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PAULA ZAHN NOW
BTK Suspect Appears in Court; Missteps Made in the Hunt For Osama bin Laden
Aired March 1, 2005 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, everybody. Welcome. Glad you could join us tonight.
This evening, could a serial killer's murder spree be even worse than anyone thought?
ZAHN (voice-over): The man accused of 10 brutal murders faces justice for the first time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you understand that you're charged with 10 counts of first degree murder?
DENNIS RADER, DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.
ZAHN: And new questions about other cold-case murders. Are they tied to the BTK killer?
And, after years on the trail of Osama bin Laden, one of the men who knows him best, a former agent, looks back at the missteps.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a horrible miscalculation.
ZAHN: And missteps in the hunt for Osama.
ZAHN: We start with the mystery surrounding the BTK case.
BTK suspect Dennis Rader's first court appearance was short, to the point and done by video hookup from jail, which is a standard procedure at this particular venue. Judge Greg Waller read the 10 murder charges against Rader, set a date of March 15 for a preliminary hearing and Rader his defense would be in the hands of the state defender's office.
All we heard from Rader were yes-or-no answers to the judge's questions. It all took about five minutes. Rader's arrest has police in other communities near Wichita taking a fresh look at some old murders. Could those cold cases be the work of BTK?
Here's David Mattingly.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The headlines of the shocking crime are old and faded. But people of small-town Hutchinson, Kansas say their memories are still painfully clear.
RANDY HENDERSON, RENO COUNTY SHERIFF: People were pretty frightened, not knowing the exact circumstances of the case.
MATTINGLY: Reno County Sheriff Randy Henderson was a young rookie police officer in 1977, when 23-year-old Gayle Sorenson disappeared while running an errand. Her car was found unlocked in a busy parking lot.
(on camera): So, you don't know for sure, but it's possible she was abducted right here from this parking lot?
HENDERSON: That's possible.
MATTINGLY: And this was a very busy parking lot at the time. This was one of the bigger grocery stores in town.
HENDERSON: That's correct.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Just two days later, the mystery of her disappearance took a heartbreaking turn. Her body was found outside town near the banks of the Arkansas River.
According to news reports at the time, she was hit in the head and her throat cut with a knife. Investigators had no idea how important those details and other evidence would be 28 years later, with the capture of BTK suspect, Dennis Rader.
HENDERSON: The one thing that was pointed out in this case that had some similarities to the BTK when I watched the interviews the other day was that one of the individuals was kidnapped, removed from an area and found in an area along a river. That's what I keyed in on.
MATTINGLY: The abduction and murder of Gayle Sorenson is the latest in a growing list of cold cases in Kansas that are heating up with the BTK arrest. They include cases long suspected by the community, the cases of Wichita State students Sherry Baker, bound and stabbed in 1974, and Linda Shawn Casey, bound, stabbed and sexually assaulted in 1985.
The map of the suspected cases now extends well beyond Wichita City limits, into neighboring counties. But some serial experts say the likelihood of a connection to BTK diminishes with miles.
CANDICE DELONG, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Most of the killings committed by a serial killer will be in a fairly tight geographic area, where he or she is comfortable. And, of course, that tends to with where we work or live.
MATTINGLY (on camera): So this barbed wire was here before?
HENDERSON: There was barbed wire here before. MATTINGLY (voice-over): Returning to the isolated crime scene, we find little has changed in the woods where Gayle Sorenson's life came to an end, not the terrain and not the unanswered questions in a manhunt that was growing colder by the decade.
(on camera): This secluded spot, doesn't that suggest that the killer was familiar with this area?
HENDERSON: I would say probably not. And the reason I say that, just on the opposite side of the river is the firing range for the police department and the sheriff's department. I would think you would stay away from areas like that.
MATTINGLY: Occasionally, there were leads in the case, but nothing that ever really panned out. Eventually, all the original investigators either retired or left the department. But to a new generation, this was never a cold case. It was always the investigation into the murder of a hometown woman that was badly in need of a very big break.
HENDERSON: Wait to hear back from KBI.
MATTINGLY: You think you're going to get the answer you're looking for?
HENDERSON: I hope so. It would be nice to bring closure to this case.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Sheriff Randy Henderson hopes that a DNA match will soon bring them the end they've been looking for, but with it, the beginning of a new chill, knowing that a serial killer had walked among them.
ZAHN: So many questions still to be answered, David Mattingly reporting for us.
And joining me now for an exclusive interview, the husband of Gayle Sorenson. She may have been a BTK victim.
Thank you so much for joining us tonight, sir.
For 28 years, you have wondered who was responsible for the murder of your wife. Do the police think that BTK murdered her?
LARRY SORENSON, HUSBAND OF MURDER VICTIM: At this point, I think they're just trying to compare the evidence that they have and the evidence that they've collected in the last few days and see what kind of similarities there might be. And they're just following that lead out right now.
ZAHN: Have they shared with you some of those similarities they might be looking at? We heard a little bit of that in David Mattingly's piece just a moment ago.
SORENSON: Basically, the similarities that they've shared with me are the same as I heard in the front of your piece. There have been some -- there are some similarities, but there are some dissimilarities as well. Basically, they're looking for a needle in a haystack. And, at this point, you have to continue looking for the needle.
ZAHN: Are you pessimistic then? I hear in your voice maybe a little bit of resignation there.
SORENSON: Well, after 28 years and a number of different leads that haven't worked out -- some came very close. We -- in fact, a couple times, we really thought, and just in the last few years, thought that it may come to closure. But it didn't work out. So, it's kind of hard to get your hopes up time after time and only to have them dashed again after nearly 30 years.
ZAHN: I certainly can understand why you feel that way. You say investigators have told you there are some similarities here, in the fact that there was an abduction followed by a stabbing at the scene of where the body was later found.
But you also say there are some dissimilarities. What are some of those that have you concerned?
SORENSON: Well, I couldn't put my finger on any particular dissimilarities.
The investigators have, you know, held a lot of that information pretty close to their vest. And we communicate when we need to, but I've just kind of been leaving that in their hands. And I haven't really followed the BTK case that closely over the years, so I don't really know the -- everything that's happened in each of those cases.
Were you ever told long ago that BTK killer might have been a suspect in your wife's murder?
To the best of my knowledge, over the last 28 years, it's never come to my attention that anyone had considered BTK in these years.
ZAHN: I know how hard this is for you to relive all this. On an emotional level, what kind of toll has it taken on you to have this case opened, shut, and now reopened once again?
SORENSON: Well, as I said, it's happened several times over the last few years, but it never quite got the attention that it's getting now. And I'm really kind of -- I feel really kind of good that it is happening the way it is happening now and it is getting the attention that it's getting, because it might help bring some more, you know -- it might help develop some more leads in the case and -- by giving it more attention. And I'm really hopeful about that. It has resurrected a lot of emotions over the last, oh, I'd say 24 hours, particularly the last eight hours. I really don't know how to answer all that. They're all coming together so quick and fast. It's a really anxious time for me right now.
ZAHN: Well, our thoughts are with you, as you have to live through this. I know you've been waiting a long time for your answers. And it's very important for you to find out who was responsible for the murder of your wife.
Larry Sorenson, thank you so much for your time tonight. And good luck to you, sir.
SORENSON: Thank you, Paula.
ZAHN: The BTK killer, whoever he is, left plenty of clues, his own letters taunting authorities.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD BRODSKY, FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: What he was doing is saying, I'm so clever that I can give you all this information and you'll never find me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Later, an expert takes the BTK letters and reads between the lines.
But, first, memories of the horror, life in Wichita when a serial killer was on the loose.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RADER: The dogs are somewhat territorial, as well as vicious. And we've been trying to round them and corral them as best we can, working with the reporting parties of where the sheep were killed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: That was Dennis Rader in 2001 in his role as a city official in charge of animal control, among other things, an ordinary appearance on local TV just four years ago that today seems awfully unsettling now that he's been arrested for the BTK murders, 10 of them in all.
Until the murders began in the '70s, Wichita, Kansas, was the kind of place where people could leave their doors unlocked. BTK changed all that, terrifying the community, and maybe no one more than Cindy Duckett. She came this close to being a victim. Until now, she had been so frightened by BTK, when she gave interviews, she insisted that her face would be hidden and that no one would use her name.
Frank Buckley has her story.
FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nancy Fox was 25, Cindy Duckett, 21. In 1977 they worked together at the mall. Cindy, now a grandmother, showed us where they parked their cars the last time she saw her friend.
CINDY DUCKETT, FRIEND MURDERED BY BTK: I said goodbye. I went this way a little ways. She went that way a little ways and that was it. I never saw her again alive.
BUCKLEY: Fox was found murdered in her duplex the next morning.
DUCKETT: I just felt bombarded just overwhelmed. I almost went into an emotional shutdown. It was a very, very scary, scary time.
BUCKLEY: Cindy wondered why it was Nancy and not her, if the killer had plans to come back for her. Police wondered the same thing and for weeks they gave her an escort. Along the way they gave her a bit of advice.
DUCKETT: Most of them were telling me, Look, get a gun. This isn't worth it. I have a wife. I have young children. This is what I'm telling her to do. This is what you need to do too and I believed them.
BUCKLEY: You got a gun?
DUCKETT: I did get a gun.
BUCKLEY: This gun that she still has. She no longer carries it in her purse but Duckett says in the late '70s she wasn't the only one.
DUCKETT: A lot of women were buying guns, having alarm systems put in, dead bolts, all kinds of activity like that was taking place all over town. That was the norm.
BUCKLEY: And so was this. People would check their phones as soon as they got home.
DUCKETT: To make sure that it hadn't been cut because that was one of the things that was common was the lines were cut and women all over town were doing that, checking their phone lines the minute they walked in the door.
BUCKLEY: That just seems...
DUCKETT: Unreal, I know.
BUCKLEY: Over time the fear that gripped Wichita and consumed Duckett slowly waned but she never forgot and even kept a recording of the killer's call to police.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you will find a homicide at 843 South Pershing, Nancy Fox.
911 OPERATOR: I'm sorry, sir. I can't understand. What's the address? 843 South Pershing.
911 CALLER: That is correct.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
DUCKETT: Trying, do I know him? Do I know him? Do I know him? It just seemed like somebody should know him.
BUCKLEY: And that fear of BTK that she had long ago conquered returned when BTK reappeared last year. Did it ignite any of the old fears?
DUCKETT: Yes. Yes. It took me back to that time and, yes, I regressed for a little while, almost paranoid for the first week or so.
BUCKLEY: She called police to check out her home. She instructed her family to be careful, then months of uncertainty again until Saturday when investigators announced they had made an arrest of this suspect who didn't have the face of the monster she was expecting.
DUCKETT: I don't know how to explain that. I can't tell you that there's a picture in my mind of what I thought. I just know that what I've seen isn't it. It doesn't match but I think they've got the right guy.
BUCKLEY: And with his arrest, Duckett believes, at last her fear may be gone forever.
Frank Buckley CNN, Wichita, Kansas.
ZAHN: Some of the most dramatic evidence in this case came from the killer intentionally.
And coming up next, a new look at BTK's letters.
And then, a little bit later on, some say it is a must-see Web site, whether you're looking for dirt on Michael Jackson, looking for his transcripts or mug shots of your favorite celebrities.
ZAHN: Welcome back.
Still ahead, some harsh accusations in the Michael Jackson courtroom. But this time, they weren't aimed at Michael Jackson. We'll take you inside the trial a little bit later on. But, first, more on the Wichita serial killer. From the start, BTK taunted residents with letters to police and the media. Well, as you probably know, the letters stopped for more than 20 years. But since last March, 11 more of them. They helped renew the community's sense of fear, but they also provided some vital clues.
Now, after the arrest of suspect Dennis Rader, here's what we know about the letters and what they mean.
ZAHN (voice-over): A string of communications from a serial killer stretching over three decades.
BRODSKY: He liked scaring people. And he did.
ZAHN: The letters began in 1974, just nine months after the Otero family murders, the first killings attributed to BTK.
DELONG: Many serial killers have injected themselves into investigations one way or another.
ZAHN: The typewritten note was filled with misspellings and grammatical errors. In it, BTK told the police they were questioning the wrong people. In his words, "Those three dude you have in custody are just talking to get publicity for the Otero murders. They know nothing at all. I did it by myself, with no one's help," an important message for experts like forensic psychologist Howard Brodsky, who helped police with the BTK investigation in the '70s.
BRODSKY: He's clearly taking responsibility for these things, and he's saying he does not want to share this responsibility with anybody else.
ZAHN: The killer went on to give details of the murders which were not publicly known and to apologize. "I'm sorry this happened to society. They are the one whose suffer the most. It hard to control myself. You probably call me psychotic with sexual perversion hangup."
BRODSKY: It's almost as though he looks back on his offenses and sees that they were sexually motivated, labels himself a sexual perpetrator, gives himself the perversion title, and then says, hey, looks this is going to keep going on.
ZAHN: Signing off, BTK describes his methods, "Bind them, torture them, kill them, BTK. You see he it a again. They will be on the next victim."
BRODSKY: This is a real arrogant guy, to come across with his own label. He's a guy who has tried to take control of this right from the start.
ZAHN: BTK reached out again in 1978, contacting a local TV station to complain about the lack of publicity for the seven murders he claimed to have committed. "How many I do have to kill before I get my name in the paper or some national attention?"
BRODSKY: He certainly did like the notoriety.
ZAHN: BTK also wrote, he was angry the Wichita Eagle hadn't published a poem he had written about the death of victim Shirley Vian.
BRODSKY: He looked to poetry, both reading poetry and writing poetry, as a way of gaining some sense over the monster that he felt was inside of him.
ZAHN: After years of silence, BTK resurfaced just last March. In a letter signed "Bill Thomas Killman," initials BTK, he took responsibility for the unsolved death of Vicki Wegerle. He included a photocopy of her driver's license and three photos of her body.
BRODSKY: I don't think he wanted to get caught. I don't think he was throwing out clues for the likelihood of getting caught. What he was doing is saying, I'm so clever that I can give you all this information and you'll never find me.
ZAHN: In his most recent communications, BTK's tone seemed to have changed. He included a message of concern for the health of local TV anchors.
SUSAN PETERS, KAKE ANCHOR: One of those postcards said, this is my message to police, A, B, C, D. And, by the way, Susan, I hope your cold gets better.
BRODSKY: Probably what's going on, he is aging and he is mellowing, and his needs are different. Remember, this thing goes on over his entire adult life. He did his first murder that we're aware of when he was like 28 years old. And now he's pushing 60.
ZAHN: In the end, it appears it was BTK's communications that provided the information that led to the arrest.
RICHARD LAMUNYON, FORMER WICHITA POLICE CHIEF: The culmination of all the communications over all the years, plus what he was giving to the police through the media much of the time, that ultimately led to the ability of the police to identify him.
ZAHN: Right now, we're going to try to figure out what may have led to the arrest of Dennis Rader.
Vernon Geberth is a retired homicide commander for the New York Police Department. And since 1988, he has been consulting on the BTK case. He literally wrote the book on catching killers as editor of "Practical Homicide Investigations." He's with me now.
Good to see you,sir.
VERNON GEBERTH, FORMER NYPD HOMICIDE DETECTIVE: Thank you, Paula. ZAHN: And I guess I should owe you a congratulations.
GEBERTH: Oh, no, no.
ZAHN: You see this arrest as a victory for your team, many men your trained?
GEBERTH: No. It's the men and women who worked the case that deserve the congratulations. If we're going to talk about congratulations, Lieutenant Ken Landwehr from Wichita Homicide and Larry Thomas from KBI, they're the lead investigators, with a whole bunch of people doing all the work. I'm just behind the scenes talking...
ZAHN: Of course, Mr. Rader now is going to have a public defender and we haven't heard what his defense is going to be.
But take us back to 1988, when you were first brought into this case, a consulting basis. By this time, seven murders attributed to this killer. You were asked to review some pictures of the crime scene and some of the letters. What kind of clues could you glean from that information?
GEBERTH: Well, the letters were pretty intense. And it wasn't that I was brought formally. I was asked to assist in something that had happened.
In 1988, BTK felt an urge to communicate with Wichita again. And when he did, the first thing we talked about was this new stuff called DNA. And what we did, is we took the evidence from the Otero homicide and we were able to get a print which biologically and molecularly linked this unknown killer called -- who called himself BTK. That was it.
ZAHN: Now, the Otero murders were the murders, brutal murders of almost a whole family.
GEBERTH: Brutal murders, the mother, the father, the brother. And the target apparently was based on, what the crime scene pictures revealed, little 11 year-old Josephine, who was found hung in the basement, outrageous crime, outrageous crime.
Within a few months, he struck again. And he didn't take credit for that one because it didn't work out the way he wanted. You have to understand something about the psyche of these folks. They're very particular. The fantasy has to fit a certain program. If it doesn't fit the program, they get very, very upset.
There's a lot of control. There's a lot of ritualism. The subsequent letter that came after Shirley Vian and Nancy Fox were killed were quite depraved. They fit the definition of a psychopathic sexual sadist. That's a dual diagnosis. And what it means is, they're dangerous, extremely dangerous.
ZAHN: Fast-forward to last March. You get a call from the Wichita Police Department. They're intrigued by a letter they had received that they wanted you to analyze. What was critical about the content of that letter?
GEBERTH: Well, what was critical about that letter is, that letter talked about Vicki Wegerle.
Now, Vicki Wegerle was off the screen. She was never attached to the series of the BTK killings. So, when he mentions Vicki Wegerle and they go back to get their evidence, which they very properly maintained and held on to, they were able to do what is called a PCR- STR technique and get a fantastic DNA print for the still unknown BTK.
It was his communications subsequent to that letter and his malignant narcissism that really was his undoing. He had this internal drive or need to show that he was superior to the police. And he felt pretty good about it. But every time there was a letter, every time there was a communication, a little clue or two would drop out. This is not New York City, Wichita, Kansas.
You have a killer who has terrorized an entire community. These people are hypervigilant. They're watching. It's not like New York City. You walk down the street, nobody cares.
ZAHN: Before we let you go, though, you talk about this malignant narcissism. What I don't understand is how he didn't seem to fit any profile any of you guys had in terms of his ability to blend in with the community. This -- you're not talking about a loner here.
GEBERTH: No, we're not.
We're talking about a married man who was president of his church council, Boy Scout leader, government job, 9:00 to 5:00, social, as opposed to nonsocial, helping some of his neighbors. He's below the radar, Mr. Rader. And...
ZAHN: And a completely atypical profile for a serial killer.
GEBERTH: Atypical, except for the psychosexual makeup. That is the same as all of them. He's driven. He's driven. That's his motivation.
ZAHN: Quick final answer. There's no doubt in your mind Wichita has the right man right now?
GEBERTH: Oh, there's no doubt in my mind. I've -- I've...
ZAHN: That the BTK killer is in custody?
GEBERTH: I've been in contact with the authorities and they're quite pleased and they are quite sure that he's BTK.
ZAHN: Vernon Geberth, thank you so much for dropping by. GEBERTH: Thank you.
ZAHN: Appreciate all your information.
GEBERTH: Thanks, Paula.
ZAHN: You may have seen my interview last night with Steve Relford. He is the man who, as a 5-year-old boy, saw his mother murdered by BTK.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Did the brutal murder of your mother, a murder which you witnessed, change you?
STEVE RELFORD, SON OF BTK VICTIM: Made me rebel against everything I ever believed in, turned me into an alcoholic, a drug addict, tattooed up. I would never have been like this if my mother was still living.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Heartbreaking interview. And for the first time in more than 25 years, Steve Relford returns to his home, where that killing happened. This is something he very much wanted to do, and you will see it right here tomorrow night.
There will be continuing coverage of the BTK case throughout prime-time here on CNN, including "NEWSNIGHT" with Aaron Brown at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.
Coming up next, though, we will turn to the Michael Jackson case. If you want the most lurid details, we found the guys who bring you the dirt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're doing stuff that ends up being tough and has some teeth to it, someone's going to be embarrassed. Is that dirt? Call it dirt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Actually, call it one of the most popular Web sites around. Meet the guys behind TheSmokingGun, when we come back.
ZAHN: We're back now, day two of the Michael Jackson trial today, with the defense giving the jury Jackson's version of events. Yes, his young accusers, that is, did find magazine like "Hustler" and "Playboy," but Jackson took them away. And yes, they did drink alcohol because they raided the star's wine cellar. Yes, there was the mother. The defense portrayed her as a predator out to trap celebrities for cash.
The first witness to take the stand today, British journalist Martin Bashir. He was the first to ask Jackson why he invited children to sleep in his bed. It was the interview that launched a million tabloid stories and put Michael Jackson exactly where he is today.
Raw details of the charges against Michael Jackson first got out in leaked transcripts of grand jury testimony. Of course, that testimony is supposed to be secret, so you may wonder who gets that stuff? Well, the men behind TheSmokingGun have turned hunting for court records on celebrity justice into an art form.
ZAHN (voice-over): It's not exactly the FBI, but here in the mid-town offices of TheSmokingGun, Bill Bastone and Andrew Goldberg investigate and expose legal missteps of the rich and famous.
Their office may look like fun and games...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a one-man reporting machine.
ZAHN: ... but it's serious business.
Their stories have outed some of Tinseltown's biggest stars. From the previously unknown restraining order against Rick Rockwell of FOX TV's "Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire?" To the diva-like dressing room demands of Jennifer Lopez. And in the midst of Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign for governor, uncovered sexual harassment charges made against him in 1977.
TheSmokingGun was originally just an experiment.
BILL BASTONE, THESMOKINGGUN.COM: Didn't look at it as a business proposition. Just thought it would be kind of a fun thing to do in addition to kind of our regular jobs as kind of print journalists.
ZAHN: Since then, TheSmokingGun has evolved into a dot.com phenomenon, beating the mainstream media to big stories, and attracting a devoted audience.
ANDREW GOLDBERG, THESMOKINGGUN.COM: We pretty much can count on over a million page views a day.
ZAHN: Its latest scoop, the completely 1,903-page previously sealed testimony from the Michael Jackson grand jury hearing.
Its business is all about paper, from court documents to arrest records.
BASTONE: Every story we look at, we think of it, where is the paper? Is there paper? Is there a document? And if the story doesn't have a document, it doesn't exist for us.
ZAHN: The site's most popular section features celebrity's mugshots, including Bill Gates after his 1977 arrest on a traffic violation. Jesse Jackson after a 1999 protest. And Wynonna Judd, after her 2003 arrest for drunk driving.
BASTONE: It's very rare that someone famous can get arrested that we don't know about it before anybody.
ZAHN: Their philosophy is simple.
GOLDBERG: If it interests us, we assume it's going to interest somebody else.
ZAHN: They parlayed their success into a book deal, and a sale to Court TV, which is partially owned by CNN's parent company, Time Warner.
But Bill for one takes pride in the company's lack of expansion.
BASTONE: I've always loved the fact that we were a mom-and-pop operation. And in journalism, there ain't much of that anymore.
ZAHN: Some critics accuse them of just airing dirty laundry, but the men behind TheSmokingGun say they can take the heat.
BASTONE: If you're doing stuff that ends up being tough and has some teeth it to, someone is going to be embarrassed. Is that dirt? Call it dirt. You will find a fair number of people who say, well, that's actually -- that's a public service to some degree.
ZAHN: One man's dirt, another man's treasure.
The guys from TheSmokingGun say they read and try to answer every e-mail they get. The No. 1 question they're asked? Help finding friends and relatives' mugshots for birthday and gag gifts.
Coming up next, a man who will challenge just about everything you think you know about the war on terror.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So was that a miscalculation?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a horrible miscalculation. And they might as well have been on the moon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Mistakes in the hunt for Osama bin Laden from a man who has spent many years on his trail.
ZAHN: Osama bin Laden still in the news, still on the loose, apparently reaching out to fellow terrorists in Iraq. U.S. intelligence has intercepted messages from bin Laden to Abu Musab al- Zarqawi about planning new attacks, especially in this country.
But officials still have no idea where bin Laden is. Tracking him has been incredibly frustrating. And no one knows that better than a former FBI agent whose job it was to bring the former al Qaeda leader to justice.
Here's Deborah Feyerick.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thirty years in the FBI.
DAN COLEMAN, FORMER FBI AGENT: It's a part of the house that bin Laden occupied in Kabul when he lived there.
FEYERICK: And Dan Coleman's biggest regret...
COLEMAN: Too bad he wasn't there when it happened.
FEYERICK: ... is that the terrorist he spent a decade hunting is still on the loose.
COLEMAN: It's disappointing to me that he hasn't been killed. It would be like capturing Hitler. Why? Why would you want to?
FEYERICK: Coleman retired last summer, his health not what it used to be. FBI buddies call him the professor. Anything you want to know about Osama bin Laden, Coleman has some of the best insights.
COLEMAN: A lot of his stories that he has about himself is made up, in terms of his background and his relationship with his father.
FEYERICK: Back in 1995, Osama bin Laden was relatively unknown to most Americans. But Coleman and other agents from the FBI and CIA had the Saudi son of privilege very much on their radar screens.
COLEMAN: He was picked as a target for a joint FBI/CIA task force. In December of '95, the CIA started to set it up. And by March of '96, I was assigned to it in Washington.
FEYERICK: Bin Laden had set up operations in Sudan, a dangerous country for American agents but at least a place where they could keep an eye on him. Then, pressured by the United States, Sudanese officials kicked bin Laden and his followers out of the country.
COLEMAN: By making him leave the Sudan, we took him from a somewhat controllable environment to Afghanistan, where it's a completely uncontrolled environment.
FEYERICK (on camera): So was that a miscalculation?
COLEMAN: It was horrible miscalculation. They might as well have been on the moon.
FEYERICK (voice-over): Bin Laden and his network thrived, setting up training camps, declaring war on America and, authorities say, making plans, plans to bomb U.S. embassies in East Africa and attack U.S. warships in Yemen.
COLEMAN: How much clearer did he have to make it that he has declared, he had declared -- not only declared war on the United States but was trying to carry it out?
And then he attacks, you know, the United States. It shouldn't have come as a surprise.
FEYERICK: What did surprise Coleman is what happened after 9/11.
COLEMAN: It was astounding to me that after the first -- the attack on September 11, that we were so ready to give up, you know, our laws, our values, everything, in order to defend ourselves.
FEYERICK: Coleman is a skilled interrogator. Part of his job at the FBI had been persuading terror suspects to cooperate and give up information. And he didn't use force.
COLEMAN: The point is to get them to a point where they, in the intelligence world, where they commit treason.
FEYERICK: In other words, by treating them with dignity, he got them to betray their cause.
COLEMAN: You got them to go over the line with a smile on their face.
FEYERICK: Since 9/11, hundreds, if not thousands of terror suspects have been detained by U.S. authorities around the world. Coleman's appalled by methods reportedly used at detention centers like the one at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
COLEMAN: What has come out of Guantanamo that's worth anything to anybody? Almost nothing. There's no reason for those people to cooperate. None. Why should they?
FEYERICK: The Defense Department disagrees, saying detainees are providing valuable information.
Coleman, who is 54, has five children. His wife teaches kindergarten. He could have retired four years ago. He stayed because of his oldest son, an Army Ranger who is on the ground in Afghanistan, hunting bin Laden.
(on camera) When you thought of him on the ground, did you think, get him, get him for me, get him?
COLEMAN: No. Please don't get hurt. That's what I thought about. I did tell him, you know, if you get a hold of people or if you're trying to talk to people, treat them decently and you'll get what you want.
FEYERICK (voice-over): His son came home safely last year.
Looking back on his 30-year career, Dan Coleman defends the FBI and questions anyone who says bin Laden could have been stopped.
COLEMAN: The FBI had quite a lot of problems, and we do. We still do. But that doesn't mean that people weren't actively trying to resolve this problem. And to say anything else is just flat out wrong.
ZAHN: Deborah Feyerick reporting tonight.
One more thing about those intercepted messages from bin Laden that we talked about before that piece. Homeland security does not plan to raise the terror threat level right now.
Just about 14 minutes before the top of the hour. And you know what that means. Larry King's coming up. Let's get a preview right now of what he'll be doing at 9 p.m.
LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": You know, aging is supposed to set you back. You get better -- you look better -- you look better every night.
ZAHN: You have to call attention to my birthday again?
KING: That's right.
ZAHN: I tend to try to forgot them, Larry. That was last week.
KING: I know, but still.
ZAHN: Have to wait until next year.
KING: You're get regressing birthday wise.
ZAHN: Well, thank you. That's an awfully nice thing to hear.
KING: Looking forward to going to your bar mitzvah. Anyway...
ZAHN: You're invited.
KING: At the top of the hour Kevin Bright will be with us. His sister, Kathryn was murdered by the man believed to be the BTK killer. We'll also meet the pastor, Michael Clark, of the church attended by the suspect. And two of the prosecutors will join us, as well.
And then Shannon Parker, the young lady mauled by a mountain lion in California last year, will be on with us with her doctor.
All that ahead at the top of the hour, following the young one's hour.
ZAHN: Thank you. Do you really want to go to my bar mitzvah or my bas mitzvah?
KING: Sorry. It's bas mitzvah.
ZAHN: Thank you. You've got those two little guys at home. You've got to worry about their bar mitzvah. I understand. Larry, have a good show. See you at 9 p.m.
ZAHN: Coming up in a minute, one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Meet a man who's a walking target.
ZAHN: We move on to the issue of Iraq. What we hear about the Iraqi police, the news, more often than not, seems to be bad, like yesterday, when a suicide bomber drove his car into a crowd of police recruits, the explosion killing at least 127 people.
Being a cop in Iraq is obviously very risky. Still, there are people willing to take on the jobs. And one of them gave Jane Arraf a rare close up look at his incredibly dangerous life.
JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Stormy, as he's known to his friends, is 26 and has one of the most dangerous jobs in Iraq. He's a police detective.
On this day, he's escorting suspected insurgents captured in a raid by U.S. forces.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stormy, have you guys line up over here.
ARRAF: The suspects are being taken to a downtown police station, where Iraqi police will question them. U.S. forces blindfold prisoners. Iraqi police use bags, so they won't see where they're held and won't recognize the police officers.
At the police station, Stormy asks the detainees their names and where they work. Many of the cases he works on involve bombs like this one. This bomb injured three policemen and was detonated by remote control, as the police patrol went by. Back at the station, detectives try see whether the timer fits a pattern of other homemade bombs.
Stormy has been married for just two months, but most nights, he sleeps at the police station. His life is his work.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She worry about me, you know, my job is dangerous, but she calls me all the time. But she know I serve my country.
ARRAF: I asked Stormy, how many policemen he knows who have been killed?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a week or a month? Actually, we lose every week. ARRAF: He says, six of his close police friends have died.
Stormy always wanted to be a police officer. He had two years of army college and a year of police college, most of it under Saddam Hussein. Now, he works for the new Iraqi government, risking his life for about $250 a month.
He covers his face only on raids and says he knows that insurgents are waiting for an opportunity to kill him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not afraid, but I must be careful, like I be like two months, I didn't go to the market. I can't walking, you know, not like normal life. Like before, I can't visit my friends.
ARRAF: Policemen are among the insurgents' biggest targets. A bullet from an AK-47 shattered the back window of this police vehicle, like all of the police cars, unarmored.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need good trucks, not like these.
ARRAF: In the back of his truck, there's still pools of blood from two gunmen the police killed a few days ago and took to the morgue. They clean the trucks on Fridays, he says.
(on camera) This is a very strange life that you have.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Strange life.
ARRAF: Stormy says he knows police officers who have quit because they're worried their families will be threatened or killed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We still work. We still defend. We still fight. And we hope to make some peace here. That's what we're trying to do. We want all the families safe. We want the people feel better when they see us.
ARRAF: As they get more police officers and make more arrests, he says he's confident they'll win the fight against the insurgents.
ZAHN: That was Jane Arraf.
The U.S. military says that, despite the insurgents' constant attacks, Iraqi police and security forces are getting more volunteers than they can train right now.
New York's latest tourist attraction is already on its way out. Coming up next, Jeanne Moos brings down the curtain on the saffron -- that's right, saffron -- Gates.
ZAHN: Whether or not you considered it art, The Gates will be a memory soon. Jeanne Moos looks back on the Big Apple's big orange event or was that -- OK, I did it, Hailey (ph). Was that saffron? (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Might as well cop a last feel, because it's curtains for The Gates. One by one they're being dismembered, carried off like stretchers, unbolted, balled up, tossed unceremoniously.
It's not nice to kick the artwork when it's down. The wrenching note is to say bye-bye Gates. Some seem mesmerized by the spectacle, almost tongue tied, make that tongue fenced.
What goes up must come down. And not without a putdown. "Here's our shower curtain back. Christo doesn't need it anymore," sniped the "New York Post."
But at least admirers got to see it in the snow.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Beautiful, isn't it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I definitely won't miss them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's all right. They've been here enough.
MOOS: Everything will be recycled. Steel will be melted down. Some of the fabric will end up as carpet padding.
JANE HANSTEIN CUNNIFFE, THE CRACKERS CREATOR: The Gates may be coming down, but The Crackers are just getting started.
MOOS: Visual satire they call it, photographs on a web site that have become an Internet sensation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The thing about these crackers is you can't take a bad picture of them. Of course, a $20 million backdrop never hurt anybody.
MOOS: Jane Hanstein Cunniffe says her husband got the idea when they brought their kids to see The Gates and opened the orange crackers for snacks.
CUNNIFFE: There you were in my shot.
MOOS (on camera): You don't think the peanut butter kind of hurts things?
MOOS: That little brown in there doesn't disturb you?
(voice-over) Just as folks could buy souvenirs of the actual Gates by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, you can buy posters of The Crackers, not to mention tote bags and bibs.
There have been other parodies of The Gates, everything from cats to a mouse at the Central Park Zoo. But The Crackers' creators have plans to publish a book. (on camera) But I mean, can you really make a book out of orange crackers?
(voice-over) They seem to think so.
It's expected to take two weeks to dismantle the real Gates. Some wish it would take longer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go slowly.
MOOS: When they're gone, there will still be some saffron around town, but it won't be as ritzy as The Gates.
CUNNIFFE: To really get the angles that I need.
MOOS: With The Gates you feast your eyes, with The Crackers you just feast.
CUNNIFFE: Generally, you don't want to be eating these things when I'm finished with them.
ZAHN: Now you tell Jeanne. I'm going to miss those Gates.
Thanks for joining us tonight. Hope to see you again tomorrow night. Good night.
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