.
COOPER: I mean, there are people working really, really hard.
SNYDER: They need better leadership. They need more resources. They're spending 70 percent of the time in the DA's office xeroxing and making ridiculous phone calls that someone who didn't even graduate from high school could make.
So, a lot of time is being wasted. Priorities are not necessarily being set. People mean well, and they are trying to do the right thing. But, often, if a case comes in, say, a search warrant wasn't gotten, they didn't have proper legal advice, and they need more experienced DAs who can give that advice.
COOPER: Someone is arrested for a crime can be held for, what, 60 days?
SNYDER: That's right. And there's a bill, actually, to extend that.
COOPER: Right. Some lawmakers say that should be extended. You don't think that's a good idea?
SNYDER: I think that's ridiculous. In New York, we do it in five days. And...
COOPER: Really? Someone can only be held for five days? SNYDER: But -- that's right, with -- or they get out.
SNYDER: The case isn't dismissed, but they get out.
But what would really be good is if they had a policy -- and they do have this is in New York -- whereby you have to write your police report before you go off duty on that tour.
COOPER: Police officers don't have to do that here?
SNYDER: No, they don't. And they have shortened the time, but we still don't get reports, necessarily, in a timely fashion. And there is really very little communication on a formal basis between the DA and the police at an early stage.
COOPER: So -- so, if you're a New York City police officer, before you're allowed to go off your shift, you have to write up a report of everything that happened on that shift, who you have arrested?
SNYDER: That's right.
COOPER: And that's not the case here?
SNYDER: There are follow-up reports, of course.
SNYDER: But, no, that's not the case. And it needs to be the case. It needs to get to the DA. Experienced DAs need to go out and ride on the major felonies and give advice right at the scene.
One problem with that, there are not that many experienced DAs. But they're getting more in this violent offender unit, thanks to a federal grant. The feds are doing well, because they have a great U.S. attorney here. But I think we could do a lot better on the local level.
COOPER: You -- you came from New York. Was it worse than you thought it was going to be, harder than you thought it was going to be?
SNYDER: Well, the thing that's distressing is how bad the crime problem is, and how New Orleans will never come back, as long as people know or think it's the crime capital of the United States. And, right now, it is.
COOPER: Most of the crimes are -- you're seeing drug-related?
SNYDER: A lot of them are drug-related. I'm dealing more with the career violent felons, which we have made a priority. And the violent offender unit is doing well in that regard. But there's a lot more to go.
COOPER: Appreciate what you have done here. It's remarkable work. And I'm sure a lot of people...
SNYDER: No, I'm happy to be contributing. And I hope more people will, as well.
COOPER: I hope so, too.
SNYDER: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: Thank you so much.
SNYDER: Thank you.
COOPER: I really appreciate you being here.
A new dimension now to a problem that is seemingly -- well, could not get any worse, so it seemed. FEMA, you remember, spent $2.7 billion on mobile homes and trailers after Katrina and Rita. That was your money, all of our money. Then came all the -- the red tape and the foul-ups that delayed their arrival where people desperately needed them.
Now many of the trailers are coming back vandalized.
CNN's David Mattingly wanted to know who done it and who didn't, who trashed the trailers, and why wasn't someone looking out for their property and your money? Here is what he found out.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hundreds of empty FEMA trailers parked side by side, endless rows of aluminum boxes baking in the sun, we have seen these pictures before. But you have never seen FEMA trailers like this.
(on camera): Is that what I think it is?
JOSH DAVIS, FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY STAGING AREA MANAGER: Bullet holes.
MATTINGLY: Bullet holes.
(voice-over): These trailers are trashed and vandalized, many apparently by victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita who once lived inside. Purchased at taxpayer expense for $18,000 or more, FEMA officials say nearly 10 percent of them came back unfit to use again.
DON JACKS, FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: We wonder why people would then cause excess damage to the place that they have been given to live in. And, sometimes, we just don't know.
MATTINGLY: FEMA says its trailers are inspected every 90 days. But, apparently, a lot can happen between inspections.
DAVIS: This one, they -- they have just took everything. MATTINGLY: At a FEMA storage site near Houston, manager Josh Davis shows us how thorough someone stripped and looted their former home.
DAVIS: The couch, all the lights, smoke detectors, vent covers.
MATTINGLY: Almost everything was gone but the kitchen sink.
(on camera): They took the toilet?
DAVIS: They took the shower controls. It looks like they started trying to take the tub out, and decided not to.
MATTINGLY: So, what happens to the people who ruin these trailers, paid for by your tax dollars? Chances are, absolutely nothing. In most cases, even if the trailer is completely unusable, the government usually decides it's just not worth going after the person who trashed it.
JACKS: The cost of prosecution far outweighs the value of either the trailer or the value of the damage or what we could get from the person who was living in that trailer.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): "Keeping Them Honest," we wanted to find out just how many trailer-trashers have been punished. Calls to state prosecutors in Texas and Louisiana reveal they have taken no one to court. And neither the U.S. Justice Department, nor the Office of Inspector General for Homeland Security could say for sure if they were working on any cases.
As for the trailers, they simply go up for auction on a government Web site.
JACKS: Putting them on the auction and receiving a third, maybe even half of what was originally paid for the trailer...
MATTINGLY (on camera): But some of these trailers don't get that much, do they?
JACKS: And I can't answer that, because I have not looked at -- at every trailer that's been sold on the Web site. I have checked it, and I'm seeing trailers that -- that the bids are one-fourth of what they sold for new, one-half of what they sold for new.
MATTINGLY: Checking auctions in progress online, we found one damaged trailer with a single bid of only $601. And with losses per ruined trailer potentially reaching the thousands, the cost to the taxpayer is adding up.
David Mattingly, CNN, Jasper, Texas.
COOPER: Well, as bleak as it sounds, progress is being made here in New Orleans by good, hardworking people who are determined to rebuild the city. Here's the "Raw Data." Of the 81,000 businesses affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, more than 62,000 have reopened. Eleven of 17 areas' acute area hospitals are also up and running. More than 17 million cubic yards of hurricane debris has been removed from New Orleans. And, at the Convention Center, the city will host some 70 conventions this year.
We will have more from here coming up.
But, next, you-know-who, for years, people have been asking, what is wrong with her? Tonight, the question is, what's ailing her, and should it get her out of jail?
COOPER (voice-over): Candidates gaining momentum, Americans laid up with gas pains -- who is promising a solution at the pumps, and who is vaulting ahead in the polls? Answers in "Raw Politics."
Also tonight, the inmate calls collect -- who she spoke to, what she said, and what she promised to do when she gets out -- 360 tonight.
COOPER: If you have been following the saga of that certain celebrity socialite, you may be interested to know that she's found God behind bars. At least, that's what the hotel heiress told Barbara Walters during a phone conversation over the weekend.
There is more. It seems we now know what her medical condition is.
CNN's Dan Simon has the latest.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There may be a serious medical reason why Paris Hilton has had so much difficulty adjusting to jail. According to TMZ, Hilton suffers from extreme ADD, attention deficit disorder, and claustrophobia. The Web site cites unnamed sources saying, last week in jail, she wasn't given all of her medications, which may have led to panic attacks. CNN cannot confirm these reports.
But Hilton seems to be doing much better in the jail's medical ward. She appears to have done some serious introspection. In a conversation with Barbara Walters over the weekend, she pledged to use her celebrity to help others.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE VIEW")
BARBARA WALTERS, ABC NEWS: She said she would like to help, perhaps, in the field of breast cancer. And she said she thought that she might get toy companies to build a kind of Paris Hilton playhouse for children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIMON: Paris said her few days in custody have made her a different person; the young woman we saw on her reality show...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE SIMPLE LIFE")
PARIS HILTON, CONVICTED OF PROBATION VIOLATION: My Fendi matches the shirts.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cute.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIMON: ... isn't the true Paris.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE VIEW")
WALTERS: This part, I thought particularly interesting: "I used to act dumb. It was an act. And that act is no longer cute."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIMON: Paris will serve out the remainder of her sentence. She says she no longer wants to appeal. With good behavior, she will be out in two weeks -- among the weekend visitors, her sister, Nikki, and an ex-boyfriend. The two did not have to wait in line, prompting other visitors to gripe and allege more special treatment.
(on camera): Some of the heat has now shifted to the sheriff, Lee Baca. He thought Paris should serve most of her sentence in home detention. Paris' grandfather contributed $1,000 to Baca's reelection campaign. A quid pro quo? The sheriff vehemently denies it.
(voice-over): Today, he took criticism from Reverend Al Sharpton.
AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Our concern is, beyond this tabloid hysteria around Paris Hilton, is, what about the person in South Central or in East L.A. that cannot get the attention on their medical condition, psychological condition?
SIMON: As for Paris' condition, she told Barbara Walters she's become more spiritual and has spent time reading the Bible. She vowed to never again drink and drive. She says jail time has changed her, and God has given her a new chance.
Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco.
COOPER: Hmm. Do you believe it?
Well, as you just heard, she reportedly suffers from extreme attention deficit disorder and claustrophobia. What does that really mean, though, for someone behind bars?
Joining me for -- from Los Angeles for more is addiction specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky.
According to this Web site, TMZ, she has extreme ADD, wasn't receiving all her medication in jail. If that's true, would that make a difference in terms of how she acted?
DR. DREW PINSKY, AUTHOR, "CRACKED: PUTTING BROKEN LIVES TOGETHER AGAIN": A slight difference.
But, look, ADD is something that really is primarily an attentional disorder. Things like studying and communicating, that sort of thing, might be a problem. But, in fact, your moods, your anxiety states are really not that dependent on the ADD medication.
In fact there's great controversy as to whether somebody with an alcohol issue should ever be receiving, as an adult, ADD medication. So, the fact is, she perhaps shouldn't be receiving this medication, let alone making it a huge issue that would have her out of jail.
COOPER: She -- she told Barbara Walters she was reassigned to house arrest -- and I quote -- "I was not eating or sleeping. I was severely depressed and felt as if I was in a cage."
You know, I mean, that's what prison is. She is in a cage.
PINSKY: That's right. She was in a cage. That's right.
COOPER: Most prisoners would experience those feelings.
PINSKY: That's right. You are in a cage. And I'm sure it's very depressing.
And, you know, some of the things she's saying is quite positive. She's saying she has sort of had a spiritual awakening and she intends to change. I noticed she says she intends to stop drinking and driving, but she doesn't say she intends to stop drinking altogether. And that's a problem.
So, the reality is, people, although they learn from the consequences, unless they participate in some sort of therapeutic process that they sustain, they don't change very much. They may change direction. They may change the circumstance. They may change manifestations. But deep change doesn't happen merely because you decide it's going to do. You have to do something. But it often does start with a spiritual awakening.
COOPER: What is it, though, that compels people to be, you know, what she is, I mean, to -- to go...
PINSKY: A celebrity?
COOPER: ... stand in front of, you know -- yes, on these red carpets, and stand in front of these cameras, and to constantly project herself, you know -- there's no actual skill that she has. She hasn't actually done anything that would warrant all this.
PINSKY: No, you're right. Anderson that's absolutely true.
COOPER: What is that -- that -- there's got to be something inside that -- that propels someone to do that.
In fact, we just completed the first-ever study done on celebrities. And we found that celebrities, particularly those that are reality TV show contestants, and particularly females, interestingly, measure really off the chart on something called the narcissism inventory. Now, it's a scale of narcissistic traits. And celebrities tend to have a preponderance of this that they come to their celebrity with. It's not something that they develop as a result of having been a celebrity. It's the people with these traits that need to be a celebrity.
The other interesting question is, why do we seem to elevate people, as a society, who love pathological issues? You and I were talking off the air for a second. And normal people aren't that interesting. It's people that -- that create drama in their lives, that have issues internally, that act those issues out, that are kind of interesting to us.
And that may figure into why we elevate them. And, certainly, their narcissistic needs is what puts them out there.
COOPER: But, I mean, in truth, we should be sort of -- these people are warped.
COOPER: I mean, it's not as if these people are worthy of attention. They -- they are simply deeply flawed and warped, and, you know, need...
COOPER: ... some sort of help...
PINSKY: ... your...
COOPER: ... by someone else, but not necessarily...
COOPER: ... to be on the cover of a magazine.
PINSKY: Well, your point here, I -- here is how I take that.
And that is that we look at these people, and we sort of -- we like to elevate them. And then we like to knock them down. It's like we need to scape them and -- scapegoat them and destroy them, almost our own little human sacrifices that we create as a group that galvanizes us all together.
The fact is, these are young women with serious medical problems that give us an opportunity, A, to learn about these things. But, B, we need to be concerned about them and really wish them well, because these are deadly conditions.
And people don't think about it that way. They think it's just a spoiled brat behavior, rather than somebody who is manifesting significant psychiatric pathology, enough to scare a sheriff to send somebody home. So, there's more to be revealed about what's going on here. There's something very, very serious. And it's not just ADD.
COOPER: I just wish they weren't paid so well to be, you know, annoying and crazy.
PINSKY: Well, I don't know how to answer that one.
COOPER: It just seems to reinforce the behavior.
PINSKY: Yes, the behavior is highly reinforced.
And -- and, again, you have got to remember, people that want to be a celebrity, they will kill to be there. It's a very intense drive to get somebody to that position. And it's not that stressful. It's better to be a celebrity. The problem is, the stress of potentially lose that celebrity status is what really stresses them out.
COOPER: Drew Pinsky, appreciate your perspective. Thanks, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: My pleasure.
COOPER: With the legal annal, joining me -- legal angle, I should say -- joining me now is Court TV anchor Lisa Bloom.
Lisa, she -- OK. She reportedly suffers from extreme ADD, claustrophobia. Can, you know, a medical condition like that factor into any decisions about early release?
LISA BLOOM, COURT TV ANCHOR: Of course it can. And it did here.
The question is, would it if she was a poor black woman from Compton? I think we all know the answer to that is no. But, if she is being released because of overcrowding, and her term is only 45 days, and she's served 10 percent of it, yes, it could. It could. The problem is, it's not applied equally.
COOPER: What -- what about good behavior? How -- I mean, how much more time do you think she's going to serve?
BLOOM: OK. Her initial sentence was 45 days. The judge reduced that, before she went in, to 23 days. That is still on the table.
So, I think, subject to the determination of the sheriff, she could still just serve the 23 days. She's now, I think, day seven or day eight. So, she could be out in just a couple of weeks.
COOPER: And, then, back in January, she was placed on probation for three years. Does jail time wipe her slate clean, or is she -- is that three-year probation still in -- in effect?
BLOOM: No, that's still in effect. She's in jail because she violated that probation. If she had just kept her nose clean, she would have just had probation for three years.
But the judge determined that the probation wasn't enough to stop her from breaking the law, driving under the suspended license. And, by the way, she was supposed to complete an alcohol education program. As of just before going into jail, she hadn't done that. She hadn't signed up for it. So, she had a second violation as well.
So, for three years, she is still going to be on probation. And she is ordered to comply with all of the terms of that probation, including, clearly, not drinking and driving, and also complying with all other laws. If she breaks any other law, in addition to the penalties for that, she's violating the probation, and she can go right back to jail.
COOPER: Do we know, is she going to be able to drive any time soon?
BLOOM: No. Her license is suspended. So, she's not allowed to drive, of course, without that license. It's suspended. And she's not allowed to drive.
So, Anderson, when she says, I'm not going to drink and drive, well, that's nice. That's the law. We're all supposed to not drink and drive, and especially Paris Hilton, because she doesn't even have a license.
COOPER: So, if she was not -- I mean, there are those who are saying, look, her celebrity cuts both ways, that, if she hadn't been a celebrity, she wouldn't have gotten this -- this length of a sentence, anyway.
COOPER: Is that true?
BLOOM: No. I'm not one of those people that says that, because she violated her probation twice. And the judge got mad. The prosecutor asked for 45 days. The judge gave 45 days, which, you know, is on the high end. Thirty days would be about average.
But she did violate probation twice. That's the kind of thing that really makes judges mad, no matter who you are, Anderson. And, then, it got reduced to 23 days. That was a gift. And, then, in jail, you know, it's going to be up to the jailers and the sheriffs to determine whether this behavior, crying, pushing the medical alert button, getting hysterical, whether that's good behavior or not.
Technically, it's not violating the rules, but I think most of us wouldn't consider that to be good behavior.
COOPER: Lisa Bloom, appreciate your expertise. Thanks, Lisa.
BLOOM: Thanks, Anderson.
Let's take a look at what's coming up with "AMERICAN MORNING" tomorrow with John Roberts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN ROBERTS, CO-HOST, "AMERICAN MORNING": The great New York taxicab challenge is coming up, Anderson.
New York's entire taxi fleet is going hybrid over the next five years. We called up with a cabbie who has already made the investment of a hybrid taxi. And we found a cabby who drives a regular gas- powered minivan. They're hitting the streets of New York. And, tomorrow, we will find out how much they have spent and how far they have gone.
The head-to-head New York taxi challenge tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING," beginning at 6:00 Eastern -- Anderson, back to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: John, thanks.
Well, ahead on 360: The results are in. The latest polling figure shows where Democrats stand after going head to head in last week's CNN presidential debates. There are some surprises. You will want to hear about that.
And today's Senate bid for a vote of no confidence on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, why the resolution never even got to the floor -- all that and more ahead on 360 from New Orleans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARLON WILLIAMS, RESIDENT OF NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA: A unique friendliness, the homely life, it's -- you know, it's a 24-hour time. You can sit on the sidewalk and talk to someone, you know, and they will say, good morning, good evening. You might go someone else, and they're not going to say good morning, good evening, and immediately respond properly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: One of the residents of New Orleans talking about what he loves about this city. And there's so much to love about this city.
You're looking at a live shot right now, the 17th Street Canal, a pumping station that has been built here to try to protect this city in the event of another Katrina-like storm. The question is, will it work? We are going to investigate that in the hours ahead.
Also ahead tonight, in our 11:00 hour, a question of justice -- a young man sentenced to 10 years in prison for a consensual sexual encounter he had with a girl who's just two years younger than him.
We have been following this story for a while. We were there today when his family heard what seemed to be some very good news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
B.J. BERNSTEIN, ATTORNEY FOR GENARLOW WILSON: We win!
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes? He's out?
SANCHEZ: Read -- read us what it says. Can you read it to us?
BERNSTEIN: The habeas corpus writ is granted. The sentence is void.
SANCHEZ: The sentence is void? That means he's cleared. That means he's cleared.
BERNSTEIN: And an order of release! An order of release.
SANCHEZ: He's got -- B.J. -- B.J., explain to us what this means.
BERNSTEIN: The order -- the order, he's released. He's released.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, it's not as simple as that. We'll take you through today's emotional roller coaster in the next hour of 360.
First, though, a victory for Alberto Gonzales today. Senate Democrats pressed for a vote of no confidence on the embattled attorney general with seven Republicans joining them. They didn't have enough votes to bring the resolution to the floor.
Republican Senate leaders who helped block the resolution called it a waste of time, since Gonzales serves at the pleasure of the president.
Today, Mr. Bush reaffirmed his support for his longtime friend and aide. It has been a week since the Democratic presidential contenders faced off in New Hampshire. And tonight there are new poll numbers on who got the biggest boost from the debate. It's part of "Raw Politics", one of our favorite spectator sports here on 360.
Here's CNN's Tom Foreman.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, hockey is over. The basketball season is winding up. But there is always a hot round of poll vaulting in "Raw Politics".
(voice-over) Charging out of New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton is solidifying her front-running status in the polls. The heavy debate in the Granite State left the Obama-rama deeper in second, as she pulls away.
New Hampshire Democrats now think the Hill offers by far the best chance to beat the Republicans, according to a new CNN/WMUR New Hampshire presidential primary poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire.
But don't hand out the trophies yet. For likability, they rank her third. And we're still waiting on the numbers for the Republicans.
Fred "don't call me a candidate" Thompson is still not running, but he's -- well, running. His staff met with the Republican Party of Iowa to go over details of the straw poll there later this summer. He's in third place and rising for the GOP.
The "Raw Politics" inside analysis: his numbers will go even higher over the next few weeks as he gets closer to officially announcing.
A new big Harry deal. Senate majority boss Harry Reid is proposing a bill to bring down gas prices, cut oil consumption, reduce dependency on foreign oil. So what did he have to say at his press conference today?
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: And the one fact I've learned I can't get out of my mind is that Rudy Giuliani has been married more times than Mitt Romney has been hunting.
FOREMAN: And on the red carpet, Ashley Judd was supposed to be in D.C. for to promote a bipartisan initiative called One Vote '08 to end global poverty, but she got sick. So playing the part of Ashley Judd was Connie Barton from the show "Friday Night Lights".
(on camera) Not really a household name, that Connie. So the whole event wasn't exactly "The Sopranos" season finale, but it's good enough for "Raw Politics" -- Anderson.
COOPER: Tom, thanks.
Don't miss "Raw Politics" and the day's headlines with the new "360" daily podcast. IPod? You don't need no stinking iPod. You can watch it on your computer at CNN.COM/AC360podcast or get it from the iTunes store, where it is a top download. But you must have an iPod.
Up next, new questions about the levees that I'm standing in front of.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (voice-over): New Orleans levees, they gave way before. But what about now?
JOHN KITE, NEW ORLEANS HOMEOWNER: I think they're doing the best they can do.
COOPER: Nearly two years and a billion of your dollars later, dire predictions about the levees protecting New Orleans and what the people rebuilding them have to say about it. We're "Keeping Them Honest".
Plus how an ocean of a lake turned into a puddle.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm in Nigeria standing in the middle of what used to be Lake Chad. And believe it or not, this is the rainy season.
COOPER: Dr. Sanjay Gupta with a look at what could be our future, too, only on 360.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONNIE SCHWANKAR, NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT: You know, I was thinking the other day. I was sitting outside of work, and I was on Decatur Street, looking down. And a guy drove past -- well, not drove past, but a guy came past on roller skates. He was on -- had them inline skates and a clown outfit.
And it was like -- I don't know -- April something. I'm thinking where else can you go in America, and like, it's OK for a guy to skate down the middle of a street with a -- in a clown outfit in the middle of April?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: One of the many residents of New Orleans determined to stick it out here.
We're joining you now from the 17th Street Canal. You're looking at one of the pumps in action, a new pump station here. One of the -- the pump stations that has been built to try to protect this city in the event of another hurricane.
We're 11 days into the 2007 hurricane season with almost six months to go. It is a long time to hold your breath. That's pretty much all that New Orleans can do at this point.
Billions of dollars have been spent strengthening the city's last line of defense against storms like Katrina. The new flood barrier is bigger. It's better than the old one, they say. But is it good enough to prevent another disaster?
CNN's Sean Callebs tonight, "Keeping Them Honest".
SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A winding, twisting mass of pipes and metal. It looks like something Dr. Seuss may have designed. But this is one of the new pump systems in New Orleans. And residents here have little choice but to hope these new flood gates, as well as repairs to 225 miles of levees, protect the city.
KITE: And I think there's a lot of oversight that may not have been around the last time. A lot of people looking over their shoulders. I think they're doing the best they can do.
CALLEBS: The Army Corps of Engineers received $5.7 billion to strengthen and rebuild flood walls and levees. But is it enough? Will it stand up to a Category 3, 4 or 5?
COL. JEFF BEDEY, ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS: I'm not going to try to even begin to try to measure in terms of category of protection. What I will tell you is this system is stronger today than it was pre- Katrina. And I think that's a powerful statement.
CALLEBS: But Ivor Van Heerden, an engineer with the LSU Hurricane Center, has a different assessment.
IVOR VAN HEERDEN, LSU HURRICANE CENTER: The problem is there are still weak links. And as we all know, it takes one hole to sink a ship.
CALLEBS: Critics say the problems are widespread.
These new pumps at the 17th Street Canal haven't worked properly. The Corps, however, believes they have the problems under control.
And another major flooding threat persists. This area, called the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet or MR.GO, it was carved out of marshland to create a shipping channel. But everyone now admits it created a funnel, allowing a storm surge to flood the city.
Just weeks ago, the Army Corps of Engineers proposed damming up MR.GO.
And repairs to the flood walls in the Lower Ninth Ward are already showing problems. The channel is 40 feet deep, but pilings for the flood walls go down into the soil 19 to 23 feet. The Corps of Engineers says there's no problem.
VAN HEERDEN: And what we see is this damp spot.
CALLEBS: A sign, Van Heerden says, that water is seeping through.
VAN HEERDEN: This is a potential site where you could have significant piping and potential blow out.
CALLEBS (on camera): Some engineers believe that a prolonged Category 2 hurricane over this area would once again swamp New Orleans. And anything stronger than a Category 3 would once again create a Katrina-like result.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers disputes that and says it would like to tell people in this region they are completely safe, but says that is an impossibility.
Sean Callebs, CNN, in New Orleans.
COOPER: We'll talk to Colonel Jeff Bedey of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the top of our next hour.
But up next right now, the opposite extreme, from too much water to not enough. A lake shrinks, basically vanishes. What's going on? How could it happen? 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta on assignment, showing you our "Planet in Peril", up close.
COOPER: Here in New Orleans, the trouble nearly two years ago, of course, was too much water. Massive flooding when the levees broke after Hurricane Katrina. And now those levees are being rebuilt, as we talked about before the break.
But in central Africa, along the borders of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon, it's the opposite problem. There's not enough water. Lake Chad has literally vanished.
360 M.D. Dr. Sanjay Gupta shows us the damage up close in tonight's "Planet in Peril" report.
GUPTA: Good evening, Anderson, from Nigeria, Africa. We're here, investigating climate change. To start off with, it was over 113 degrees here today.
And here's something maybe you didn't know. One of the world's largest lakes actually exists just south of the Sahara Desert, but it's shrinking, rapidly.
And what happens in the United States and other parts of the world could be having a direct impact. (voice-over) It may be hard to imagine, but what you're looking at used to be one of the world's largest lakes. Its very existence in the middle of Africa, just south of the Sahara Desert, with no apparent supply or runoff, a mystery.
Today it's merely a maze of sand, marshland and shallow puddles.
(on camera) And this is what it looks like here on the ground. There's sand everywhere. And this dry, cracked parched earth. The water here used to be at least six feet high. And now there's nothing all around me.
I'm in Nigeria, standing in the middle of what used to be Lake Chad. Ad believe it or not, this is the rainy season.
We're here, because we're told this is one of the most concrete examples of climate change anywhere in the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The biggest tragedy is really the impact of the lack of water on the human head. This is mainly because of the shortage of food. Over 70 percent is due to climate change.
GUPTA (voice-over): Less nutrition means people are vulnerable to illness like malaria, Yellow Fever and other diseases. And as the temperatures get hotter, millions of people have to learn to adapt.
You see, Lake Chad spans the borders of four Central African countries, Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger. And take a look at the water levels back in 1963. In just 45 years, the lake has slunk to a mere 1/10 of what it was. Ninety percent of the water is gone.
Fishermen once dominated the landscape here. True, you can still see some of them working their nets, but their days are long, the fish are few and the catch small. They say it's barely enough to sustain their families.
Nomad herders follow the shoreline with their cattle. Less water for them means less land for grazing. Less land means more conflict with other people living along the coastline.
Everywhere we went, people reminded us of a terribly irony. Africa produces less carbon pollution than any other continent, but it faces maybe the greatest impact from climate change and is the least equipped to deal with it.
(on camera) What we learned is that the people who live in the fishing villages are the most dramatically effected. Tomorrow, I actually jump in the lake to investigate what's really happening.
Back to you.
COOPER: Sanjay, thanks.
Coming up, what happens when the amusement park leaves you hanging, literally?
And later, what's happening to a young man after many say the justice system did exactly the same thing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (voice-over): He got 10 years in prison for something millions of teens do every weekend. Now a judge orders him freed.
BERNSTEIN: We just received an order from Judge Wilson that he has ordered the release of Genarlow Wilson.
COOPER: So why is this teen still in prison? What's being done to change the law that sent him there?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DESSIE ALEXANDER, NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT: And everybody is friendly. Everywhere else, everybody is stuck up, moody, whatever they want to call it. But in New Orleans, we try just to get along.
We have trouble now with robbery and murder, but they have that trouble everywhere. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) It's mostly the young kids doing stuff like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We are in New Orleans tonight, "Keeping Them Honest".
But our "Shot of the Day" comes from Hot Springs, Arkansas. A dozen thrill seekers left dangling. We'll tell you what happened to them in just a minute.
But first, Tom Foreman joins us with the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Tom.
FOREMAN: Hi, Anderson.
We begin with Iraq and the second bombing of a key bridge in as many days. A suicide bomber was killed in today's attack. It's unclear whether there were any other victims.
The incident follows a bridge bombing yesterday that killed three American soldiers and wounded six others.
A major rebuke today of the Bush administration's anti-terror tactics. A federal appeals court says the government can't keep legal U.S. residents locked up indefinitely without being charged.
The decision comes in the case of Ali al-Marri, an immigrant from Qatar held in a Navy brig in South Carolina for four years. Al-Marri is suspected of being an al Qaeda sleeper agent. He denies it. A Connecticut girl missing for nearly a year, now back in school. Fifteen-year-old Danielle Cramer attending classes just five days after being found in a hidden room in West Hartford, Connecticut.
Her parents and doctors said they wanted Danielle to get right back to a normal teenage routine. Three people are charged in her disappearance.
And an unscheduled repair job in space. NASA has decided to send an astronaut outside the Space Shuttle Atlantis to tuck in a corner of a thermal blanket that came loose during lift-off. NASA officials are playing down the problem, saying they doubt the loose blanket is any serious threat.
And a little relief back here on earth, at the pumps, for America's drivers. For the first time in six months, gas prices took a dip, the national average dropping seven cents a gallon over the last few weeks. Industry analysts say the drop is due to a boost in gas imports from foreign producers.
How about that, Anderson?
Hey, Tom, time for our "Shot of the Day". I don't know if you saw this. It happened at an amusement park, a little more excitement in an Arkansas amusement park than some thrill seekers paid for.
About a dozen riders on a roller coaster were left hanging upside down when the power went out. It happened when the ride reached its peak, 150 feet off the ground. It took about half an hour to hook up a generator to get the ride moving again.
The utility company says the power failure was caused by a bird or a small animal.
So remember, Tom, keep the small animals away from the...
FOREMAN: I'm going to say that's a chipmunk, because, as you know, they're known as nature's little pranksters.
COOPER: All right, Tom. I'll take that. There you go. Thanks.
We want you to you send us your "Shot" ideas. If you see some amazing videos, some chipmunks, whatever, tell us about it: CNN.com/360. We'll put some of your best clips on the air.
Coming up in the next hour of 360, serious stuff: a judge throws out the 10-year sentence of a man jailed for a consensual sex act as a teenager. So why is he still behind bars?
And a convict socialite is talking from jail about getting a wake-up call from a higher authority. What's up with that? Coming up on 360.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: You're watching the only live newscast on cable right now. We are in New Orleans, alongside the massive 17th Street Canal levee system. The question for many here, is it massive enough? Some are saying no. We're going to hear from a colonel in the Army Corps of Engineers about what this pumping station does and does not do.
Tonight the honor student, also, who got 10 years in prison for a consensual sexual encounter, the people who rallied to change the law and get him out, and the people still trying to keep him in.
And she whose name we dare not speak, and what's keeping her in the medical wing of the L.A. County Jail? The saga continues.
Plus, President Bush, what's keeping him in the political cellar? Does it go beyond simple lame duck syndrome? That's coming up in this hour ahead.
But we begin with what many call a case of justice denied. Today a judge in Atlanta vacated the prison sentence for Genarlow Wilson. He's the Georgia honor student and star athlete who was sentenced to 10 years for consensual oral sex with he was 17 and the girl was 15.
Today, a judge said enough, but as CNN's Rick Sanchez reports, others are saying not so fast.
BERNSTEIN: We win!
SANCHEZ: Yes? He's out?
BERNSTEIN: Yes! We won!
SANCHEZ (voice-over): A victory in the legal battle for Genarlow Wilson. His 10-year sentence is to be voiced. He should be freed from prison. So reads the faxed ruling.
Wilson, sentenced to 10 years because of a Georgia sodomy law that harshly punished the 17-year-old for having oral sex with another teenager, even though it appeared to be consensual.
In a jailhouse interview with CNN, Wilson insisted it was.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com