CNN CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT
War of Words Between Congress and President Bush; Trapped in a War Zone
Aired September 25, 2002 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CONNIE CHUNG, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm Connie Chung.
Tonight: fighting words, the president and the lawmakers jaw to jaw about Iraq.
ANNOUNCER: A war of words over Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: Not interested in the security of the American people? That is outrageous, outrageous. The president ought to apologize.
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ANNOUNCER: Accusations that the president is playing politics with war.
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SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MINORITY LEADER: I think that Senator Daschle needs to cool the rhetoric.
Who is the enemy here: the president of the United States or Saddam Hussein?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Caught in the crossfire.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was OK. We're glad the French came.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: A group of American schoolkids and their teachers escape from war a world away. Tonight, their families watch, wait and pray.
A pledge of death: Two university students drown. The family of one of the girls says it was a sorority hazing gone horribly wrong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATRICIA STRONG-FARGAS, MOTHER OF KRISTIN HIGH: It's really a pain that I don't want another mother to face or to feel the way I feel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Was there a cover-up in the name of sisterhood?
Anybody want to buy a big E? How about a used paper shredder? Why Enron assets are on the auction block.
This is CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT. Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York: Connie Chung.
CHUNG: Good evening.
Tonight: A firestorm, and President Bush is in the middle of it. It erupted today, touched off by what the president said a couple of days ago. Mr. Bush was referring to the debate over creating the Department of Homeland Security and objections to his proposal by Senate Democrats.
Here's what Mr. Bush said -- quote -- "The Senate is more interested in special interests in Washington and not interested in the security of the American people" -- unquote. The president did not accuse Democrats of not being interested in security. He said the Senate. But the Senate is controlled by the Democrats.
And so the usually mild-mannered Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle, took offense and decided Democrats were not going to sit back and take such criticism. The battle was joined. Was the president playing politics with talk of war and fighting terrorism? Well, Daschle was truly steamed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DASCHLE: The president is quoted in "The Washington Post" this morning as saying that Democratic -- the Democratic-controlled Senate is not interested in the security of the American people. Not interested in the security of the American people? You tell Senator Inouye he is not interested in the security of the American people. You tell those who fought in Vietnam and in World War II they are not interested in the security of the American people. That is outrageous -- outrageous.
The president ought to apologize.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHUNG: That prompted Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott to attempt to lower the decibel level.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOTT: I think that Senator Daschle needs to cool the rhetoric. We got a lot of work to do and we need to do it in a bipartisan way. Accusations of that type are not helpful.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CHUNG: And the president himself, who Daschle believes started it all, turned the question aside.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You may try to politicize it. I view it as my main obligation. That is to protect the American people. It's the most important job this president will have. And it's the most important job future presidents will have, because the nature of war has changed. We're vulnerable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHUNG: So is this a high-minded debate about what is best for the nation or just -- you should pardon the expression -- a spitting contest?
Joining me now is CNN senior analyst Jeff Greenfield.
Jeff, I'm so glad for you to be here. I've been wanting to pick your brain for a long time now.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: Not much there, but give it a try.
Why is Daschle hauling off on President Bush at this time? I want to say to him, "You're just realizing now that this is politics?"
GREENFIELD: No, I think what happened was a very specific statement that the president made that I don't think he meant in the way it came out. I really don't. The president was talking about a debate about the Department of Homeland Security, a big political argument. How much civil service and union protection do the workers get?
CHUNG: He wasn't talking about Iraq.
GREENFIELD: But the language that he used was broad. He said, "They're more interested in special interests than national security."
CHUNG: And he said he was talking about the Senate.
GREENFIELD: That's right.
CHUNG: He did not say the Democratically-controlled Senate.
GREENFIELD: Right. On the other hand, who runs the Senate?
CHUNG: The Democrats.
GREENFIELD: So, I think what happened was a number of things. First of all, there has been a tremendous amount of frustration on the part of the Democrats that what they thought was going to be a midterm election where they had the advantage is no longer the case. And you can say, "Well, why would you even consider politics in the context of a possible war?" because politics is never absent, war or peace, never has been. It was there in World War II. It was there in the Civil War. It's part of the way the system works.
But the second thing is, whether you think that Daschle was taking advantage of a situation or genuinely outraged, the language that he used, when he said, "Tell Senator Inouye he doesn't care" -- this is a man who was wounded...
CHUNG: Right, lost an arm.
GREENFIELD: ... lost an arm in World War II. And he cited other Democrats: John Kerry, who has a Silver Star.
And I think it was an attempt for him to say, "Look" -- I mean this is the subtext -- "We know you have the political advantage, if the conversation this December is only about Iraq. But we are not -- any time we think we can pin you back because you are using it in an overt way, we are going to do it."
CHUNG: Have you ever seen Daschle so fired up?
GREENFIELD: No. Daschle's whole affect is -- what Republicans resent about him is, they say he's very partisan, but he has this very mild-mannered demeanor. He comes from South Dakota, which is a -- quote -- "red state," a Bush state, a Republican state in presidential campaigns.
He's never lost an election out there. And part of it is that he doesn't come off like a fire-breather. So for Daschle to have this kind of explosion is extremely unusual. In fact, it's unprecedented.
CHUNG: But was he performing this explosion speech for the White House, or was it really for his Democratic colleagues, or was he just recognizing the fact that the Democrats don't have a position on the war and would rather talk about the economy?
GREENFIELD: You know, I don't have a degree in psychology. I don't know how to see into the motives of politicians. Do I think that he was both angry and thought there was a political advantage to call in the president on this language? Sure. So I don't know how you mix and match that.
Look, one of the things we have to recognize is that even politicians sometimes act out of genuine feeling. And there is nothing that brings to the fore authentic feelings on the part of politicians than issues of war and peace. This is not a tax bill. It's not whether or not South Dakota gets a new airport. This is literally life-and-death stuff.
And you add to that the fact -- and this is really important -- that both houses of Congress are as evenly divided as we've ever seen them. If you go to the Gulf War, when the debate was going in 1990 and '91, the Democrats had firm control of both houses of the Congress. It was a nonissue.
So whatever President Bush was looking for, the first President Bush, it had nothing to do with whether or not he could wrest control of the Congress. So you have, at this point in time, a run-up to what could be a war, a really big-deal shooting war in the middle of a campaign in which nobody knows who is going to wind up running the Congress. So emotions run high.
CHUNG: Jeff Greenfield, thank you so much for being with us.
GREENFIELD: Good to be here.
CHUNG: Come back sometime, would you?
GREENFIELD: I know the place.
Let's put aside all the words about Iraq for a moment and get deep into the reality of Iraq. What could it be like to be in the hands of the Iraqis during a war?
Retired Army Chief Warrant Officer Jerry Willis was his wife, Debby Willis, were living in Kuwait when the Iraqis invaded in 1990. There were captured and held captive. She was molested. They were both used as human shields.
And tonight, they join us from Portland, Maine.
Thank you for being with us.
Jerry, when you and your wife first moved to Kuwait back in '97, did you think it was a safe country to go to?
RET. CWO JERRY WILLIS, U.S. ARMY: Yes, it was very safe. Actually, it was 1987.
CHUNG: I'm sorry.
J. WILLIS: And it was very safe. It's a very modern city, a very modern country. And my wife, she worked. We both had jobs. And I was in the military there. And it was just like being in any large city in the United States.
CHUNG: But then, on August 2, 1990, both of you were woken up at 5:00 in the morning because you could hear aircraft flying low. Did you have any idea of what was going on?
J. WILLIS: No. Actually, you never hear a plane in Kuwait, no helicopters, no planes, flying that low. And we were just adjacent to the emir's palace, the crown prince's palace. And we looked outside and we were very worried. We didn't know what was going on. And it was surprising that the military troops were already in the streets.
CHUNG: Debby, were you horrified, frightened?
DEBBY WILLIS, FORMER PRISONER OF IRAQI GOVERNMENT: It was very terrifying, because, from where they were shooting the artillery, they were going over our apartment building to hit the crown prince's palace.
CHUNG: Now, both of you eventually made it to the American Embassy. You spent some time there. But when you realized that your names were not on the list to leave the country, you decided to try and leave the country yourselves. You got in a car, but the car was stopped.
And the first time Jerry was taken away by Iraqi soldiers, Debby, did you think you wouldn't see him again?
D. WILLIS: I didn't know what was going to happen. You don't know. You're in the desert with Iraqi soldiers. They've taken my husband, the other two men, and left me alone with armed Iraqi soldiers.
CHUNG: And that was a horrible experience for you, wasn't it?
D. WILLIS: That was very bad.
The first soldier decided that I should be raped. And eight more soldiers came. And I was molested. I wasn't raped. And, fortunately, when the men got to, what I call real soldiers, but some tank officers, who told them what had happened. The colonels immediately sent out a rescue party for me. And I was rescued by the Iraqi soldiers and taken to join my husband and our other two friends.
CHUNG: All right.
Now, Jerry, back to you. When you were rejoined, what was the next step? What happened to the two of you?
J. WILLIS: We were taken to the Iraqi embassy, where we were interrogated. They wanted to know who we were. The interrogator spoke very good English. And they wanted to know who we were and who we worked for and what we were doing in Kuwait.
Both of us had identification indicating that we worked at the American Embassy. So we had to get rid of all that information. And, basically, I told them I was a generator parts salesman just visiting Kuwait and my wife was with me. And the other two said they were -- one said he was an English teacher. And they didn't believe us.
CHUNG: Eventually, the both of you were taken to Baghdad and used as human shields. Did you know what was happening to you? You were taken actually to a dam.
J. WILLIS: Yes.
We were taken the next day. We spent the night in a hotel here in Kuwait. And the next day, we were taken to Iraq. And a few days later, I was taken up to the Tigris River to a place called Mosul. And I was put on a dam as a human shield. In case the Americans wanted to bomb the dam, they would kill me.
CHUNG: Debby, were you ever used as a human shield as well, or was it mostly Jerry?
D. WILLIS: Right. No, where we were, all of us, every American in Baghdad was used as a human shield. I was left in a hotel, but a hotel that was near, I think, the Ministry of Defense or something. We were separated by nationality and placed in various hotels throughout Baghdad, chemical plants, Jerry two different dams. We knew we were human shields.
CHUNG: Now, you were allowed, Debby, to leave with the other women and children. But you were leaving your husband behind. That had to be a horrible, frightening feeling for you.
D. WILLIS: I think one of the scariest times in all the time I was there was when Jerry was taken. He was taken only by himself. I'll never know why. He didn't go with our two friends.
I was up on an elevator floor of the hotel. And I looked down to see Jerry being herded into a car by two armed Iraqi soldiers. They started to put him in the front seat. And it was like Keystone Cops. They decided: "Oh, well, he's the prisoner. We'll put him in the back seat." And they had weapons. And I looked down at him and I didn't know if I would ever see him again. And I think we were both crying then.
And then they say, "OK, women and children can go home," but they don't tell you how you are going to do it. They start to load you into a bus. They take you out of a bus. They put you back in the bus. They send you to the airport. We finally end up in Iraq at the airport. There is no American Embassy personnel there to help us. You just -- like you're in a regular airport, except you're a hostage in a country. And they give you back your passport and say: "You're going home. And aren't you happy?"
Jerry, then you were held. And how were you treated?
J. WILLIS: I wasn't treated very well.
The first few days I was there, I caught dysentery. And they refused to give me any medication. And I was very sick. I could barely walk. And they didn't feed us. I lost over 55 pounds, about a pound a day, actually, while I was there. And we were mistreated. We weren't given anything, any hygiene articles. And we were slapped around a little bit, but not physically beaten, like some of the soldiers were.
CHUNG: Did you lose hope that you would never see freedom, never see your wife again? J. WILLIS: I actually thought that I wouldn't come out, because, being in the military, I was aware of a lot of terrorist activities and people being kidnapped and held as hostages.
And I knew at the time lots of people had been -- 13 years, Terry Anderson. Lots of people had been spending years as a hostage. And I really didn't think that I was going to get out. I really thought the war would start and I would be in a vulnerable position -- and I was -- that I would get killed and I wouldn't make it back.
CHUNG: And then, miraculously, one day, they started cleaning you up and preparing to have you leave.
J. WILLIS: That was the scariest, because I actually thought they were cleaning me up because the war had started -- and washing my clothes and wanting to give me a haircut and stuff -- because they were going to just shoot me and say, "Look, here is one of your Americans that you bombed and you killed him."
And so when they -- they just put me in a bus and they took me and some other hostages back to Baghdad. And after about three hours of driving, they just opened up the door and said, "Get out." And it was very shocking. I was really -- I didn't know what was happening.
CHUNG: Debby, looking back now, are you able to help Jerry through these years now? Because I'm sure the trauma still lives with him and with you.
D. WILLIS: Yes.
We're lucky. We're each other's best friends. We've been married for 22 years. We get along pretty well. And we both suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. And this is hard. It's hard to bring it back. It's hard to talk about it.
But we kind of -- we have each other. And we did it together. And we know what we went through. I can't imagine what he went through alone as a hostage. And you've only heard a brief part of it. I didn't suffer as long as he did. But, between the two of us, yes, we make it.
CHUNG: Isn't it great to be in America?
D. WILLIS: It's great to be an American. It's great to be in America.
CHUNG: All right, thank you so much for being with us and taking us through your story. We just hope that you have a very, very wonderful rest of your life.
D. WILLIS: Thanks.
CHUNG: And when we come back: another group of Americans caught up in a war overseas. We'll talk to the daughter waiting for word of their fate.
Stay with us.
ANNOUNCER: Still ahead: two university students dead in an alleged sorority hazing stunt gone horribly wrong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STRONG-FARGAS: I don't want it to happen to anyone else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT continues in a moment.
ANNOUNCER: The Iranian Revolution provided a backdrop for perhaps the most notorious case of a cross-cultural custody battle. It was 1984, when the Iranian hostage crisis was only a few years past, when Betty Mahmoody arrived for a vacation with her Iranian-born husband and their daughter.
But the religious-based law of Iran declared that any woman married to an Iranian was an Iranian citizen, forced to heed her husband's word. So when Betty's husband decided to stay and keep their daughter in Iran, Betty had no legal resource. The Sally Field movie "Not Without My Daughter" was inspired by her 18-month ordeal in Iran and her harrowing 500-mile escape across lawless Iranian terrain into neighboring Turkey.
Whatever happened to Betty and her daughter Mahtob? The answer when we return.
CHUNG: Caught right smack in the middle of shooting between government troops and rebel soldiers after an uprising last Thursday in the West African nation of the Ivory Coast -- the school that was evacuated is the International Christian Academy. The students are children of missionaries who are working to convert Africans to Christianity.
Joining me now: the child of two staffers at the school, who is also the sister of a student at the school: Brooke Cousineau, who joins us from Atlanta. And in Denver, we have Janie Hutton, whose daughter Nancy McComb (ph) and son-in-law Bill are dorm parents at the school.
Thank you for both being with us.
Janie Hutton, tell me, you've talked to your daughter. I know you talked to her this morning. How is she? Is she safe? JANIE HUTTON, DAUGHTER EVACUATED FROM INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN ACADEMY: They are. They're safe in Yamoussoukro now, for the night, at least.
CHUNG: What did your daughter tell you about this past week, in which they were caught in the middle of this gunfire?
HUTTON: Well, it started early, early Thursday morning, a week ago. So it's been -- it was a full week. And it started off simply in Abidjan, which is the capital, as a coup. And it was far away. They could hear some gunshots sometimes. But it wasn't anything that they felt too concerned about.
CHUNG: Soon they were trapped in the school and sort of caught in the crossfire. Was she frightened or was she scared?
HUTTON: I'm sure they were frightened, because our four grandsons are there with them.
CHUNG: Oh, my gosh.
HUTTON: Yes. There's a 7-year-old, a 5-year-old and 2-year-old twins. So I'm sure as a mother she was frightened. But she kept saying, the whole five days from the time it got pretty violent, that they could just sense the Lord's presence and they knew that they were being watched over.
CHUNG: All right, Ms. Cousineau, you actually were born and raised in the Ivory Coast. And your parents have spent more than 20 years there. Your sister is a senior. Were you able to talk to them? Were they evacuated?
BROOKE COUSINEAU, FAMILY EVACUATED FROM INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN ACADEMY: Yes, they were all evacuated.
I talked to my mom on -- I talked to her on Sunday. But it was just a quick little conversation. But I do have word that they have been evacuated off the...
CHUNG: Your mother is a counselor at the school. What did she tell you about the kids? She not only had to take care of your sister and her husband. But all of those children, probably, were quite traumatized.
COUSINEAU: She said that they were all pretty scared. But they have a counseling team there on campus. And they've been going around to all the dorms talking to the kids and kind of debriefing with them.
CHUNG: I know that this wasn't the first experience that was a scare for your parents. Your father in particular had this awful scare. Tell me about that.
COUSINEAU: Well, this summer -- I think it was about July 17 -- some armed men came on to campus. It was during the summer, so the children weren't there. And they took my dad, basically, took him off campus. They shot one of the African guards there, killed him. They took my dad off campus in our car. And they drove on the road, turned off into the bush, and then told him to get out and that they were going to shoot him and kill him. And so, as soon as he got out of the car, he just took off running.
But they had beat him up pretty bad. And he got away, but -- so that kind of made the situation even scarier.
CHUNG: Oh, my heavens yes.
Did your family suffer any injuries? Or did they tell you about anyone who did suffer injuries from this past week?
COUSINEAU: No, they have said that everyone has not been harmed and no one has suffered any injuries.
CHUNG: Ms. Hutton, do you think that your daughter and her husband are going to stay there? Or will they come back home to the United States?
HUTTON: They may come back briefly, if that is considered best. I was told today that, at this point, nobody is going back into Ivory Coast for a while. But as soon as they're told the coast is clear, they will be back there. And they will be excited to get there.
CHUNG: Well, you know what? I think there are so many people out there who are saying that they can't understand why your daughter and your son-in-law would go there. Why don't they stay here, where it's safe?
HUTTON: I would love to have them stay with me.
But they know that that is where the Lord wants them. And so many wonderful things happened to them as they prepared to go over the past five years that they know that is where they belong. And there is no place they nor we would rather be than where God wants us. And they are so blessed to be there. They love what they're doing. They love the girls.
All the people in Ivory Coast wanted them to come there, because they were like substitute dorm parents for two years, back when the couple that was supposed to be there couldn't get there. So they have had the experience and they know that is where they belong.
CHUNG: Ms. Cousineau, your parents have actually built a life there. Do you think they will ever come back?
COUSINEAU: I think that, if the opportunity arises, that they will come back. But, as of now, they don't know what their plans are and I don't know that their plans are.
CHUNG: As I understand it, as staffers, they need to contact all the parents of the children as well before they can make plans for themselves. COUSINEAU: That's what I'm assuming they're going to do. I'm assuming the kids come first and then them.
CHUNG: Do you expect to be able to talk to your parents any time soon?
COUSINEAU: I expect to be able to talk to them probably, maybe tomorrow or the next day. But I just really don't know. I want to talk to them, but...
CHUNG: And I know you're getting married, so you would love to have them join you at some point, right?
COUSINEAU: Yes, ma'am.
CHUNG: OK. I thank you so much for being with us, Ms. Cousineau and Ms. Hutton.
COUSINEAU: Thank you.
CHUNG: We are happy for you.
HUTTON: Thank you.
CHUNG: All right. Take care.
Still ahead: How much would you pay to get your office chair back from Enron?
Stay with us.
ANNOUNCER: Next: The nation's oldest African-American sorority is under fire for the deaths of two pledges allegedly killed in a hazing stunt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have to know what happened to my daughter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT will be right back.
CHUNG: Still ahead: The police and sorority said it was not hazing. So why would a college student wade into the ocean at 10:00 at night in her sneakers?
Stay with us.
ANNOUNCER: Still ahead: Enron artifacts on the auction block.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Can the bankrupt power trader possibly pay back $1 billion from selling its office furniture?
CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT continues in a moment.
CHUNG: Twenty-two-year-old Kristin High was a single mother juggling family work and school. So why was she on a beach after 10:00 at night? And why would she go into the water wearing sweatpants and sneakers?
As CNN's Anne McDermott reports, her family thinks it was because Kristin was a victim of hazing.
ANNE MCDERMOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The water was cold and the waves were high when two young women died in this dark sea near Los Angeles. One of them, Kristin High, was a college senior who wanted to become a lawyer. She also wanted to become a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the famed black sorority. And her family thinks that's what killed her: a hazing incident gone very, very wrong.
Her mother feels she is not getting any answers from the sorority or anyone else.
STRONG-FARGAS: I am outraged that your organization appears to be engaged in a cover-up.
MCDERMOTT: So they filed suit against Alpha Kappa Alpha, which features its anti-hazing policy prominently on its Web site. A spokesman said they are cooperating with the police.
And the police say the case remains open, but they've seen no evidence of hazing. They call it an accident. But try telling that to Kristin High's father, the 2-year-old son she's left behind, or the man she was to marry.
HOLMAN ARTHURS, FIANCE OF KRISTIN HIGH: She was to be my wife. And these women of Alpha Kappa Alpha, they took that away from me.
MCDERMOTT: When this newspaper columnist first heard of the drownings, she immediately thought of hazing, having been hazed herself by another sorority back when she was in school.
Why would an intelligent young woman go through this?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I think that, when you want something badly enough, you will sometimes suspend your own good judgment to get it. MCDERMOTT: Besides, Alpha Kappa Alpha claims the likes of Toni Morrison, Rosa Parks and Maya Angelou. Perhaps Kristin High simply wanted to be part of that. But now all the family wants is -- well, it's simple, says their lawyer.
ANGELA REDDOCK, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF KRISTIN HIGH: To find out exactly what happened the night of September 9.
MCDERMOTT: That, and to stop it from ever happening again.
ARTHURS: You can have your fraternity. You can have your sorority. You can have your secret handshake, but you just can't kill people.
MCDERMOTT: Anne McDermott, CNN, Los Angeles.
CHUNG: Earlier, I spoke with two of the people Kristin left behind: Holman Arthurs, her fiancee; and her mother, Patricia Strong- Fargas.
CHUNG: Patricia, would you tell me about your daughter? What was she like?
STRONG-FARGAS: Kristin was a loving daughter, beautiful smile, great leader, loved people, loved to share her life with people, a very intelligent young lady, was a senior at Cal State L.A. with a business major, with emphasis on entrepreneurship.
CHUNG: Holman, can you tell me, how did the two of you meet? You were only 19 and she was only 15 when you first met her.
ARTHURS: We met at a high school graduation. My cousin was graduating from the same school that she attended. And when I saw her across the yard -- the graduation was over -- there stood a 6-foot- tall, hazel-eyed, big-smile goddess.
And I motioned her attention. And I tried to have her come over to me. She was too good to do that, so I had to make my way over to her. She was just so beautiful. She made me feel so special. She felt so special. And the bond that we had, it's really unexplainable. When we kissed, we tingled. And we just enjoyed each other's attention and affection and the time that we had.
CHUNG: Pat, how did you find out that your daughter had drowned?
STRONG-FARGAS: About 2:30 in the morning, there was a ring at my doorbell. I thought it was Kristin, because those were the time of hours that those pledging activities were going on.
CHUNG: But, in fact, it was the police, right?
STRONG-FARGAS: It was actually four policemen. CHUNG: Did the police tell you what happened?
STRONG-FARGAS: Actually, they said that she accidentally drowned at the beach and that she was with a group of ladies exercising. And that was about the extent of what the police said.
CHUNG: Did you think it was possible that your daughter was swimming in the middle of the night?
STRONG-FARGAS: Oh, of course not. My daughter hates the beach. My daughter's whole nature -- my daughter is anemic. My daughter would not swim with tennis shoes on and a heavy sweat suit on. That was -- no, no, she was not swimming.
ARTHURS: I knew it wasn't just an accidental drowning, because just two days before -- actually, the day before on Sunday, she admitted to me that the night before, which was Saturday, she was blindfolded, put in a car. And when she got out of the car, she heard the ocean, at which point she and the other three pledgees were made to walk into the ocean, at which point they had to listen to the leader of the big sisters, which was called the dean.
They had to listen to her voice and listen to her directions to direct them of when the wave was coming. So, as soon as I heard she was at the beach and she was drowning, I already had the scenario in my head, because just a day-and-a-half before, she gave me the scenario in detail of what happened.
CHUNG: Do you know for a fact that this was a hazing incident?
ARTHURS: Yes, I know for a fact that it was a hazing incident.
On the night preceding the night in question of Kristin's untimely demise, the two pledgees, along with the three big sorority sisters that were initiating the hazing, by their own admission, said that this night was a hazing night. The circumstances around the hazing...
CHUNG: But that's not what they told police, is it?
ARTHURS: That's not what they told police. And for the police just to believe their bald-faced lies, I don't understand what kind of detective work they were doing.
CHUNG: Hold on. Why do you think those girls would lie, if that's what you're charging?
ARTHURS: Oh, yes, that's exactly what I'm charging and insinuating.
CHUNG: Why would those girls lie?
ARTHURS: They're lying because they believe that that night has some type of criminal implications in their mind and they're basically trying to cover their behind. CHUNG: Pat, just a few days before your daughter's death, you told her that you wanted to stop this practice of hazing. And what did she tell you?
STRONG-FARGAS: My daughter actually started crying. She says: "Mom, you're right. I should have never gotten into it. It's wrong what they're doing to me, and taking up my time. But I'm almost finished, mom. They said it's only a couple of days and I'll be there. And I've done all this prior work. And it's almost over, mom."
CHUNG: What do you hope to accomplish with your lawsuit?
STRONG-FARGAS: I hope to accomplish the truth, No. 1, of what happened that night, and just that it will never happen again. It's really a pain that I don't want another mother to face or to feel the way I feel or to lose a dream and a friend. It's a pain that I don't want another mother to have to go through again.
CHUNG: In a statement, Cal State Los Angeles emphasized that the sorority does not have an authorized chapter at the school. The sorority issued a statement of its own, saying it opposes initiation actions likely to cause bodily harm.
Up next: Now you too can own a little piece of Enron.
Stay with us.
CHUNG: Today, E is for everything must go.
Bankrupt Enron put just about everything, including the famous tilted E, on the auction block today, $44,000 for the E, which was picked up by a Houston-area computer store. But other stuff was on sale, too, ranging from computers to office supplies, and even furniture. In fact, one former employee wanted his chair back so badly that he was going to bid on it. I mean, when the auction continues tomorrow, he will.
His name is Brian Cruver. He is also the author of "Anatomy of Greed: The Unshredded Truth From an Enron Insider." And he joins me now from Houston.
Brian, I want to know about this chair. Let me get it straight. You want to buy your old chair back.
BRIAN CRUVER, AUTHOR, "ANATOMY OF GREED": Yes. Well, it's a great opportunity to get a bargain price on the most comfortable chair I've ever sat in.
CRUVER: Well, I mean, the Enron experience was a wild and crazy ride for everyone. But I remember that chair being extremely comfortable.
CHUNG: How would you know that it's your chair, I mean that the one that you would be buying is actually your chair?
CRUVER: Well, it's the special brand of ergonomic chair that I remember. And they have hundreds of them for sale. I think it might be tough for me to find the actual chair I was sitting in, but I could probably adjust it to my own specifications.
All right, we'll move away from your silly chair. And we are going to go into the actual E, the tilted E.
CHUNG: Now, that went for $44,000. And is it the one that we would see in front of the headquarters?
CRUVER: No, actually, it wasn't. It was at a different building downtown.
There are still some E logos, some E statues around Enron headquarters that, in the next several months, should be on the auction block as well. So this one, it was the E logo statue, the crooked E, as we called it. But it's not the one that was seen in front of the building as myself and other employees were laid off.
CHUNG: Well, I have to tell you that I thought $44,000 was a lot of money. And I understand that you -- I mean, for this E. I just don't get it. Why would anybody want it?
CRUVER: I think there's something about the Enron story. It's a piece of business history. It's something I talk about in "Anatomy of Greed." It's just there's sort of this lore to it. And we have had all these other scandals, but Enron is always going to be known as the first domino. And it's really this piece of history, this artifact. I thought it was going to go for a lot more money.
CHUNG: Did you? Why?
CRUVER: I just -- I knew there was a smaller E that was auctioned off in Europe that went for $15,000. And that was just a tiny little logo. And this is one of the big chrome statues that stood in front of the building.
CHUNG: Do you happen to know if the company that bought it is going to display it or what it will do with it?
CRUVER: I'm not sure. I have no idea what they're going to do.
CHUNG: Well, when you went to this auction, I'm just wondering -- well, first of all, why the heck did you go? Here's a company that laid you off, put you out on the street, and you go to the auction? Don't you want to just put this in your memory bank and throw it away? CRUVER: Well, actually, yes, part of me wants to put the story in the back of my mind and forget about it. But I did this thing. I wrote a book about Enron.
CHUNG: Oh, yes.
CRUVER: So now I'm kind of caught up in the story. And now I find myself involved from day to day as the story continues to unfold. And if there ever is a sequel to my book or I am ever involved in the Enron story in the future, I'm really interested in these kind of events.
CHUNG: Oh, I see. We'll get to your book and movie in just a minute.
But you actually went to the auction. Did you see a lot of Enron people there or were there lots of other people?
CRUVER: It was a pretty good mix.
There were a lot of Enron people. I actually met up with some people that are still at Enron. But I think it was mostly bargain- hunters, people who have businesses in the area that were looking to perhaps get a good price for some computer equipment and sell it for a profit later. I think what they found, though, was, because it was such a circus, because the media and everyone knew all about the auction, I think they weren't getting the prices they were hoping for.
CHUNG: And what were they selling?
CRUVER: It was different high-tech gear, equipment that I saw on the trading floor when I worked at Enron: large flat-screen plasma televisions, computer monitors, all kinds of stereo equipment and speakers and just about anything you could think of.
CHUNG: So I understand you've written this book. And it's going to be turned into a TV movie, right, with Brian Dennehy?
CHUNG: Good for you.
But there is one part, one little section of your book in which you tell this little story, and it's just so wonderful. It's a delicious story about what Enron did. They made a mistake.
CRUVER: Oh, they made a lot of mistakes, but one of the first mistakes that I talk about in the book is hiring me by accident. And it's an interesting way for me to realize, on my very first day, that Enron was not perfect. And it's all downhill from there. And there's all these signs after that, up until the day that I get laid off.
CHUNG: And when you were laid off, you actually kind of kept on going.
CRUVER: Another mistake. (LAUGHTER)
CRUVER: They accidentally left myself and a lot of other employees on the payroll. And it's actually -- it turns out, for me, the only reason I was able to write this book. If not for that mistake, I would have been immediately forced to find another job and find some way to make a living. But because they kept paying me, they essentially funded the writing of "Anatomy of Greed."
CHUNG: Brian, you didn't turn the checks back in and say: "Hey, wait a minute. You fired me"?
CRUVER: You know -- and that's one thing I talk about in the book. I debated back and forth about that.
One thing we as employees that were laid off were hoping for was a severance plan. And Enron was supposed to give us some money to carry us over to the next job. So, they canceled that plan when they went bankrupt. And so I was stuck trying to figure out a way -- how I was going to survive.
CHUNG: OK, quickly, in five seconds, what are you going to do now? Do you have a job?
CRUVER: I'm going to write more books.
CHUNG: And you don't have a job yet?
CRUVER: I'm taking a break from the corporate world. I want to write more books and hopefully turn this into a career.
CHUNG: OK, Brian Cruver, thank you so much for being with us.
CRUVER: Thank you for having me.
CHUNG: We'll be right back with a few words about tomorrow's program.
Stay with us.
CHUNG: Tomorrow: Their son wanted to be a pro wrestler, until wrestling killed him.
Coming up next on "LARRY KING LIVE": Dr. Phil.
So, thank you for joining us. And for all of us at CNN, have a good night and we'll see you tomorrow.
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