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Authorities Investigate Boating Accident; President Bush Picks Next Supreme Court Nominee

Aired October 3, 2005 - 20:00   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi to you, everyone.
I'm Heidi Collins, in for Paula Zahn tonight.

Horror on the lake, how retirees having the time of their lives found themselves fighting to survive.


COLLINS (voice-over): A sunny day and sudden tragedy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were pulling the elderly out of the boat. There were like tons of them and they were all frantic.

COLLINS: Now a survivor tells her story, what really happened at Lake George.

Helpless and left behind to face the wrath of Katrina.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We found another body who we think is a nursing home patient, a lady that had a feeding tube in her stomach.

COLLINS: Could more lives have been saved? Dramatic new developments in a CNN investigation.


JODIE FOSTER, ACTRESS: Captain, I have to speak to you.


COLLINS: And a Hollywood hit runs into turbulence. A fictional flight attendant freaks out.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: She's disturbed.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: She's making the passengers anxious.


COLLINS: And makes real flight attendants really angry.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COLLINS: And we begin with the investigation into that tragic tour boat accident in Upstate New York. The 40-foot Ethan Allen was carrying 47 passengers, mostly elderly tourists. The question at this hour, why did it suddenly roll over in calm water on a beautiful afternoon and kill 20 people? It happened on Lake George, a resort area about 200 miles north of New York City.

Deborah Feyerick joins me from Lake George tonight.

Hi, Deb.


Well, today, divers spent hours under water documenting the position of the vessel. They mapped out the location using different cameras, also diagrams and then later verbal descriptions. Then they raised it to the surface, all of this, Heidi, in the hopes of finding some critical clues.


FEYERICK (voice-over): Investigators hope the cruise boat they raised from the bottom of the lake will provide answers as to why it sank in 70 feet of water, answers also important to survivors like 76- year-old Jeane Siler. After working with victims of Hurricane Katrina, she had decided to take a vacation. She has seen lots of tragedy. She was right in the middle of this one.

JEANE SILER, SURVIVOR: All of my friends around me, some of them not being able to swim, were fumbling about. Some of them were screaming. And those that could were trying to hang on to the side of the boat.

FEYERICK: In the moments before the tragedy, Siler was in the front of the small cruise boat named the Ethan Allen. She was talking to a friend when the boat, very close to the shoreline, steered into a wake.

SILER: I noticed the cabin floor was getting wet. And why, I don't know, but I stood up. And I don't know if I jumped out of the boat or if I was thrown from the boat when it tipped.

FEYERICK: Leon Koziol was swimming in the lake and waved to some of the seniors on board. He said there was nothing unusual about the water or the boat.

LEON KOZIOL, EYEWITNESS: It was a large number of peoples, comfortably seated, seemingly in a very jovial, happy mood, taking in the sights, and, again, nothing unusual.

FEYERICK: Koziol has vacationed on Lake George for the past 30 years. He even wrote a fiction book about it. The narrow lake was very busy on Sunday, lots of boats, lots of waves.

(on camera): So, it may have just been bad timing? KOZIOL: Bad timing. I think a combination of rogue wakes hit at the right moment, as he was making a turn in a very sheltered bay and probably wasn't anticipating it.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Investigators are looking into the possibility that waves from another cruise boat may have caused the Ethan Allen to capsize. A larger, faster vessel, the Mohican, run by a competing company, was also on the lake at the same time.

Bill Dow is president of the family run business which owns the Mohican. He says that boat was two miles away.

BILL DOW, BUSINESS OWNER: It was none of our boats, big excursion boats, caused any problem on this lake. And they haven't. And we have been here, catch since, since 1817. The Mohican has been on the lake for 98 years, since 1908, doing the same cruise with the same speed. And there's never been any problems. And it's not our fault, period.

FEYERICK: As for Jeane Siler, one of 27 survivors, she suffered broken bones. They will heal. The emotional wounds will take a lot longer.

SILER: I was not prepared for this at all. I was -- never thought I was going to lose friends and never have a chance to say goodbye to them.


FEYERICK: Now Shoreline Cruises plans to make a public comment some time tomorrow. There's a message on their answering machine that says they offer their deepest condolences and that they are cooperating fully with the NTSB, the National Transportation Safety Board, as it conducts its investigation.

As for that agency, they say it's simply too early to tell exactly what went wrong -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Deb Feyerick, thank you.

And just a while ago, I spoke with one of the first people to rush to the rescue when the Ethan Allen capsized. His name is Brian Hart. He says he and his brother saved about a dozen people.

I began by asking him when he realized something had gone wrong on the Ethan Allen.


BRIAN HART, EYEWITNESS: We were approximately about 150 foot from the boat when I noticed it was taking a right turn, a slight right turn. And the boat started banking.

I noticed -- could see more of the bottom of the boat. And I realized when I saw the full bottom that there was a serious problem. And all the people were screaming on the boat. And then I knew there was a problem. I immediately turned away from the boat, got my kids to a boat dock nearby, called 911, gave them a location of the boat, and then proceeded to call my brother on shore.

I had asked him to pick out my boat and bring out as many life jackets as he could.

COLLINS: And then you guys got in that boat and you went out to the Ethan Allen. Tell me what you saw when you got there.

HART: As we were getting -- approaching closer, we could start to see people starting to come up through the water.

And there was heavy fumes and oil at that time starting to go around the boats. And, as we got closer, there was as many as 20 people hanging on to the side of the boat. Shortly after, about 10 minutes after we got there, it -- the boat really started revving up high. And I was afraid of an explosion. I mean, it was at full throttle, it seemed. And heavy black smoke was coming out of the boat. And I was just concerned for the people to get them off of the boat.

But none of them had life jackets. And they were very scared. Most of them, I think, were in shock. And then, as we started taking people off the boat, other boaters came by. And we were able to bring them out to the other boats and push the people into the boats, on to the platforms.

COLLINS: Were any of them treading water? I mean, were any of them, to your best guess, able to swim at all?

HART: Some of the men that seemed to be OK, and I think some of them helped themselves and were able to get to some of the boats that came up later or got closer.

Most of the women, we were helping, my brother and I, and we were really focusing on them at the time and trying to get them to the boats.

COLLINS: We have a picture that was in the paper today of a woman kissing your hand after you had helped save her. What did she say to you, Mr. Hart?

HART: She kind of said I was her angel, and she couldn't thank me enough. I remember distinctly she was a Canadian, and she had first told me -- when she had told me -- I asked her how many people were on the boat. She had said 50. And I realized then that there was a huge problem because we had only counted 20 to 25 heads hanging on to the boat.

And she was very scared, couldn't swim. And I think I got her to a Skakel, if I remember right. And then I somewhat lost track and were taking care of other people. And I was just delighted to see her on shore and that she had made it back OK.

COLLINS: Well, I'm sure you were.

Mr. Hart, you've done a wonderful thing, you and your brother both.

HART: Yes.

COLLINS: We appreciate your time here tonight.

HART: Oh, you're welcome.

COLLINS: Brian Hart, thank you.

HART: You're welcome.


COLLINS: Fourteen of the people on the Ethan Allen were seniors on a trip from Trenton, Michigan. Three of them were killed.

Joining me now, the man who organized the trip, Trenton's parks and recreations director, Mr. Pat Hawkins.

Mr. Pat Hawkins, thanks for being with us tonight.

This is such an incredible tragedy for your tight-knit community. Tell me a little bit about how your friends and colleagues are dealing with this tonight.

HART: It's been a pretty stressful day and evening, last evening, and I think that's going to continue.

As you say, we have a very close-knit community and many of these people that were on the trip, they were -- they were friends. They weren't just acquaintances. They were longstanding friends and most of them are very active in the community and involved in many, many different things. This just happened to be what was supposed to be a relaxing vacation.

COLLINS: Yes. You look at those pictures and it's just -- it's so very upsetting.

Have you had a chance to speak with the families of the three people who passed away in this accident?

HART: With some of them, not all of them. There's been contact with the city with a couple of them, but, no, not all of them. We haven't been able to.

Some of the information, obviously, wasn't available to us. And they were looking to speak with the families first. And it was through our calling the families to notify them after we saw the story on CNN and we recognized one of the individuals as one of our members that we started to let them know that they needed to call the hospital and the sheriff's department, because we couldn't at that time get any information. That led to them giving us information from those that had heard from their parents or their relatives.

COLLINS: I also understand that there are six members of this tour group that are still in the hospital. I'm sure people are very concerned about them as well.

Had the chance to speak with their families or have you heard about how they are doing?

HART: Some of them seem to be doing OK. There are a couple that are serious. I tried to call just before I came on the air, and it's difficult to get through to the nurse's stations.

But some of them are doing well, and others are still in serious, very serious, condition.

COLLINS: Well, I know that your assistance, Margie Kidden (ph), was actually on this trip. Have you spoken with her? Was she able to offer you anything about what happened on the water?

HART: She's offered quite a bit of information. And most of her calls have been to her immediate supervisor, which is Carol Garrison (ph), our senior coordinator.

And because of the -- the capsizing of the boat, cell phones and personal belongings and identification and everything has been lost. And so, she grabs a phone when she can. And she knows that she can get right through to Carol. And so, most of her conversations have been with Carol.

COLLINS: Well, we certainly appreciate your time here tonight, Pat Hawkins. And I guess we will all be waiting to hear more, especially as the National Transportation Safety Board does their investigation as well. Thank you again, sir.

HART: Thank you.

COLLINS: There's a surprising development in the scandal over nursing home deaths in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina. The investigation now stretches way beyond two or three nursing homes.

Stay with us. Our investigative unit has confirmed some absolutely shocking numbers.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As CNN celebrate its 25th anniversary, editors at "Fortune" magazine compiled the top trends that are shaping our future.

Your eyes are your body's most highly developed sensory organs. And when vision problems develop, most of us will do everything in our power to see clearly, from eyeglasses made out of high-tech plastic to disposable contact lenses to LASIK surgery. Technology advances offer us the latest options to restore our eyesight to 20/20.

ANDY SERWER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: In the future, there are all sorts of possibilities. One thing would be a natural replacement lens and a sort of muscle regeneration process. So, scientists are going to be able to go into the eye and actually help the eye rehabilitate itself and fix itself and correct itself, which is just truly stunning. (END VIDEOTAPE)


COLLINS: Still ahead, she's never been a judge, but she's just been nominated to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Who is Harriet Miers and why are some conservatives complaining?

Plus, isn't one CIA enough? Find out why they don't think so in New York.

First, though, it's time for Erica Hill at Headline News to check this hour's top stories.

Hi there, Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Heidi. Good to see you.

We start off tonight with some more legal troubles for one of the most powerful Republicans in the nation, Congressman Tom DeLay now facing a second indictment on money laundering charges less than a week after another Texas grand jury accused him of conspiring to funnel corporate money to Republican candidates in Texas. DeLay says he is innocent. He has temporarily removed himself as House majority leader.

Security experts say these disturbing pictures you are seeing of a backpack-wearing suicide bomber in Bali, Indonesia, strolling into a restaurant just seconds before a blast shows how suicide attackers may be changing their strategies. Authorities believe three bombers, including the man wearing the backpack, killed 19 people in Bali yesterday. This summer, in London, of course, terrorists also carried out bombings using backpacks filled with explosives.

On the Seven Mile Bridge in Marathon, Florida, a horrifying crash involving a gasoline tanker and an SUV. Florida Highway Patrol says the driver of the SUV was killed. One passenger is in critical condition. So far, the tanker's driver has not been accounted for.

And Roy Moore, Alabama's former chief justice, is running for governor in 2006. Moore lost his job after refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from his courthouse.

And, Heidi, that's the latest from Headline News at this hour. We will hand it back to you in New York.

COLLINS: All right, Erica, thanks a lot.

Why were dozens of nursing home patients left to drown when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans? Coming up, some new clues.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: So the bottom line, Doctor, is, the county, you, called the facility and offered to evacuate those people 2:00 Sunday afternoon? DR. BRYAN BERTUCCI, ST. BERNARD PARISH CORONER: That's correct. And there was a mandatory evacuation.


COLLINS: That was the Sunday before the storm hit. Why weren't the patients taken out? And just how widespread is the investigation? Well, stay with us for some shocking numbers.


COLLINS: It is five weeks to the day since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. But the recovery effort is going to go on for a long, long time. We think it's extremely important. So, we're going to keep you posted with regular updates.

Just a few hours ago, Louisiana officials announced the search for bodies has ended. The confirmed death toll in Louisiana is 964. The overall death toll from Katrina is 1,198.

Also today, a rare sign that things are getting back to normal. Private and public schools reopened in some of New Orleans' less damaged suburbs. Public schools in New Orleans itself are still closed, although some could reopen by November.

And get this. FEMA bureaucrats have managed to tick off the president of St. Tammany Parish. In a weekend e-mail, the agency complained Kevin Davis was trying to overcharge the government to lease some of his property, while at the same time, trying to get his construction company hired to develop the land for temporary housing.

Well, today, Davis pointed out, he doesn't own a construction company and isn't trying to lease FEMA anything. He wants an immediate full and public apology, which, so far, has not happened.

And CNN has learned more today about one of the most horrifying signs of the Katrina disaster. Another body has been found in one of the nursing homes that failed to evacuate patients before Katrina. That means the number of patients who died at St. Rita's Nursing Home is up to 35. And St. Rita's is only one of 20 nursing homes and hospitals now facing criminal investigations for not getting patients out in time.

Investigative correspondent Drew Griffin joins me now from New Orleans.

Hi, Drew.

GRIFFIN: Hi, Heidi.

We have learned that 14 nursing homes and six hospitals all under investigation by the attorney general for a possible abuse, possible manslaughter, even homicide for what was and what was not done before, during and after Katrina.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) GRIFFIN (voice-over): The spray paint marks the sorrow and hopelessness more than any damage you can see, 14 dead at Lafon Nursing Home. With one more body found at St. Rita's, the total here is 35, then this at Bethany Home on New Orleans' Esplanade Avenue, six more dead, along with a silent plea for the morgue to pick up the bodies.

What happened at all three of these nursing homes is now under investigation. The owners of St. Rita's have been charged with 34 counts of negligent homicide. And this man is looking into what happened at these and 11 more nursing homes, plus six hospitals.

CHARLES FOTI, LOUISIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL: This is going to be a rather lengthy investigation.

GRIFFIN: What Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti says he wants to find out is why so many nursing homes and even hospitals decided not to follow mandatory evacuation orders and why, perhaps, more than 100 senior citizens died.

The owners of St. Rita's, where those 35 elderly patients literally drowned lying in their beds or sitting in their wheelchairs, says through their attorney that the staff did all they could in a last-minute heroic effort to evacuate in the midst of the storm. The St. Bernard Parish's coroner says that was too late. This nursing home, he says, had the chance to get everyone out long before Katrina hit.

BERTUCCI: I said, you can have the buses or not have the buses. She told me no. And that was the end of our discussion.

GRIFFIN (on camera): So, the bottom line, Doctor, is the county, you, called the facility and offered to evacuate those people 2:00 Sunday afternoon?

BERTUCCI: That's correct. And there was a mandatory evacuation.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): St. Rita's is the only nursing home so far to face charges. The attorney representing its owners says his clients weren't notified of any mandatory evacuation and says Attorney General Foti filed his case before he knew all the facts.

(on camera): Did you move too fast on St. Rita before you knew the facts?

FOTI: We had the evidence.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Foti says he expects more charges at more nursing homes and hospitals if similar evidence shows better decisions could have saved lives. Hurricane Katrina tested the state's medical and nursing home disaster plans. And, for many, he says, those plans failed. After all the deaths, he says Louisiana owes answers to its most vulnerable citizens.

FOTI: We want to look at how do we repair our city, our state and potentially our nation to take care of these type of disasters that could occur in the future?

GRIFFIN: Foti says Hurricane Katrina's deadly lesson was quickly learned. When Hurricane Rita barreled towards the Gulf Coast, among the first moves, he says, by the governors of both Texas and Louisiana was to evacuate all nursing homes.


COLLINS: Drew, obviously a lot of the lessons are still being learned both from Hurricane Katrina and then on to Hurricane Rita, as we saw with the evacuation, you know, getting all the people out of the Houston are. We saw the terrible bus fire there.

It seems like there are two concerns. You have to get the people out before the actual disaster comes. But then you also have to be very careful that nothing happens to them in that transportation process. How do nursing home owners sort of weigh those two very important issues?


And, off camera, Heidi, because they don't want to talk on camera with investigations going on, that's the decisions they have to balance, one, just the danger of putting people on the road.

That terrible accident, most likely, would not have taken place had not all those elderly people been on that bus. But they were being evacuated out of the storm. And then there's the risk of just taking these frail, elderly people anywhere. The stress on their bodies in many cases can induce problems and can lead to death. So, there is a balancing act that the attorney says he is sensitive to.

But, in this case, where you have virtually 10 percent or more of the victims coming from nursing homes, he has to take a look at what went wrong there.

COLLINS: Absolutely.

All right, Drew Griffin, thank you.

Of all New Orleans' problems, there's one that is growing more urgent by the day, and it might be the last thing you'd expect. What's the surprise shortage?

Stay with us for that.


COLLINS: Five weeks after Katrina and one week after Mayor Ray Nagin starting reopening parts of New Orleans, it's time to think about jobs. And this may really surprise you. The problem right now isn't too few jobs in New Orleans. It's too few workers.

Here's Jason Carroll.


JOEL DONDIS, THE JOEL COMPANIES: It took two weeks for the water to go down here.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This used to be the building where Joel Dondis ran his catering company.

DONDIS: This place is going to be torn down, for sure.

CARROLL: Unable to work here, Dondis managed to find a kitchen at a hotel. He also found new customers, mostly government relief workers. Now, if he could only find the estimated 50 employees that he badly needs.

DONDIS: We put papers up with little pull tabs, call here for a job. We have increased the hourly rate. We are -- everything we possibly can just to find people. And it's been kind of tough.

CARROLL: And there are many more business owners facing the same problem. The Louisiana State Department of Labor estimates, 350,000 jobs were lost in the region as a result of hurricanes Katrina and Rita; 80,000 businesses have closed. For those trying to reopen, the issue is finding workers.

CHARLES LEBOURGEOIS, TLC LINEN SERVICES: We certainly need to get our employees back. That's going to be, I think, our biggest long-term hurdle.

CARROLL: Charles LeBourgeois runs TLC Linen Services, located in the devastated Ninth Ward. Many of his employees lived in the neighborhood. He used to have 70 workers. Only a dozen have come back. He says many others won't be returning, because, like many in New Orleans, they have no homes to come back to.

LEBOURGEOIS: It's such a daunting concept. I mean, when you drive through these neighborhoods and you see the sheer number of homes and, therefore, the sheer number of people that have been displaced, and to think that anybody, the federal government or anybody, can provide sufficient housing -- and where would they put it?

CARROLL: Putting up signs alone will not be enough to lure workers to New Orleans. Employment agencies, like APCO Personnel Services, say companies may have to offer temporary housing and higher wages.

GREG ROBICHAUX, APCO PERSONNEL SERVICES: I think the wages will stay up. And I really think that, except in some instances, that the minimum-wage job in New Orleans is gone for a long time.

CARROLL: But TLC caught a break; 26-year employee Charles Johnson came back Monday at his old pay rate.

CHARLES JOHNSON, TLC LINEN SERVICES: A week or two out of work is fine. But after that, I can't sit around and do anything.

DONDIS: Good to see you. CARROLL: And back at Joel Dondis' catering company, his vice president returned to work as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you happy to be back?

SARAH HALL, THE JOEL COMPANIES: I came back because I knew my house was mostly OK. It turned out it's entirely OK, which was really fortunate in that. And I knew I had a company to come back and build.

CARROLL: But the question is, how many more will do the same?


COLLINS: Jason Carroll reporting for us tonight.

Now let's take a minute to look at the work that has to be done. Think about what it takes to start homes from scratch, lumber, air conditioners, furnaces, washers, dryers, sofas, chairs, tables. And that's barely a start. Now multiply all of that by the number of homes destroyed and ask yourself, who is going to make all of that stuff?

Here's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With 350,000 homes destroyed by Katrina alone, the building industry expects a windfall. By comparison, Hurricane Andrew was once considered a monster, and took only 28,000 homes.

JERRY HOWARD, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF HOME BUILDERS: We know another half a million homes in the area have significant enough damage that they're going to need major renovation, so it's pretty big. It's biggest thing we've ever seen.

FOREMAN: Automakers will likely benefit from replacing an estimated 200,000 sunken cars. The gambling industry is lobbying to move Gulf Coast casinos, previously kept on boats, onto shore, where they can be expanded. And the furniture business is expected to take in millions.

But with so much damage in low-income areas, Chinese furniture companies may benefit most.

ROBERT CONNOLLY, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA, CHAPEL HILL: Especially in the lower or moderately priced furniture, they're in a position to benefit substantially. Most of the remaining U.S. manufacturers of sort of household furniture tend to be at the higher end.

FOREMAN: The soaring need of the Gulf Coast is so great, some American industry groups are arguing for lower trade barriers for Canadian lumber, Mexican cement, and Brazilian plywood. The cost of plywood in the U.S. has jumped more than 50 percent in the past few weeks. (on camera): Still, people involved in all of these business say they honestly cannot figure out how much they're going to make off Katrina, because they can't figure out how much it's going to cost for labor, for transportation, for material, and insurance.

(voice-over): The American Insurance Association says all those estimates about how much insurance companies will pay, and how high premiums may rise, are pure fantasy until the damage is tallied, and the disputes are settled over what's covered.

JULIE ROCHMAN, AMERICAN INSURANCE ASSOCIATION: There'll be litigation. We don't know how that litigation will come out. Cost of rebuilding is unknown, so we really don't know what the cost ultimately to insurers will be.

FOREMAN: And consider this. These storms were so big, many of the Southern companies that may benefit from them were also victims, and balancing their books between profit and loss will take a long time.


COLLINS: Tom Foreman reporting.

Are two CIAs better than one in going all out to prevent terrorism? New York is taking some surprising and controversial steps. See what's up in just a minute.


COLLINS: Who is on the front lines of America's war on terrorism? Well, obviously the CIA, the FBI and the Pentagon. But would you believe the NYPD? It turns out, since the 9/11 attacks, the country's biggest police force, with close to 40,000 officers, has also gone into the anti-terror business.

National security correspondent David Ensor got exclusive access inside New York's anti-terrorism unit. And what he learned may surprise you.


DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Outside the Empire State Building, a police SWAT team arrives without warning. Heavily armed officers move in to sweep the rooftop observation deck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: High visibility today, huh?


ENSOR: High above the same building, an unmarked police helicopter surveys Manhattan, looking for anything suspicious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How good are the optics?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is -- the camera consists of three lenses.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Deploy eastbound on 42nd at this time.


ENSOR: Down on 42nd Street, a police commander orders 75 squad cars out on surprise patrols throughout the city, new unconventional ways of doing business ordered by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

RAYMOND KELLY, NYPD COMMISSIONER: I think we're doing things here, certainly, that we haven't done before, but I don't think any municipal police agency has ever done. And the reason we do it is, we believe that we're at the top of the terrorist target list.

ENSOR: And Commissioner Kelly has hired a top 35-year CIA veteran to set up New York's own CIA, complete with officers overseas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When is our guy going to Jordan?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He should be there some time during the first week or two of October.

ENSOR: Each day, Kelly is briefed by his top deputies handling counterterrorism and intelligence gathering.

DAVID COHEN, NEW YORK POLICE DEPUTY COMMISSIONER FOR INTELLIGENCE: I'm in the business of establishing trip wires or listening posts that involve informants of sorts. We won't go into that, but I don't get my intelligence from reading the newspapers.

ENSOR: NYPD has detectives based in Britain, Israel, Singapore, Canada, France, the Dominican Republic and, soon, Jordan. They are gathering and sharing first-hand intelligence on potential terror threats to New York City.

(on camera): Why can't New York rely on the CIA and the FBI to protect it?

COHEN: You know, neither CIA, nor the FBI are in the subway systems protecting it. It's cops that go down there and do that.

ENSOR (voice-over): And based on what it heard about the July 7 London attacks, the NYPD tightened its security tactics in the subway that very same day.

KELLY: We were able to react quickly because we had that detective in London.

ENSOR (on camera): Before the 9/11 attacks, the NYPD had no more than a couple of dozen officers working full-time on the terrorism beat. These days, it's 1,000 and sometimes more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since that last visit, you come across anything unusual, anything out of the ordinary?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not right now.

ENSOR (voice-over): Another new weapon for the police, Project Nexus, which, in the past three-and-a-half years, has enlisted more than 25,000 businesses to help in tracking suspicious activities. Many intelligence officials say NYPD could be a model, more nimble, better equipped and motivated, more likely than the federal government to stop the next attack against this city.


COLLINS: That was David Ensor.

Before today, you might not have realized that you don't have to be a judge to be nominated for the Supreme Court. Well, that's exactly the case with Harriet Miers. So, why did she get the nod? Well, our John King has been doing some checking on that.

Stay with us.


COLLINS: It's the first Monday in October, which means the new- look U.S. Supreme Court is back in session. Chief Justice John Roberts strolled down the steps of the court building with Justice John Paul Stevens. You see him there. He was also sworn in for a second time. But, since it was inside the Supreme Court, no cameras were allowed, hence, the sketches there.

Instead, the cameras were focused on Harriet Miers, President Bush's pick for the court's remaining vacancy. She's never made a judge. She made a political contribution to Al Gore, but she's part of President Bush's inner circle. No wonder she could turn into a controversial nominee.

We asked chief correspondent John King to take a harder look at her record.


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She is a trailblazing Texas attorney, a trusted friend and adviser to the president, a little-known, but tough conservative voice who could tip the ideological balance of the nation's highest court.

LEONARD LEO, FEDERALIST SOCIETY: If Harriet Miers is confirmed, this court will be more judicially conservative than it was before.

NANCY KEENAN, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ABORTION RIGHTS ACTION LEAGUE: This is Justice O'Connor's seat. This is the moderate seat for those of us that have fought to protect women's freedom and their right to choose. KING: Abortion, without a doubt, will be a confirmation flash point, one of the key questions as the Senate and America try to determine just who is Harriet Miers.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Harriet Miers will strictly interpret our Constitution and laws. She will not legislate from the bench.

KING: The White House says the president didn't ask her views on the landmark Roe vs. Wade abortion rights case.

So, what do we know? In 1993, she unsuccessfully lobbied the American Bar Association to drop its support for abortion rights, calling instead for a neutral position. And she has attended several events organized by the anti-abortion group Texans United for Life.

KEENAN: It sends up red flags for us, absolutely.

KING: Miers operates mostly behind the scenes at a White House where she's held several top positions, staff secretary, deputy chief of staff and White House counsel, the past six months.

This is how she describes her new job, assuming she's confirmed by the Senate.

HARRIET MIERS, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE: And to help ensure that the courts meet their obligations to strictly apply the laws and the Constitution.

KING: That language was deliberately chosen to address conservative worries the president put personal loyalty over judicial philosophy.

Some Democrats call that loyalty cronyism, suggesting they will question Miers' independence.

LEO: What's wrong with the president picking a nominee who he knows shares his judicial philosophy? That's not cronyism. That's commitment to our constitutional order.

KING: That Miers has never been a judge means no paper trail. That bothers some conservatives, but, at least so far, not leading Democrats.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: The fact that she hasn't been a judge before, to me, is actually a positive, not a negative.

KING: Like many Texas conservatives, Miers was a Democrat until the late 1980s, even contributing to then Senator Al Gore when he first ran for president in 1988.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: It speaks well of her. It only makes me feel better about her.

(LAUGHTER) KING: She's an evangelical Christian and, while usually quiet and reserved in public, she's described as funny and warm in private, not one to shy away from a tough fight.


KING: An interesting pick, to say the least, Heidi.

And the White House realizes, the first round of the confirmation fight is trying to calm the fears of those nervous conservatives. The White House message is essentially this: Trust the president, a conservative president, who has known this woman for 12 years. And, also, look at her history. She's worked at the White House on helping the president pick previous judicial nominees, John Roberts among them. The White House says she picked people with impeccable conservative credentials. Why don't you trust hers?

But an interesting fight ahead, Heidi.

COLLINS: Interesting, indeed. And, you know, as you say, former -- the late, actually, Chief Justice William Rehnquist had no prior experience on the bench either.

KING: Many others have also -- in recent times, you tend to pick somebody from the bench.

But there is a long history, including, as you know, William Rehnquist, people who did not have judicial experience first, and people like Sandra Day O'Connor, who held some elected office. Sandra Day O'Connor was in the Arizona Senate. Harriet Miers served just years, but two elected years, on the Dallas City Council.

COLLINS: We shall see.

KING: Yes, we will.

COLLINS: John King, thank you very much.

The first Monday in October has one more new dimension. It's our latest chance to smile at the antics of Chief Justice John Roberts' little boy.

And Jeanne Moos has been doing that all day.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Before you even see him, you hear him. He's back; 4-year-old Jack Roberts was in the spotlight again. And parents everywhere must have shuddered in sympathy when they heard the words:

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you bring the kids up? The kids?

MOOS: He was dubbed the court jester back when his dad was first introduced. Remember how he eluded his mom and ended up crawling on the floor on national TV. But it was his dance step that got him on "The Daily Show."

Since then, Jack's every gesture has been scrutinized, flexing his muscles at the Judiciary Committee hearing, yawning, shaking hands with politicians like he was running for something. This is a kid who has a nose for news, pressed up against the window pane, eying the press.

(on camera): Jack was so renowned that all it took was the mere mention of his name to get laughs.

MOOS (voice-over): Witness President Bush welcoming the Roberts family.

BUSH: And son Jack.


BUSH: A fellow who is comfortable with the cameras.


MOOS: Comfortable, yet wiggling in his seat at his father's swearing-in, where dad thanked the committee that confirmed him.

JOHN G. ROBERTS, SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE: With this nomination, the committee faced a very special challenge. We found a way to get Jack into the committee room without any serious crisis.


MOOS: Jack is even starting to resemble a Supreme Court justice. Notice Justice Stevens' bow tie. And check out Jack's neckwear. But the headline from Monday's series of photo-ops was, ain't misbehaving. When there was applause, Jack waved appropriately. He got up like a young gentleman on his dad's lap, with only a single pointed finger admonishing him. He allowed his jacket to be straightened. He smiled on command.

Sure, his dad's eyes kept darting in his direction. At one point, he cleaned his ears on camera. And there was that one moment when his legs started to move. Would Jack dance? Would Jack fall? Saved by the firm hand of grandma.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


COLLINS: That was Jeanne Moos, and Jack Roberts as well.

"LARRY KING LIVE" coming up at the top of the hour now.

Larry, who is going to be with you tonight?

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Heidi, we will have a panel discussion about the newest Supreme Court nominee, and then the amazing Kyle Maynard. Kyle Maynard has no arms, no legs. And he's a wrestler and an extraordinary story out of the University of Georgia.

All that ahead at the top of the hour.

And, Heidi, you look terrific.

COLLINS: Thank you. I'm glad -- I'm glad we're matching, Larry. We planned that one, huh?

KING: Yes. Yes.

COLLINS: And the story about Kyle is terrific. I have seen him. What an inspiration, that's for sure.

KING: Amazing.

COLLINS: We are looking forward to it, Larry. Thanks.

Jodie Foster's new movie has started a big fight in the airline industry. Do flight attendants really hate all of us passengers?

Fasten your seat belts. We will ask some.



FOSTER: Captain, I need to speak to you. Captain, I need to speak to you. Captain, I...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: ... (INAUDIBLE) threat to the safety of this aircraft.


COLLINS: For the second week in a row, Jodie Foster's thriller "Flightplan" is the most popular movie in the country. So, why don't some flight attendants want you to see this movie about a mom on an airliner searching for her missing daughter?

Brian Todd has the answer.



FOSTER: Captain, I need to speak to you. Captain, I need to speak to you.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "In Flightplan," Jodie Foster's character is confused, frightened and furious. You would be too if your young daughter had gone missing on a transatlantic flight. One group wishes another character might have gone missing.

PAT FRIEND, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: Not only have they -- have they made the flight attendant the terrorist in this plot but they also portray flight attendants as just generally cold and unfeeling people.

TODD: One line in the movie, not in the clips we received, has a flight attendant saying it's OK to hate the passengers.

FRIEND: We don't hate the passengers. And, the idea, I mean, I think they have taken it to an extreme that is unnecessary and could in fact contribute to creating additional conflict on the airplane.

TODD: For all those reasons, Pat Friend, head of Association of Flight Attendants is joining with two other attendants' unions calling for some 80,000 members to boycott the film. A spokesperson for the Walt Disney Company which owns Touchstone Pictures says Disney is sorry and disappointed the flight attendants' unions feel that way and, quote, There was absolutely no intention by the studio or filmmakers to create anything other than a great action thriller.

Disney officials say they're confident the public can tell the difference between fiction.


FOSTER: Do you know where my daughter is?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Ms. Pratt (ph), I'm sorry but I don't think that she's here.


TODD: What they call the incredible job that real flight attendants do every day. One critic calls the plot of Flight Plan silly. But the boycott he says is even sillier.

MICHAEL MEDVED, MOVIE CRITIC: I mean the idea that there is one flight attendant, there really is only one who is portrayed in an unflattering way that should be an occasion for a group to protest, I mean, good grief.

TODD: Pat Friend says he may be overlooking grief of a different kind.

FRIEND: Flight attendants were the first to die on September 11th. And the very idea that, that -- that they would portray, now, a flight attendant as a terrorist, to us it denigrates the memory of our flying partners that died that day.

TODD (on camera): But, so far, the boycott hasn't hurt business. Through two weekends, "Flightplan" has been number one at the box office, grossing roughly $46 million in ticket sales.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


COLLINS: And a quick word before we go now tonight.

Comedian and actor Nipsey Russell has passed away. He is a longtime veteran of television. He usually recited funny little verses, which earned him the nickname of the poet laureate of television. He appeared in "Car 54, Where Are You?"and was a frequent guest on game shows and variety shows like Dean Martin roasts, "Laugh In" and "Jackie Gleason Show." Nipsey Russell was 80.

Thanks for joining us, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

"LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.


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