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Civilian Employee Held Hostage at Baltimore Police Station; Moussaoui Testifies; 9/11: Delayed Death; Congressional Baby Sitter

Aired April 13, 2006 - 13:59   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Straight back to Carol Lin. More information about a developing story in Baltimore -- Carol.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: That's right, Kyra. The situation, incase people are just tuning in, is that there is a hostage situation taking place at a police substation in Baltimore, Maryland.

The situation, as we know it, is that there was an officer bringing in a drug suspect for questioning. Somehow, this drug suspect got freed of his restraints and attacked the officer. That officer was taken to the hospital, but his injuries are not life- threatening.

Now, what happened next is that the suspect apparently ran to a back room and en route took a civilian employee hostage. "The Baltimore-Sun" Web site is reporting that he has a pair of scissors. But we do know he has some sort of object in his hand.

The hostage negotiators are on the scene right now, but no word yet as to whether they've been able to get him on the telephone to talk to him. But in the meantime, the area around the substation is taking precautions. Morgan State University is in a lockdown situation just incase this suspect gets loose.

So, Kyra, obviously we're concerned for the officer, that civilian employee who is being held hostage as you and I speak, and what may happen next. We're staying right on top of it.

PHILLIPS: All right, Carol. Thanks.


PHILLIPS: Well, if you had the chance to tell the world anything you could think of to aid your cause or save your life before you're out of circulation forever, would you do it? Maybe. Maybe. That's the reason Zacarias Moussaoui is back on the witness stand in his death penalty trial in Virginia.

CNN's Jeanne Meserve joins us now live.

Jeanne, you had a chance to go back into the courtroom.

Anything new?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: He's still being questioned by the defense. The defense appears to be trying to raise questions about Moussaoui's mental health.

They've asked him on several occasions, "Do you think we're trying to kill you? Do you think the judge is trying to kill you?" When they asked, "Do you think the people on right are trying to kill you?" referring to prosecutors, Moussaoui said, in a loud voice, "Definitely!"

But he has finnessed the answers about his lawyers and about the judge, and instead used this occasion to emphasize his disagreements with his lawyers. He has said repeatedly, "You don't represent me." And for a time, in fact, he represented himself.

This morning in court he talked about their failure to ask for a change of venue which he felt was called for because the courthouse is so to close to the Pentagon. Also criticized them for failing to provide him with a Muslim lawyer which had been one of his requests, and then went on to suggest to them some defense strategies he thought they should use.

He doesn't like the mental health defense that they're mounting. He suggested to them that they should point out to the jury that life in prison was worse than death, that martyrdom might be something that he actually wanted. And third, he said perhaps they should argue to the jury that he could be used in the future as a bargaining chip, that he might down the line be used to save an American life.

In the courtroom, since the lunch break, they have been talking about the period where Moussaoui represented himself, when he peppered the court with various pleadings. We saw one of them projected on the screen in the courtroom. It said, "GOD CURSE THE QUEEN" in big letters.

He was asked if some of this was abusive, some of this was frivolous. He acknowledged that some of it was, that "It's part of my propaganda effort." But he said, "Sometimes what's frivolous to you is not frivolous to me. For instance, the fact that I don't have a lawyer representing myself in court," he said, "is not frivolous to me."

So that's where they stand now. The defense still questioning him. We don't know how long this will continue. Then the prosecutors will get their crack -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Jeanne Meserve, outside the courtroom.

Thanks, Jeanne.

Four and a half years after the 9/11 attacks, another victim, a New York City police officer. It's the first death officially linked to cleanup work at Ground Zero.

CNN's Mary Snow has this report from "THE SITUATION ROOM."


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Is the toxic cloud that engulfed Ground Zero following the September 11th attacks now claiming victims? A coroner confirms police officer James Zadroga's lung failure and subsequent death in January was linked to the officer's 400-plus hours of work at Ground Zero.

"It is felt with a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the cause of death in this case was directly related to the 9/11 incident."

Dr. Jacqueline Moline was not involved with the autopsy but is tracking 9/11 related health problems.

DR. JACQUELINE MOLINE, WTC MEDICAL MONITORING PROGRAM: In some very susceptible individuals, they may develop this profound scarring of the lungs that can actually lead to respiratory failure.

SNOW: Zadroga's family is going public because they want Zadroga's death to be classified as dying in the line of duty. So four-year-old daughter Tyler Ann can get his full pension benefits. Tyler's mother died two years ago. The NYPD tells CNN it is evaluating the proposal. Zadroga's family acknowledges officers were aware of the risks of working at Ground Zero.

JOSEPH ZADROGA, FATHER OF DECEASED OFFICER: They all knew that it was detrimental to their health. You had to be a fool not to realize that. They knew that, yet they still stayed there and worked.

SNOW: Officers who worked alongside Zadroga at Ground Zero joined his family at a press conference. They said this official cause of death raises questions about their own illnesses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Detective Ernest Vilavona (ph). I have non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Detective Al Shuey (ph), I have multiple myeloma.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have lung disease.

SNOW: Doctors say the mystery remains why some are reporting problems and others are not.

MOLINE: It's individual susceptibilities. In the same way that we know that smoking causes lung damage and cancer, but not all smokers get lung damage or cancer.

SNOW: Doctors say it may take years to prove definitive links between the aftermath of 9/11 and a host of illnesses. But they are following thousands of cases, including James Zadroga's, to try and determine the harm still to come from the aftermath of 9/11.

Mary Snow, CNN, New York.


PHILLIPS: And you can join Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM" every day at 4:00 Eastern. The live prime-time edition is at 7:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

Daily deadly violence, foreign occupation, the ever present threat of civil war, a government under constant threat of collapse. There's plenty to occupy the hearts and minds of Iraqis these days, and in Iraq, like everywhere else, men gather to hash it all out where they can speak most freely.

CNN's Aneesh Raman reports.


ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): They were images of hope, Iraqis in December defying the odds, voting in millions. Four months later, hope has become frustration, with Iraqi politicians stuck in a stalemate.

(on camera): This is Rasheed Street (ph), the oldest street in Baghdad. And everyone here knows that to talk politics, you go here, to Zahawi Cafe (ph).

(voice over): This afternoon, it's packed. Men smoking water pipes, reading the paper. And in the front, two old friends talking politics.

Monthir (ph) is Sunni. Kais (ph) will tell me only that he's Iraqi. Both feeling the collective anger.

"We voted in three different elections," says Kais (ph). "We risked falling victim to bombings and assassinations. And since then, nothing, nothing has happened."

Iraqis feel they've done their part in this democratic process and now it's up to the politicians to do theirs, do deliver on the basics.

"We just want to live. We want to work. We want security. We just want security and the chance to provide food for our families. That's all."

As we were talking here, a sign that security matters more than anything else. Forty miles north in the Shia town of Witer (ph), they were burying the dead after a car bomb late Wednesday killed close to 30.

It is amid this rising sectarian strife, amid a country struggling to stay together, amid a power vacuum left by a government still yet to form, that Iraqis know they now have no other choice but to keep waiting. "If we get angry," he says, "if we turn violent, we lose our right to be part of this democracy. We've waited now for three years, and if we have to wait a few more days, we have to."

Everyone here at the Zahawi Cafe (ph) had but one message to Iraqi leaders. "Remind them," they told me, "we risked our lives to vote them in. Remind them of that."

Aneesh Raman, CNN, Baghdad. (END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: So, do you drive a 2005 Ford SUV? You may be driving it back to the dealer pretty soon. Ford is recalling 150,000 Ford Escapes and Mercury Mariners. That's to replace padding along the driver's door in light of safety questions raised by government tests. There are no reports of any injuries at this point.

Now more layoffs. You may remember back in January, Ford announced the closing of 14 plants but only identified five of them. Today it revealed the hit list also includes plants in Norfolk, Virginia; and St. Paul, Minnesota.

More than 4,000 people work at those plants which build pickup trucks. Plant closures announced earlier are in Atlanta; St. Louis; Wixom, Michigan; Ohio and Windsor, Ontario.

So, what do you need to get a good job? A college degree? Check. Computer skills? Check.

Babysitting experience? Coming up on LIVE FROM, a Capitol Hill outrage. Our investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin, brings us an exclusive report.

Stay tuned.


PHILLIPS: Well, here's a workplace dilemma. What do you say if your boss tells you to babysit his kids, or that he's going away for a couple of weeks and wants you to take over as a nanny? Former employees of one very powerful man say that's what happened to them.

Our investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin, has the startling allegations in a story that first aired on "PAULA ZAHN NOW."


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sydney Rooks says she had no idea when she signed up as legal counsel for her boss she would also be babysitting her boss' children. A lawyer required to babysit.

SYDNEY ROOKS, FORMER LEGAL ADVISER TO CONGRESSMAN JOHN CONYERS: Several times, he just brought them into my office and said, "Rooks, they're your responsibility for right now. I will be back later."

GRIFFIN (on camera): And how long was later?

ROOKS: Later could be a few minutes. Later could be hours. Later could be frantically calling around, trying to find him, because it was now 8:00 or 9:00, or later in the evening, and not knowing what to do with the children.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): For Deanna Maher, later turned out to be weeks. She says she was actually told to move into her boss' house, this house in Detroit, and be the live-in nanny while he was gone and his wife was away at school.

DEANNA MAHER, FORMER DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF FOR CONGRESSMAN JOHN CONYERS: He handed me the keys to his car and his house and said, "Take care of my child, Carl (ph), and everything," make sure, in other words, I had to stay at the house and take care of him. And that was for several weeks.

GRIFFIN: She says he left her, never telling her when he would be back, certainly not that the babysitting gig would last six weeks.

(on camera): And this was not just, can you do this for this one time?

ROOKS: No. It was -- it was common. It was ubiquitous.

And it wasn't just me. OK? I was the tutor, primarily, but I wasn't the only person who got stuck with the kids for the day. I wasn't the only person who had to take the boys to the bathroom, change a diaper, or anything like that.

We would also take them to doctors' appointments, other things, too. If they had to go, they had to go. Somebody had to take them. And there was no reimbursement for gasoline or anything like that.

GRIFFIN: Did you feel like a servant, like a house servant?

ROOKS: At many times, I frankly did, yes.

GRIFFIN: Why didn't they just complain to the company, report that their boss was making them do things that they thought were unethical, maybe even illegal? Well, they did complain to the company. Take a look at the company.

(voice-over): And who was the boss? This was the boss, 21-term liberal Democratic Congressman John Conyers Jr. of Detroit, the second most senior member of Congress and ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, and who was in no mood last week to talk with us about ethics, his children, and who babysits them.

(on camera): Congressman Conyers, Drew Griffin with CNN.

REP. JOHN CONYERS (D), MICHIGAN: Hi, Drew. How are you?

GRIFFIN: I have been trying to meet you for several weeks now to discuss these allegations by your former staff members. Ethics violations.

CONYERS: Oh, just a minute, sir. I've been told not to discuss them because we haven't examined them, and I have an attorney.

GRIFFIN: Well, can I just ask you...


GRIFFIN (voice over): As shocking as the allegations of using his congressional staff as servants is the fact that the allegations have been around for years, that a lot of people on Capitol Hill know all about it. In fact, members of John Conyers' staff filed several complaints with the House Ethics Committee. And CNN learned there was even an investigation launched in 2004 into staff complaints, but that investigation was abruptly stopped.

Melanie Sloan, who once worked for Congressman John Conyers on his Capitol Hill staff, thinks she knows why. She now heads the liberal watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a group that mostly criticizes Republicans, but in the case of ethics, she says, neither conservatives nor liberals on Capitol Hill are held accountable.

MELANIE SLOAN, CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY: That's right. That's because there is an ethics truce. Both parties will deny this, by the way, but there is, in fact, a truce that's been in existence since 1998. And under the terms of that truce, not -- nobody will file a complaint against a member of the other party.

GRIFFIN: The truce, among Democrats and Republicans, Sloan says, is a gentleman's agreement. I won't report you, if you don't report me. Still, according to Sydney Rooks, who was John Conyers' legal adviser, after all, the rules as written are very clear, a congressman can't treat his staff as personal servants, nor should taxpayers be paying for a congressman's chauffeurs, personal babysitters and errand runners.

When it came to Conyers, staff members said doing errands and babysitting were only the half of it. Conyers, they told CNN, regularly used his congressional staff to work on other politicians' campaigns. Chief among them, the campaign of his very own wife, Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers, a charge Monica Conyers' spokesman says is just a lie.

SAM RIDDLE, SPOKESMAN FOR MONICA CONYERS: City Council President Pro-Tem Monica Conyers certainly denies that any of the congressman's staff helped her with her campaign. It simply didn't happen. These are disgruntled employees who couldn't cut it in the workplace.

GRIFFIN: Rooks says it not only happened, she complained directly to the congressman about it.

ROOKS: I was so opposed to the use of staff time for campaigning, I actually wrote the Congressman a memo, which I don't have anymore, but I also had a conversation with him. And I told him I thought this was wrong.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): When you complained, when you brought up these issues, you were told this is part of your job.

ROOKS: That's -- well, I was told that doing whatever he wanted to have done was part of my job.

GRIFFIN (voice over): And, she says, she received regular raises, was assigned sensitive projects and, like others now filing complaints, was told she was doing a good job for the congressman. After several weeks of phoning, faxing and mailing requests for an interview, including to his attorney, and being told by Conyers' staff that the congressman wasn't available, we decided to look for him ourselves and found him right outside a Capitol Hill committee room.

(on-camera): You have required your staff members to babysit your children?

CONYERS: No, no, look.

GRIFFIN: You have not?

CONYERS: May I say, I told you I could not discuss it. Now, this is not fair.

GRIFFIN: I'd just like -- a yes or no question. Have you required your staff to babysit your children, and at one point, babysit your children for six weeks?

CONYERS: Oh, come on.

GRIFFINS: That's what the allegation is in the ethics files, sir.

CONYERS: Can you do me a favor, sir? I thought you were going to...

GRIFFIN: I've been trying to talk to you through your staff for two weeks, sir.


PHILLIPS: So, I wonder if he's ever going to talk.

GRIFFIN: Not so far.

PHILLIPS: So, let me get this right. If members of Congress -- if there is this ethics truce, you don't say anything about me, I don't say anything about you, I mean, unless someone comes forward and complains nothing's going to happen. I mean, there could be many other member of Congress doing this.

GRIFFIN: There could be. This ethics truce developed because there was a lot of ethics investigation. It was being used as a political tool.

Now nobody is willing to report another member. But there is a way that the House Ethics Committee could vote as a whole to launch an investigation. In the case of John Conyers, that just has not happened yet.

PHILLIPS: Do you think it could happen now? Are you hearing rumblings or talk that maybe...

GRIFFIN: There is... PHILLIPS: ... since this is starting to get out -- because I'm sure other members of Congress might think, oh boy.

GRIFFIN: There is some talk. But again, I think members of Congress are reluctant to get back to the days where ethics violations and allegations were being used politically. So the agreement, the gentlemen's agreement that we call it, is holding so far.

PHILLIPS: Well, constituents are going to have to stand up and say something, I think, as well. He seemed a little caught off guard by your questions. Definitely wasn't expecting you to show up there and ask him about this.

GRIFFIN: You know, this is not the CNN way. I mean, we don't like to...

PHILLIPS: You don't have an ethics truce with members of Congress?

GRIFFIN: No. We would have much rather been able to sit down with the congressman, ask him these questions, are they true, are they not true, what do you think about these allegations or what do you think about these people making these charge? But it just didn't happen, Kyra.

And for weeks -- we said two weeks in the piece. It was actually more like three weeks we were calling, asking, faxing. He certainly knew we were on the story, and we just didn't feel we could let him get away with not talking.

PHILLIPS: Do we know where he was going for weeks at a time, where his wife was going when these...

GRIFFIN: He was working in Washington, D.C. And at the time of the extended trip, his wife, in Detroit, was actually going to law school classes, or some kind of law classes in Oklahoma City. That's what we've been told.

PHILLIPS: They have two kids, right?

GRIFFIN: Two children.

PHILLIPS: Interesting. I'll be looking for a follow-up. I don't think it's going to go away.

Thanks, Drew.

Well, be sure to join Paula Zahn weeknights at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 5:00 Pacific, right here on CNN.

Oh, so snuggable and all too smuggable. Coming up on LIVE FROM, the ugly side of a booming demand for pure-breed puppies.


PHILLIPS: You've seen the live pictures. This is on tape, but you've seen this before.

Florida is known for its gators, but this one's one of a kind, we're told. It weighs more than a thousand pounds and it took trappers more than two hours to wrangle this 13-footer, in, of all places, a canal behind a hospital in Palm Beach. The sighting was reported by a teacher at a school across the street.

Well, you' want to keep a close on eye on your kids, right? One company is giving you a new option to do just that with a cell phone.

Susan Lisovicz joins us now live from the New York Stock Exchange with that story.

What happened to just good old-fashioned trust, Susan?

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: Right out the window in the 21st century, Kyra. You know, kids love cell phones and, you know, there's lots of providers that say, well, we can tap into this GPS thing. One of them is Sprint-Nextel, which is rolling out this family locator service.

Now, you can debate whether this is peace of mind or paranoia. What we can tell you is that it uses global positioning systems, GPS, to track kids, displaying the location on a road map. It can track up to four cell phones.

Of course, in the old days, parents had to rely on trust and in the not-so-old days parents had to buy special equipment to track through cell phones. This is the first cell phone provider that is doing that.

And Kyra, this is also going to be able to send alerts. So, if a kid doesn't show up at a certain place, like, say, grandma's house or school or soccer practice, they'll let you know. And then they'll also let the kid know that they're being searched, Kyra. So it works both ways.

PHILLIPS: See, cell phones. You know, there's good, there's bad.

All right. How much should you expect to pay for this kind of service?

LISOVICZ: Well, this is an additional service, which is very nice for Sprint-Nextel. An additional $10 a month. It can be download on 17 phone models. So there's lots of different choice with this new family locator service -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: You know, I want to ask you about privacy concerns. But remember when it was such a big deal just to get a regular dial phone, you know, in your own room? Now everybody has these cell phones. Kids that are 10 years old and 9 years old, even younger.

LISOVICZ: Well, and that's what it's about. If you're going have this kind of responsibility and independence, parents can pay a little bit more and have this as well. And it is an untapped -- untapped market, really, at this point, because there are going to be new regulations, Kyra, that will require GPS on cell phones so that, for instance, emergency dispatchers can more easily find people when they're, you know, in a car accident or something like this. Disney, for instance, will unveil a GPS-enabled phone this summer. Other third-party providers include Where if I (ph) and Teen Arrive Alive.

Let's quickly look at the markets, Kyra.


LISOVICZ: That is latest from Wall Street.

CNN's LIVE FROM continues right after this.