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Authorities Investigate New York Boating Accident; Interview With NTSB Acting Chairman Mark Rosenker

Aired October 4, 2005 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. Glad to have you with us tonight.
The tragedy at Lake George. As so many people mourn the loss of parents and grandparents, investigators try to close in on exactly what went wrong.


ZAHN (voice-over): The frantic calls for help.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God! Oh, my God! A boat, a boat, a boat, went over! Oh, please hurry.

ZAHN: The boat that became a death trap gives investigators their first clues. Who is to blame?

First, they were victims of nature, now the con men are closing in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Department of Justice has zero tolerance for this activity.

ZAHN: New warnings about the outrageous schemes to make the hurricane homeless victims once again.

And postcards from the edge. Who would expose their deepest, darkest secrets on the Web for all the world to see? Can you resist taking a peek?


ZAHN: And we start tonight with the boat disaster on Lake George in Upstate New York, where 20 people died. Investigators are trying to find out why.

What we know tonight is the fact that the Ethan Allen carried 47 passengers and was required by law to have two crewmen. It only had one. And the penalty for that, well, I couldn't believe this one, but the owner could be fined as little as $25.

Here's Alina Cho with the latest on the investigation.


ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Like so many others, All Dardis heard about the accident on television.

AL DARDIS, FORMER ETHAN ALLEN CAPTAIN: I couldn't believe it. I just couldn't believe it.

CHO: Dardis had a reason to care. He was one of the first captains on the Ethan Allen, piloted the tour boat for 15 years.

(on camera): You're still sick about it?

DARDIS: If it ever happened to me, I'd die. I couldn't take it.

CHO (voice-over): Dardis said, when he was at the helm, back in the '70s and '80s, he always made sure people were seated. He said the boat was harder to handle when it was filled to capacity.

DARDIS: If you have a lot of people on one side, it's just not good. It don't run good.

CHO: He has seen what happens when the boat tries to maneuver around the wake of a larger vessel.

(on camera): You've seen things flip over?

DARDIS: If they come close to anything and there's anywhere near half-throttle, something bad happens.

CHO (voice-over): Investigators are looking into the wake of another boat caused the Ethan Allen to capsize.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you can understand, in a vessel that size, things could go wrong.

CHO: New York Police Major Gerald Meyer said two crew members should have been aboard the Ethan Allen on the day of the accident, but Captain Richard Paris was alone.

MAJOR GERALD MEYER, NEW YORK STATE POLICE: A crew member would be important in an accident situation, because you might need two people to hand out life preservers.

CHO: The company that owns the Ethan Allen is Shoreline Cruises. The state has sidelined its five other boats.

JAMES QUIRK, PRESIDENT, SHORELINE CRUISES: Our company, Shoreline Cruises, has been in the passenger boat business on Lake George for more than 27 years. And, until Sunday, we have had a perfect safety record.

CHO: But, as this 911 call makes clear, something did go terribly wrong.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nine-one-one. What is your emergency?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God! Oh, my God! A boat, a boat, a boat, went over the Ethan Allen, just outside of Green Harbor!

DISPATCHER: Green Harbor?

Can you tell me how many people there are on the boat?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It tipped right over!

Oh, a lot of people! They're hanging on to the boat! It went right over! Oh, please, hurry!


CHO: Seventy-five-year-old Anna McGunagle said it all happened so fast. She survived the accident. Her husband did, too.

ANNA MCGUNAGLE, SURVIVOR: I was content that I wasn't going to make it. And he was, too. But God had other plans for us.

CHO: Despite the tragedy, Al Dardis says Lake George is still the queen of American lakes and the perfect place to take a vacation.

DARDIS: It was a beautiful day, gorgeous day. Something like that should have never happened.


CHO: And Al Dardis has another connection to this tragedy. He has known the current captain of the Ethan Allan, Richard Paris, for decades. Paris is said to be distraught about all of this, understandably. And Dardis feels badly, certainly, about it. After all, it was he who introduced Paris to the owners Shoreline Cruises. And, Paula, ultimately, he got Paris his job.

ZAHN: On to the issue of the investigation. As investigators are trying to piece together all these tiny fragments of a puzzle, there's talk of conducting a reenactment. How serious of a possibility is that and what might that actually reveal?

CHO: Well, tomorrow, Paula, they will be conducting a reenactment, according to the NTSB. It's called a simple stability test.

And what they will be doing is taking the twin sister boat of the Ethan Allen, called the de Champlain. They will be taking the equivalent of 50 passengers. They will be putting all of that weight on to one side of the vessel to see how stable the boat is in the water. And, Paula, the NTSB says they will know a lot more tomorrow than they do today.

ZAHN: Alina Cho, thanks so much for the update.

It turns out that just days before the Ethan Allen sank, the Coast Guard was actually looking at changing regulations about actually how many passengers the boats can carry. Now, under current rules, a boat like the Ethan Allen is allowed to carry up to 48. But that number comes from a 45-year-old standard that assumes the average weight of a passenger is 140 pounds.

Investigators say it might be time to raise that number because Americans are heavier these days.

Joining me now from Lake George, the acting chairman of the NTSB, Mark Rosenker.

Thank you, sir, for joining us tonight.


ZAHN: First of all, you had an opportunity to examine the Ethan Allen earlier today. What did you learn?

ROSENKER: Well, we learned a great deal. We had our investigators examining the entire superstructure, if you will, the canopy of the vessel.

We were looking at the deck. We saw that the -- the benches were affixed to the deck itself. We saw that all the windows were actually opened. We saw what the throttle position was. We saw what the rudder looked like. We actually even injected some water into the exhaust to see if it would take on water. There was a lot of progress made in today's investigation.

ZAHN: What kind of progress? What does that reveal?

ROSENKER: Well, it begins the process of ruling things out. And, again, we're still very, very early in this process.

Tomorrow, we're going to learn a great deal more because we're going to take the sister vessel, the de Champlain, out. And we're going to do the stability test called the small passenger vessel stability test. And, in that, we will be able to put the amount of weight that we believe should be maxing this vessel out and see how she really handles under some -- some difficult conditions. And we're also going to stress it with something we call the experimental incline -- excuse me, the inclining experiment.

ZAHN: All right. So, we know already that this boat was close to capacity. Does that mean you have a pretty good hunch that that weight -- shifting of weight did have something to do with this horrible tragedy?

ROSENKER: Well, we don't deal in hunches. We deal in science and facts here. So, the reality is, is we're going to actually do -- and I don't want to use the word a reenactment. We're going to do a scientific test. This is also going to be supervised.

The inclining experiment is going to be supervised by a Naval architect. And that data is going to bring us a great deal of scientific evidence.

ZAHN: And just need a brief answer to this one. Do you know actually how far the Mohican, the other boat, that some witnesses blame for this tragedy was from the Ethan Allen?

ROSENKER: The specific distances are yet to be determined. And we're looking at that right now.

ZAHN: So, that is a potential factor as well?

ROSENKER: Could be.

ZAHN: Mark Rosenker, good luck. I know you got a lot of work to get done. Appreciate your joining us tonight.

ROSENKER: Thank you. Thank you, Paula.


ZAHN: Thank you, sir.

I think our next story is really scary. Can you imagine parts of the country having to be quarantined, with the Army called in to enforce it? And it wouldn't be because of terrorists, but infected birds. Coming up next, a medical threat that could be a matter of life and death in this country.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As CNN celebrates its 25th anniversary, editors at Fortune magazine compare the top trends facing our future.

More and more of our lives are automated, especially in our homes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have violated a protected area.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From remotes and keypads for televisions, garage doors to lights to robotic vacuums, your home is getting a brain of its own. There is a new type of home, a smart one that does the thinking for you.

CAIT MURPHY, SR. EDITOR, "FORTUNE": The house of the future goes to work. It's going to provide its own energy. It's going to process its own waste. Your carpet is going to suck up stuff when it's dropped. Your counters will be self-cleaning.

And it's going to be very interactive in the sense your refrigerator is going to talk to your stove. Some of these things are already happening but I think those are the things that mark out the house of the future.



ZAHN: So, would I get your attention if I told you there's a disease out there that kills half the people who get it? There's no vaccination. There's no cure. And health officials are worried that it could spread like wildfire. The disease is called avian flu. Right now, you can only get it from infected birds, so it's not an epidemic yet. But it has struck more than 100 people in Asia. And now health officials here are warning of a worldwide disaster if the disease adapts and spreads from person to person.

Today, in his first news conference in just about four weeks, President Bush put something on the table that will be controversial. He suggested having the military take over to enforce quarantine during epidemics.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was the commander in chief of the National Guard and proudly so. And, frankly, I didn't want the president telling me how to be the commander in chief of the Texas Guard.

But Congress needs to take a look at circumstances that may need to vest the capacity of the president to move beyond that debate. And one such catastrophe or one such challenge could be an avian flu outbreak.


ZAHN: So, the command is one issue, but the other issue is, just how big a threat is avian flu?

Senior medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me now.

Hey, Doctor.


ZAHN: What do we need to know about this?

GUPTA: Well, I mean, you know, people have been talking about avian flu for some time now. The question of how big a threat is it to Americans here, the right answer, I think correct answer at this point is, we don't know.

There is this virus, as you mentioned, sin another part of the world that kills half the people that get infected. We know that it is very, very vicious in terms of what it -- in the number of people that it can kill. But we also know that it's not very efficient at actually transmitting itself from human to human. That's good.

For something to turn into a bad pandemic, it needs two qualities. It has got to be able to transmit itself easily from person to person and it's got to kill a lot of people. So far, it's only doing one of two things. Now, Paula, these viruses, they mutate all the time, so that anybody who tells you for sure this is absolutely going to happen, they can say that for sure, because we don't know this virus is going to mutate. So, people are getting prepared, but we don't know where this is all going to lead right now, at least here in America, Paula. ZAHN: All right. So, Doctor, if we know that mutation is almost a given thing here, do we have any idea how to stop the spread of it once it mutates?


I mean, I think preparedness is a real term here. A couple -- some of the bad things, first of all, we don't have a vaccine, an effective vaccine, against avian flu right now. There's a couple of drugs out there, Tamiflu and Relenza, which may be somewhat protective.

But quick reporting. I mean, we talk about this a lot. You have got to be able to report these things quickly, so that the community health services can right away note that something is going on here. We have a case of avian flu. We have to decide, are we going to quarantine? Are we going to start treating. Are we going to isolate people? Are we going to get the military involved? What is going to happen?

Also, we have to really push forward the scientific pursuits of vaccines and other treatments. It takes six months to create a vaccine right now, Paula. Six months is just too long. By that time ,a pandemic could have come and gone and we would still be making the vaccine. We have got to become much more nimble and much more quick at that.

And, finally, you know, doing what we're doing right now, Paula, preparing for the worst-case scenario. You know me well enough, Paula, to know that I'm not an alarmist. But, also, when you talk about avian flu and you talk about the fact that it kills half the people that it infects, it would be dump not to be thinking about this and thinking about how to be best prepared, Paula.

ZAHN: All right. I know you've approached a lot of things in your medical career that probably terrify you. So, is this one of those things that makes you scared?

GUPTA: Yes, it really does, Paula. And I have talked to a lot of people about it.

It scares me when the head of the CDC says this could be the worst health disaster to ever affect our country in the history. I mean, that scares me. It scares me when I talk to some of my colleagues at the CDC and I say, come on now. Should I be stockpiling Tamiflu? And they say, I would if I were you.

Yes, those sorts of things scares me. It scars me when I hear about any kind of disease that kills half the people it infects. Paula, in 1918, everyone talks about the Spanish flu, the great pandemic them. That killed 5 percent of the people that it infected, only 5 percent.

ZAHN: Wow.

GUPTA: This is up to 50 percent. When it only killed 5 percent, you know, they say up to 100 million people may have died from that. So, 50 percent, Paula, yes, absolutely. I think anybody should be scared.


ZAHN: Yes. I think it is something that makes us nervous.

Finally, come back to the issue of quarantine, an issue that the president touched on today. Is that even feasible if you're talking about this thing mutating potentially and causing the amount of death that is possible here?

GUPTA: Yes, you know. We thought about this a lot today.

I think one of the basic tenants of having a quarantine is, you have got to be able to protect your first-responders. So, for example, if it's a military-enforced quarantine, and they're quarantining presumably sick people, but there's no vaccine available, all you're going to do is make sure the people who are getting quarantined are probably going to die of the disease, at least half of them.

And you are probably going to infect a lot of military as well, with nothing to do for them, no treatment and no vaccine as well. So, a quarantine is a possibility, but you really have to think this through. There's lots of ramifications to this. And, you know, we saw some of this recently with the hurricane stuff, that you have got to think this through. And I think, with quarantines , you have got to be able to get that vaccine to the first-responders, including the military as well, Paula.

ZAHN: I guess that's the one we really got to keep our fingers crossed on. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much for the update.

GUPTA: Thank you.

ZAHN: Now, I want to take you from a hypothetical emergency to the very real one along the Gulf Coast.

Where can thousands and thousands of homeless victims live? Well, the government has an answer. But would you want to live here or want one in your own hometown?

Before we tackle that, Erica Hill of Headline News joins us to update the hour's top stories.

Haven't seen you in so long. Welcome back to the show.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I know. It has been a while. Nice to be with you. Thanks, Paula.

We start off in Iraq. Baghdad's Green Zone, as we know, is heavily protected, but, still, a suicide bomber managed to pierce that security today. A car bomb exploded, killing two Iraqi soldiers and a civilian. South of Baghdad, U.S. forces and Iraqi troops found insurgents killing or capturing three dozen of them. Meantime, some hopeful news to report today in an annual report on cancer in America. It shows the death rate is declining by more than 1 percent overall. The report in "The Journal of the National Cancer Institute" says prevention, detection and early treatment are making a difference.

Ford will appeal a major lawsuit involving its popular pickup. A Texas jury ordered the automaker to pay $30 million to the family of a teenage girl who died when the roof of the pickup she was driving collapsed in a rollover accident.

And a judge in L.A. will decide whether TV psychologist Dr. Phil Mcgraw can face an expanded class-action lawsuit. Three former dieters claim they were defrauded by a $120-a-month diet plan he once promoted, Paula.

And that's the latest from Headline News. We will hand it back over to you in New York.

ZAHN: Thanks so much, Erica. Appreciate it.

So, our next question is, what do people along the Gulf Coast have to look forward to? Well, take a look. Could you stand a year or more of this? In a minute, I will take you to a city of hope, or is it really a trailer park hell?


ZAHN: Right now, I want to get you caught up on the situation in the Gulf states. Five weeks and a day after it hit, Hurricane Katrina is still causing tremendous problems. Just a few hours ago, New Orleans' mayor announced he's laying off 3,000 workers. Because of the storm, there just isn't money to pay them.


RAY NAGIN (D), MAYOR OF NEW ORLEANS: Based upon these layoffs, we probably will downsize on average about 50 percent of our work force.


ZAHN: Most of the affected workers are in administrative jobs. No public safety or sanitation employees are being laid off.

Meanwhile, the death toll from Hurricane Katrina has passed the 1,200 mark. Louisiana officials raised their state's number of deaths to 972 today, making the overall total 1,208.

Meanwhile, the nation's insurance companies say Katrina caused at least $34 billion in property losses. That breaks the record of nearly $21 billion from Hurricane Andrew back in 1992.

And here's another one for the record books. FEMA says it received nearly 2.1 million applications for disaster assistance as of the end of September. That passes the total for all of last year, when four hurricanes in all hit Florida.

But, at a shelter in Baton Rouge today, former President Bill Clinton listened as evacuees poured out their frustrations with FEMA and the bureaucrat maze necessary to get help. Clinton is developing some new guidelines for spending the hurricane relief money he and former President Bush are raising. Their fund so for has raised more than $100 million.

And I want you to think for a second what it would be like if several hundred new neighbors moved down the street all at the same time. It could be pretty intimidating and pretty strange. And that's what many people in many parts of the South are facing now, as FEMA opens up trailer parks for Katrina victims.

Here's Jason Carroll.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the past 50 years, Willie Mae Williams has lived on Groom Street (ph) in Baker, Louisiana. She says not much has changed, not even the neighbors.

WILLIE MAE WILLIAMS, RESIDENT OF BAKER, LOUISIANA: Oh, I just love my neighbors. They're just like sisters and brothers. Yes, sir.

CARROLL: But, as soon as this week, 1,900 new neighbors will move into these trailers across the street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we have is approximately a 10-by-35, 10- by-40 trailer.

CARROLL: The city's fire chief gave us a tour of the transitional housing set up by FEMA for evacuees now living in shelters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has got a refrigerator and a freezer.

CARROLL: The trailers have a bedroom and a small living area. Willie-Mae says it all may look nice, but she's heard unsettling rumors about who's coming.

(on camera): what Have people been saying about the evacuees coming in? Are they worried...


WILLIAMS: Well, them bad people, they come from New Orleans. (INAUDIBLE) New Orleans on the top of the (INAUDIBLE)

CARROLL: So, what does that mean?

WILLIAMS: They're bad people. They do everything. They party. They make noise all night.

PARHAM NELSON, EVACUEE: They don't even get to know us before they judge us. CARROLL (voice-over): Parham Nelson is an evacuee from New Orleans who is waiting to move into one of those trailers. Nelson says she's hurt by rumors she believes are perpetuated of post-Katrina images of looting and violence.

NELSON: The media done put out so much about New Orleans until it looks like to me like Baton Rouge is scared of us, for some reason or another. And we're not no bad people. We have been misplaced by God's doing, not ours.

HAROLD RIDEAU, MAYOR OF BAKER, LOUISIANA: You have to get to know people, Jason. We are all basically the same.

CARROLL: Controlling rumors is just one of the concerns for the city's mayor. The other is the financial strain on a town of only 14,000 residents eventually taking on an additional 3,000 people.

RIDEAU: It is a tremendous drain on the city. We have spent a tremendous amount of money.

CARROLL: The city needs an additional 10 police officers and nine firefighters and is hoping that FEMA will reimburse the $700,000 already spent on evacuees.

RON SHERMAN, FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: What the city has spent in terms of providing sheltering for evacuees and for fellow Louisianians is covered under our public assistance program.

CARROLL: But the mayor says he has yet to hear from FEMA about when the city will get the money. Meanwhile, two women who have never met, but soon will be neighbors, are trying to come to terms with it.

(on camera): So, it sounds to me like you are saying that they're -- you have some concerns, but you are willing to keep an open mind.

WILLIAMS: Yes. I have a lot of concerns, but I am willing to keep an open mind, because, see, I got Jesus in my life. I'm wrapped up in the lord. And I just don't believe nothing is going to hurt me.

NELSON: It's going to work out.

CARROLL: You think so?

NELSON: It's going to work out. Trust me. There's a God. And it is going to work out. Just like he separate us, he will bring us back together.

CARROLL (voice-over): The reconstruction of New Orleans is a massive effort. Until it's done, it's likely these accidental neighbors are going to have to share space for a long time to come.


ZAHN: That's a certainty at this point -- Jason Carroll reporting. The Katrina trailer parks are a rerun on much bigger scale of what we saw happen after hurricanes in Florida last year. Now, I'm sure free rent for more than a year sounds pretty good. But I want you to see what it's really like for a lot of people still living out of FEMA trailers in Florida.

Here's national correspondent Susan Candiotti.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): FEMA's emergency housing trailers in Punta Gorda, Florida, stretch as far as the eye can see. They were put here as an oasis for last year's homeless after Hurricane Charley. But many residents call it a nightmare.

DOYLA LANE, RESIDENT: It's all identical. You cannot have no individuality.

CANDIOTTI: Doyla Lane is a single mom.

LANE: There is just always something. If you get two nights out of the week where you don't see the blue lights flying in here, a fight out here, somebody trying to stab somebody, something, you're doing good.

CANDIOTTI: Lane and her two children, Kevin (ph) and Rachel (ph), are among about 2,000 hurricane victims shoehorned into 500 mobile homes.

(on camera): Doyla, if you could move out here tomorrow, would you?

LANE: Yes. I would be ready to go in less than an hour.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): But like many other families, Doyla Lane cannot afford to leave. In some ways, FEMA park has been a lifesaver, live rent free for 18 months while looking for a new home. But crime that can be found in any neighborhood, the sheriff, here seems magnified among these hurricane victims.

JOHN DAVENPORT, SHERIFF OF CHARLOTTE COUNTY, FLORIDA: They don't necessarily want to be here. But it's better than not having a home at all. And so, you get a lot of stress and a lot of post-traumatic problems from the hurricane.

CANDIOTTI: It took several months for FEMA to pay for police patrols and a guard at the entrance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anywhere from thefts to burglaries to assaults, batteries, domestics. Pretty much everything that we get on the road, we also get here.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): I have counted up basically 14 attempted suicides since this park opened. What do you make of that number, given the size? DAVENPORT: Stress. Stress. I mean, I think it's a little high for a community that you would have in a normal community of this size.


CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Charlotte County's man in charge of long-term relocation showed us how the park's isolation makes the problem worse.

HEBERT: As you said, we are about 10 miles away from town. There's no grocery store. There's a 7/Eleven. If somebody wants to just get a Coke, they have got to either get a cab or drive up the road 10 miles.

CANDIOTTI: Isolated from town, but not from each other.

(on camera): There's no room for a yard and virtually no privacy, only about 20 feet separating neighbor from neighbor. Take a walk into the street and this is what you see, row after row after row of trailers. And for many of these residents, nothing better is on the horizon.

GERRY SAWYER, RESIDENT: All five of us were going to live in this little car.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): That was before FEMA came through with a mobile home last Christmas for Sue and Gerry Sawyer and their three children. But, since then, the Sawyers have not found an affordable home. Officials say real estate has skyrocketed since Charley.

G. SAWYER: Some of the apartments we have applied for which have guaranteed $625, $700 a month, they have got a two-year waiting list.

CANDIOTTI: While daughter Cassandra (ph) donates pennies to the newest hurricane victims, her parents worry they're running out of time. In four months, the leases on all these trailers expire.

(on camera): Come February, what are you going to do?

SUE SAWYER, RESIDENT: I don't know what we're going to do. We're living hand to mouth right now. Every time I think, you know, I have got some money saved, something happens. My car dies. I'm going to lose my job if I can't get to work, so I'm paying for a cab.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): FEMA says it's done what it can.

MILDRED ACEVEDO, FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: They had signed a contract, so it's not like it's taken them by surprise. They had 18 months to work, to look for permanent housing, to save up money, which is one of the reasons why we do it rent free.

CANDIOTTI: Critics call these big isolated FEMA parks a mistake. Housing policy expert Ronald Utt says, use residential vouchers for victims of Rita and Katrina, go smaller and closer to communities. DR. RONALD UTT, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: There's a lot of cities in the Southeast in Texas and Alabama and Mississippi and over into Florida and Georgia that were not devastated, which have active, lively rental markets with lots of decent apartments and lots of vacancies.

CANDIOTTI: Small comfort for Doyla Lane, who just got a job as a security guard and wonders what's ahead for her family.

LANE: It's not that I'm ungrateful. I just want my own place.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): Where would you like to live?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a big, huge mansion.

CANDIOTTI: And if you couldn't get a big, huge mansion, what would be your second choice?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little, small house.


ZAHN: Yes, a little, small house sounds pretty good to that young man now. That was Susan Candiotti reporting.

Now, millions of you, I know, have opened up your wallets and checkbooks in hopes of giving hurricane victims a better life. And I think it's outrageous that many of these same victims are getting ripped off, as well as some of you out there. That's why our Kelli Arena has gone to the FBI to find more about the latest scams. How can you protect yourself?

Stay with us.


ZAHN: Millions and millions of Americans have opened up their hearts to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The Red Cross alone says it's collected more than $1 billion in donations.

But if you go online to donate, how can you be sure the Web site you're handing money to is really a legitimate charity? It's not easy, because there is a massive number of scammers out there ready to take advantage of you and your money.

Justice correspondent Kelli Arena has some spent time inside the FBI's Internet crime and complaint center. And she joins me now.

Good to see you, Kelli.


ZAHN: So, I know you spent some time there yesterday. What did you learn?

ARENA: Well, I learned that there is a lot of this going on. The thing that was the most shocking to me was the level of sophistication that I saw. The fake Web sites that I was shown were so good, Paula, that I couldn't tell the difference between the real site and the fake site, even when they were placed side by side. The investigators at the center say that, with each new scam, criminals get better and better at what they do.

ZAHN: So, are these sites primarily set up to direct money to the wrong place altogether?

ARENA: Well, that's -- that's part of it. But some of these sites are infected with viruses or spyware, so that, just by clicking on the site, your computer can become infected. Your personal information can be stolen that way or your computer can actually be used for future scams.

So, sometimes, they're not even asking for money. They just want you to go to the site to get you on there to infect you.

ZAHN: And, unfortunately, Kelli, we all have to admit that, every time there's a major catastrophe, we see some level of fraud. How does this compare to what we saw during the tsunami?

ARENA: Well, this is much bigger.

One official that I spoke to said that the scammers basically cut their teeth on the tsunami. They say that the volume of fraud that they have seen this time around is off the charts. For example, the Red Cross says there have been at least 25 scam sites that have popped up since Katrina. And, Paula, it's not just Internet fraud. As you know, it's traditional fraud as well.

ZAHN: Sure.

But we're now at the sort of five-week-one-day marker since Katrina hit.

ARENA: Right.

ZAHN: Is there any feeling that this kind of fraud will slow down?


They're starting to see some signs of it slowing. But they say that the next phase is probably going to be even worse. Now, that's when things like insurance fraud, procurement fraud kick in, which more people who have been displaced, they're not at their homes, they don't even know at this point that they've been victims of crimes like identity theft, for example. So, this is something we are going to deal with for months to come, Paula.

ZAHN: And you spoke with someone from the Katrina Fraud Task Force, Alice Fisher? What did she tell you?

ARENA: Right. Well, I spoke with Alice Fisher. She's heading it up. She -- we -- let's hear it from her, Paula.


ALICE FISHER, KATRINA FRAUD TASK FORCE: Well, what I can tell you is that, whether it's $500 or $500,000, the Department of Justice has zero tolerance for this activity. And we're going to go after it, no matter what the amount that's being taken from the victims are.


ARENA: So, you heard it from her, Paula. The federal government has already brought five cases. They say to expect a lot more.

ZAHN: Kelli Arena, appreciate knowing about this, even though it's all very discouraging.

I know, if a hurricane destroyed my home, I'd want to rebuild it as fast as I could. Hundreds of thousands of people on the Gulf Coast are in that same bind now, which is leaving them open to price-gouging and fraud.

It's the job of Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti Jr. to fight all of that. He joins me now.

Good to see you again, sir. Welcome.

You have already had some 2,000 complaints filed for fraud of various kinds committed against Katrina victims. How big of a concern is this to you?

CHARLES FOTI, LOUISIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Oh, it's very -- it's a very big concern.

Initially, during the hurricane and aftermath, it was basically gasoline prices, food, generators. Now we're going into contractors and the fraud that's going into that and solicitations. So, we are taking steps. We filed one case today involving a campground in Amite, Louisiana, which raised its -- which tripled its rates. And this is against our price-gouging statutes.

It's also against the executive order signed by our governor. In a lot of cases, we have been able to mediate it through, so the consumer got their money returned, because it was small amounts. We have also sent civil subpoenas to a couple of small oil companies where we're examining their records.

We are working also with Secretary Bob Odom, who runs the Agriculture Department for our state. And his people have been working with us. So, we -- we're on the ground and running. We have also recently put...


ZAHN: What I was going to say, sir, I'm sure this is encouraging to a lot of people who have to worry about this, but they're also concerned there simply aren't enough resources to chase all the bad guys and gals out there trying to take advantage of them.

FOTI: No, there's not. And that's why we're joining with the United States Department of Justice and our local U.S. attorneys and FBI to work together on some task forces on fraud throughout the state of Louisiana.

We have had a number of meetings about that. And so, we are turning all those resources to deal with fraud and also deal with public corruption.

ZAHN: Well, I hope you get the help you need. You certainly have had to deal with a lot down there in that part of the country.

Charles Foti, good luck. Thank you, sir.

FOTI: Thank you very much.

ZAHN: Now, I wonder if you have a secret that you're dying to share these days. Jeanne Moos has found a Web site that's absolutely fool of them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People think I have stopped lying, but I have just gotten better at it.


ZAHN: Coming up, Jeanne Moos has even more secrets, big one, little ones and some very creative ones, indeed.

Stay with us.


ZAHN: Still ahead, you might find this story we have coming up a little bit strange, cops with something to hide. But have they really done anything wrong? As you check out that forearm. Also, Jeanne Moos has found a Web site just full of secrets. Is one of them about you? Find out in a little bit.

But, right now, at just about a little more than 20 minutes before the hour, let's check in one more time with Erica Hill of Headline News to update the top stories -- Erica.

HILL: Paula, President Bush says he would like to see Harriet Miers confirmed for the Supreme Court by Thanksgiving. Today, Miers continued making the rounds on Capitol Hill, meeting with prominent Republicans, like Utah Senator Orrin Hatch. Hatch is a supporter of Miers. But others worry she may not be conservative enough. Now, if Harriet Miers is confirmed, she would be only the third female Supreme Court justice.

Five American troops died today in new offensives against insurgents in the western Anbar Province of Iraq; 2,500 Marines, soldiers and sailors are involved in Operation River Gate, along with more than 400 Iraqi security force soldiers.

In La Quinata (ph), California, rescuers used pulleys and rope to lift a 6-year-old boy out of a 30-feet-deep hole. Now, it's not known how he fell in. But the good news here, he was not seriously hurt.

And, travelers, listen to this one. Delta Airlines, the nation's third largest carrier, now saying it is going to reduce the number of domestic flights to save fuel. How? Well, it might cancel your flight. Affected passengers will reportedly be notified two days in advance. And the airline says it will help them reschedule. But that will affect mainly flights Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays -- Paula.

ZAHN: We heard it here. Erica Hill, thanks so much.

I have a very controversial question to ask. Do cops with tattoos offend you?


WILLIAM LANSDOWNE, SAN DIEGO POLICE CHIEF: ... requirement to present the most professional image we possibly can.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, right now, you would be considered breaking the rule?



ZAHN: So, coming up next, should officers be forced to cover up their tattoos? Coming up next, the controversy is spreading through police departments all over the country. We will let you weigh in.


ZAHN: So, I don't know about you, but, if I were in trouble and needed a police officer, I'm not too sure that at the top list of my concerns would be what he or she look like. But a growing number of police departments are drawing the line when it comes to cops with tattoos.

Here's Dan Simon.


SIMON (voice-over): San Diego police officer Christian Adams (ph) has tattoos.

(on camera): Show us what we're looking at here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A tribal design with a dragon on the inside of it.

SIMON (voice-over): A lot of tattoos

(on camera): So, your whole body is covered in tattoos?


SIMON: His license plate is a dead giveaway. And it's pretty hard not to notice when he's off-duty. But you wouldn't know it if you bumped into him on the street while he's on the job.

That's because the department is requiring him to cover all those tattoos.

(on camera): So, right now, you would be considered breaking the rules?


SIMON (voice-over): Adams, an eight-year veteran of the force, is now forced to wear long sleeves on the job. And, in sunny San Diego, that can be seriously uncomfortable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That can feel like my chest and the arms are a bit warmer. And, yes, go through about a gallon of water a shift.

SIMON: But he's not going to get any sympathy from the chief, who last year instituted the no-visible-tattoo policy.

LANSDOWNE: We have a requirement to present the most professional image we possibly can. And that professional image equates to trust in the community. And that is what this is all about.

SIMON (on camera): San Diego is not alone. Rules banning visible tattoos have spread to law enforcement agencies in other parts of the country, from Tampa, Florida, to Houston, Texas, and even here in Los Angeles, where it seems there is a tattoo parlor on just about every street corner.

(voice-over): For now, that ban only affects the LAPD. But the county sheriff plans to invoke the same policy.

LEE BACA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: Law enforcement is an image service.

SIMON: And Sheriff Lee Baca says that image ought to be tattoo- free.

BACA: I think the tattoo is a distraction.

IAN MITROFF, PROFESSOR, USC BUSINESS SCHOOL: It's very hard to differentiate the tattoo of a policeman from that of a gang, because, I think, subconsciously, that association is still there.

SIMON: USC business professor Ian Mitroff studies workplace culture. He says, despite our increasing comfort with tattoos, there has to be a line inter. After all, the military still doesn't allow them to be displayed.

MITROFF: In the job of a cop, anything that sets off a bad association, given all the stresses of the job, you want to remove anything that is going to spark off the public.

SIMON: So, what does the public think?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like tattoos on normal people. I guess it's a double standard. But I think want the police officers to seem very, like, straight and professional.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't have a problem unless it's something racist, misogynistic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure, they should cover them up. So, if they have tattoos all over their arms, they should wear long shirts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a tattoo. It -- really, it doesn't mean anything anymore. It's just decoration.

SIMON: As for the L.A. sheriff's proposal, those affected by say it's just not fair.

ROY BURNS, ASSN. FOR L.A. DEPUTY SHERIFFS: There are many on this deputies on this department who have tattoos that are not offensive.

SIMON: And Roy Burns, who is head of the deputies union, says he's one of them.

(on camera): This an issue that hits close to home for you.

BURNS: It does. I happen to have a tattoo. And my tattoo does show as I wear a short-sleeved shirt. This is a United States Marine Corps tattoo.

SIMON (voice-over): Burns got his tattoo after fighting in Vietnam. He can't believe that even those with military or patriotic theme tattoos would be forced to hide them.

BURNS: I know there's a lot of military people like myself that will be very offended by it.

SIMON: Now, if necessary, he's ready to take the battle to court.

(on camera): It doesn't look good for you guys.

BURNS: You're right. Other agencies have challenged this type of policy and they have lost. Does that mean we won't try? No, it doesn't.


ZAHN: Well, while you all might view this differently, whether it's appropriate for cops to have visible tattoos on the job, I guess the one thing we can all agree on, they certainly can endure pain to have those more elaborate tattoos finished off. That was Dan Simon reporting.

So, do you want to know a secret? Jeanne Moos has found some really juicy ones for us tonight.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: "I tell my wife I don't want her to get implants, but I'm lying." "I only date girls with pretty feet."


ZAHN: So, have you got the nerve to say something like that? Find out where you can coming up right after this break.


ZAHN: Some people just can't keep a secret, which is a good thing if you collect secrets. But see if you're as grossed out as I am by some of the secrets in one man's collection.

Here's Jeanne Moos.


MOOS: Is it true you have more secrets than a priest? A priest probably has a few more.

FRANK WARREN, CREATOR, POSTSECRET.COM: I have more documented secrets than a priest.


(voice-over): Frank Warren has collected over 5,000 secrets that strangers sent in.

MOOS (on camera): "I only love him when he's sleeping."

"I tell my wife I don't want her to get implants, but I'm lying."

(voice-over): Frank doesn't have to promise not to tell, since the secrets are divulged anonymously. They range from sad -- "Every time I go over a bridge, I have to restrain myself from driving off" -- to sexual. "Roses are red. Violets are blue. I like to kiss boys and I like to kiss girls too, a lot."

What started as an art project has snowballed into several hundred secrets a week arriving at Frank's home in Germantown, Maryland.

(on camera): Do you ever get sick of people spilling their guts?

WARREN: I never get sick of it. I never get bored with it. And it never makes me happy. MOOS (voice-over): Frank thinks unlocking secrets is therapeutic, no matter how bizarre they are.

WARREN: I go to the drugstores and poke tiny holes through condom packages.

MOOS (on camera): Oh, my.

(voice-over): Every week, Frank posts 10 to 20 new secrets on his Web site, "At work, someone kept stealing my lunch from the fringe, so I made a nice sandwich with lettuce, tomato and cat food."

Secrets arrive on materials as odd as a Starbucks cup.

WARREN: "I give decaf to customers who are rude to me."

MOOS: This woman didn't get cold feet about confessing, "I have to shave my toes."

And talk about grooming.

WARREN: "I use my roommate's hair clips as nipple clamps."


MOOS (on camera): You know, some of them seem almost too good to be true. I mean, they seem too slick, too produced to be a real secret.

WARREN: If you're asking me if I think all 5,000 secrets are true, I would say, no, they're not.

MOOS (voice-over): But Frank thinks they're all authentic, in the sense that's there's truth to them.

(on camera): "I hate my boyfriend for killing people in Iraq."

(voice-over): Juxtapose that with, "I killed people in Iraq and enjoyed it. Does that make me a monster?"

Some secrets are so dark, Frank put a suicide hot line on his Web site. He even submitted his own secret that he will only describe as a childhood humiliation. Frank is going to keep them, all right, in a book that is due out in a couple of months.

WARREN: "When I'm mad at my husband, I put boogers in his soup.

MOOS: Hey, not all secrets are appetizing. And don't try this at work. "I put lipstick on my boss' shirt, so his wife would think we're having an affair, though we're not."

Cheating is a favorite subject.

WARREN: "While my wife and child slept, I sneaked out of my hotel room, down the hall, and into our friend's room. She and I made love for hours."

MOOS (on camera): Fantasy.

(voice-over): Think of this as the secret place of Web sites where mum is not the word.


ZAHN: Welcome to a brave new world.

That was Jeanne Moos.

Thanks so much for being with us tonight. Tomorrow night, a major new report is due out on avian flu, the disease that some health experts fear could became global killer. We will have that. And we are working on a report of another illness, a mystery virus that has killed 10 people and sickened 40 others in Toronto.

Thanks for joining us tonight. "LARRY KING LIVE" is next.


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