CNN Europe CNN Asia
On CNN TV Transcripts Headline News CNN International About Preferences
powered by Yahoo!
Return to Transcripts main page


Senate Passes Homeland Security Bill; FBI Watch List of Post- 9/11 Suspects

Aired November 19, 2002 - 20:00   ET


CONNIE CHUNG, HOST: Good evening. I'm Connie Chung.
Tonight: After months of debate, Congress approves a massive new agency; its mission: defend the homeland.

ANNOUNCER: The battle over homeland security.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: It was a backdoor, end-of-the- session deal that was cut in the middle of the night, without input, without debate, without deliberation or discussion.

SEN. FRED THOMPSON (R), TENNESSEE: When are we going to stop looking at who gets some little benefit and start looking at what's in the interests of our national security?


ANNOUNCER: Has the focus become too political? What exactly is the Homeland Security Bill? And why has it taken so long to get here?

Is there such a thing as an FBI post-September 11 watch list? Who are the people on it? And what happens to people on the list when they are spotted?


MARK DEUITCH, NAMED ON FBI WATCH LIST: I believe I was flagged by virtue of having a ticket purchased by a gentleman with a Muslim name.


ANNOUNCER: She says she caught her husband cheating on their marriage. What happened next was caught on tape. Tonight: Was it a crime of jealousy or an accident?

And what on earth is Michael Jackson doing on his balcony?

This is CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT. Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York: Connie Chung.

CONNIE CHUNG, HOST: Good evening.

Tonight: history. With a Senate vote just minutes ago, Congress approved the most massive overhaul of the federal government in almost 50 years. President Bush has said that he will sign it into law, pulling together 22 federal agencies into one mammoth Department of Homeland Security, 170,000 employees; its mission: to defend the nation against those forces around the world and those secretly operating here who are dedicated, above all else, to the goal of killing Americans.

CNN congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl is covering the historic Senate vote tonight and he joins us from Capitol Hill -- Jonathan.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And, Connie, just in the last two minutes, we have the final vote here in the United States Senate.

It was 90-9 in favor of the creation of a new Department of Homeland Security, obviously, an overwhelming vote, an overwhelming victory for the president, as well as for the Democrats here in the Senate that pushed for it, such as Senator Joe Lieberman.

But this vote happened, this overwhelming vote happened after what looked like a potential for real delay on this just earlier, just a few hours ago.


(voice-over): With final passage assured, the president congratulated Republican leaders with a call from Air Force One.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just want to thank you all for working hard. We're making great progress in the war on terror.

KARL: But less than an hour earlier, high political drama on the Senate floor, as a group of moderate Republicans threatened to side with Democrats on a vote that would have considerably delayed passage of the bill. The moderates were led by two senators from Maine.

COLLINS: We felt that we needed to take a stand.

KARL: Like the Democrats, the moderate Republicans objected to what they called special interest items added to the bill by the House, including legal protections from vaccine manufacturers.

COLLINS: We made very clear to our leaders our unhappiness, not only with the provisions, but with the process.

KARL: As a price for their votes, the Maine senators demanded a commitment to eliminate several of the measures when Congress reconvenes next year. Minutes before the vote started, the moderates won a commitment from Republican leader Trent Lott.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MINORITY LEADER: We are going to change that. You have my commitment we will change that.

KARL: But even that wasn't enough. They wanted a promise from Republican leaders in the House. But Speaker Dennis Hastert was out of the country and couldn't be immediately reached.

COLLINS: The lines in the Cloak Room were kept free for the incoming return call from the speaker and from Tom DeLay. And we waited in the Cloak Room until those calls came.

KARL: The call finally came through, giving the president the votes he needed.

(on camera): If you hadn't gotten the call, if they had a hard time getting through over the skies of Turkey or wherever he was, how would you have voted?

SEN. OLYMPIA SNOWE (R), MAINE: Well, for the Lieberman amendment.


KARL: So you were prepared to vote with the Democrats if you didn't get that phone call.

SNOWE: That's correct.

COLLINS: Absolutely.


KARL: But they got the phone call. And, of course, we've had this final 90-9 victory for the Homeland Security Bill. That paves the way for the president to sign it into law. He is expected to do so as early as next week.

And when he does so, he will also announce the new secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. And the White House is telling us that that will almost certainly be Tom Ridge, the former governor of Pennsylvania and the current director of the Office of Homeland Security -- Connie.

CHUNG: Jonathan, of course, there were nine senators who voted against homeland security. How could they?

KARL: Well, these were senators that weren't voting against the concept of homeland security, but felt that this reorganization was something that might not be the best way to go about this.

Several senators, including Jim Jeffords of Vermont and Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, said this was simply a reshuffling of the bureaucratic deck, and really the main problem that happened on 9/11 was an intelligence failure, and none of this really directly addresses the questions of the intelligence failure on September 11.

So, those senators felt this was really just a bureaucratic reshuffling that really isn't the way to go about protecting the country, doing the best thing to protect the country.

CHUNG: Probably a lot of people agree with them.

Now, has Congress approved funding for homeland security?

KARL: Congress has not voted another dime for this.

Actually, what has happened here is, the Congress is leaving town now without having agreed on new spending for next year. They're just spending -- they're just going to be funding the government next year at the level of this year. So there's no additional money for this new Department of Homeland Security. So they've announced the reshuffling. They've announced the restructuring.

But at this point, there's no direct input of new resources for this Department of Homeland Security. Senator Daschle was on the floor before announcing that he was going to vote yes, saying that this was his biggest disappointment, that they haven't actually funded this new department.

Now, another point, though, Connie, is that Republicans have said all along that they believe that this new department can be done at existing funding levels, that you don't need additional resources, but, by restructuring, you have new economies of scale and you can actually do this at the same level -- but, right now, no additional money for homeland security.

CHUNG: All right, Jonathan Karl on Capitol Hill tonight, thank you.

Right now in Washington, we've got one of the senators responsible for many of the fundamentals of the new Homeland Security Department and might like to be its boss one day. Now, that's as president, Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut.

Senator, thank you so much for being with us.

The only thing I think Americans, sir, want to know -- well, I think he's just getting miked up. So we are just going to give him another minute to get miked up. Senator Lieberman will be joining us in just a moment.

And, as you well know, that vote was 90-9. And as soon as we get Senator Lieberman available, we'll be able to ask him the very first question.

And I think the very first question, Senator -- I'm so glad. Are you all set now? Can you hear me?


CHUNG: Good.

Senator, I think the one question that all of us here in America want to know is, will we be safer?

LIEBERMAN: The answer is yes. We will be safer as a result of the creation of the new Department of Homeland Security. A group of us have, since September 11 of last year, felt that the federal government was dangerously disorganized in our homeland defense, that the terrorists took advantage of our vulnerabilities, that we had to organize better and have tight control under a secretary with budget authority, and to create, which this bill does for the first time, one place where all the intelligence and law enforcement information will come together -- never before had that.

So, hopefully, we can see the terrorist threat before it strikes us and get it before it hits us again. So, this is -- nothing can guarantee total security in an age of terrorism, but this bill will make the American people more secure.

CHUNG: But, Senator, I think what many of us might be concerned about is that the department won't be up and running for at least more than a year, some even say three to five years.

LIEBERMAN: Yes, I don't accept those estimates. The bill itself says that the merger of the department has to be fully completed no later than a year from the day it is signed by the president, which will be next week.

CHUNG: But that even frightens us. That's a whole year of not really feeling secure. And there have been threats, as you well know.

LIEBERMAN: Sure. A year is the deadline.

If this works right, as soon as the new secretary is appointed, he will begin to bring these agencies together, have them cooperating, and particularly bringing the intelligence and law enforcement agencies together to close the vulnerabilities that the terrorists took advantage of on September 11.

So, the answer is, soon Americans can feel more secure as a result of the creation of this department.

CHUNG: Sir, you bring up the vulnerabilities. And I think that's a critical question. The FBI and the CIA certainly were not sharing information. There is a strong belief among some of the senators, such as Robert Byrd, that there was a failure of intelligence. So how do we know that that will be corrected and that problem will be solved?

LIEBERMAN: There was a failure of intelligence. Look, the very fact that the terrible attacks of September 11 happened showed that we were not adequately defending or homeland. We can never let that happen again.

I can tell you that one of the parts of this bill that I worked on hardest, from the very beginning, was to close those gaps in sharing information. And I think we've set up the structure that can do exactly that, for the first time in the history of our federal government. It hasn't even happened really since September 11, although the CIA and the FBI are cooperating more with one another than they did before.

This requires real leadership. And the new secretary can make it happen.

CHUNG: All right, Senator, one part of this bill, which is really quite disturbing -- I was a little shocked at how much pork was added on for a bill that was so important to the American people.

LIEBERMAN: Well, I was, too. And it's just a total lack of discipline and an attempt by some members of Congress to jump onto what is effectively the last train leaving town with some pet projects.

It shouldn't have happened. Senator Daschle, Senator McCain joined us. And I worked earlier in the day to try to strike those pork provisions out of the bill. Unfortunately, we fell a few votes short. But we're going to come back to them early in January, when we reconvene. They have no business on this bill. They have nothing to do with homeland security. They're just pet projects for some lobbyists and some members of Congress. It shouldn't have happened.

CHUNG: Well, Senator Daschle could have prevented that, as a Democratic leader. Has he lost some of his effectiveness, because he was unable to keep three Democrats from defecting, which could have killed all seven barrels of pork?

LIEBERMAN: Well, it's hard for any leader to hold a disparate group like this together. Somebody once said that being majority leader gives you the task of trying to corral a group of cats. You can't keep them all in the corral at one time. I think Senator Daschle has been a very effective leader, a strong supporter of the Homeland Security Bill.

Of course, it would have taken just a couple of other independent souls on the Republican side to join John McCain in voting against these special interest provisions and they also would have been stricken out. So it was an embarrassment. But, remember, this doesn't affect the guts of this bill, which, critically, creates this very important new department. It was just unnecessary stuff, junk, really, that was thrown on.

CHUNG: Senator, in the last 10 seconds we have, Al Gore has basically given you the go-ahead if you want to run for president. Yes or no, are you going to?

LIEBERMAN: Well, nothing's changed. I'm going to wait and see what Al says at the end of this year about whether he's running or not. And then I'll take a fresh, quick look at it myself.

CHUNG: All right, Senator, thank you so much for being with us. It's a pleasure to see you.

LIEBERMAN: Thank you, Connie. You, too.


The creation of the Homeland Security Department is not just a matter of paperwork. It's the largest government reorganization since President Truman created the Defense Department. So what exactly does it involve?

Well, we asked CNN's Jeanne Meserve to give us the big picture of this mammoth undertaking.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a huge country, protecting it a huge task. Now there will be a huge bureaucracy charged with doing the job, incorporating 22 separate agencies. Will it work?

JAMES LINDSEY, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: It's sort of like trying to redesign and overhaul a plane's engine in mid-flight.

MESERVE: The guts of the proposal, the merger of border agency, including Customs, the Coast Guard, the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the new Transportation and Security Agency. Experts say it could make policing the border more coherent, comprehensive and smart, improving the exchange of information about suspicious people and goods.

STEPHEN FLYNN, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATION: If bananas were shipped from Iceland that should obviously set off an alarm. That's caught through trade information. And the ability to merge that together, the people, the conveyances and the cargo information under one roof is a sensible step forward to deal with the intelligence preventive side of this.

MESERVE: Information on critical infrastructure and terrorist threats will be synthesized and analyzed by the new department with an eye to predicting and preventing possible terrorist actions. But some wonder if intelligence agencies and the private sector will give up all the information the department needs to do the job.

First responders are promised one-stop shopping for grants, gear, training and information. The League of Cities says one thing is missing, money.

CAMERON WHITMAN, NATIONAL LEAGUE OF CITIES: Unfortunately, as long as Congress does not appropriate any money for first responders, the shelves in this shop are going to be empty. There's not going to be anything there that they can give us.

MESERVE: On Wall Street, about 70 percent of private mergers and acquisitions fail and they usually involve just two entities, not 22. In Washington, making the new department function effectively is going to be a gargantuan managerial task, according to experts.

LINDSEY: It's number one, just as people all share the same stationary and report up the same chain of command doesn't mean they communicate. The second problem is that there is an awful lot of government that handles homeland security issues that is not part of this new Department of Homeland Security.

MESERVE (on camera): Some experts and state and local officials predict that, in the short term, the country could be less safe, rather than more safe, as agencies and individuals jockey for position and clarify their role in the new department. Ultimately, they say, the department could make us safer, but that may not be evident for three to five years.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.


CHUNG: So, if the new department won't be up to speed for one, three, five years, and the efforts spent on reorganizing 22 agencies might actually hamper the effort to protect America, is this really the best course of action?

Joining me now from Washington with their views are Paul Light, director for the Center of Public Service for the Brookings Institution; and Michael Scardaville, homeland security policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation.

Thank you, gentlemen, both for being with us.

Let's start with Mr. Scardaville.

I'll ask you the same question that we posed to Senator Lieberman. And that is, will Americans be safer? What do you think?

MICHAEL SCARDAVILLE, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: I think this department will definitely make Americans safer over the medium to long term, and, actually, even in the short term.

What it will provide is strategic vision and a coordinated approach to homeland security policies. It's important to keep in mind we've had a homeland security policy since before 9/11, but it was disjointed. And that created gaps that terrorists can take advantage of. This department is a good first step in solving those problems, but it's not the last step. It's the first step.

CHUNG: Mr. Light, forgive me for being so skeptical, but I cannot believe that it will suddenly come together, 170,000 employees, melding these 22 agencies. It just seems beyond comprehension that it could come together and really make us safe.

PAUL LIGHT, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well, I think common sense is holding here.

This is a very, very large merger. It's also, arguably, the most difficult merger in bureaucratic history, rather akin to the Romans trying to merge with Egypt. The point here is that the creation of the department increases the probability that we'll be safer. But the actual execution here relies on the secretary of the new department and a great deal of hard work to heal the wounds that have been inflicted during the partisan debate over creation of the department.

This would have been a difficult reorganization under the best of circumstances. But the partisan disputes, the debate over labor, the disputes between Democrats and Republicans, the lack of funding for the new department, these all create a situation which is arguably the worst of circumstances. The new secretary needs to take hold quickly and show that he's in charge and get moving on this, because it is going to take time.

CHUNG: Mr. Scardaville, I think one of the concerns that we expressed to Senator Lieberman, of course, was the lack of sharing of information between the CIA and the FBI. Can we expect better cooperation here?

SCARDAVILLE: Well, the legislation recently passed by both the House and the Senate provides a decent structure for improving information-sharing.

It calls for the intelligence community, and particularly the CIA and the FBI, to share information with the Department of Homeland Security. But it also says that it should be shared with the entire counterterrorism community. It is, again, a good first step. I think we actually need to take one more step and create an intelligence fusion center within the department that would actually take the responsibility out of the hands of the intelligence community -- again, the FBI and the CIA first and foremost -- for providing that information and use modern information technology to actually extract it from their databases, really trying to take the human element out of that decision-making process.

CHUNG: Mr. Light, I know that the homeland security head, Tom Ridge, came under some criticism, actually, when he was in the position that he's in now. Of course, his responsibility will be different. The onus will be on him. Is he the man for the job?

LIGHT: Oh, I think he'll be terrific. I have great respect for Tom Ridge. He knows how to run front-line state agencies. That's essential. He's got good connections with state and local government.

He also knows that you've got to work with labor unions. You can't create a tension between in new department between labor and management. And I think he'll to a terrific job. There's a very large team of people that he's got to assemble underneath him. He's got a very large amount of work to do, in terms of reconciling these disparate agencies and getting them to focus on the same mission.

But I think he's the right person for the job. And I think he's seen the frustrations of a lack of coordination. And I think he knows exactly where he'd like to see this department go in the end.

CHUNG: I think one of the most comical things that you said to us was that Moses wasn't available. It is a monumental job, isn't it?

LIGHT: It's a terribly difficult job. And, if we could find somebody who could take us out of the wilderness and take us into this new era of safety, Tom Ridge is the best available, I think.

But we have to lower expectations about what will happen overnight here. I agree with Senator Lieberman that we've taken a good first step forward, but this is going to take time. It took us 40 years to build a Department of Defense where we had true integration... CHUNG: But we don't have time, do we?

LIGHT: That's correct. Every day, we are going to get a little bit better.

But let's not confuse means with ends here. Reorganization is just a means to an end. Signing this bill into law is just a first step. It's going to take strong leadership, money, commitment from Congress, and a lot of faith here. And you're not going to do it overnight. So, it's an issue of lowering expectations. We are going to get better every day, but we've got a long, long way to go.

CHUNG: Paul Light, Michael Scardaville, thank you both for being with us.

When we come back: another controversial measure revealed today. Is your name on the list the FBI gave out to big business?

And later in the broadcast: for the first time, chilling 911 tapes released from the sniper murders.

Stay with us.

ANNOUNCER: Still ahead: a twisted love triangle, the jealous wife, her husband's death, the private investigator who got it on tape.

CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT returns in a moment.


CHUNG: Do you know what Project Lookout is? It may have your name on it, really.

After September 11, the FBI distributed a list of people agents wanted to talk to and actual suspects, and not just in the usual law enforcement circles. Project Lookout included a lot of big companies. And some of them are misusing it, which means innocent people could be blocked from getting jobs or flagged doing anything, from renting a car, to making travel reservations, to going to a bank.

"The Wall Street Journal" broke the story today. And reporter Ann Davis is with us now, along with Mark Deuitch, whose name showed up on the list.

Thank you both for being with us.

Ann, this list came out right after 9/11. How many people are on the list? And just exactly what was the FBI trying to accomplish here?

ANN DAVIS, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, the list has fluctuated.

It started out as a few hundred names, maybe even fewer. It went up to as high as 460 names, according to the FBI, and has gone back down since then. It has actually been obsolete since October of last year. But what happened was, right after September 11, in the crisis atmosphere that was unlike any our country has experienced, the FBI tried something new.

They gave names of people they were seeking to question to big businesses in all kinds of industries. And, when you think about it, companies have an awful lot of information about people's whereabouts.

CHUNG: Sure. So, what was the FBI trying to accomplish?

DAVIS: It was trying to more quickly find as many people as it could that it thought had connections to the 19 hijackers.

Now, I stress "connections." And it's a very loose sense. You may have shared a phone number. You may have lived in the same apartment building or attended a flight school at some point in the same period that the hijackers did. And this list was distributed in a manner that the FBI ultimately couldn't keep control of, because they gave their field offices the ability to share it with companies that they trusted in their area, but did not keep a good list, so that they could then update the companies on people who had been exonerated.

CHUNG: I understand.

Now, Mr. Deuitch, you do business with Saudi Arabian companies. And you were questioned after 9/11. After you were questioned by authorities, were you basically cleared?

DEUITCH: I believe I was cleared, although I was never told that I was cleared exactly. I spent a couple hours with the FBI. We went through my business. We went through my flight patterns, some of the things I do. And, at the end of that meeting, they seemed comfortable that I should have been cleared.

CHUNG: But, since then, you have encountered problems. Tell us.

DEUITCH: Well, it was a little bit ironic.

But what happened was, I was on a flight on 9/11. My ticket was purchased by a Saudi client. So, I was flagged by virtue of flying on a ticket bought by a gentleman with an Arabic name. The FBI visited the following Saturday. We had our meeting. They left.

I wasn't aware that there was a list or that I was on that list. About four or five days later, I began getting calls from reporters. And that was the first I learned there was a list. Since then, really what's happened, I guess on two parallel levels, is, when I travel, I typically get searched at every airport, at every junction point.

I bought a pair of loafers because I have to take my shoes off every time I get on a plane. The more significant to my business issue is really the fact that most of the business I do involves background checks. And it's become so easy now to check backgrounds just through the Internet. What used to be an expensive background check, anybody can go on Google and search names. So, my name comes up on several lists, some of them in the U.S., some of them out of the U.S. One of those lists shows me being taken off that list, but the other list still shows my name on there as a suspected terrorist.

CHUNG: Well, obviously, you have a sense of humor about this and you seem very calm. But, quite frankly, I think a lot of people would be angry. Do you feel that this is a major invasion of your privacy?

DEUITCH: Well, I think -- look, it was a very extraordinary event, 9/11. And I think for me to complain about the inconvenience I've gone through would be ridiculous.

The FBI did what they had to do, to some extent. I think, in retrospect, though, what they should have done and what they still should do is be very proactive in making it clear that that list was not necessarily a list of terrorists. It was a list of people they wanted to talk to. And I think they should put on their own Web site an updated list, explaining what the list was about and those people that are off the list, so it's final, because the problem is, this information is on the Internet now.

People do searches. They get fragments. If you read one article that was written about me, it's pretty ugly. If you read others, then it explains the whole situation. So, no, I'm not angry with the FBI, but I think, in retrospect, they could have handled it a little better.

CHUNG: Ann Davis, in the 30 seconds we have left, are there other lists?

DAVIS: There are other lists out there that are more current that are kept and used by airlines. And there are a lot of new plans out there that could result in these lists being shared with industries beyond the airlines.

We can only hope that some of the solutions that software companies and government agencies are considering will enable both sides to check lists without revealing all of the data, so that it then spins out of control on the Internet again.

CHUNG: Ann Davis, Mark Deuitch, thank you so much for being with us.

Our legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, joins us now.

Before I get to a question, Jeffrey, I want you to hear what Attorney General John Ashcroft said today when he was asked about Project Lookout.


JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: We need to find ways to share as much information with individuals as is possible, to make every American, whether they're in industry or business or in law enforcement or in their families, capable of enhancing their security by being aware and alert.


CHUNG: There you go.

Jeffrey, Mark Deuitch was really rather reasonable about all of this inconvenience. You know, he buys loafers now instead. But does anyone have any legal recourse in such an instance, if they have been put on a list and totally inconvenienced?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Almost certainly no. You don't really even have legal recourse if you are charged with a crime and acquitted.

I mean, it's very, very hard to sue the government for violation of your rights, unless you can prove really intentional discrimination against you personally. If you are simply brought up in a dragnet that the government -- or a list that the government has drawn up in good faith for a good purpose, you really have no chance of suing.

CHUNG: Well, but this list was disseminated so widely. Did the government overstep its bounds?

TOOBIN: John Ashcroft, in the months after 9/11, said: "We are changing what the Justice Department does. We used to be about prosecuting people who have committed crimes. That used to be the business of the Justice Department. We are changing our top priority. Our top priority now is preventing crimes from taking place in the first place."

So, that's a very different thing. And that involves much more proactive efforts to identify people and get to them and limit them before they've committed any crime. This list is just one of many ways in which they're doing that.

CHUNG: I know, but this list could follow people around for the rest of their lives. It just seems terribly unfair, if indeed they are completely innocent of anything.

TOOBIN: That's the cost of the new system, but the...

CHUNG: The new reality.

TOOBIN: The new reality.

The Justice Department is, I think, trying in good faith not to bother people who really have done nothing wrong. But they are erring on the side of expanding the area of inquiry and the people under investigation, rather than having September 11 happen again. It's terrible when you have someone like what's happened to Mark Deuitch, but his inconvenience is worth the risk of someone really bad getting through.

CHUNG: And Ann Davis says there are other lists.

TOOBIN: There are other lists. And there are all sorts of different things they're doing.

Remember, they're looking at Iraqi-Americans in much greater detail than they used to. They're scouring immigration lists in a way that they never used to. It's a completely different approach to law enforcement. And there will be innocent victims, but that's going to be the cost of the new way of doing business.

CHUNG: Well, we've always said, after 9/11, there's a new normal. This is the new normal as well.

TOOBIN: This is the new normal. And there are going to be more stories like this. And, you know, the question is going to be, how do we strike the balance? Does it get excessive at some point? Do we really infringe on too many people's rights? But, frankly, I don't hear a lot of people complaining about aggressive law enforcement today.

CHUNG: No, absolutely. I think everyone agrees. We want to be protected.

All right, thank you, Jeffrey.

When we return: today, for the first time, the cries for help to 911 when the Washington snipers struck -- right after this.


CHUNG: A haunting echo today of those three weeks when the entire Washington, D.C. area was terrorized by more than a dozen sniper shootings. The Montgomery County Fire Department has released some of the 911 calls they received after the shootings.

And CNN's Kathleen Koch is in Washington with details on the tapes.

Kathleen, good evening.


Well, these dramatic 911 tapes are from what was the second day of the sniper spree in Montgomery County, but certainly the deadliest. And, as you said, they were released this evening by that county's fire and rescue department.

And they really show the confusion and the panic that developed as the calls began pouring in. For instance, when the first victim, Sonny Buchanan, was shot while mowing the lawn, some people thought that his lawn mower had exploded and injured him. And then, in the 911 call from the next shooting, that of the cab driver, Premkumar Walekar, a father in his 50s -- he was at a Mobil gas station -- it was clear to that caller that the man had indeed been shot.


OPERATOR: Fire and ambulance.

CALLER: Oh, my God. A man is dead on Aspen Hill Road at the Mobil station on Aspen Hill.

OPERATOR: Hold it. Ma'am, ma'am, Aspen Hill and what?

CALLER: I don't know. Connecticut Avenue.


OPERATOR: Aspen Hill and Connecticut? What's wrong? Ma'am, listen to me. What is wrong?

CALLER: A man has been killed in front of me.

OPERATOR: How is he being killed in front of you?

CALLER: I don't know.


KOCH: Now, another call came just 25 minutes later, that for a woman, Sarah Ramos, who the caller spotted on a bench near Leisure World. That's a retirement community in Montgomery County. And, again, the caller did not realize that Ramos had been murdered. She described to the 911 operator that the woman had shot herself and that she was lying with her head in a pool of blood.

Then the next murder, that was of Lori Ann Lewis-Rivera, who was shot at a gas station while vacuuming her van. And, again, the caller was uncertain about what had happened, the caller calling 911 and reporting that something had exploded and that the woman was bleeding.

Connie, these least four killings that day occurring in just over two hours. There was a lot of confusion, a lot of uncertainty. And, sadly, these were not the first 911 calls that officers would have to deal with during that deadly shooting spree, at least in this area. It claimed 10 lives and left three wounded -- Connie.

CHUNG: Kathleen, it's just horrible, horrible to listen to.

Now, I know one of the sniper suspects, John Lee Malvo, was in court today. What happened?

KOCH: Well, it was a hearing where Malvo's attorney asked for several things, first one being a continuance. And that was a little bit more time to prepare the defense for the young sniper suspect. The judge granted that. So, they are going to be having a preliminary hearing on January 14.

A couple of other things that the judge also agreed to, but one thing that they argued a great deal about and the judge would not agree to, and that was some experts. His attorney wanted to have a DNA expert, a fingerprint expert, a ballistics expert, a psychiatrist. And the commonwealth prosecutor, Robert Horan, argued that all this was not necessary before a preliminary hearing; this is just the very first step in the trial.

And the judge agreed. And so, the attorney was not happy, though. He said he's just basically trying to get a level playing field, that the state of Virginia has a lot more resources than the defense does right now.

CHUNG: All right, Kathleen Koch in Washington, thank you.

KOCH: You bet.

CHUNG: And still ahead: It might be the real-life story of sex, lies and videotape.

Stay with us.


CHUNG: When we come back, we've got a murder trial that's just unbelievable. Did she really run over her husband repeatedly on videotape?

Stay with us.


CHUNG: In a Texas courtroom today, pretrial hearings began in a case that you just won't forget. Once I tell you about it, you're not going to forget about it.

A woman is on trial for murder, charged with murdering her husband, murdering him by running over him with her car and doing so on videotape. You are about to meet a private investigator right in the middle of this case.

But, as CNN investigative correspondent Art Harris reports from Houston, the killing itself is only one of the crazy things about this story.


ART HARRIS, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was the $70,000 murder weapon, say police, big and bizarre, even by Texas standards. The charge: murder by Mercedes.

Carol Harris, successful dentist, mother of twins, came to court in Houston accused of killing her husband with her car. The Colombian-born former beauty queen stood as the murder indictment was read, then said softly, "Not guilty."

Clara and David Harris, an orthodontist, married a decade ago on Valentine's Day. The marriage turned sour when David had an affair with his receptionist. Clara went to Blue Moon Investigations.

(on camera): Why were you hired?

BOBBI BACHA, BLUE MOON INVESTIGATIONS: Clara Harris hired us to follow her husband.

HARRIS (voice-over): A private eye tailed David Harris and his lover to a hotel. Clara showed up and lured them to the lobby. There, witnesses said, Clara ripped the blouse off the other woman. David and his mistress fled into the parking lot.

(on camera): Prosecutors say Mrs. Harris pointed her silver Mercedes at her husband. The impact knocked him 25 feet. Then, witnesses said, she wheeled around him and ran over him on the ground, and turned and ran over him again, then whipped around and ran over him a third time. Afterwards, Mrs. Harris said it was an accident.

(voice-over): The private detective Clara Harris paid to follow her husband was watching with a video camera.

(on camera): What did your investigator tell you she saw?

BACHA: She said she saw the impact and she also saw the vehicle traveling over David Harris' body.

HARRIS: She filmed it.

BACHA: She filmed it.

HARRIS: What did Clara Harris say when she learned you had taped what happened?

BACHA: That's the first time I had ever heard shock in her voice.

HARRIS (voice-over): In court Tuesday, the judge ordered the videotape sealed and various audiotapes kept secret. The defense lost most of its pretrial motions, including one to question David Harris' 16-year-old daughter, Lindsey, who was in the Mercedes when her father was run down.

BACHA: The little girl was trying to stop her stepmom, unsuccessfully. You can't stop a moving car.

HARRIS: Outside court: a bombshell dropped by the lawyer for the other woman, Gail Bridges.

VALORIE DAVENPORT, ATTORNEY FOR GAIL BRIDGES: David told Gail Bridges they had an open marriage and Clara had been having an affair.

HARRIS: Garbage, said Clara's lawyer.

GEORGE PARNHAM, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Of course, that trash can is getting filled up with all of these other allegations, but we'll make room for that one as well. That has no credibility at all.

HARRIS: The judge left January 21 as the day Clara Harris will go to trial, where the only surprise would be if there's nothing more shocking to reveal.


CHUNG: Questions?

HARRIS: Connie?

CHUNG: Yes. Can you hear me?

HARRIS: I can.

CHUNG: OK. Go ahead.

HARRIS: The only thing that this lawyer for the other woman is saying, she's saying that because she feels that Clara Harris is still in danger from her -- she feels that Gail Bridges, the other woman, is still in danger from Clara Harris and her alleged lover, that she could have been killed that night, that she was actually hit by the Mercedes, and that she is being treated by the courts as the other woman, scorned by the courts.

So, that's why she wants assault charges filed on behalf of Gail Bridges.

CHUNG: And why would the lawyer for the other woman want to claim that Clara -- that Harris had an affair with someone else?

HARRIS: Well, it certainly changes the image of the woman who has appeared in court today claiming that this was an accident. It complicates things. And it would change, certainly, the motive to possibly one of alleged premeditation and not make it as simple as the defense would have the courts believe.

CHUNG: All right, Art Harris in Houston, thank you.

Also in Houston tonight is private investigator Bobbi Bacha, who was originally hired by Clara Harris to investigate her husband, yet -- another interesting turn in this case -- has now been retained by the attorney for the other woman, Gail Bridges.

Help us here with this story. It's very confusing, in some ways. But there's one area that I think you can explain for us very well. It was your investigator who videotaped what happened. What did your investigator tell you that videotape shows?

BACHA: Well, we can't discuss the contents of the videotape. The judge issued an order today to where anything discussed on the videotape we cannot discuss or mention any videotapes, audiotapes. So, as of today, we can't say what we saw or what our investigators saw on the videotape. But I think most of it's been reported. We basically videoed the accident.

CHUNG: All right, do you believe that Mrs. Harris' actions were premeditated or do you believe it was a moment of insanity?

BACHA: I think that some people have methods to their madness. And I think that this is one of those instances.

CHUNG: So what are you saying?

BACHA: I'm saying that, you could be in an angry state and still have conscious thoughts and, therefore, methods to madness. CHUNG: You're suggesting, if I may pursue that, that she did know what she was doing?

BACHA: At first, I was like everyone else. I was like, oh, she just lost it. We had no idea what had happened. But, after further investigation, we have completely changed our opinion on that.

CHUNG: Now, his daughter, Dr. Harris' daughter was actually in the car with her stepmother. Were you able to talk to her or were you able to get any idea of how traumatic this must have been for her?

BACHA: I can just tell you that our investigators that were there that night will never forget the cries of this child. And she's going to be permanently affected.

Any parent that would bring a child to that type of situation, even without the accident, is just subjecting a child to permanent damage. It was unconscionable what Clara did to this child, whether or not the father died. It was just unconscionable for any mother.

CHUNG: All right. Is it true that Clara Harris had called you and asked you for a refund because her husband had died and you hadn't completed your job?

BACHA: That's true.

CHUNG: Did you know why? I mean, did you question her about it?

BACHA: I believe her attorney said that he had advised her to call and get funds to help pay for her legal fees. But, at that point, it was less than 48 hours after her husband was dead. As far as I know, none of her $6 million was being held in custody or tied up in court or -- I believe she had access to everything.

CHUNG: All right, Bobbi Bacha in Houston tonight, thank you so much for being with us.

Still ahead: Also caught on videotape, what exactly is Michael Jackson doing with the baby that you're about to see?

Stay with us.


CHUNG: When you see this next video, you might wonder whether Michael Jackson is losing his grip. And, as you'll see, losing his grip would have been very bad indeed.

At a Berlin hotel, Jackson dangled a baby outside a fifth floor window. No clue what Jackson was doing or who the baby is, although Jackson's children were with him at the time. Fans waiting down below didn't seem fazed. They got to see a star and they also got a free towel.

Isn't that the most bizarre thing you've ever seen in your life?

Tomorrow: a hard look at the threat of terrorism and what's being done about it.

And coming up next on "LARRY KING LIVE": an hour with Al and Tipper Gore.

Thank you for joining us. And for all of us at CNN, have a good night and we'll see you tomorrow.


Post-9/11 Suspects>

© 2004 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.