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Killings At the Canal: The Army Tapes; Tainted Drywall from China

Aired November 23, 2009 - 13:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, and we are pushing forward now with the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM with the man, T.J. Holmes.

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Trying to make you proud.

HARRIS: Come on now.

HOLMES: Trying to make you proud. Tony, thank you so much.

Well, this is one some people don't like: to Facebook and do all that over social networking. Because listen to this: a woman has lost her disability benefits for looking too happy on her Facebook page. You heard me write. Now, she is really depressed.

Also, if your walls could talk, would they fess up to harming your health? Rotting your wiring? Ruining your appliances? Some dangerous drywall made in China.

Also, they're heroes to some people, but the Army calls them cold-blooded murderers. Three G.I.'s tried, convicted, sentenced for killing Iraqis in Iraq at the height of the war.

But first here, listen to this. Most folks know out there, college admissions people, corporate hiring managers, even potential mates, everybody is hip to all that social networking. They're checking out Facebook photos, their MySpace messages and tweets to see if you are a good fit.

But who knew insurance companies, doing the same thing? They're poking around out there, as well. They're trying to see if you're fit, or maybe faking it. One Canadian woman found out that the hard way.

Here now, CBC correspondent Amanda Pfeffer.



(voice-over) Natalie Blanchard depends on her community of Facebook friends a lot these days. In February 2008, she says after ten years working at IBM, her life started to unravel.

NATALIE BLANCHARD, HAD INSURANCE WITHDRAWN (through translator): I suffered anxiety attacks and depression. I couldn't work anymore. PFEFFER: In fact, she says her doctor as well as the company's insurance psychiatrist ordered her to go on disability insurance, and that's what she's been living on until she was cut off last month. Blanchard says she phoned her insurance representative to find out why.

BLANCHARD: She told me that she has take some picture on my Facebook and some sentence and that she said that I'm not sick.

PFEFFER: She says the representative referred to these pictures, at a Chippendale event at a local bar, as well as comments she made about climbing a local mountain. Her lawyer is Tom Lavin. He's preparing a suit against IBM as well as the insurance company.

TOM LAVIN, BLANCHARD'S LAWYER: Because there are no precedents, it's a free-for-all right now. And probably, there are no rules or boundaries.

PFEFFER: Lavin says the insurance company says its decision is based on a psychiatric reevaluation, though Blanchard has not met with a psychiatrist.

Manulife, IBM's insurance company, has made the following statement: "We would not terminate a valid claim solely based on information published on Web sites such as Facebook."

Still, insurance companies make no secret that Facebook has become an important investigative tool.

CLAUDE DISTASIO, CANADIAN LIFE & HEALTH INSURANCE ASSOCIATION: We cannot ignore it. Wherever the source of the information is, we can't ignore it.

PFEFFER: And so far the insurance company, according to Blanchard's lawyer, has not handed over its reevaluation report.

BLANCHARD: I don't understand why I give all my life to IBM to get what I get now.

PFEFFER: IBM has not commented on this case.

Amanda Pfeffer, CBC News, Montreal.


HOLMES: Well, it may seem just about every week that we've got some new cyber casualty.

Take a look at that picture. You might have recognized that. It was just this month. It was a Georgia teacher who is now an ex- Georgia teacher. She was forced out, she says, over some Facebook pictures of her drinking on vacation.

Also, there was a post about some profanity -- or some profanity on there she said got her fired, as well. Also, some suggestive summer photos followed two Indian girls to school this fall. The student athletes got benched after a principal benched their MySpace pictures.

Also, you forget the skanks in NYC? The Web site's model-bashing anonymous blogger who was outed by Goggle, and that blogger threatened to sue the Internet giant for $15 million for violating her privacy.

Now, as for those of us who don't slander skanks or whatnot out there on the Internet, and we don't put up spicy snapshots, a lot of people still wonder what exactly is public, what exactly is private out there. And in what are insurance companies -- what can they see? What can they not see?

Let's bring in Parry Aftab. Going to help us out here. She's a security, privacy and cyberspace lawyer and executive director of I say out that to say she knows what she's talking about.

So Parry, help me out here at the beginning. Help us explain. A lot of people maybe not realize just how common of a practice this is, that insurance companies will check you out on the Web like this.

PARRY AFTAB, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WIRESAFETY.ORG: Everyone's checking you out on the Web, whether they're looking to date you or they're looking to hire you or they're looking to see if you're scamming an insurance company. So whatever you post online stays online, and it's up for grabs.

HOLMES: Now, in this lady's particular situation, the company, at least the insurance company, says, "We did not deny her benefits solely based on those pictures," but she claims that when she got the call, that's exactly what she was told. So are they in their rights to deny her those disability benefits just because of what they saw on her Facebook page?

AFTAB: Well, they said they didn't do it just because of what they saw, and my guess is they probably didn't. When she was so shocked on the call, I'm not sure how much she remembered.

In the same way that if they used a private investigator and went out and took pictures of her when she was at Chippendale's to show that she might have been scamming an insurance company. This is something they are in their rights to do.

HOLMES: They're in their rights. Well, what is out there? Because, you know, people know Facebook now. You're supposed to invite people in. You have to make someone a friend for them to see a lot of those profile pictures. So are they also within their rights to use any means necessary to try to get to your information?

AFTAB: Well, I don't think that they did anything other than just search for her on Facebook. And that's just one of the privacy settings. So "friends only" is one way you can do it. But you can leave it open to the world. You need to make sure, if you're using Facebook, you go to and check all of the settings, including what they can use when they search for you to find out about you.

HOLMES: OK. Is that a common mistake, you think, that people make? Because everybody thinks, "OK, I have this friend page, and if I didn't make that person a friend, they won't be able to see it." Is that necessarily true?

AFTAB: It is a common mistake, and it's not necessarily true. You've got to look at everything. In fact, I was sitting with my 30- year-old daughter last night. It turns out her cell number was available, because she, although she was friends only, didn't check the search settings.

HOLMES: OK. Last thing here, and this is probably pretty much common sense. And I know you've probably been preaching it to folks. And we should all know better. If you don't want somebody to see it, don't post it on the Internet, period, point blank.

AFTAB: That's it. You know, when we always talk about kids, you never do anything that parents, principal, the police and a predator can't see.

When we're dealing with adults, it's everybody else in the world. If you don't want people to know you're doing it, don't post it online. And if you're afraid they're going to find out about it, don't do it to begin with.

HOLMES: Well, you know, we keep saying that, but people keep doing it. And we keep seeing these cases.

Perry Aftab, so good to see you. Thank you so much. And we'll probably have you back on...

AFTAB: Thank you so much.

HOLMES: ... to give that same advice when the next person screws up. All right.

AFTAB: We'll keep doing it together. Bye.

HOLMES: Thank you so much.

All right. We want to hear your thoughts out there on this whole Facebook thing about this lady who says her disability checks have essentially been cut off because out what she put on the Internet.

Want to hear your thoughts. You can tweet us at Starting to get some of your responses already. We'll read some of those a little later in the show.

Also this hour, the unemployment lines, a lot of folks think they're going to be endless. But are they really? We've got no guarantees here, of course, but economists see a labor market coming back to life, and it's coming within a couple of seasons, they say. We'll tell you which one.

And speaking of life, what about "Life" magazine? It's 73 years old today. It's not necessarily a magazine any more. Now "Life" lives on the Web where, as we have just found out, photos live forever.





HOLMES: All right. They were loud for the past several days, taking a bit of a break. I don't know if was just the holiday. Maybe they're just a bit hoarse. But these are the students who have been protesting tuition hikes at the University of California. They appear to be standing down for now.

Meanwhile, the fee increases simply stand. Next year's cost of a U.C. education will top $10,000. That's going to be, really, thousands of dollars more than kids have been paying already. This does not include some of those other fees; doesn't include room or board, doesn't include books. This is just to go to class.

We hear now from reporter Kevin Riggs of CNN affiliate KCRA that it could put a dent in enrollment.


KEVIN RIGGS, KCRA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Laura Stetson and her son are campus shopping, and last week's 32 percent hike in student fees at the University of California means a much wider search than usual.

LAURA STETSON, MOTHER OF COLLEGE- AGE SON: I think just generally people are looking out of state. We've got a lot of friends who are looking at the Oregon schools, other PAC-10 schools.

RIGGS: It's a common complaint on this campus, where tuition hikes are steering interest elsewhere: to community colleges and private schools.

ROMAN RABINOCICH, U.C.-DAVIS STUDENT: It's at a point where you're not considering your education; you're considering the cost of education. And that shouldn't be the choice you have to make.

JAY LYTTON, U.C.-DAVIS STUDENT: It's really kind of the tipping edge in terms of what tuition should cost.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... has got to go. Hey, hey, ho, ho...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... has got to go. Hey, hey, ho, ho...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... has got to go. Hey, hey, ho, ho...

RIGGS: Last week, anger over the increased fees boiled over on this campus and elsewhere, resulting in multiple arrests. More protests are being planned, according to campus sources.

And there is increasing buzz about support for higher taxes.

GAVIN DUTROW, U.C.-DAVIS STUDENT: Higher taxes suck, but sometimes you've got to do what's necessary to save the state.

RIGGS (on camera): Earlier this year Governor Schwarzenegger told lawmakers they might need remedial math if they thought the budget problem could be solved at that time without higher taxes. Lawmakers responded to by sending a package of temporary tax increases.

(voice-over) But that was then.

ROGER NIELLO, CALIFORNIA STATE ASSEMBLY: Well, what we've heard out of the administration so far is they do not view taxes as the right way to go.

RIGGS: Assembly member Roger Niello was one of a handful of Republicans who broke ranks and voted for those taxes. He says it won't happen again.

That's OK with parent Laura Stetson, who's convinced the solution lies elsewhere.

STETSON: I think there are a lot of cuts that could be made at the state, a lot of -- for example, the Blueberry Commission doesn't need to exist, if you want a specific example.

RIGGS: In Davis, Kevin Riggs, KCRA 3 reports.


HOLMES: You might be wondering what she's talking about there, the Blueberry Commission. It was actually signed into law last month out there in California. Not going to exist, though, until 65 percent of that state's growers vote for it. It will be funded by a levy on the blueberries.

Well, let's turn now to our Susan Lisovicz, talking to us about more than seven millions people losing their jobs in this recession -- recession. So the burning question for a lot of folks, when these layoffs are only going to stop?

That is everybody's question, Susan. It's all about jobs. A lot of people, all these other indicators they don't even care about. So they just want to know when jobs are going to come back. And right now we've got details of a new survey of economists, and this ain't so bad.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they actually looked into their crystal ball, and they agreed that the end is near. We're talking about the end of the jobless recovery, that is, T.J.

The National Association for Business Economics says that the bottom in terms of job losses will occur in the first three months of the new year and that, after that, job gains we will start to see.

Now, it will take some time, though, to -- to get back all the seven million jobs that were lost since this recession began. And in fact they don't think that we will get back to normal until about 2012. That recovery will be slow but that the jobless recovery will go away.

This as President Obama is set to hold a job summit. In a week he'll be meeting with CEOs, economists, all sorts of people, on how to spur job creation -- T.J.

HOLMES: OK. Job creation is one of the big indicators. Another big one that people keep an eye on that affects every single one of us, the housing market. When is that one going to come back?

LISOVICZ: Well, that's timely, as well. And in this survey it says the -- that they expect the housing sector to contribute to the GDP next year. Why is that important? Because we haven't seen that since 2005.

What else do they expect? They expect businesses to start investing a little bit more, and that, of course -- it all comes around -- helps to spur job creation, because to make up for all those depleted inventories.

And they see the S&P 500, which is the broadest measure of the three major averages, to grow 10 percent between now and next year, the end of next year. That's a pretty nice jump. And that's what we're seeing, as well, on the big board.

Check it out, T.J. The Dow right now up 124 points, the NASDAQ up better than -- about 1.5 percent, as well. Why is that? Because we got a new report on existing home sales. The broadest part of the housing market jumped 10 percent in October. Everybody trying to get in on that -- what they thought was an expiring first-time home buyer tax credit.

We know now that that has been extended till next spring. We'll expect another rush before that deadline expires, as well, T.J.

HOLMES: Well, we'll take it then. Some good news from you, Susan. I know you get tired of reporting all that bad stuff.

LISOVICZ: Happy to deliver.

HOLMES: Well, we -- we appreciate you, as always. We'll talk to you again here soon. Thanks so much.

Well, black Friday is coming up and those black Friday door busters, you know the deals of the century, they can actually be dangerous to your health. Even deadly. What's your store doing to prevent another repeat performance?


HOLMES: To our top stories, now. Shocking violence in the southern Philippines, apparently sparked by politics. A gunman kidnapped and killed at least 21 people and a convoy of supporters for a candidate for governor. His family says his wife and sister were among those killed.

Also, Afghanistan and Pakistan are topics one and two on the agenda for President Obama and his national security team. Tonight's closed-door huddle comes on the heels of a renewed call from NATO for more allied troops.

Also, check out what's happening 220 miles above us, the third and last spacewalk for the Space Shuttle Atlantis mission. Today's walk was delayed an hour when you could say they had what was the equivalent of a wardrobe malfunction. An astronaut's suit had some technical issues.

And take a look here. They are going to have to do more than just dry out after record flooding in northern England. Take a look at this mess, caused by a lot of this rain and flooding. They're going to actually have to rebuild in many parts there.

This is what some of the rain-swollen rivers can do. This bridge is no more, as you just saw there. Police also going to be checking out some 1800 bridges after days of heavy rains. In some areas, they're calling it the heaviest ever recorded in Britain. At least one death reported, hundreds of homes damaged.

Well, back here in this country, we'll turn to Chad Myers. And you're a very popular man this week. Everybody is turning to you, because everybody is going to be traveling, and they want to know what exactly is going to be happening when they try to travel. So...

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It looks good getting there.


MYERS: So if you're going somewhere, make sure that you're where you already need to see, because it may not be as easy getting home.

And you know what I'm talking about, I'm sure. Showers up in D.C. We are still seeing some cloud cover into Atlanta. The airport in Atlanta doing about a 15-30 minute delay because of the cloud cover but no rainfall at all with this.

And T.J., here's the deal. We're going to have a mid-week cold front make very cold air into parts of the Midwest. So if you are driving across anywhere -- I-80, 90, 94, whatever -- make sure your car is prepared for the coldest air of the season so far.

I think airports will do just fine in this, and the rain will probably be light on the -- on the East Coast. Light showers and snow in the Midwest and a delightful West Coast for all of your next couple of days, even through the next of the week.

And as you know, we've been doing this every day at this hour. And I'm going to continue to do it all the way through Christmas. My favorite travel sites. All my friends are saying, "Please don't give those away."

But here it is. This is one of them for today. People ask me all the time, "How do you get this? Where do you get these things here? Where do you get all these airplanes? This is Delta Airlines Flight 1085, going to Las Vegas, at 10,038 feet, doing 412 knots.

Well, if you go to, it doesn't look like that. This is a little bit more for the professional, but you can use it at home, as well. There's Delta Flight 1085, doing the same thing. It just left Atlanta. It's doing 38,000 feet, 396 knots.

Now, you can use this, especially if you want to look over here, to see when the plane is ready to come in or estimated to come in, especially if you have to pick somebody up at the airport. At least you won't be sitting there for two and a half hours while their plane is circling. This Web site will tell you that that's happening.

HOLMES: That's a good tool. Follow me. Share those secrets with us.

MYERS: I'll teach you (ph). I know.

HOLMES: We appreciate you, buddy.

MYERS: I gave away Seat Guru on Wednesday, and every...

HOLMES: Oh, yes!

MYERS: ... said, "Oh, they'll never be a good seat on an airplane again because you gave away the secret.

HOLMES: We should all be able to use those tools. All right.

MYERS: Absolutely.

HOLMES: Appreciate you, Chad. Thanks so much.

MYERS: Sure.

HOLMES: Well, the day after Thanksgiving, a lot of people -- which one are you? Are you like -- are you one of the ones who likes to get up and look forward to those leftovers, or are you the one that likes to get out of the house and be the first at the store to get those great gift deals?

Well, either way, Black Friday, no doubt, has become the day for many to shop, but at least one Long Island store, there it brings real fear.

CNN's Susan Candiotti explains.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The mad dash for bargains can be funny to watch, but last Thanksgiving weekend in New York, it was horrific. A Long Island Wal-Mart security guard was trampled to death in a stampede on Black Friday, arguably the biggest shopping day of the year.

EMMANUEL MOULTRIE, 2008 BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPER: People were screaming. People were coming in the store, passing out, falling out. It was -- it was a horrible start.

CANDIOTTI: Emmanuel Moultrie took us back to that Wal-Mart. He says when the doors opened at 5 a.m., an hour later than expected, the crowd surged forward, glass shattered, and guard Jimmy Damour was caught in a human steamroller.

MOULTRIE: We had at least seven to eight people on top of each other. They didn't even see him. And they was on top of him. And they were stuck, because they were squished, compacted in there.

CANDIOTTI: Moultrie says he felt like he was swept up in a tidal wave, trapped against a vending machine.

MOULTRIE: If I hit that ground, if I hit that ground, it would have been -- I couldn't even get my arms from my sides.

CANDIOTTI: Wal-Mart avoided criminal prosecution by agreeing, among other things, to improve crowd control at all New York stores, the giant retailer says it's also voluntarily instituting changes nationwide this week. Wal-Mart declined a CNN interview. Instead, the company provided a pre-taped statement that said sports and entertainment crowd control experts gave them help.

DAPHNE MOORE, WAL-MART SPOKESPERSON: We're committing to ways to make our stores even safer for our customers and our associates this holiday season.

CANDIOTTI: Changes may include snaking lines outside and inside stores, similar to airport checkpoints, and scattering sales items. Some stores will remain 24 hours, starting Thanksgiving day through the weekend, so when Black Friday sales start at 5 a.m., shoppers can already be inside, possibly avoiding chaos.

For shoppers up before dawn for door-buster deals at any retailer, this safety advice from police.

CHIEF JOHN TIMONEY, MIAMI POLICE? If you're seeing pushing and shoving, arguing for no valid reason, you know you have a potential problem right here. And if that's the case, I'd walk to the end of the line. Let them all go in.

CANDIOTTI: Emmanuel Moultrie, who received a settlement from Wal-Mart, says he won't be burned again.

MOULTRIE: If you reach to the store and you see that's not -- that that behavior's not being demonstrate, you need to leave fast. Real fast.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): As part of its agreement with prosecutors, Wal-mart paid nearly $2 million to a victims' fund and a community grant. OSHA's cited the retailer for exposing its employees to danger when it should have known better. Wal-mart says in a statement safety is always a top priority.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, New York.


HOLMES: Four Iraqis killed execution-style at a canal at the hands of three Americans. Was this battlefield justice? Was this cold-blooded murder? We have access and insight into a war story you won't see anywhere else.


HOLMES: Well, it is an extraordinary story about what can happen in war and the difficult decision soldiers have to make every single day. Three decorated Army sergeants who killed four Iraqis execution style on the battlefield, they were convicted of premeditated murder, but as you will hear, in war, nothing is so cut and dry and opinions vary widely on what these soldiers did and why they did it, and whether the price they're paying is fair. CNN exclusively obtained 23.5 hours of Army interrogation videotapes with the confession and details of the killings.

Here now, CNN's Abbie Boudreau of our Special Investigations Unit with part one of our report, "KILLINGS AT THE CANAL: THE ARMY TAPES."


ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The wife of an American soldier sits in a grassy field in Germany. This video and the words on her cards are her weapons.

These are the men she's fighting for, three soldiers. Her husband, First Sergeant John Hatley; Sergeant First Class Joseph Mayo; and Sergeant Michael Leahy. Though she still calls them heroes, what they did at this west Baghdad canal would make them killers.

SGT. MICHAEL LEAHY, U.S. ARMY: Put my gun -- I know I shot, but I felt I put my arm like this -- whether I hit him -- I'm not going to say, I didn't hit him because I'm not trying to lie.

UNIDENTIFIED U.S. ARMY OFFICER: You're saying you witnessed people taking those detainees out of it -- someone has to articulate what the hell you're doing parked next to a canal.

LEAHY: I don't think it actually killed him. Whether I would later on, I don't know.

BOUDREAU: We obtained 23.5 hours of interrogation tapes, tapes you'll only see on CNN. They tell the story of the secret.

UNIDENTIFIED U.S. ARMY OFFICER: On TV they say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Sometimes, sometimes them birds come home to roost from Vegas.

BOUDREAU: The confession.

LEAHY: I'm not a good person because I murdered someone in Iraq.

BOUDREAU: And the fear of it all getting out.

LEAHY: This is going to be -- this is going to be ugly because it is.

BOUDREAU: March 2007, one of the most dangerous times in Iraq, the surge. U.S. soldiers were under constant attack. It was First Sergeant Hatley's third combat deployment. Now 41, he was the trusted leader of Alpha Company 118. He is a veteran of war.

While no one remembers the exact date, no one can forget what happened.

On this particular day, Sergeant First Class Mayo and Sergeant Leahy, both now 28, were helping lead the mission. It started off routine. But it turned into a day that still haunts Private First Class Joshua Hartson.

JOSHUA HARTSON, PRIVATE FIRST CLASS, U.S. ARMY: Clear sky, no clouds. Sun was right on top of everybody.

BOUDREAU: Hartson was 19 when he served under First Sergeant Hatley. That day, he says he remembers receiving small arms fire. His platoon went in search of the shooters. That's when they rolled up on this neighborhood in Baghdad and found four Iraqi men and a small cache of weapons nearby.

(on camera): What did you find?

HARTSON: There were sniper rivals, machine guns, AK-47s, binoculars, night vision binoculars and night vision goggles, duffel bags filled with ammunition and a lot.

BOUDREAU: And did you think these were the men that were firing upon you?


BOUDREAU (voice-over): Photos were taken of the four Iraqis, but later destroyed. By all accounts, the men were blindfolded. Their hands zip tied. And they were loaded into the back of a Bradley fighting vehicle.

Sergeant first class Mayo handed Hartson his 9 mm and told him to guard the detainees.

(on camera): It was you and them.


BOUDREAU: And did any of them speak English?

HARTSON: The one on my right did. BOUDREAU: So did you try talking to him?

HARTSON: I talked to him.

BOUDREAU: What did you say?

HARTSON: I asked him if he killed Americans, made bombs, and he laughed about the questions.

BOUDREAU: What did that tell you?

HARTSON: Yes, he did. And apparently, it's funny. He enjoys it.

BOUDREAU: According to the Army's rules at the time, the detainees were supposed to be dropped off at the detainee housing area, or the DHA, but that didn't happen. On this day, First Sergeant Hatley had a different plan.

HARTSON: My First Sergeant comes up to me and pulls me away from everybody, then he asks me if we take them to the detainee facility, the DHA, they'll be right back on the streets doing the same thing in a matter of weeks. He asked if I had a problem if we took care of them, and I told them no.

BOUDREAU: What do you think he meant by that?

HARTSON: To kill them.

BOUDREAU: How could you be OK with that?

HARTSON: They were bad guys. If we would have let them go or take them in, we risked the chance of them getting out and killing us, killing other people.

BOUDREAU (voice-over): Hartson remembers one of the Iraqis asking him for a cigarette. The men were still in the Bradley, blindfolded and zip-tied.

HARTSON: Smoke, smoke, smoke. And let them have a couple hits. Then after that, hit hid his hands behind his back. He was holding on to his prayer beads and leaned over and kept saying gift, gift, gift. I said I can't take them. He just kept saying gift, gift, gift again. then I took the prayer beads as a gift.

BOUDREAU: Moments later, the four Iraqis were taken out of the truck and lined up at the edge of a canal in west Baghdad. It was already dark. The three sergeants, Hatley, Mayo and Leahy, pointed their guns at the back of the detainees' heads and, within seconds, executed each of them. Their bodies dumped in the shallow canal never to be found.

HARTSON: Nobody knows what we've all been through, watching people die. And nobody will ever understand it unless they've been there with them.

BOUDREAU: There were a total of 13 soldiers on the mission that day. Some witnessed the crime. Others only heard the shots. Yet, for nine months, all of them kept quiet about what happened at the canal.

But soon that would change.

(on camera): I mean, these men were convicted of premeditated murder.


BOUDREAU: But you still call them heroes.



HOLMES: Just an amazing story there, Abbie Boudreau joins us now. And as we've said earlier, there are some 23.5 plus hours on those tapes. Of course we can't sit up and enter them all here, but we saw just a little of them. But else really can we expect to see on these things, the parts we will be showing?

BOUDREAU: Right. You're going to hear a lot more from the soldiers. You'll hear from the interrogators, how they questioned the soldiers and the techniques that they used in telling them to man up, come on, you've already confessed like tell us more, we need to know all the details.

What is interesting about that is to actually hear how the soldiers, they have this really strong band of brotherhood and at first they weren't wanting to answer the questions at all. They didn't want to get their buddies in trouble. And then slowly but surely the truth comes out and that's what you'll see.

HOLMES: It's unbelievable that we were even able to get our hands, that you all were able to get your hands on this video. It's so rare for something like this to come out.

BOUDREAU: Yes, absolutely. I mean, this is the first time that video like this has been revealed. And what's so important about this video isn't the fact that we got the video. What's important is how the soldiers described the crime, how the crime unfolds, but then why they did what they did. And that is what we examined, the policies at play during this time.

HOLMES: It's some great work by you and our unit, special investigations unit. Thank you. We're not going to be done with you necessarily. We're going to see Abbie again about this amazing story, not quite over. She's going to bring us part two of this exclusive CNN report, "Killings at the Canal: The Army Tapes." That's coming up next hour. Also for even more detail, you can check out So Abbie, thank you, we'll see you again next hour.

Also it's dangerous, very dangerous. And it's a danger that could be lurking in your home right now, in your walls. The governments says that you need to know about it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HOLMES: Well, a court date today for an Iraqi immigrant accused of killing his daughter in Arizona. Faleh Almaleki allegedly ran over his daughter for being too westernized. Police say Almaleki was angry that she rejected his conservative ways. His 20-year-old daughter died last month from her injuries.

Also, people in parts of flood-battered northern England seeing what's left of their livelihoods today. Swollen rivers that flooded homes, businesses and bridges, some danger of collapse even, all triggered by some of the heaviest rainfall in Britain's history.

And momentum building on health care reform, some would say, but don't look for it to be a smooth ride. Senate Democrats cleared a major hurdle this weekend, voting to move forward with the formal debate. You get it, they just voted to debate. The party was unified for that vote, but it could be a different story when lawmakers actually have to take up the measure after Thanksgiving.

Well, danger could be lurking in your wall, corrosive Chinese drywall. Folks are trying to rebuild their homes after a tough hurricane season say it's a health hazard, also a headache. A government watchdog group agrees and its now releasing details of a new probe and our Sean Callebs got his hands on that study. Sean, hello to you. What is this study saying to us? What have we learned?

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, T.J. It's from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and basically it is the largest investigation it has ever undertaken to give you a size of the concern about this. And the Consumer Product Safety Commission says they can confirm what basically everybody thinks, that this Chinese drywall is causing corrosive problems.

It gives off hydrogen sulfide. It is an odor -- it is a colorless gas, but it smells like rotten eggs and basically what this does, it attacks metal, so everything from the wiring in a home to air conditioning unit, computers, everything has been affected. They did tests in 51 home, 41 where there had been complaints and 10 where there had been no complaints, just to make sure everything was on the up and up. And they found that in those 41 homes, yes, there were significant problems.

The question now, what to do and how to get it out and is there a health problem?

HOLMES: That's the question there. What is the health problem? You talk about how bad this stuff can smell necessarily and that's foul and nobody wants this in their home but still, how could this affect your health?

CALLEBS: Exactly. And if it's eating away wiring, what is it doing to your lungs and to the rest of your body? That's what people are terrified of. And it's really hit Louisiana and Florida especially hard. And these are homes that had to be rebuilt after the horrible hurricanes in 2003 in Florida and of course Katrina and Rita here in this area. And basically the Consumer Product Safety Commission says, you know what? We can't answer that. We need to do more study. And that's just not good enough for Senator Bill Nelson in Florida. He says basically, we didn't learn anything by this information coming out today. He wants the government to step it up. Are people safe and how can they remediate these homes? Who is going to pay for it? Because T.J., you know, People here in Louisiana, they've been stretched terribly thin trying to rebuild after Katrina. They don't have the money to tear it up and put new drywall in their homes, but that's what they are faced with doing.

HOLMES: OK, would you talk about looking at this and more studying and keeping an eye on it, so does that mean we're going to see more and more cases of this?

CALLEBS: That is exactly it. I just got off the phone with those folks and they say, look, now that we can make a direct correlation, we expect to get more concerns, more complaints and we're prepared to deal with those. But to give you an idea, every Habitat for Humanity home, at least last time I talked with them, here in New Orleans, had been built with Chinese drywall. That's not to say it's all bad drywall because not all of the drywall coming out of China was bad. But let's put it this way, since 2008, the border patrol has not allowed Chinese drywall to come into this country.

HOLMES: Wow, all right, Sean Callebs, a story he's been on for us. We appreciate you, Sean, thanks so much. We're going to turn to a story next about a suspected bank robber literally eating his own words as police search his pockets. We've got a bite-size "What The..." coming up.


HOLMES: A California man is in jail and a transit cop is on leave after their weekend scuffle at a Bay Area train station has made its way to, where else but YouTube. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please get off the train now. Wow. 502.


HOLMES: All right. According to BART, which is the Bay Area Rapid Transit, the suspect seemed to be drunk, he was being disorderly, he was yelling using profanity, challenging passengers to a fight. Both he and the officer were treated for cuts and BART is now investigating.


LINTON JOHNSON, BART SPOKESMAN: The video was posted by somebody who has jumped to conclusions as to what he believes happened and we're not saying that that person is wrong or right, but we need to say to that person and to the rest of the world that we're going to look at all the facts, not just what you see on the video and that we'll make a conclusion as to what happened.


HOLMES: All right, it got a lot of people's attention. You're seeing it here, as he goes up against that glass, there it shatters. A lot of people focusing on that incident. What part did he hit? Did he hit his head? Did he hit his arm? Nobody really knows, you can't really tell there. But just some dramatic video that people are watching now on YouTube. Well Michael Joseph Gibson is the man. He's charged with battery on a police officer, resisting arrest and public intoxication. His sister says he's bipolar and schizophrenic.

We are now pushing ahead to our next hour, a national day of outrage over gun violence. New York, L.A., Chicago, Atlanta, other big cities holding rallies sponsored by Al Sharpton's National Action Network. You'll see some of them live.

Also, being alive is no longer the main requirement for getting a mortgage. It's still the requirement though. You won't believe what a Seattle woman had to go through to prove she was alive.

All right, anything you eat can be used against you in a court of law, we assume. But don't quote us on that one. You have to wonder what this bank robbery suspect is snacking on. Check him out there. You can see him snacking on something there. This is during his arrest in Twinsburg, Ohio. A guy who had robbed a bank nearby in another town, Streetsboro, a short time earlier, used a note to rob the bank and not a gun. The police busted this man, they found cash in the car, but they didn't find the note. Hey, everybody's presumed innocent, all right? Maybe the man was just hungry.

Well, from the U.S. Southwest to the Islamic Middle East...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Given the way things have been going between the United States and the Muslim world, I've really wanted to put forward and say, I'm an American, I'm here in Mecca. I'm a believer just like you.


HOLMES: ... a Muslim convert's first pilgrimage to the Holy Land, truly a global gathering.


HOLMES: Some advice here for Muslim pilgrims who want to play it safe this year at the Hajj. You might want to pack some Tamiflu. The Saudi health ministry reporting some deaths, four H1N1 deaths before the annual pilgrimage that begins on Wednesday. The victims are a teen, also three elderly people. All were said to be suffering from pre-existing conditions.

Meanwhile, millions of Muslims have across the world are making the trek to Mecca this week. For many, it's their first, including an American convert to Islam. CNN's Isha Sesay has his story.


ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's an American pilgrim in Mecca for the Hajj. Taking part in dorm prayers here in front of the Grand Mosque, 31-year-old Hamza Castillo is a world away from his life in Houston, Texas. And yet he says he feels completely at ease amongst the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims filling the streets of this holy city.

HAMZA CASTILLO, HAJJ PILGRIM: Just coming here, it would have felt like literally being home. This is what we believe god's house.

SESAY: Being an American Muslim convert in the birthplace of Islam has aroused curiosity in some.

CASTILLO: People ask me where you're from. They notice an accent when I speak, when I speak Arabic. They ask me where I'm from and I say I'm from America. Given the way things have been going between the United States and the Muslim world, I've really wanted to put forward and say, I'm an American, I'm here in Mecca, I'm a believer just like you.

SESAY: All the questions notwithstanding, Hamza says he's been warmly welcomed by his fellow pilgrims.

CASTILLO: It's been a surprise and I think that people really warm up to it. People really, really warm up to it. When they see that you're a convert and they see that you're from a non-Muslim country.

SESAY: He converted to Islam 10 years ago while studying international relations at university. The decision caught most of his family off guard.

CASTILLO: When people are in college, they do crazy things. So I think they thought it was a phase and I thought they thought it was, well, he'll grow out it.

SESAY: But instead, his attachment to Islam grew, and he adopted the name Hamza in 2002. Just newly married, he says it was a spur of the moment decision to perform the Hajj pilgrimage this year. His days have been filled with prayer and meditation.

CASTILLO: It's really humbling. You really see that we're all the same as cliched as it might sound. Everybody's here. Everybody is -- there is really no distinction. We all have to take off our shoes when you go to the mosque. We all put our foreheads on the floor when we pray. The distinctions go out the window.

SESAY: Hamza admits feeling of trepidation about what lies ahead when the Hajj formally begins on the 25th.

CASTILLO: I don't think you can really ever be prepared for that. I'm scared. I'm nervous. It's going to be hot. It's going to be uncomfortable. But it's also going to be very rewarding. SESAY: The Hajj is a requirement for all able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lifetime. And for Hamza, like many others, the pilgrimage holds the potential for personal transformation.

CASTILLO: I'm praying for two things. I'm praying, one, for change, change in myself. This is, I think, what it's about. And the other thing is to just realign myself with Muslims.

SESAY: Hamza believes the rest of the world can draw lessons from the millions of Hajj pilgrims gathered here in Mecca.

CASTILLO: For non-Muslims, this is a great message of humanity, of togetherness, of understanding, certainly of patience, certainly of tolerance.

SESAY: Lessons which he believes would undoubtedly make the world a better place for us all. Isha Sesay, CNN, Mecca, Saudi Arabia.