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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Outrage Grows Over L.A. Hospital Death; Shiite Shrine Bombed in Iraq; Special Treatment For Paris Hilton?

Aired June 13, 2007 - 22:00   ET


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening from Washington. I'm John King, in for Anderson Cooper.
Tonight, the outrage over a woman's death -- she died in a place that could easily have saved her life, had anyone paid the slightest attention. You will hear the desperate calls to 911 and the indifference they got. You might wonder how could happen and where. And we will show you.

Also tonight, new heat in the immigration battle -- Republicans are divided, and so are the voters. But they're also demanding action.

And his story of dying has touched millions of people. See what he's doing now with the gift of a little more time.

We begin, though, with a woman who didn't have to die. She could have been any of us. As you will hear, how it happens is heartbreaking, infuriating, and suspect in just about every way, medically, ethically, legally, and morally. And, as you will see, where it happened boggles the mind.

Beginning for us tonight, CNN's Ted Rowlands.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wife is dying.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): By the time her frantic boyfriend called 911 through an interpreter, Edith Rodriguez was on the floor in agony.


911 DISPATCHER: OK, what do you mean she's dying?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): She's vomiting blood.


ROWLANDS: Her boyfriend begged for help. But, to the 911 dispatcher, that request didn't compute, because Edith was already in a hospital.


911 DISPATCHER: Why aren't they helping her?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're watching her. They're watching her there, and they're not doing anything. They're just watching her.


ROWLANDS: Witnesses say Edith Rodriguez collapsed on the floor of the emergency room at Martin Luther King Jr. Harbor Hospital in Los Angeles. Hospital staff, they say, didn't lift a finger to help, something the 911 dispatcher found hard to believe.


911 DISPATCHER: Paramedics are not going to pick him up or pick his wife up from a hospital, because she's already at one.


ROWLANDS: Eight minutes later, another call comes in to the same 911 center from someone else at the hospital.


911 DISPATCHER: What's your emergency?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a lady on the -- on the ground here in the emergency room at Martin Luther King.

911 DISPATCHER: What would you want me to do for you, ma'am?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Send an ambulance out here to take her somewhere where she can get medical help.

911 DISPATCHER: OK, you're at the -- you're at the hospital, ma'am. You have to contact them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They have -- they have a problem. They won't help her.

911 DISPATCHER: Well, they're -- you know, they're -- they're the medical professionals. OK? You're already at the hospital. This line is for emergency purposes only. This -- 911 is used for emergency purposes only.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is an emergency.


911 DISPATCHER: It's not an emergency. It is not an emergency, ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is. 911 DISPATCHER: It is not an emergency.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're not here to see how they're treating her.

911 DISPATCHER: OK. Well, that's not a criminal thing. You understand what I'm saying? We handle...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excuse me. If this woman (INAUDIBLE) and die, what do you mean that ain't a criminal thing?


ROWLANDS: Less than a half-hour later, Edith Rodriguez was dead. Her siblings say, they are furious that their sister wasn't given the help that she needed.

EDDIE SANCHEZ, BROTHER OF EDITH RODRIGUEZ: You go there to get help, and nothing happens. It's like, you get ignored, like -- like if you're nobody.

CARMEN RODRIGUEZ, SISTER OF EDITH RODRIGUEZ: We're just devastated that -- the way she was treated and the way she was left there, like an animal, you know? She's a -- a person. You don't do that. Even animals are treated better.

ROWLANDS (on camera): According to the coroner, Edith Rodriguez died of a perforated bowel. There was a surveillance camera here at the hospital which recorded the last 45 minutes or so of her life.

And, according to witnesses, she spent it on the floor vomiting blood. More than a month after this took place, it is still unclear why nobody was there to help her.

ZEV YAROSLAVSKY, LOS ANGELES COUNTY SUPERVISOR: The video is a lot more alarming than the audio.

ROWLANDS (voice-over): L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky has seen the tape, which, because of an ongoing sheriff's investigation, has not been released.

YAROSLAVSKY: Not one person out of a couple of dozen, including citizens and staff and doctors and nurses, didn't lift a finger to help her, just -- just ignored her. Even the janitors who were cleaning up the vomit from around the -- that woman, who was on the floor, did a very elegant job of cleaning up the vomit, but didn't do a thing to help her. It was just indescribable.

ROWLANDS: The sheriff's department is investigating how dispatchers handled the two calls.

According to a supervisor, they have never had a call for an ambulance from a hospital. They are concerned, however, that one of the dispatchers may have been rude.

The chief medical officer and a nurse are no longer employed, as a direct result of what happened. Since September of last year, the hospital has been undergoing a forced restructuring because of a long history of problems.

While no one from the hospital would talk to us about this case, a letter sent yesterday to the county board said, in part -- quote -- "We have served thousands of patients well and a few very poorly" -- hopefully, none as poorly as they seem to have treated Edith Rodriguez.

Ted Rowlands, CNN, Los Angeles.


KING: As we said at the top, this story has many dimensions, medical, legal, ethical, organizational, and some just plain common sense.

Joining me now to walk through them, Art Caplan. He's the director of the Center For Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, and our CNN senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeff, let me begin with you an obvious question, I guess. It's a medical tragedy. It's a horrible case. It seems also very ripe for a civil lawsuit by the family.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You know, John, the definition of negligence is the absence of reasonable care. This case seems like the definition of negligence.

It is not reasonable care to leave someone bleeding, dying, vomiting blood in the middle of a hospital corridor. So, certainly, at a minimum, there looks like there would be grounds for a civil suit here. I think criminal charges are less likely, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was an investigation, given just how awful the facts are here.

KING: So, Art, there will be a civil suit, probably, a criminal investigation. Let's talk about just the way the hospital treated the patient. Any excuse for this?


You have a situation where someone is saying, I'm in pain by the time they're writhing on the floor. They're writhing around in their own blood and vomit. It's clear to anybody. At least two people called 911, trying to step in and help. You have got an absolute duty in the E.R.

In fact, Jeffrey knows there's a federal law that requires stabilizing people in emergency rooms. She clearly was not getting any type of adequate care. There's just no excuse, no excuse whatsoever.

KING: And, Jeff, you listen to the 911 dispatchers in Ted Rowlands' piece there. Can they be held criminally responsible being rude or for not sending an ambulance? And they -- they seem to, on the threshold, have a case: Well, you're already in a hospital, ma'am.

But should they have listened more closely?

TOOBIN: They certainly should have listened more closely. They did a lousy job as dispatchers.

But, as for anything criminal, I don't think so. I could see potentially their losing their jobs. They were not good at what they did. They were insensitive. They certainly didn't serve this woman or her family or the people who called very well.

But, oftentimes, we have talked about whether the failure to do something is a crime. And the legal system rarely makes the failure to act a crime. And, in this circumstance, I don't see what the dispatchers did as really any possibility of criminal charges. Firing is a different matter.

KING: Art, as you listen to those calls, these dispatchers often are the first line of defense, if you will, for the person on the other end. From an ethical and a moral standpoint, anything there you find unacceptable?

CAPLAN: It's tough for the dispatcher to say, look, you're in a hospital. I can't call an ambulance and take you to another hospital. They're in the place that they're supposed to be.

I don't see the dispatchers failing in their duty to respond. I see them perhaps not being good at giving advice about what to do if something's not happening in the hospital. And there was a little bit of rudeness in -- on the part of one of those people.

But I don't think that's the problem. I will tell you, John, I -- I think this issue of E.R.s being jammed up, overflowing, doctors and nurses with too much to do, that is an issue. And it is one that we have to take into account, not just here, but around the country.

If you look in emergency rooms around the country, you have got people there with colds. You have got people there with trauma. You have got people there with asthma. You have got people there with perforated bowls. They're all cramming in because it's the only place in this you can get any health care. And that needs to be fixed.

We don't have enough emergency room facilities. And it shouldn't be that the only place to go to get your sniffles paid attention to is the E.R.

KING: Well, Jeff, the "L.A. Times" did a series on this hospital just a few years ago, and dubbed it the killer king.

It seems like conditions haven't improved much. Who, ultimately, is responsible for ensuring people receive proper care, especially in this case, as I believe it's a public hospital?

TOOBIN: Well, you can have diffuse responsibility. But I'm sorry. I think this is not entirely a political failure. This is a failure of the human beings who saw this woman on the floor and didn't do anything. I don't care how busy you are. If there's somebody vomiting blood in front of you, you go to help them in a hospital emergency room.

That seems to be basic human common sense, human dignity, even more than any legal requirement. Sure, there are terrible problems with our medical system. People without health insurance -- and that's 40 million people -- often wind up in E.R.s. And that puts tremendous strain on E.R.s., but not this much strain, so that this hospital can be excused in any way for the conduct here.

CAPLAN: John, let me jump in and say, I agree with that completely, no excuse here. Don't want to miss the bigger picture about the problem.

But they had a duty to jump in there and do something when she was writhing around on the ground. They failed. It's immoral, inexcusable. And I hope, in fact, the state and the county look at this hospital and say, we may need to step in here, given the string of problems. This is quite a culmination to what's been going on at this facility.

KING: Well, we will keep an eye on it.

And, Jeffrey Toobin and Art Caplan, thank you both for your thoughts today on this horrible case. And we will keep an eye on that hospital, we promise.

And, as Ted Rowlands touched on, L.A.'s King Harbor Hospital, where Edith Rodriguez died last month, has a long history of problems. Here's the "Raw Data."

According to "The L.A. Times," since January 2004, the public hospital has flunked more than a dozen inspections. And, four times, it has been cited for lapses so severe, regulators deemed patients in immediate jeopardy. The most recent case last week in the E.R. King Harbor was given 23 days to correct the problems or told it could lose federal funding.

We turn now to the immigration battle. Depending on how you ask the question, Americans are either for or against giving illegal immigrants a way of legally staying in the country. They're divided on a guest-worker program. They're divided on a border fence. So is the Congress. So is the president's party. And so are freshmen and many longtime Democrats.

Yet, people say they want something done. So, President Bush is taking another shot at reviving the compromise immigration bill that failed in the Senate just last week. The question is, is that the something that people really want?

Two sides of the debate tonight -- first, Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project.

Mr. Gilchrist, thank you for joining us.

I'm going to play devil's advocate here. Twelve million or more illegal immigrants already in this country, most mayors and governors say you simply cannot do anything about it. That is the economic reality. And, also, look at public opinion. If you look at the polls, a -- quote -- "strong majority" of Americans favor allowing illegal immigrants to become citizens, if they meet certain requirements.

It isn't better for lawmakers to come up with some compromise than do nothing at all?


But, insofar as not being able to repatriate 12 million or more illegal aliens, well, I have never known anyone with a defeatist attitude towards a problem who could ever solve that problem.

All that is necessary is for our Congress and our political governors throughout the country to accept the challenge, to engage in something called tough love, and enforce our rule of law. That will solve the problem.

KING: You say it will solve the problem. But would you, sir, favor spending what they say would cost billions to go out looking for these people, rounding them up, taking them to the country -- taking them to the border, and sending them home? Or would you prefer that money be spent on border security, a fence, more Border Patrol, more technology?

GILCHRIST: All of the above, John.

I think it's a combination of -- it's a multifaceted effort to secure our country and bring this nation back under the rule of law. That means you assemble at the border. You increase the budget of ICE, so that they can do their jobs.

How many times I have made phone calls to ICE to have a query done on a place of employment that is known to hire illegal aliens, and not one agent shows up ever. They're certainly deficient in funding. And that's not by accident, John. It's by design by the U.S. Senate.

KING: I want you to listen to the view of Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano. Senator John McCain, a Republican of Arizona, has much the same view.

Governor Napolitano said in a recent op-ed piece that the United States has done nothing to enforce legislation from back in 1986. You know that legislation well. And she wrote that -- quote -- "Accordingly, our current system is effectively silent amnesty. If we have no comprehensive immigration reform this year, and if we do not deal rigorously and openly with those already here, silent amnesty will continue."

I know, sir, you oppose amnesty. Is the governor correct? GILCHRIST: The governor is somewhat correct.

But what she's neglected to say is that this bill is not only an amnesty bill. It's more appropriately titled the amnesty and colonization act of 2007. This is going to invite, over the next 18 years, 150 to 215 million more illegal aliens, depending on which pundit you listen to.

This is going to be devastating for the future of this country. We have got to get this country under the rule of law. We have to do it now. And we have to simply enforce our immigration laws vigorously.

KING: Jim Gilchrist of the Minuteman Project, that is one view, sir. Thank you for your time tonight.

GILCHRIST: Thank you.

KING: We will revisit with you as the debate goes on.

Thank you, sir.

Now another view represented by Janet Murguia. She's president of the National Council of La Raza, the largest national Hispanic civil rights advocacy organization in the United States.

Ms. Murguia, I want to play the same role as devil's advocate here. The president says do this now in one piece. But you know the critics. They say they, do it one piece at a time. Prove to us first you can secure the border. Build the fence. Put the agents out there. Then deal with the question of the people already here.

Why not? Why not accept that approach, and do border security first, then come back to the other things?

JANET MURGUIA, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL COUNCIL OF LA RAZA: Well, John, we have been doing that for the past 10 years. We have quintupled our efforts and resources into enforcement.

What we have learned is that enforcement alone won't work. We support enforcement and security. We understand that that has to be part of the equation of a comprehensive approach.

But, when you do enforcement alone, it's not enough. We have to have a rational, fair, and orderly way in which we're dealing with the undocumented immigrants who are here and how we deal with the future flow of immigrants and dealing the work site and employer enforcement.

If that's not all a part of this package, enforcement alone will not work. In the last 10 to 15 years, we have seen that, because there have been increased resources and increased efforts around the enforcement. And there certainly are enforcement and security provisions in the Senate compromise.

KING: I want to move on to some of your other points in a minute. But let me just ask you, simply, if they have been putting all this time and money into enforcement, they must be failing. You know the numbers, people coming over just in the last few years. Never mind the last 20 years, since 1986. But they're -- they're doing something dreadfully wrong, if they're spending more money doing enforcement. Do you agree on that point?

MURGUIA: Well, yes.

I think putting all the money in a fence alone is not the right way. We do not support a fence. But there could be other technologies and more sophisticated technologies that can be used in this 21st century.

And I think, if we concentrate our resources on those technologies and what we can be doing, instead of seeing a lot of the enforcement happening in raids in different parts of the country, where people are clearly not a threat to the country.

If we really want to get at threats and where people can have targeted enforcement, we need to be more sophisticated about it. Those resources have been spent not in the most effective means possible. But we have been putting a lot of resources in there. We need to make sure that it is targeted to the most effective technologies that we know will work when it comes to border enforcement and security.

KING: You know his views well, but I want to read you something from our own Lou Dobbs, who wrote frequently -- wrote recently about this bill, calling it amnesty. He says the president needs to -- quote -- "give it a rest."

And, in a recent op-ed, Lou wrote: "In what other country would citizens be treated to the spectacle of the president and the Senate focusing on the desires of 12 million to 20 million people who had crossed the nation's borders illegally, committed document fraud, and in many cases identity theft, overstayed their visas, and demanded, not asked, full forgiveness for their trespasses?"

Janet Murguia, why not let -- take the Lou Dobbs approach, border security first? And, as you answer, would you at least concede the point that his side of this debate has won the argument over the definition of amnesty?

MURGUIA: Well, I think winning an argument over what -- how people define amnesty is really irrelevant.

The fact of the matter is, is that what's in this bill is an earned path to legalization. And people have to go through many steps, including paying fines, and learning English, and paying taxes.

And the fact is, nobody is demanding any sort of amnesty. And amnesty is certainly not a part of this equation. When you have to take the steps, and wait up to 12 years for a path to citizenship, it's not amnesty. And, so, Lou and I differ on that.

But I want to make it clear that people are not demanding amnesty. People are saying they want a chance at the American dream and to be part of this society, after they have been making important contributions for many years in terribly difficult jobs.

We have to have a rational, orderly way to solve this. A comprehensive approach is the best approach. And I think, frankly, you know, Lou also says people need more hearings and more debates. People are tired of talking about this. They want action. And they want a solution. And they're going to hold our leadership in Congress accountable for this.

And we want to be able to know that people aren't going to quit on this bill at this time. People want to see this bill move forward and see a rational and fair approach to this occur in this Congress.

KING: Well, we will see if it comes up again in this Congress.

And, Janet Murguia, we thank you for your thoughts and time tonight. We will see if it comes up as we go ahead.

MURGUIA: Thank you.

KING: Thank you very much.

MURGUIA: Thanks. Thanks.

KING: Just ahead -- just ahead, another question pitting brother against brother and Republican against Republican: Who is the biggest flip-flopper in the presidential campaign? Details in "Raw Politics."

Plus: the showdown over a scandal that some believe leads all the way to the president's most trusted political adviser, Karl Rove.


KING (voice-over): The attorney general said politics had nothing to do with the firing of U.S. attorneys. Now Congress has White House e-mails, and they're demanding answers.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER: Have I lost confidence in Attorney General Gonzales? Absolutely, yes.

KING: What do the e-mails say, and will top White House officials testify?

Also, are the Hiltons getting upgraded?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is she sleeping?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... sleeping?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, she really hasn't had much sleep. So...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any nightmares? KING: New allegations of special treatment for mom, dad, and the ditzy detainee, new complaints about the county sheriff -- tonight on 360.



KING: That is Harriet Miers, former top legal adviser to the president, now front and center in a deepening showdown between Congress and the White House over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

Miers and a former top aide to Karl Rove, Sara Taylor, were subpoenaed today to testify on Capitol Hill next month. The White House calls the action pure politics. Democrats hope, though, these subpoenas will bring new pressure to bear on the administration.


SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: It's now up to the president. Is he going to cooperate with an investigation that has really rocked the Justice Department, brought out facts that we have never seen before, or are they going to continue to stonewall?

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: At this juncture, You know, it's clear that they're trying to create some media drama. And I will leave it at that.


KING: It is a battle both over the firings and over executive privilege.

Joining us again is CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

We're keeping you busy tonight, Jeff. Thank you very much.

Let's start with the basics. Just put it into context. How significant is such a move, subpoenaing top presidential aides by the Democrats, and what are they hoping to uncover, do you think?

TOOBIN: Well, remarkably, given that this scandal is months old, we still don't know the answer to the most basic questions: Who decided to fire these U.S. attorneys, and why?

I mean, it is reasonable for the Democrats still to be looking for answers to those questions, since Alberto Gonzales doesn't know the answer; none of his subordinates know the answer. So, they're still looking.

These new e-mails released today suggest, don't prove, that the White House was more deeply involved in the decision to get rid of these U.S. attorneys than had previously been suggested. So, they're raising the stakes. They're subpoenaing Harriet Miers and the former political director, saying, we want you to testify under oath, and we're not -- we're done negotiating, or at least, we -- we want to raise the stakes in the negotiation, and not requesting; we're subpoenaing you.

KING: But you know the history of executive privilege. Traditionally, aides who do not go through Senate confirmation cannot be hauled before the Congress. So, the White House says it is not going to comply. And the White House says, it has offered to make them available, just not in the public setting that the Democrats want at an open hearing.

What is the next step?

TOOBIN: Well, the -- there are precedents on both sides. During the Clinton years, there were lots of subpoenas from the Republican Congress to the Democratic White House. And, invariably, some sort of compromise was reached, where some documents were turned over. Many White House officials did wind up testifying before Congress. But the Congress didn't get everything they wanted.

Here, this White House has taken more of a hard line, at least so far, saying, there will be no sworn testimony at all from these officials, including Karl Rove and Harriet Miers.

Negotiations will certainly ensue. Senator Specter, the senior Republican from Pennsylvania, has been trying to broker a settlement. But there's no settlement so far. And this has been a very confrontational process. So, the next step will be, if the Democrats don't get satisfaction, they may vote to hold certain of these witnesses in contempt.

KING: And is this a test case, if you will? Democrats say, ultimately, they would like to question Karl Rove. They believe he was in the middle of all this, but they want his former deputy, Sara Taylor, Harriet Miers first.

Are the negotiations and the back-and-forth over this essentially a test to see if they can get what they would consider the big fish down the road?

TOOBIN: Certainly, that's what they want. They want Karl Rove, under oath, in public. That's what the Democrats really want here, because what the Democrats believe is that this U.S. attorneys firing was orchestrated out of Rove's office.

The problem is, they're a long way from there. And the days are winding down in this administration. It will take weeks of negotiation. Then it will take weeks more to vote contempt. If there's no more negotiations after contempt, perhaps a proceeding would be brought in the federal district court.

All of this, legally, like construction projects, always takes longer than you think. So, it's very likely that the clock could run out on this process before the Congress gets any answers that they really want.

KING: Forgive me, sir, but it sounds like too many lawyers and too many politicians.


KING: Jeffrey Toobin, thank you very much for your time tonight.

And, as if the confrontation over fired prosecutors isn't raw enough, here's Tom Foreman with tonight's edition of "Raw Politics."


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John, it can be awfully lonely in the world of "Raw Politics," but Congressman and candidate Dennis Kucinich has found some new friends.

(voice-over): And they have gathered around an old cause: Hey, kids, let's impeach the vice president.

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, since we gathered over a month ago, the vice president has continued along the path of conduct that led me to file the articles of impeachment.

FOREMAN: Kucinich was alone for his first attempt. Now a few other Democrats are co-sponsoring the measure. That means, this time, he will have someone to call when it fails.

Summer is almost here, time for a flip-flop fight. John McCain, who opposes abortion rights, says Mitt Romney, who opposes abortion rights, does not seem fully committed to that position, since changing his views a few years back. Romney, rising in the polls, calls it a desperate, last-ditch effort to save McCain's campaign. Last ditch? Already?

What's that coming over Capitol Hill? Another big "Harry" deal. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he will call for more votes on Iraq soon on war funding, troop withdrawal. The "Raw Politics" reality, chances of success are slim, and he knows it. This is to appease the hard core anti-war wing of his own party.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: We're going to be able to start this probably two weeks from tomorrow.

FOREMAN: Let's see. Dog? Pony? (INAUDIBLE)

And a little steak and shakedown -- President Bush's approval rating are at an all-time low, but more than 5,000 supporters showed up to hear him to speak at what is called the President's Dinner here in Washington.

(on camera): The point of that dinner, of course, is to raise money, about $15 million, according to the Republican Party, so that perhaps they will still have a president to share fries with next time.

And, hey, look. Look what I got out of "The Washington Post." It's a Fred Thompson finger puppet. Look, he's in. He's out. He's in. He's out. He's in. He's out -- John.

(END VIDEOTAPE) KING: Tom Foreman, always the best toys.


KING: Now here's John Roberts with a look at what's coming up tomorrow morning on "AMERICAN MORNING."


JOHN ROBERTS, CO-HOST, "AMERICAN MORNING": He was acquitted twice in civilian courts, even spent time on death row. Now investigators want a retired Army soldier to face a general court- martial, where he could get the death penalty for a triple murder back in 1985. How DNA evidence could affect the case of Army Master Sergeant Timothy B. Hennis -- his story tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING," beginning at 6:00 a.m. Eastern -- back to you, John.


KING: And up next here: an unholy assault inside Iraq. A Shiite shrine bombed again. Was it an inside job? And will it make a bad situation even worse?

Also ahead, new outrage over how Paris Hilton -- uh-huh -- is being treated behind bars.

Stay with us.


KING: Late today, President Bush phoned Iraq's prime minister, expressing condolences for what you see there on the screen, yet another bombing at one of the holiest shrines in Shia Islam, the Golden Dome Mosque in Samarra.

Just to put things in perspective, here's how it looked when fully in tact. Now take a look at the scene early last year after Sunni insurgents with links to al Qaeda blew the dome apart. Today, bombers took down the minarets.

Again, an al Qaeda connection is suspected, as well as an inside job. The fear now, reprisals.

Joining me now by telephone from Baghdad is John Burns of "The New York Times".

John, some believe the attack against the al-Askariya mosque today might have been an inside job. What do we know about that? And if it is the case, how much does it further undermine the legitimacy of Iraqi security forces?

JOHN BURNS, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well, we know that American military units up in the area of Samarra and some Iraqi commanders have been here for some time prior to the attack. They pulled down the minarets that the guard force was infiltrated by al Qaeda. They were unable to do anything about that. And there has been an expectation over the last two or three weeks that there was a catastrophic attack coming by al Qaeda somewhere. The American command here didn't know where. And now we know where it was, and the question is where is this going to go?

KING: As you know well, John, President Bush and others often cite the attack on this mosque back in 2006 as the point when the sectarian violence escalated. Do you believe we're on the brink now of another escalation?

BURNS: We have to watch it very carefully. In the 24 hours now, nearly, since the attack that brought down those minarets, the striking thing has been how sporadic and limited the violence has been.

There have been relatively few reprisals attacks, three or four mosques in Baghdad, in this case, Shiite attacks on Sunni mosques, one of them set afire. A few mosques, again, Shiite attacks on Sunni mosques across south central Iraq, and a couple of attacks in Basra.

But compared to what happened last year when 27 Sunni mosques in Baghdad were destroyed, effectively, in the first hours after the attack in Samarra, when 140 people were killed, most of them in Baghdad, in the first 24 hours, the sequence so far here has been very limited.

And owes, I think, something to the fact that Shiite leaders, from Prime Minister Maliki to Muqtada al-Sadr, the populist Shiite cleric, have spoken out quickly and decisively in favor of restraint.

KING: And John, as we've been speaking, we've been showing our viewers pictures of the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, touring the site and inspecting the damage.

He painted quite an optimistic question in an op-ed he wrote and indicated that he believes Iraqis are making political progress. The prime minister wrote this: "From the outset I committed myself to the principal of reconciliation, pledged myself to its success. I was determined to review and amend many provisions and laws passed in the aftermath of the fall of the old regime."

Is Maliki truly committed to reconciliation? Is he taking the steps necessary? And John, how much progress has actually been made?

BURNS: I'm afraid that's a long way away from the estimate that would be made by American officials here, who are deeply disappointed with the progress made by the government and perhaps so deeply disappointed with Mr. Maliki himself to the extent that there's a strong impression abroad that, if there is no progress, the Americans might start looking in the next couple of months for another partner, to use the phrase that President Bush used when he came here a year ago to meet Mr. Maliki.

KING: Quite a sober assessment. A difficult time in Iraq. John Burns, as always, thank you for your thoughts.

BURNS: Thank you, John.

KING: Take care, John.

She says God saved her life, but others say Paris Hilton is still being treated like a little princess, even behind bars. That's coming up.

So is a kid Paris really ought to meet.


KING (voice-over): He didn't think he'd see the day.

MILES LEVIN, BATTLING CANCER: You just have to be thankful for the time you have been given with your loved ones in your life.

KING: Hear from a brave young man, blogging about dying and living, and now his unexpected gift of time.

Also, he's suing for $54 million. He cried in court. See the item he thinks is worth all that money and all those tears. And get this, he's a judge. When 360 continues.



KING: Rick and Kathy Hilton arriving for a visit with their daughter in jail. And just when you thought the convict heiress had gone quietly back into the jailhouse, more outrage tonight over the appearance of special treatment.

The senior Hiltons are the targets of a heap of complaints, for cutting in line yesterday, ahead of visitors waiting to see their own loved ones. And their jailhouse visit came shortly after L.A. County officials ordered Sheriff Lee Baca to respond to allegations of favoritism for last week, when he reassigned Paris to house arrest.

Joining me now to walk through all this is investigative journalist Pat Lalama, former senior correspondent for "Celebrity Justice".

Let's get to the threshold question. What do you make of the treatment her parents received yesterday, preferential or just simply what you have when you have a high profile case like this?

PAT LALAMA, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: It smells a little bit, especially -- and especially in the wake of what happened last week.

But let me explain this one to you. Being no big fan of the whole Hilton family in terms of what's happened, I will give the sheriff and the Hiltons this today. It's a real security risk out there.

John, you've been out here in L.A. You know what the system is like out here. It's -- and you've got 22,000 inmates in the county jail. You've got people who are very angry. There are web sites out there saying boycott all Hilton hotels and anything having to do with the Hiltons. It was a wise decision.

And I'm hearing from insiders in the jail that the Baca thought, "You know what? It's just not worth it to have them standing out there, and it can be sometimes an hour plus wait." I think it was a total security decision.

My suggestion would have been, hey, sheriff, wasn't there a way to maybe drive them through a back door so it didn't stink so badly after last week? But that didn't happen.

But I can almost guarantee this was not because they're so special, but because he has to maintain order. And it could have been a real problem.

KING: Could have been a real problem. As you know, there are bigger questions in play here. The Los Angeles County board of supervisors asking now for a written report from the sheriff detailing exactly what happened last week when he released Paris Hilton.

LALAMA: Right.

KING: How serious is this and could the sheriff lose his job?

LALAMA: No, he can't lose his job. No way. Baca's a great sheriff. He really is. I mean, I think what he did with Paris was a huge mistake, and we're all scratching our heads out here, those of us who covered the judicial system and the jails for so long.

How could he have made such a politically bad mistake with Paris Hilton? California law states specifically, John, that any home detention must be determined by the judge. And the judge, Michael Sauer, wrote it twice on the order, "no home detention." And he was not -- he did not get a chance to even discuss this with the sheriff.

So I don't really get what Baca was thinking. He's a lot smarter than that.

And by the way, the whole overcrowding issue, that's the men's jail issue. I have never heard of it being a women's jail issue. So I think what the supervisors are doing now is sort of grandstanding, like we're going to show the world that we care, especially in the wake of the Reverend Sharpton showing up.

They're going to make it look like we're going to investigate those, because this is taxpayer money. But really there's no way in God's green earth that this man is going to lose his job.

KING: You say no way on God's green earth he's going to lose his job. A former county employee has started a petition drive to recall the sheriff who has been in office since 1998. How popular is he? And is there any chance this recall could be successful, or is it just part of the circus?

LALAMA: You know what? I got to tell you, I really, in my -- you know, whatever wisdom I have from covering everything, you know, that you can imagine for the last 20 years here in L.A. I just don't see it happening. He's very popular. He's very well-liked. He's a native.

You know, yes, he does -- has played golf with Michael Douglas and given -- I don't know, was it Ben Affleck a permit to carry a gun. But that's part and parcel of being out here.

The LAPD chief Bratton loves to hang out with celebrities. I just don't see it happening. He's done a lot of good for the county. I just don't see it happening.

KING: Pat Lalama, playing celebrity justice and celebrity entertainment correspondent for us tonight. In fact, thank you very much for your time.

Up next on 360, a major milestone for a teenager who was sharing his battle with cancer with the world. The new twist in a story that has inspired all of us, up next.


KING: That remarkable young man is Miles Levin. We've already told you part of his story, but tonight, there's much more to tell.

Miles is 18 years old, and his doctors said that, short of a miracle, he doesn't have much time left, certainly not years, which is while Miles, who has a rare form of cancer, is using every last minute to make his mark on life.

Days ago he reached a milestone that recently seemed out of reach.

Here's CNN's Carol Costello.


LEVIN: I can't quite believe I'm standing here.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When we first met Miles Levin a few weeks ago, graduation was a far away dream.

GRAPHIC: Every morning, I learn anew that I have cancer. Fortunately, the pang of this discovery is over faster than it starts.

COSTELLO: He was afraid he wouldn't live long enough to get his diploma. It was a fear he explored intimately while blogging about the cancer that's killing him and the discomfort of yet another debilitating chemotherapy regimen.

GRAPHIC: For one blissful split second when I first wake up, I don't know who or where or what I am. The only thing I'm aware of is the tail end of my dreams.

COSTELLO: Miles' gentle wit and his words of hope have gained extraordinary power, touching thousands around the world. (on camera) Where do you get your strength?

LEVIN: From seeing how many people are changing for the better and multiply that by thousands and thousands. And that's where it comes from.

COSTELLO (voice-over): Somehow, Miles' big spirit has come back to lift him. June 6, his doctors at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center told him he had more time, just enough to go to his prom the next day and wear his cap and gown at graduation.

LEVIN: You have to be thankful for the time you have been given with your loved ones in your life. Their memories, you'll take with you, and it's hard being (UNINTELLIGIBLE). There's no way to get around that.

COSTELLO: But still, he got a night he'd dreamed about. His mother, overcome, blogged to his online fans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In March, we didn't know if he would make it to graduation. In June, he was walking, talking, smiling, ready to dance the night away. He looked fabulous in his brand-new Hugo Boss black suit.

COSTELLO: His fabulous look thrilled his girlfriend Robin.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So how did I feel, standing there, watching my son and friends drive off in a limousine for their night of fun, excitement and abandon? I don't have words to capture my feelings about the uncertainly of his future. I know I'm proud. I know I'm happy that he gets to experience the incomparable sweetness of prom.

COSTELLO: But the best was yet to come, graduation.

(on camera) Do you have a sense that you beat something, or is it a huge sense of accomplishment? Or you just are thankful?

LEVIN: I know cancer is not impressed or, you know, it's not moving out as I graduate. But I feel somehow like I'm sticking it to cancer, and I am grateful, as well.

COSTELLO (voice-over): Miles' message has always been, every day is precious. This week it was. He got to be typical teenager, to hold a diploma, and even speak at his graduation. A wonderful week he never thought he'd see.

LEVIN: I'm still alive at my high school graduation. And for me, that's saying something.

COSTELLO: Actually, that's saying a lot.

Carol Costello, CNN, New York.


KING: A remarkable young man, and you can read more about Miles on the 360blog at

Coming up, one of the stories getting a ton of action on the blogs and all across the Web, the man demanding $54 million for an item that goes for about 150 bucks. We'll show it to you and bring you up to date on his remarkable case.

Also tonight, these stories.


KING (voice-over): They're supposed to be protecting the border. They're accused of smuggling people across it. The latest on the National Guardsmen charged with crossing the line.

You've seen the pictures, a world away. Parents killing daughters, brothers killing sisters. Cold blooded murder in the perverted name of pride and honor. Now it's happening closer to home. Honor killings in the west, ahead on 360.



KING: Remarkable new video to show you. Check this out. What you're looking at is what a tornado looks like from about 200 yards away. Photographer Justin Teague (ph) captured this funnel cloud touching down on the ground this evening in Major County, Oklahoma. Look at that.

No immediate reports of injuries or damages. A second tornado touched down just a few moments later.

Now Erica Hill from Headline News joins us with the rest of the headlines -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS: John, a Lebanese lawmaker was killed in an apparent assassination today in Beirut. Walid Eido, his son and two bodyguards died in a massive explosion while traveling in a car through a Beirut neighborhood. That blast killed six others, as well.

Eido was a vocal supporter of the United Nations tribunal investigating the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri.

An escaped prisoner once accused of plotting to kidnap David Letterman's son captured today in Montana. Kelly Frank had been on the run for nearly a week. He and a fellow fugitive were spotted by forest service workers while bathing in a creek. Tonight, both men are back in custody.

After a week April, retail sales rebounding in May. The Commerce Department says sales jumped 1.4 percent last month. That's the biggest increase since January of 2006.

And a pivotal moment in the $54 million pants trial. The case, of course, for a Washington lawyer and judge, suing his drycleaner for allegedly losing a pair of his suit pants.

Today, the defense presented its key evidence, a pair of pants. The drycleaner says they are, in fact, the missing pants, that the ticket matches his ticket. The plaintiff says they are not his pants.

The judge says she'll rule by the end of next week, John. We're all anxiously waiting.

KING: And we will keep watching that.

It's time now, though, for "The Shot". What you're about to see was recorded by a dashboard camera. Take a look.

After a chase, a cop in Kansas City, Missouri, pulls over a car that was reported stolen. When the officer gets out of his car, the driver opens fire, pumping off 30 rounds. The officer was hit in the leg and injured by flying glass, but he's expected to make a full recovery, and the suspect is in custody. Remarkable look there.

And we want you always to send us your "Shot" ideas. If you see some amazing video, tell us about it at We'll put some of your best clips on the air.

Up next on 360, border betrayal. Members of the National Guard accused of smuggling illegal immigrants across the border they're supposed to protect. How could this happen?

Also ahead, a kindergarten teacher who isn't speaking English to her students. The amazing results, ahead.


KING: You're watching the only live newscast on cable right now. Tonight, new trouble on the border, why three National Guardsmen accused of smuggling illegal immigrants may not be the last you hear of this problem.

Also tonight, growing outrage over a woman's death in a place dedicated to saving lives, surrounded by a system that seemingly just didn't care.

And a kindergarten that's about more than building blocks and finger paint. The kids when they leave speak Mandarin Chinese.

All that coming up tonight, but first, betrayal on the border. Federal authorities say they expect to make more arrests in a case that's already landed three National Guardsmen in jail, charged with smuggling illegal aliens across the U.S.-Mexico border.

We're learning more details about the three. We're also learning that the problem they allegedly represent didn't begin with them. Details now from CNN's Ed Lavandera.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An Iraq war veteran from a family of eight children. His attorney describes the family as humble and poor. They live in a wood frame house.

PHIL JORDAN, FORMER DEA SPECIAL AGENT: That would be a guy that they would, you know, test or try to recruit.

LAVANDERA: (AUDIO GAP) who worked the border region in El Paso. He's seen cartels and smugglers recruit young enforcement agents looking for fast cash.