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The Situation Room

New Orleans Police Involved in Fatal Shooting; Grass Fires Rage Across Texas, Oklahoma

Aired December 27, 2005 - 19:00   ET


TOM FOREMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Christine. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM, where new pictures and information are arriving all the time. Standing by, CNN reporters across the U.S. and around the world to bring you the day's top stories.
Happening right, it's 6:00 p.m. in New Orleans, where police are taking heat for a fatal shooting. Was the knife-wielding suspect or the police out of control?

It's also 6:00 p.m. in Texas and in Oklahoma, where sudden grass fires have now gutted homes and cars. Whipped by winds and fueled by near-record temperatures, the blazes rage on there.

And it's 7:00 p.m. in south Florida, where a four-time baseball all-star has been arrested after the robbery of a jewelry store. But is this story more about heartbreak than about breaking the law? We'll find out.

I'm Tom Foreman. And you are in THE SITUATION ROOM. Wolf is off today.

But up first tonight, new video and more questions in a deadly shooting by New Orleans police caught on tape. An investigation is now under way into the killing of a man who was waving a knife and allegedly threatening the officers. We first showed you the video of the shooting in THE SITUATION ROOM yesterday. Now, we have more pictures of the deadly confrontation.

Let's go to our Gulf Coast correspondent, Susan Roesgen. First up, Susan, bring us up to date on this investigation. Susan?

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT: Tom, there are so many unanswered questions about what happened that the police chief himself here is holding a news conference tomorrow to talk about it.

The shooting happened on St. Charles Avenue, famous for mansions and Mardi Gras parades, but this was a parade of police officers chasing a man with a knife. Now, there's no sound on this home video, so we don't know what was said on the street, but the police say the man with the knife had punched a clerk at a nearby Walgreens, and when they arrived, they couldn't persuade him to put the knife down.

Now, we don't see the actually shooting. This videotape doesn't capture the shooting, and seeing just this much, some people question whether the shooting was justified. A well-known local criminal defense attorney, Robert Jenkins, was there. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT JENKINS, WITNESS AND NEW ORLEANS ATTORNEY: I saw it unfold, and I don't think that they purposely provoked them. You had to be here to see that they were shouting commands, they were asking him to get down, they were telling him to drop the knife. Now, at some point down the block, he allegedly lunged at the police officers and they fired. I don't agree with it. As I said, I thought they could have shot in the leg, but they're not trained to do so.


ROESGEN: Critics of the police department say this was a case of excessive force. They say you have got 12 men -- more than 12 men with their guns drawn versus a guy with a knife.

But the police say what that videotape does not show is the man with the knife lunging at one of the officers before the officers fired at him and killed him. And, Tom, this was the first fatal shooting by New Orleans Police since Hurricane Katrina.

FOREMAN: Susan, we're trying to find out so many things about this. Do we know at this point how many of the officers fired their weapons?

ROESGEN: No, we don't. The police department confirms that there were 10 shell casings on the ground, so you might assume at least 10 bullets, but the police department spokesman also told me that the number of officers who actually fired is far less than the dozen or so that we saw holding the guns. So we won't know, but the chief may tell us tomorrow.

FOREMAN: Do they have an explanation for the questions so many people are raising, which is why didn't they Taser this man, give him an electric shock, and knock him down instead of shooting him?

ROESGEN: That's what I asked the police department spokesman today. And he said, you know what? This department does not issue Tasers to its officers, he said because the use of Tasers in other cities is under investigation, is under litigation in a lot of places and they don't want to get involved in that.

So they say the only other non-lethal weapon at their disposal is a night stick, and they say that they couldn't use a night stick on this man because they would have had to be too close to him.

FOREMAN: Thanks very much to Susan Roesgen, our Gulf Coast correspondent. We're going to have more on this story.

In just a few minutes, the head of the D.C. Fraternal Order of Police will join us right here in THE SITUATION ROOM to weigh in on this controversial killing and to go over some of the other issues involved.

The Texas governor has just issued a disaster declaration for his state, where more than 70 wildfires were burning today, with more sweeping across Oklahoma to the north. In both states, the grass is tinder dry and humidity is low, as you can easily see, making conditions ripe for wildfires. And they've been terrible today.

Our meteorologist and severe weather expert, Chad Myers, is live in the CNN Weather Center with the latest. Chad?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That's just an amazing picture there of all that fire line there. The winds are dying down a little bit, and that's going to give the firefighters a little help in the upcoming hours.

Now, the winds are going to pick up again tomorrow as a cold front goes by. The winds will be from a different direction but they're still going to be gusting to about 30 miles per hour. Gusts now in Oklahoma City, between 15 and 20. They were between 25 and 30, so that's at least a little bit better than where we were a couple hours ago.

The storm system is sweeping through the Plains -- that's the one that's making the wind. It is the same storm that brought three feet of snow to parts of the Sierra two days ago. Now, there's another storm, Tom, that's coming into the Sierra right now, and it's going to be in the Plains on Friday.

Back to you.

FOREMAN: Excellent point, Chad -- quite the opposite problem being caused by that storm in Northern California. That region is being drenched by a series of storms that started last week and they're expected to continue all the way into this coming weekend.

CNN's Rusty Dornin is live for us under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Rusty?

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tom, every once in a while we get a break. We've had a break for about two hours. The wind gusts did pick up when we were on the other side of the bridge to about 30 miles per hour. But that seems to have calmed down as well.

Now, we're at the Golden Gate Bridge at Fort Point, where you can see this has become a popular surf point here, because they're expecting the waves from this series of storms to hit at least 20 to 25 feet. Now, that's great for the surfers, but there also are concerns about a lot of the people that come along here, the tourists that walk along here. A lot of times they close this road for fears that people could be hurt, could be swept actually out to sea, out through the Golden Gate from these huge waves.

Now, this series of storms is expected to really hit us tonight, tomorrow, through Friday. But this is nothing new because we have been pretty waterlogged over the last couple of weeks. The storms just keep coming. They've been very warm, kind of this pineapple express that comes through with very warm storms. But we never get much of a break from it which, of course, raises concerns when this keeps happening about mudslides. When they get -- hillsides here just get too waterlogged, we do get mudslides, but nothing yet. We'll just have to see when the storms really start hitting the coast.


FOREMAN: Thank you very much, Rusty, out at the Golden Gate as all of our western viewers deal with flood and potential flood and fire, certainly. Look at this from Oklahoma. These are some pictures now. The sun has dropped down there, but you can see the spread of fire all against twilight in Oklahoma, spread out over such a huge area. This will be a big story as we look at the results tomorrow, both there and in Texas.

Moving overseas, could a new wave of suicide bombings be launched against U.S. troops in Afghanistan? There's word of a chilling new threat from the Taliban.

Our Becky Diamond is in Gardez, Afghanistan, with an exclusive report on that. Becky?

BECKY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening to you, Tom. Well U.S. forces could be the target of new attacks, new suicide attacks, here in Afghanistan. The Associated Press reported a conversation from a top Taliban commander who said that more than 200 rebel fighters were ready to become suicide bombers, attacking U.S. and coalition forces here in Afghanistan.

The U.S. military said they won't respond to this threat directly specifically, but they did say that statements like this one tend to be -- quote -- "highly inaccurate and also grossly exaggerated." But there have been a slew, a string, of suicide attacks in Kabul, the capital, and also in other areas of Afghanistan in the last six months.

U.S. soldiers though, that I've spoken to, that head out on patrol say that they try not to focus too much on these specific threats. They focus on the mission at hand, doing their job. They take every security precaution they know of, but they try not to worry too much about these threats. They say that they're very proud of what they're doing here. They feel very much they're helping to build a nation. And they say that the press tends to focus too much on the negative, too much on the violence, and not enough on the positive steps being made here.


FOREMAN: Well, I hope it all goes positively there for American troops in the days to come. Becky Diamond in Afghanistan, thank you so much.

In parts of Iraq, of course, U.S. forces and local citizens are putting their lives on the line almost every day, but today comes a story of an Iraqi baby fighting for her life with the help of American soldiers. And it's quite uplifting.

CNN's Arwa Damon has exclusive pictures and heart wrenching details of Baby Noor's ordeal.


ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Another risky night mission for these soldiers of the Georgia National Guard in the deadly Abu Ghraib streets tonight, not in pursuit of insurgents, but returning to a home to try to save a life. Three-month old Noor has a severe form of spina bifida. Iraqi doctors had predicted she'd be dead by now, but she has clung onto life. Soldiers first met her searching the house, and were unable to forget her.

SERGEANT MICHAEL SONEN, GEORGIA NATIONAL GUARD: We, as a group, collectively decided this is going to be our project. And if this is the only contribution that we have to defeating the war on terrorism, this is going to be it.

DAMON: We are not showing her family's faces. They fear retaliation by insurgents for seeking American help. But they also know this is the only chance to save Noor's life.

SONEN: We've had some time to spend with the family, and they're very, very appreciative of the opportunity that they have to try to save the life of their daughter. And it does great things for us as soldiers and as Americans.

DAMON: Upset by the commotion in the middle of the night, too young to realize what is happening, Noor cries out. Accompanied by her father and grandmother, she begins the first step in her long journey towards a chance at life.

Her protectors alert. Despite their mission, these are still dangerous roads. Now back safely on a U.S. military base, Noor receives the first of many examinations. In a few days, if the Visas come through, she should be on her way to Atlanta for life-saving surgery.

And for these soldiers attached to the 10th Mountain Division, battling in the dangerous streets of Abu Ghraib, this is their way of getting through, concentrating on one baby's life, a necessary distraction to survive their war in Iraq.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Baghdad.


FOREMAN: Coming up -- did New Orleans police officers show restraint, or did they go too far? I'll ask a police union president for his take on what went down and what, if anything, might have gone wrong.

Also ahead -- the story that cast a cloud over Dan Rather's career and may have helped push him out of the anchor chair. Wolf talks to the producer who got fired for that controversial report on President Bush's military service.

And -- a pro baseball all-star now accused of robbery. How did Jeff Reardon's life take such a dramatic turn? We'll tell you all about it right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOREMAN: As promised, we return now to our top story, the fatal shooting of a knife-wielding man by New Orleans police. Joining us to talk about it, Lou Cannon, the president of the District of Columbia Fraternal Order of Police. Thanks for coming in, we appreciate it.


FOREMAN: Let's dissect what happened in the shooting. This is the first frame that we have of this video. And at this moment, what we can see is -- this is the man right here who the police are moving in around.

Here are the police officers, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, another cluster, and over here. All these police officers are moving in. What is happening at a moment like this? Are they trying to establish a perimeter around him? What?

CANNON: What they're trying to do is contain him. They want to keep him in a contained situation that they can control, so that he cannot get out, harm anybody else. They're going to place themselves between him and the public to ensure the public's safety.

FOREMAN: How can they do this -- just a practical thing, here. I've got a man over here with a pistol, pointing this way. A man over here, a man over here. These fellows are shooting toward him, he's shooting toward them. How does that even work?

CANNON: Number one, they're not shooting. They're containing him. They're aware of where everybody is, they're aware of other officers' positions. They're not going to get themselves into a crossfire. As you can see, this officer is behind them. They're maneuvering position. If by any chance they can get him close enough to physically disarm him, they'll try to do that.

FOREMAN: Let's move to the next frame and talk about that a little bit. Because if we go to the next frame, over here, you see that they are closer to the man. And again, I want to point out the difference here.

Here's the man that we're talking, right in the middle here. And now we have, in this frame alone, we can see one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight officers, all who appear to have their weapons drawn in a fairly close picture. And fairly close, the width of a car away from him. If you can't get that close because he has a gun, why are they that close? If you can get that close, why can't they disable him?

CANNON: Depending on the tools they have at hand. They have tried to pepper spray him. The pepper spray did not work, did not cause him the disorientation. He did not drop the weapon, which you would hope he would, once he's been hit with pepper spray.

They're all moving and they're jockeying for position to try to get him to disarm him, if they can. However, they also have to be aware, he does have the knife. You can still see the knife right there. As close as they are, within milliseconds, he can reach out and seriously injure or kill one of the officers.

FOREMAN: Let's move to the next frame, if we can here. If we move on to the next one over here, you see that now we've got even more officers here. Once again, the man that we're talking about is right in here. And the officers, this time, come out to -- we're not sure of the count here, we'll just do the best we can: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, I think.

It's almost hard to tell because there are so many there. The fundamental question people ask is, with this many around him, why can't he be Tasered? Why can't somebody rush him from behind and knock him down? We know it's dangerous work. We respect the dangerous work that police do. But they're paid to do dangerous work.

CANNON: Exactly. The first question is, is there even a Taser on the scene? We don't know. I don't know.

FOREMAN: You point out the New Orleans police lost a lot of their equipment in the flooding.

CANNON: That's correct. They may not have any of that equipment available. Most of it may have been lost or damaged, to the point where it's not usable. So we don't know if they even have a Taser available to them.

That's something that has to be taken into consideration. The other thing is, also, psychologically there are superior numbers here. Why isn't he just dropping the weapon? He can see that he's outnumbered, outgunned.

FOREMAN: Let me ask you one question about that, though. We have people in our society, we all know, who are mentally unstable. We have people who perhaps are not mentally unstable, that have a medication problem, a diabetic who's simply having trouble with their sugar level may behave somewhat irrationally.

When you look at a situation like this, as an experienced police officer, as much as you want to support your fellow officers, do you find yourself saying it is extremely unfortunate and something that deserves serious scrutiny, when this many officers are around a man who appears to be irrational and he winds up dead?

CANNON: The loss of life at any time is unfortunate. But when I look at the situation, I see the textbook case of what officers are trained to do: contain the suspect, get superior numbers, use the continuum of force.

They've tried to talk to him, they've tried non-lethal. They're still jockeying for position. If they can get close enough to disarm him, they will do that. However, if he's going to make the move after them, they have no choice but to defend themselves and to ensure the safety of the public. FOREMAN: Officer Cannon, thank you so much for coming in here and explaining this to us, in a difficult situation for everyone, including the officers.

CANNON: Thank you for having me.

FOREMAN: Still to come, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. She lost her high-profile job in the scandal that rocked CBS News. Now she's telling her side of the story. Wolf's interview with former producer Mary Mapes is coming up.

Plus -- all the caffeine, with the added convenience of a drive- through. The latest trend for the trendiest drink. Ali Velshi has the bottom line.


FOREMAN: Welcome back. What can Americans learn from Israelis when it comes to stopping suicide bombers? In Israel, the fight against terrorism is a national affair. Everyone from schoolchildren to the military plays a role.

And recently, CNN Justice correspondent Kelli Arena traveled there with a group of U.S. law enforcement officers as part of a trip sponsored by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Tonight, in the second part of her series, Kelli looks at some of the intense security measures seen by that group.


KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This mall in Jerusalem may look like many in the United States, but just try getting inside.

GIDEON AVRAMI, JERUSALEM MALL SECURITY DIRECTOR: The major check is done here. And in the case something goes wrong, it will be out of the mall and not inside.

ARENA: The security is intense. Gideon Avrami, who is in charge of keeping shoppers safe, says there are armed guards patrolling the perimeter.

AVRAMI: One of the guards puts a binocular, watches the mountains around, the buildings around, mostly to be seen.

ARENA: Cars coming into the parking lot are searched, and shoppers go through metal detectors. It's all aimed at stopping suicide bombers.

Gil Kerlikowske, Seattle's police chief and a group of U.S. law enforcement officials that he traveled to Israel with got an up-close look at the security measures. Here, the private sector works hand in hand with Israeli police, a relationship Kerlikowske says should be emulated with businesses in his area.

CHIEF GIL KERLIKOWSKE, SEATTLE POLICE: I think I need to do a much better job of embracing them and going out to them, not waiting for them to knock on my door.

ARENA: Every attempt by a suicide bomber to get inside a mall in Israel has failed, although some have blown themselves up outside. Heavy security is just part of the offensive. Intelligence gathering is equally important.

AVRAMI: Once there is a knowledge or intelligence about a suicide bombing, it goes from the Israeli security services immediately to the police. From the police, it goes immediately to the private sector. When I say immediately, I'm saying minutes.

ARENA: The need to share intelligence was emphasized by Yoram Hessel, who met with the group for a closed session. He's formerly with Israel's intelligence service, the Mossad.

YORAM HESSEL, FORMER ISRAELI INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: Good, reliable, timely intelligence can multiply your resources.

ARENA: Hessel says Israel has spent a lot of time developing informants, but also relies heavily on technology. Cameras are part of that anti-terror arsenal, like these in Jerusalem's old city.

(on camera): Right now, I'm on camera. There are more than 300 law enforcement cameras surveilling Jerusalem's Old City, home to holy sites for Christians, Muslims and Jews. Israeli police are worried that religious extremists could ignite a potentially explosive situation here.

(voice-over): The public also plays a vital role. Israeli officials say they get hundreds of terror-related tips a week.

KERLIKOWSKE: It isn't just the security force that is being held responsible and accountable for security.

ARENA: The fight against terrorism encompasses nearly every facet of Israeli life, something experts here do not believe the U.S. is ready for.

Kelli Arena, CNN, Jerusalem.


FOREMAN: Just ahead -- President Bush and the National Guard. The story that tarnished Dan Rather's reputation. The producer behind it defends her reporting. Mary Mapes is in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Plus -- a former baseball star accused of robbery, of all things. Find out why police say he's blaming it on the medication.

Stay with us in THE SITUATION ROOM.


FOREMAN: 2005 brought some huge changes to all of us in the TV news business, particularly our colleagues at the networks. Peter Jennings passed away, Tom Brokaw retired, and Dan Rather, earlier than expected, departed from the anchor chair. Rather left under a cloud of controversy following his report about President Bush's military service.

Recently, Wolf Blitzer spoke with the fired CBS producer Mary Mapes about her role in that report and whether she still stands by the story that CBS retracted. Here's Wolf's report.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): In September of last year, at the height of the presidential campaign, CBS News dropped what seemed to be a bombshell. Dan rather reported on "60 Minutes II" that President Bush received special consideration to get into the guard and then failed to fulfill his service obligations. The evidence cited by CBS included copies of four memos, purportedly written by Bush's squadron commander.

Within hours, bloggers jumped on the story, raising doubts about the authenticity of the document. And experts brought in by various news organizations said the memos were likely produced by a computer or word processor, not by a 1970s typewriter.

In the end, instead of being a potential knockout blow to the president's reelection hopes, the document story was a black eye for CBS News.

Last January, after an investigation, the network fired the report's producer, Mary Mapes. Three others were asked to resign. Dan Rather, the lightning rod for criticism, had earlier announced in November that he would be leaving his anchor chair. That same month, President Bush was reelected.

(on camera): Mary Mapes, the producer of that CBS report is out with a new book telling her side of the story that shook the network. It's entitled "Truth and Duty: the Press, the President and the Privilege of Power."

Mary Mapes is joining us live from New York. And here in Washington is Howard Kurtz, the host of CNN's RELIABLE SOURCES, media writer for the "Washington Post".

Mary, let me start with a quote from the book, page 291. "I came to a well-grounded conclusion that these documents appeared to be true in every way. Neither I nor the panel had a smoking gun that determined one way or another with 100 percent certainty that we had made the correct deductions."

In the middle of the campaign, only two months before the election, you go on the air with a charge, explosive -- as explosive as this charge was. Don't you have to be 100 percent, 1000 percent sure you have material to back up that accusation?

MARY MAPES, FIRED CBS PRODUCER: I actually was completely sure about the documents. When I said a smoking gun, I guess what I meant was the reference to the fact that you couldn't do an ink test or something like this. One of the frustrations for me in this story has been the obsession people have with the document analysis, with the questions of proportional spacing and could it be -- could it have been forged, and I think that's completely off point.

We had lots and lots of evidence that the content was absolutely accurate. We had corroboration. We vetted it and we matched it with the initial documents, or the official documents that the Bush people had put out for the past four years or so. The other thing that we had in that report that people don't mention is the first-ever interview with former Lieutenant Governor Ben Barnes, who talked about helping Bush get into the guard by making a phone call. We had a couple of things. It was the documents, however, that proved vulnerable to attack.

BLITZER: How vulnerable, Howie, were those documents? Within hours there were all sorts of suggests that the kind of typewriters that existed in the early 1970s could not have done some of those kind of fonts that existed in that purported document.

HOWARD KURTZ, CNN'S RELIABLE SOURCES: What's amazing to me, Wolf, is that 14 months after this story blew up, we're still talking about a story that was retracted by CBS News, that an independent commission found Mary Mapes and her colleagues had failed miserably to authenticate.

I can't prove the documents aren't real. Unfortunately for Mary -- and I sympathize with anyone who has gone through the kind of battering that she has -- she can't prove the documents are authentic. It's not just the arguments about the "th's" and the superscript.

One of the key people interviewed by "60 Minutes" was this 86- year-old former secretary to Bush's late squadron commander, Marion Knox (ph), and she says the documents weren't real. The story still has problems. Mary Mapes seems not fully to have come to grips with that.

BLITZER: Go ahead, Mary.

MAPES: Obviously, I think I probably enjoy Howard's work on this story as much as he enjoys reading my work on this story in that we disagree.

Here are some things I do want people to know. I do -- in the book, I don't know if Howard has read the book. The last chapter is devoted to this. I did, through a researcher, get a number of new documents that absolutely blow out of the water the kinds of charges that Howard and others used to attack these documents in the first place.

The primary considerations that people went for when they were criticizing these things are proportional spacing in the documents, people who said that did not exist in 1971, '72. I now have a document here from 1969, from the Texas Air National Guard Headquarters in Austin, that has proportional spacing. I also have lots of documentary evidence that this existed. BLITZER: Let me read to you, Mary, the statement that CBS News put out on November 8, as a result of the publication of your book.

"Mary Mapes' actions damaged CBS News as an organization and brought pain to many colleagues with whom she worked. Her disregard for journalistic standards and for her colleagues comes through loud and clear in her interviews and in the book that attempts to rewrite the history of this complex and sad affair. The idea that a news organization would not need to authenticate such important source material is only one of the troubles and erroneous statements in her account."

A blistering indictment of you from CBS News. I will give you a chance to respond to that as well.

MAPES: Look, obviously I disagree with it deeply. I worked for CBS News for 15 years. There are a number of awards in that building that I brought them. I feel second to no one in my love and loyalty for my colleagues there -- people I still befriend and count on and will have forever as friends.

I think what CBS News did was choose to handle this in the most divisive way possible, by launching an investigation that forced people to turn against each other, by questioning its employees, and by believing conservative bloggers instead of people who worked for them for decades.

BLITZER: Howie, I think what Mary Mapes is saying is she stands by her story.

KURTZ: Unfortunately for her, CBS News and not just bloggers but a lot of other journalists who have looked at this have such serious questions about it that you come back to the basic question of why was this there.

I just want to respond to one thing Mary said earlier. I didn't attack the documents. What I did was to interview three of the document experts hired by CBS who told me that either they didn't feel they could fully authenticate those 30-year-old memos or that they had raised red flags during the process.

One of my main complaints, because we could never resolve this completely, is why CBS rushed this to air when it did in September, 2004, before this was all nailed down. Even Mary writes in her book that she was uncomfortable, to some degree, with the process and script at that point.

BLITZER: Why did CBS News, in the middle of the campaign, right after the Republican Convention, rush to air with material that wasn't necessarily as solid, certainly as we know now, as it should have been?

MAPES: I think, first of all, it was the middle of the campaign. That's probably true. I think that's when you cover the candidates. That's what I always thought, anyway, as a reporter. So I think running a story about a president who's running reelection two months prior to the election is not a problem.

BLITZER: Were you uncomfortable with the timing? Did you think that story was ripe, was ready for air?

MAPES: I probably -- gosh, given my druthers, I would have waited maybe a week or so. I don't know what specifically what would have changed with the story. That's the difficult thing about this. I don't know what new information we would have had. I don't know that anything would have substantively changed this, including the overwhelming toxic reaction to the story. To me, when I look at the way people responded to the story, and it did start with conservative bloggers, although it was picked up by mainstream media later, it really bears the earmarks of the kind of discrediting and destroying campaign that people who criticize President Bush have come up against before.

The other thing, Howard, that -- this does bother me. I just showed you -- I read an article of yours just this afternoon, where you criticized a number of things about these documents. You did not quote the three -- the analysts that you talked to. I also think you misinterpreted the word "authenticate", as did many reporters. You said there was proportional statement spacing on these documents. There was proportional spacing on other documents in 1969. I have evidence of that now.

KURTZ: Here's an article I wrote in September of 2004, headlined "Rather Admits Mistake in Judgment." CBS was misled about Bush National Guard documents, anchor says. So Dan Rather seems more willing to acknowledge problems with the story than you do today.

MAPES: I can't speak for Dan. All I can do is tell you my experience. Once again, I'm going to say your reporting was wrong about proportional spacing, it was wrong about the document being able to be created in Word, with Times New Roman font, it was wrong in a number of respects and it remains wrong.

If you had spent more time looking for more documents, looking at the facts of the story and really looking at the case, I think you would have done some different reporting yourself.

BLITZER: Mary Mapes. The book is entitled "Truth and Duty: The Press, The President and the Privilege of Power." Howard Kurtz of the "Washington Post" and CNN's RELIABLE SOURCES, thanks to you as well.


FOREMAN: Quite a conversation.

Up next, from baseball star to accused armed robber. Find out why Jeff Reardon is blaming ante-depressants and heart medication.

Plus, collared dogs. Find out why some dangerous pooches are having their mugs posted online.

Stick around.


FOREMAN: He was a four-time all-star, one of baseball's most reliable relief pitchers. Jeff Reardon has been arrested now in connection with a jewelry store hold-up in Florida. But there may be much more to this story.

Here's CNN's Brian Todd.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tom, when we started looking into this story and started speaking to investigators and Jeff Reardon's attorney today, we noticed how sympathetic people appeared on both sides of the case. In learning more throughout the day about Reardon's story, we understood why.


TODD (voice-over): Jeff Reardon's attorney tells CNN he is not another athlete gone bad. His client, he says, is simply heart broken.

MITCHELL BEERS, JEFF REARDON'S ATTORNEY: This is a bizarre situation. The family, myself and other people that are close to him just don't understand what had happened, other than the situation with his medications. And I don't even think he does.

TODD: Medication for depression, which Reardon told police, made him walk into a jewelry store in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, on Monday and hand a clerk a note demanding money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We took him into custody, did not resist. Everything was -- no incident at all. When he was apprehended, did not have a weapon.

TODD: Police tell CNN Reardon got away with $175 in cash. And although they don't believe he had a weapon, he's facing one count of armed robbery for making a threat. His attorney won't comment on that charge, but does not deny that Reardon was there.

BEERS: He'll be fine, Judge, thank you very much.

TODD: Jeff Reardon, who for 16 years with seven teams, was one of Major League Baseball's top relief pitchers, sixth all-time in saves. A man who made at least $11 million over his career, and who his attorney says does not have financial problems.

Reardon, he says, has been distraught over the past year, since the day in February 2004, when his 20-year-old son Shane Reardon, died of what the attorney says was an accidental drug and alcohol overdose.


TODD: In addition to all of that, Reardon's attorney says he had an angioplasty last week. His heart, according to the attorney, had 90-percent blockage and he was taking other medication for that. The attorney was quick to tell us he's not offering any of this as an excuse for Jeff Reardon's behavior, but he is asking for understanding. Tom.

FOREMAN: Thank you very much, Brian, for that unusual, interesting story.

There is a new breed of Internet Web site aimed at keeping dangerous dogs on a short leash.

Our Internet reporter Jacki Schechner is here to explain it. Jacki?

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Here's the idea, Tom. You live in a neighborhood, you've got a dog in the neighborhood who barks really loudly. You want to know if the bite is as bad as the bark. Well, there's three counties in Florida, where animal services divisions are putting online the dangerous dogs. There's three, there's Hillsborough County, Brevard County, and there's Seminole County. They're the most recent. They've had this up for about a year now.

Let's take a look at what some of these dogs look like. Now, I spoke to them today. They've actually had numbers, almost sort of like prison numbers. But I spoke to them today and they said the idea is, in Florida there's a law that all dogs have to be registered if they've bitten somebody. And if the bite is bad enough, that the dog actually has to be put down.

You want to know if the dog's dangerous, if you see it out without a leash, if you see it wandering around, you know that it actually should be reported. So, what you do is, you go, you register the dog. They come, they take pictures of it and they follow up. This guy told me animal services goes, checks in on these dogs at least twice a year. They're unannounced visits.

You can also on these Web sites -- now, it's got much more detailed information than we're showing you, because I don't want to give out people's home addresses on the air. But you can go and click on these maps in your neighborhood, it will tell you exactly where these dangerous dogs live. And the reason why we're bringing this up is because it's starting a trend around the country and other counties and other cities and other states are starting to pay attention and follow suit.


FOREMAN: Unbelievable. Interesting stuff, Jacki.

Let's find out what's coming up at the top of the hour on PAULA ZAHN NOW. Always interesting things, Heidi Collins in now for Paula.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, there, Tom. And hello, everybody.

I want to let you know about after the Gulf Coast hurricanes, the Red Cross handed out more than a billion dollars. But now, it looks like hundreds of thousands of those dollars went to the wrong people and some of them allegedly were contract employees for the Red Cross itself. So we'll talk about that.

Also, check out this incredible video. Shoplifting like you've never seen it before -- organized gangs taking stores for billions.

Plus, the strange case of a teenager accused of killing his father because he was afraid to show him his report card. We'll talk more about that one too, so join me at the top of the hour for that and a whole lot more.


FOREMAN: Thank you very much, Heidi.

We'll be sure to be there. Thank you very much, Heidi.

Up next, more on the police shooting in New Orleans we started with.

And, drive-through coffee. Starbucks makes a bundle over your desire to stay in the car.


FOREMAN: Our top story today is that police shooting in New Orleans of a man wielding a knife. We're going back to that for a moment, because earlier there were questions that we raised about why police didn't use Tasers on that man. That seems to be the big question of the day.

And Susan Roesgen has some things that can clarify that for us. Susan, will you explain to us exactly -- this is a conscious choice by the police there.

ROESGEN: That's right, Tom. It is a conscious choice. The department here is a little bit leery of Tasers. They say that Tasers have been used in other parts of the country, and sometimes the use of a Taser has wound up in court. So the New Orleans Police Department does not even issue Tasers to its officers.

Now, they did use pepper spray on this man. That didn't stop him, it didn't make him drop the knife. And then as you know, Of course, they fired on him. But we'll learn more about what happened at that shooting from the police department's perspective, tomorrow when the chief himself has a news conference here in New Orleans.

FOREMAN: Do you have any indication from the officer that you talked to that they are reopening that discussion of Tasers or other non-lethal weapons after this, because I know this is traumatic for a police department as well?

ROESGEN: It is traumatic. Whenever an officer is involved in a shooting -- and those officers that were involved in this one are all on desk duty now while they sort it out -- but there is no desire on the part of the New Orleans Police Department to use Tasers right now. That's simply something that's not on the table. They are not going to issue Tasers to their officers. FOREMAN: Susan Roesgen, thanks so much for clarifying that. I know the debate is going to go on. We'll hear more about it.

With a Starbucks seemingly on every corner in America's major cities now, you have to wonder if coffee could get any more convenient as we all relax for the holiday season.

Well, the answer is yes and our Ali Velshi is in New York with the "Bottom Line." Your coffee is always convenient.

ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: I'm not a fancy coffee drinker. I think, Tom, you and me, we're both, you know, people of the people. I don't -- there's no way I'm spending four-and-a-half bucks on a cup of coffee. But if I wanted a cup of Starbucks coffee, I could go out of any entrance of this building in New York, the Time Warner Center.

There's a Starbucks on three different sides of this building. I don't, and I wouldn't need to drive anywhere to get one. But apparently, driving to get your Starbucks coffee is all the rage now.


VELSHI (voice-over): Those daily coffee runs have become coffee drives. Starbucks, the world's largest coffee chain, is making a killing on drive-by coffee drinkers. More than half of the stores it's opening this year will be places where you can buy a latte through a car window.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I came to this Starbucks because it has the drive-through. I pass two on my route to work, but this is more convenient just to zip through the drive-through.

VELSHI: Just as some customers are attracted to Starbucks' cozy sit and sip cafes, others prefer to drink and run.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's so easy just to go through a drive- through rather than going inside. It's just -- I know that I'm going to be in and out quickly so for the convenience itself is why I go to the drive-through.

VELSHI: When Starbucks expanded nationwide in the '90s, it lured coffee drinkers by offering a quiet space to enjoy the latest designer drink. Starbucks quickly moved into offices and airports and snapped up corner spaces on city streets. But in car-crazed communities like Southern California, drive-throughs raked in the cash.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's usually faster. I've tried going in, and there's usually a huge line and you just have to stand there and wait as opposed to sitting in your warm car listening to the radio and wait.

VELSHI: Each week, 35 million people around the globe drink a Starbucks. It sells 7 percent of all coffee in the United States. First year sales at stores with drive-in windows averaged about a million dollars compared to $715,000 at traditional stores.

One more note. Starbucks' biggest fans are visiting a Starbucks 18 times a month. That's a whole lot of coffee.


VELSHI: I'm still reeling at how successful Starbucks was at getting people to put money on those little cards and use them instead of cash so that you and I and people like us are financing Starbucks' expansion across the world. And, you know, kudos to them.

FOREMAN: It's an amazing ...

VELSHI: My hats off to Starbucks. They know how to run a business. I'm still not ...

FOREMAN: Well, you know what a burden it can be to have to get out of your car to go buy a $4 cup of coffee.

VELSHI: No, I hear you.

FOREMAN: Still ahead -- self-made stars. How a dancing mat (ph), a singing teenager, a wannabe Jedi and an evil penguin became big hits in 2005. Don't miss this.


FOREMAN: All you struggling actors desperate for fame, look no further. There is a new stage just for you. It's the Internet. And our Jacki Schechner is here with some of the world's biggest online celebrities.

SCHECHNER: Maybe you've seen them, maybe you haven't. But they're online, they get passed around. They're called "viral videos." They're all free, they're all very funny and we picked some of our favorites for 2005. Take a look.




SCHECHNER: And I've been watching these all day long. They still crack me up. "Viral videos" are videos that you pass along to your friends. And, Tom, I've got say, these are some of the very best we've seen this year.

FOREMAN: Spectacular. It's like what I dream every night.

Hey, a late development in the Enron case. Ali Velshi, what's up?

VELSHI: Yes, this isn't going to make the guy dance, but former chief accounting officer of Enron Richard Causey, has, according to the Associated Press, arrived at a plea bargain with federal prosecutors.

This case starts on January 17. Now, this was a case against former Chairman Ken Lay, former CEO Kenneth (sic) Skilling, and former Chief Account Officer Causey. Causey has reached a plea agreement which means the case against the other two is likely stronger. January 17 this trial begins in Houston, and it looks like the government just got a stronger case.


FOREMAN: Another amazing development in a huge, huge case. Thank you, Ali.

Thank you for joining us. Hope we'll see you again tomorrow. Now up to Heidi Collins in New York.