Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Stolen Body Parts; U.S. Troops Search for Buried IED Components in Iraq; 'No Child Left Behind'

Aired October 18, 2006 - 14:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Guilty pleas and a grisly business, a transplant scheme where body tissues and other parts were harvested from hundreds of dead people who never agreed to be donors.
CNN's Deborah Feyerick has been following the story and joins us from New York with the very latest -- Deborah.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, this is a story that ha affected thousands of transplant victims, not to mention the families who thought that they had buried their dead and the dead were resting peacefully, a 122-count indictment against four men who allegedly took part in this scheme to steal body parts without families knowing.

They stole bones, tendons, heart valves, according to this indictment. They then turned around and sold them to companies who would market them to hospitals and legitimate organizations to use for people to get knee surgery or bone grafts or skin grafts, things like that.

Now, the way it worked, according to this indictment, is that four men, one of them owning a transport company that would pick up corpses from homes and then bring them to funeral parlors, would notify the doctor involved in this that a new body was on its way. That doctor would then go to the funeral home and begin to harvest the body, stealing these different parts.

In certain cases they forged documents, death certificates, as well as certificates saying what the cause of death was. So, for example, somebody who died of cancer, it was listed that they were, in fact, healthy. A big problem, because those parts were then turned around and marketed to the transplant industry.

So the superseding indictment has come out now. Four people indicted on 122 counts, and seven funeral home directors -- and this is interesting -- seven funeral home directors also pleaded guilty and have promised that they will coop in this investigation. And whatever deal they end up cutting, that deal will be dependent on just how much information they give to prosecutors and what their role was, whether they allowed these guys to come in and do this without anybody knowing.

All of that will come out at trial -- Don.

LEMON: So terrible for the families, but the people who thought they were getting healthy body parts weren't getting them. So it just goes on and on.

Deb Feyerick, thank you very much.

PHILLIPS: South of Baghdad, in an area called the "Triangle of Death," U.S. troops are learning to think like the enemy and to see the invisible. Sound impossible? It almost is.

CNN's Arwa Damon reports.

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kyra. It's an area that is incredibly volatile down there, and U.S. forces have launched what they are calling Operation Commando Hunter, a push into this territory just outside of Yusufiyah that has not seen a permanent U.S. presence for the better part of the last three years.


DAMON (voice over): This is the type of terrain that really makes you feel like each step could be your last. It has been for four American soldiers killed on this mission in the past two weeks. The tall reeds make it easy for insurgents to hide. The thick mud so slick it's like walking on ice. And somewhere beneath the tumbleweeds and brush along the canals less than an hour outside of Baghdad in an area known as the "Triangle of Death," lies what these men call a Wal- Mart of weapons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm seeing a lot of these directional charges (INAUDIBLE).

DAMON: These soldiers are about to discover they arrived just in time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not a good day when you get hit with one of those. That's just a (INAUDIBLE).

DAMON: To the untrained eye, it seems like there is nothing lurking here, but Captain Shawn Finn (ph) and his company have quickly learned the little things to look for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This berm right before we get to the (INAUDIBLE), there's footprints in the mud. It shows that they've been walking in here to provide concealment. When they get to the road they'll lay the IEDs in.

DAMON: The intent, to tighten the noose on an insurgency that has literally dug itself in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we'll notice a lot is there will be, like, fresh green shrubbery like that. That's some of the larger berms, lots of green stuff. Then we'll find this stuff, you know, piled up like tumbleweeds. Kick it out of the way, you dig in about six inches, that's where we're finding the barrels.

DAMON: Captain Finn (ph) says it's been on-the-job training.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's hanging off the reed here. It broke off. We found one about 50 meters away, so these are the types of things we look for.

DAMON: Soon, as the men continue to move forward, the insurgents' methods reveal themselves. First they find the spotter's position.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like an observation post, you know. A one- man element who's going to come pull security, or over -- watch -- full security for a guy that's putting an IED on that main road.

DAMON: Farther down, they pull up wiring. Another short distance away, they dig up plastic explosives. Mortar rounds are buried under the tumbleweed. All the parts in place to assemble IEDs at any moment right in this field.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've got the explosives in. They got the wire in, and probably within the next 12 hours undercover of darkness they'd recede the road with the IEDs.

DAMON: The final component hidden across the street.

(on camera): These are all IED roadside bomb trigger devises. They are quite primitive yet highly effective.

This, for example, is the timer off of a washing machine. Once the timer has been set, the IED is ready to detonate.

(voice over): Since this operation began two weeks ago, the U.S. has found enough material for at least 1,000 roadside bombs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't wait to do it again, find some more stuff. It's like an Easter egg hunt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was thinking that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We found other mortars.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You roll the dice every time you do it.


DAMON: Kyra, despite those challenges, despite the sacrifices that have already been made by those troops, they do remain surprisingly upbeat about the area that they are operating in. All of them are saying that each weapons cache that they find is a step in the right direction and each civilian family that they observe returning to these lands gives them hope -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: And they feel that way even after losing four of their own in two weeks?

DAMON: That's right. They do. And that's what is just so surprising about it.

Many of the times you speak to these troops and you ask them, "How are you able to go out, knowing the lives that have been lost here, knowing the risks that are involved?" And they just say, "This is our job. This is what we are here to do."

And especially in that area where they are finding so many of these deadly weapons. For them, they can see the rewards of their efforts. They see the rewards of the sacrifices that they have made right in front of them, and they say that that is what gives them the ability to go on, to head out there every day.

In fact, even as we speak right now, it's highly likely that there is a patrol out or the guys are back at the base sleeping on the floor. There are very difficult conditions out there -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Arwa Damon. And you've been right there with them. Appreciate it. Thanks.

LEMON: Out in front on No Child Left Behind. President Bush is visiting a school in North Carolina that the White House calls a shining example of the controversial program's success.

CNN's Kathleen Koch joins us from Greensboro -- Kathleen.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, we're here at Faulkner Elementary School, where the president has just taken the stage. And this is a magnet school here in Greensboro, largely African-American, and it has met the No Child Left Behind standards for the last three years in a row.

Reading scores are up 20 percent over the last five years. Math scores up 30 percent. So President Bush today is expected to say that this is an example of just how well the program is working around the country.

It's important to point out, though, that at the same time, more than 10,000 schools nationwide have not made the grade, and they are facing sanctions, like being forced to allow their students to transfer to another school, providing tutors for students, or even facing major restructuring of the school. No Child Left Behind is up for reauthorization next year, and more than -- every one of the 50 states has at this point introduced legislation to reject all or part of the program.

Democrats say one of the big problems is that the federal government has underfunded No Child Left Behind, essentially leaving schools without the resources to make these improvements that the act mandates. So there is a lot of frustration in local school districts around the country.

The "Mental Health Law Report" did a survey and found that some 80 percent of schools say that they have -- they have costs associated with No Child Left Behind that the government, the federal government is not meeting. Still, Press Secretary Tony Snow this morning says that this program nationwide has done a lot of good, that it has a lot of bipartisan support. And at this point the president is very confident that it will be reauthorized -- Don.

LEMON: Kathleen Koch, thank you very much. PHILLIPS: Preventing another 9/11 a top priority for the FBI, and that means reaching out to a community that might get the first hint of a possible attack. We'll show you the trust-building efforts.

LEMON: Plus, Mark Foley says he'll reveal the name of the priest who allegedly abused him. Why now and what comes next?

That story's ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.


PHILLIPS: An attorney calls it Mark Foley's deep, dark secret. Just after he quit Congress last month over explicit e-mails to teenage boys, Foley claimed he was molested by a clergyman. It allegedly happened decades ago and in Florida, where Foley was raised in a devout Catholic family and once served as an alter boy. His lawyer says Foley will name the priest to church higher-ups.


GERALD RICHMAN, MARK FOLEY'S ATTORNEY: Mark Foley is intending to work with the Archdiocese of Miami and Greater West Palm Beach for the purpose of revealing the name of the particular priest who was involved so that the archdiocese can then deal appropriately with the issue.


PHILLIPS: Richman says the priest is still alive. Even so, it's way too late for criminal charges.

LEMON: More closed-door testimony in the Foley case. The House Ethics Committee is questioning the sponsor of a page who was among those Foley allegedly approached.

CNN Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash is on Capitol Hill and has the very latest details for us -- Dana.


Well, that lawmaker testified this morning. Right now, as we speak, there is a very important witness talking behind closed doors to the House Ethics Committee as they try to figure out what Mark Foley's behavior was here on Capitol Hill. And the person they're talking to was Mark Foley's chief of staff, a woman by the name of Liz Nicholson (ph). She worked for Mark Foley for years and was his chief of staff up until the day he abruptly resigned just a few weeks ago.

Now, if they are looking to try and find out exactly what people observed about Mark Foley's behavior or what they heard about, she would obviously be one of the key potential people, his top staffer for quite a while here on Capitol Hill. Also, we understand from a source that Liz Nicholson (ph) was at the meeting where Mark Foley was confronted by the former clerk of the House, and also the chairman of the Page Board about an e-mail exchange that he had with a former page. Now, you mentioned a congressman. The congressman who sponsored that former page, Rodney Alexander, he did speak to the -- to the committee behind closed doors for three hours this morning. Rodney Alexander sponsored the young man who was so upset, apparently, about an e-mail that he got from Mark Foley after the page had left Capitol Hill that he sent it to somebody in Rodney Alexander's office saying it was "sick, sick, sick."

Now, after Congressman Alexander testified, he came out and talked to reporters and dropped a little bit of a hint, it seemed, about what the committee was going after.


REP. RODNEY ALEXANDER (R), LOUISIANA: It's quite apparent on some of the reports out there that there are many people that know what we know and have known for a lot longer period of time than we've known. There are people that know what the sexually explicit e-mails contained and have known about them for a longer period of time.


BASH: Now, Congressman Alexander also made a point of saying that the former page whom he sponsored and the page's family are quite upset about this. He even said that the parents are almost physically sick, Don, about it all -- Don.

LEMON: All right, Dana, thank you for that.

The timing of Foley's abuse claim and his plan to name the alleged abuser is troubling to some in the gay and GOP communities.

Joining me now is Patrick Sammon. He is the executive vice president of the Log Cabin Republicans.

As a Republican and a person who is openly gay, is this embarrassing to you?

PATRICK SAMMON, LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS: Well, Don, Mark Foley's behavior was shameful and despicable. If he broke the law, he should be prosecuted. And the timing of the release of this information is troubling to me because it creates the appearance that Mark Foley is trying to make excuses for his behavior.

I have great sympathy for all victims of sexual abuse, but Mark Foley shouldn't make excuses, any excuses for his behavior here. As a good Republican, I believe in personal responsibility, and Mark Foley needs to be personally responsible for his shameful actions.

LEMON: Patrick, there are some who are using this -- I guess they're taking the opportunity to equate this to pedophilia. As a matter of fact, Tony Perkins, we have a quote from him. He says, "Neither party seem likely to address the real issue, which is the link between homosexuality and child sexual abuse."

And that is on his Web site, the Family Research Council. Your response to that?

SAMMON: Well, Tony Perkins is using junk science to spread false stereotypes. The overwhelming number of studies show that gay people are no more likely to be pedophiles. And Tony Perkins and the other anti-gay groups should be ashamed because what they're doing here is they're trying to take advantage of this situation to spread an anti- gay agenda.

They seem to be more interested in spreading false stereotypes and lies than actually figuring out what happened here. It's really despicable what they're trying to do.

LEMON: And I'm sure you've heard of this. There's this thing out now called the Pink Purge, that the Republican Party is trying to purge the party of gays.

There's a ranking of gay Republicans on Capitol Hill that the administration is trying to get rid of. And it's been written about. You've heard about it. I've spoken to you about it over the phone before we did this.

What do you say about that?

SAMMON: Well, there's really -- there's really not any truth to the -- to the rumors that are going around. The fact of the matter is, there are hundreds of thousands of good, loyal gay and lesbian Republicans who believe in the core values of the Republican Party. They also don't agree on every issue, and we believe that the party needs to be more inclusive on gay and lesbian issues.

But gay and lesbian people play an important part in the Republican Party, and they will continue doing so in the future. And I expect the party will become more inclusive on gay and lesbian issues in the future because society is becoming more inclusive.

More and more Americans understand that gay and lesbian people deserve to be treated fairly. And I think one of the reasons the anti-gay groups are trying to take advantage of this situation is they know they're losing. So they're desperate, and they're going to try any tactic they can to turn this situation around. But they're going to fail.

LEMON: But there are people who are within the party who are saying it's called a big tent party. Do you agree with that, the GOP, the big tent party? Well, there are people who are saying, "The big tent party strategy needs to change because what they seem to be doing now is attracting a bunch of clowns."

SAMMON: That is just simply a silly quote. It might sound good, but there's absolutely no truth to it.

For the Republican Party to be the majority party in this nation in the decades ahead, they need to be inclusive and include people with different viewpoints across the ideological spectrum. And some of the anti-gay groups are really creating a recipe to make the Republican Party a minority party in the decades ahead.

LEMON: Some people, Patrick, are surprised that there are actually so many openly gay people in the Republican Party. As a matter of fact, there was an op-ed piece in "The New York Times" this past weekend. Frank Rich said, "If anything good has come out of the Foley scandal it is surely this: The revelation that the political party found on demonizing homosexuals each election year is as well stocked with trusted and accomplished gay leaders as virtually every other power center in America."

SAMMON: Well, there are good and loyal gay and lesbian Republicans who are working to advance the priorities of this party. And I think that it's always wrong to use gay and lesbian people to score political points.

But there's a small segment, small but vocal segment of the party who's advancing an anti-gay agenda. But I expect the party will become more inclusive in the future. And we're going to continue moving forward to create a country where all families are treated equally and fairly.

LEMON: So obviously you're still committed?

SAMMON: Absolutely. I'm a good, loyal Republican, and I'm going to continue working to advance the priorities of this party.

LEMON: Patrick Sammon, head of the Log Cabin Republicans.

Thank you very much.

SAMMON: My pleasure. Thanks.

PHILLIPS: Straight ahead, Picasso's dream turns into an art investor's nightmare. Coming up in the NEWSROOM, the case of the misplaced elbow and millions of bucks down the drain.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Susan Lisovicz on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Big blue powers the blue chips. I'll tell you about the Dow's historical milestone when NEWSROOM continues.

You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every time I turn on the news, there seems to be some unrest somewhere motivated by both religion and politics.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel that religion really has no place in politics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our government is based off the Ten Commandments. We don't steal. We don't kill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Religion is separate from politics, in my view.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think social issues will continue to divide political parties.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will not be swayed politically by somebody's religious beliefs.

M. O'BRIEN: Americans are pretty evenly divided on the subject of religion and politics. Fifty-one percent of us think churches and other houses of worship should share their views on social and political questions. Forty-six percent think they should stay out of politics.

With the country split on religion's role in politics, what will the future hold?

(voice over): As senior fellow at the nonprofit think tank the Pew Forum, John Green studies faith and politics and how they interact in American society.

JOHN GREEN, PEW FORUM: And over the next several elections we'll see religion become even more important because literally every religious group will be part of the process.

M. O'BRIEN: Green says those groups include rapidly growing populations of Buddhists, Hindus and American-Muslims.

GREEN: The United States is so diverse religiously that both the Democratic and Republican parties have to have bigger religious coalitions in order to win elections.

M. O'BRIEN: Green says social issues such as the war in Iraq, same-sex marriage, abortion, and even the environment will continue to divide us, putting the burden on politicians.

GREEN: One of the critical ingredients for bridging that divide is leadership, to have political leaders or perhaps non-political leaders to come forward with solutions and alternatives that everyone can live with.



PHILLIPS: Well, a prized Picasso, millions of dollars in damage. And the painting's owner, billionaire Steve Wynn, well, he's to blame.

Apparently, the casino mogul/art collector got a little too excited while showing off "Le Reve," or "The Dream" to fellow connoisseurs Barbara Walters and Nora Ephron. His elbow punctured the canvas, the centerpiece of his collection in Las Vegas, unfortunately. Wynn had just agreed to sell the painting a day earlier for $139 million.

That deal, it's off.

LEMON: Oops. Oh my. Can you imagine?

PHILLIPS: I'd still take the Picasso. What the heck? You're going to buy it, you're never going to get rid of it. Right?

LEMON: Yes. Plus, it's Steve Wynn. He's the man. Maybe -- you know, it may be worth something. Who knows?

The Dow went over 12,000 for the first time this morning. But will it stay there? That's the question for Susan Lisovicz, live right on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange with some answers for us.


LEMON: In Asia, on a mission, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice looking to rally the region against North Korea. CNN has the only network correspondent traveling with Rice.

PHILLIPS: Plus, Mexican drug cartels outgunning the U.S. Border Patrol, opening the door to a bigger security threat.

That story straight ahead from the NEWSROOM.


LEMON: Standing by Japan and against North Korea, twin themes for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Her main mission this week in Asia, to make sure U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang are more than just words on paper. CNN's Aneesh Raman is in Tokyo.


ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice starting off her four-day, four-nation tour in Asia in friendly territory, here in Japan. She met today with the Japanese foreign minister and defense minister. Tomorrow, she'll meet with Japan's prime minister.

Japan and the U.S. see virtually eye to eye on imposing those sanctions levied against North Korea by the U.N. Japan, of course, slammed its own sanctions on North Korea even before the U.N. took action. The key to her trip here was voicing a sense of commitment to Japan, to the defensive alliance between the U.S. and Japan. Here's what she had to say at that press conference.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: Japan has answered this question. The prime minister has answered the question. The foreign minister has answered the question.

The role of the United States is to make certain that everybody, including the North Koreans, know very well that the United States will fully recognize and act upon its obligations under the mutual defense treaty and in defense of our Japanese ally. And I have reconfirmed that that is the American view and the American position. (END VIDEO CLIP)

RAMAN: That is key because the U.S. is essentially the biggest part of the Japanese defense strategy. Some 30,000 U.S. troops are here in Japan, growing increasingly tense amid the growing signs of aggression out of Pyongyang.

Now, another part of this trip for the secretary of state is getting not really Japan, but South Korea and China, to impose all of those sanctions put against North Korea by the U.N. She spoke to the need and the complexity that will come in her later visits, as well, at the press conference earlier today.


RICE: The resolution was passed very quickly, in record time for the United Nations, and so it's not surprising that there are a number of details to be worked out. But I'd just like to make a couple of points clear.

First of all, the United States has no desire to escalate this crisis. In fact, we would like to see it de-escalate. And the resolution 1718's principal aim is to do two things, first of all, to deal with the potential effects of North Korea trying to transfer materials or to obtain materials.

That's why there is an embargo, as there is also an embargo on certain kinds of arms. And it's the obligation of states under 1718 to make certain to use the tools that they have that that is not -- that transfer is not happening.


RAMAN: Details to be worked out, she said, not divisions really between the U.S. and South Korea and China. But, of course, that is where she will face the true diplomatic test, getting those countries, who are wary of destabilizing the regime in Pyongyang and creating perhaps a humanitarian crisis, to check, for example, all cargo going into and out of North Korea. She heads to Seoul tomorrow, then onward from there to Beijing.

Aneesh Raman, CNN, Tokyo.


PHILLIPS: Trust is important in any relationship, but since 9/11, there hasn't been a lot of it between the FBI and Arab- Americans. Now both sides are reaching out.

CNN justice correspondent Kelli Arena takes a look.


KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nawar Shora is on a jihad and said so, right in front of a roomful of new FBI agents. NAWAR SHORA, AMERICAN-ARAB ANTI-DISCRIMINATION CMTE.: Struggle is the literal translation of jihad in Islam. And it's the daily struggle to be a better person, to resist temptation.

ARENA: The FBI and Shora agreed to let us tape this lesson to underscore their efforts at working together. But more than five years after the September 11th attacks, both sides admit talk alone won't help bridge the culture gap that still exists between agents and the Arab-American community.

N. SHORA: True or false? All Arabs are Muslim, and all Muslims are Arab.

CROWD: False.

ARENA: It's all about building trust, and there's a long way to go on that front.

N. SHORA: You don't want to say, my, your daughter looks lovely. Or God, your daughter's hot. Bad idea.

ARENA: Trust is key if the FBI wants help keeping on top of the terror threat.

(on camera): FBI officials say it is possible the Arab-American and Muslim communities would get the first hint if Islamic extremists were planning attacks, and hopefully alert authorities.

(voice-over): Just as Shora has reached out to help bridge differences, the FBI is also reaching out to the Arab-American community.

JOE PERSICHINI, FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: We will never make any advances without dialogue.

ARENA: Joe Persichini heads up the FBI's Washington Field Office. He and Shora belong to an FBI advisory council that deals with everything from outreach to hate crimes against Arab-Americans.

IMAM MOHAMED MAJID, ADAMS CENTER: I discovered that a mosque in Springfield run by an imam from Iraq, we can invite him maybe to come to the next meeting.

ARENA: The scenario is repeated in FBI field offices around the country, and officials say the outreach effort in general has helped. Take, for example, arrests made in Miami of men allegedly planning attacks against government buildings. It was a tip from the community that got the ball rolling.

ROBERT MUELLER, FBI DIRECTOR: A number of our cases have come from individuals in the Muslim-American community who have alerted us to potential threats.

ARENA: But a love affair, it's not. Many Arabs and Muslims still view the FBI as an enemy, one that targets, interrogates and arrests with little to no evidence of wrongdoing. ASHRAF NUBANI, ATTORNEY: There's a lot of things that have happened in the past to back that up, the surveillance of mosques, for example, the -- up to the -- before the start of the Iraq war, the FBI went into the Iraqi community to question or interview Iraqis.

ARENA: Part of the problem is that the FBI hasn't been successful at recruiting Arab-American agents who would be more readily accepted. And even Arabs in the community who do have a good relationship say they don't have much to show for it.

KAREEM SHORA, AMERICAN-ARAB ANTI-DISCRIMINATION CMTE.: When we work with you, we would like you to also speak out publicly and say, yes, we worked with these organizations on this effort or that effort, which was constructive in helping us do our job. We don't feel we hear that enough.

ARENA: Still, Nawar Shora firmly believes the only remedy is to keep both sides talking.

N. SHORA: Understanding plus communication equals trust. That's my secret formula.

ARENA: Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.


PHILLIPS: Well, it's not quite a passport and it's more than a standard ID. It's the passport card, a proposed new travel document that would allow U.S. citizens to travel to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and parts of the Caribbean.

Right now, Americans don't passports to go to those places, but that will change by June 2009. The high-tech, wallet-sized card could -- or would cost less than a passport. Right now the plan is still in the public comments stage. Stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security.

LEMON: Security threat on the U.S.-Mexican border. Drug cartels outgunning the U.S. Border Patrol.

PHILLIPS: And more grim details about the brutal murders of a couple and their two young children in Florida. Details ahead in the NEWSROOM.


PHILLIPS: Autopsy results in the turnpike murders in Florida. A local sheriff says that all four members of the Escobedo family were shot to death many times over. Their bodies were found last Friday north of Port St. Lucie, about an hour's drive north of their home. Two St. Lucie County sheriff's deputies are working with police in Brownsville, Texas, now, where the family lived before moving to Florida just a few months ago. If you have any information, you're asked to call 1-800-273-TIPS. Once again, that's 1-800-273-TIPS. Well, money, drugs and truck parts, all part of a complex international drug scheme that Feds say is now out of business. Agents seized more than $10 million in cash from a ring that allegedly smuggled drugs in from Colombia and laundered the proceeds by exchanging them for pesos or buying and selling used truck parts. Twenty-six people are under arrest in New York, Florida and Colombia. And authorities also seized more than $6.5 million worth of cocaine, heroin and marijuana.

LEMON: On one side, Mexican drug cartels. On the other side, the U.S. border patrol. Can the latter keep the former out of this side? At the moment, it's a losing battle, as CNN's Casey Wian reports.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A gun battle on the streets of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. These scenes took place just across the Rio Grande from the United States. Mexican government troops battling the Zetas, soldiers for drug cartels, themselves former Mexican troops or police.

This violence is increasingly spreading across the border to the United States, according to a new report from the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Investigations.

REP. MIKE MCCAUL (R), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: We found that the drug cartels are more violent than ever and more powerful than ever, and they are the root causes for the violence on our border. They represent the head of the snake, the head that must be eradicated.

WIAN: The report documents how Mexican drug cartels are actually increasing their grips on smuggling roots in Texas, even as the Border Patrol and National Guard deploy more resources to the area. Among its conclusions, Mexican drug traffickers are increasingly coordinating operations with U.S. gangs such as MS13.

Members of the terrorist group Hezbollah have already entered the United States across the southwest border. And Hugo Chavez's regime in Venezuela is emerging as a potential hub of terrorism in the western hemisphere. It says Venezuela is providing documents that could be used by terrorists to obtain a U.S. visa.

And it states the obvious: border patrol resources are inadequate.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: It's not merely idle chatter to say that border security is critical to homeland security. To think that international terrorists have not already exploited our border is naive.

WIAN: The congressional investigation was launched in February after "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" reported on a battle between U.S. law enforcement officers and Mexican drug smugglers in military uniforms who had crossed into the United States. We also reported the Homeland Security Department documented 200 Mexican military incursions since 1996.

(on camera): Among the report's proposed solutions, more Border Patrol agents, more border fencing and increased cooperation with the government of Mexico to control those drug cartels.

Casey Wian, CNN, Los Angeles.


LEMON: And for a look at all sides of the news, watch "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT." Tonight Lou will be in Kansas City for a special town hall meeting called "War on the Middle Class." That's at 7:00 Eastern only on CNN.

PHILLIPS: Concerned about crime? So is New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Somebody carjacked Bloomberg's Lexus this morning. The mayor wasn't there. The culprit jumped into the car, punched the driver in the face and forced him out. The driver escaped serious injury, and the car was found abandoned two hours later. Another bright side for the mayor, the carjacking won't inflate New York City's crime rate. It took place in New Jersey.

LEMON: You've seen cloned animals, but would you eat one? What about their milk? The Food and Drug Administration says food from clones is just as safe as from non-clones. By January it expects to release a draft regulation for the sale of cloned animal products. Many consumer groups want special labels. No word when the clone food products might start showing up on store shelves.

Straight ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM, fighting on two fronts. An Arizona state lawmaker runs for re-election.

PHILLIPS: Battling insurgents in Iraq. His story straight ahead, from the NEWSROOM.


LEMON: Well, military service often leads to public service. But generally they don't overlap.

PHILLIPS: In Arizona, a state representative it running for re- election while trying to run insurgents out of Iraq. CNN's Chris Lawrence has his story.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Can an Army Reservist battle insurgents in Tikrit while fighting Democrats in Tucson? This Arizona state legislator is aiming to prove it's possible.

We caught up with Jonathan Paton when he was training for deployment. Now he's serving in Iraq as a military intelligence officer.

JONATHAN PATON (R), ARIZONA STATE LEGISLATOR: The hardest thing about all of this, is want be -- I'm always the guy that I wanted to make sure that stuff gets done on time, the mailing we're sending out gets done on time. I can't do that when I'm over there. I have to put my trust in other people to do it for me.

LAWRENCE: Paton is depending on his supporters to run a campaign without its candidate.

PATON: I might miss a few debates. I have a spokesman, who is the state senator in our district. He's going to have to go out there and be me.

LAWRENCE (on camera): In any other race, his military service may be a huge advantage. But his opponent is Democrat Clarence Boykins(ph), a Vietnam vet.

(voice over): Sometimes communication is touch-and-go in Iraq. So to know if he's still got a job, Paton may have to check the Internet after Election Day.

PATON: Believe me, that day I will be, you know, whatever self- discipline I have, I'm going to be on edge that particular day. I want to know how I did.

LAWRENCE: Paton is running for re-election on his immigration record. He introduced a bill that empowers state and local officials to go after smugglers. But he's not around for the last four weeks of the campaign. Even if he's re-elected, Paton could miss up to two months of his second term.

PATON: You know what, if I don't win because I'm doing something that I thought was the morally right thing for me to do, then that's OK.

LAWRENCE: Paton can miss up to three months before the county names a temporary replacement. By the time he gets back, the battle at home will be over while war still rages in Iraq. Chris Lawrence, CNN, Tucson.


PHILLIPS: Well, out of any war there will be stories that will break your heart, and that's true with Iraq. George and Chris, two guys from Illinois who knew each other since high school both chose to serve. Both paid the ultimate price. And as Jonathan Freed explains, their hometown is filled with broken hearts.


JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kristopher Walker and George Obourn, Jr. had the kind of friendship most can only dream about. They were in the high school band together. They enlisted in the Army through what's called a buddy program, went through basic training at the same time, served in Iraq together.

And they were both killed earlier this month, barely two days apart in the town of Taji near Baghdad. KEVIN WALKER, KRIS' FATHER: His last call had been the Saturday before. And they were nearing the end of their tour over there.

FREED: The deaths came so quickly that the two sets of parents hadn't even spoken to one another about Walker when they learned Obourn had fallen, too.

DEBBIE OBOURN, GEORGE'S MOTHER: Emotions just ran so fast, you don't know what to think.

FREED: The friends both were Army specialists with the 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment. Walker's humvee hit a roadside bomb. Obourn was killed clearing a building of insurgents. The deaths shook the small town of Crebcur (ph), Illinois. The town's name, loosely translated from French, means broken heart. And people here line the streets to say good-bye and thank you.

(on camera): What has that meant to you guys?

WALKER: A lot. It's really tremendous. It's almost overwhelming, the support that's been shown by the community and the school district and neighbors.

FREED (voice-over): Walker and Obourn were motivated to join up in part by September 11. Their parents say they made convincing, grown-up arguments about why they should serve.

(on camera): All of you made the decision to support them in enlisting, knowing that the worst could happen. But now that the worst has happened, when you look back, do you feel that you made the right decision?

OBOURN: Yes and no.

WALKER: Yes and no. That's a thought that's...

OBOURN: Selfishly, selfishly, the selfish side of me -- if I had to do it over, I probably wouldn't let him go just because I want him here. Did I make the right decision for his sake? I think so.

FREED (voice-over): Two wreaths stands at the town's war memorial, where the flags are flying at half-staff, and where they're preparing to add two more names under those who died in Iraq.

Jonathan Freed, CNN, Crebcur, Illinois.


PHILLIPS: Kris Walker and George Obourn are just two of the 3,053 U.S. men and women who have sacrificed their lives in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


LEMON: Well, there it is. In Tennessee, weather is blamed for the falling tree that hit a six year-old boy in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. High winds and heavy rains hit that area last night. More could blow through tomorrow. For details on all this, let's head right over to the Weather Center. Reynolds Wolf, watching everything for us.