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Inside the National Security Agency; Undercover in the Battle of the Sexes; Football Player Suicides in Small Maine Town

Aired January 25, 2006 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Glad to have you all with us.
Tonight, something you have never seen before -- an insider's view of the explosive controversy over domestic spying.


ZAHN (voice-over): The listener -- what really goes on inside this super-secret spy agency. For the first time, a professional spy speaks out about listening in.

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Most of your colleagues would probably not be willing to give an interview like this.


ZAHN: And our cameras show you technology beyond your wildest dreams.

Lives on the line -- you have seen stories about teenage suicide, but never a mystery like this one -- same town, same team, the same tragic fate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Second and a third and a fourth. What the hell is going on here?

ZAHN: Why are so many of these young athletes killing themselves?

And the "Eye Opener" -- her life as a man. She traded skirts for stubble and started hanging out with the guys. You won't believe what she found.

(on camera): What was the most surprising thing you learned about men by being a man for 18 months?

NORAH VINCENT, AUTHOR, "SELF-MADE MAN": There is a secret life going on there.

ZAHN (voice-over): Undercover in the battle of the sexes -- what are men really like?

(END VIDEOTAPE) ZAHN: We begin tonight with a gathering storm over the controversial domestic spying program, the White House, Congress, all bracing for an all-out battle over the power of the presidency to authorize eavesdropping on domestic phone calls and e-mails, perhaps evens your.

Well, today, President Bush took another step to defend his position that the threat of terrorism calls for a new and more aggressive measure.

Dana Bash brings us up to the minute on the latest developments.


DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a rare visit to the super-secret National Security Agency, the president defended his controversial spying program by invoking public enemy number one and last week's threatening tape.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Listen to the words of Osama bin Laden and take him seriously. When he says he's going to hurt the American people again, or try to, he means it.

BASH: The NSA is carrying out the surveillance program. This visit is aimed at boosting their morale and bolstering his arguments for ordering them to spy without warrants, a case the White House hopes is helped by bin Laden's new threats.

BUSH: And I'm going to continue to do everything I can within my legal authority to stop them. And so are the good people here at NSA.

BASH: This event capped a White House effort make a virtue out of a vulnerability, banking on Mr. Bush's ability to get the upper hand in any political debate about fighting terrorism.

P.J. CROWLEY, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: From their standpoint, at least they're talking about the president taking action, as opposed to talking about Iraq.

BASH: As in any campaign, changing rhetoric says a lot about strategy. Mr. Bush's pitch is refined to answer concerns about civil liberties, narrowly tailored, he insists, to known bad guys.

BUSH: I authorized a terrorist surveillance program.

BASH: In fact, the White House is so determined to change the terms of the debate, it is even publicly pressuring the press to accept its language.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: When someone puts up on the screen "domestic spying," I think that leaves an inaccurate impression that this is spying on people that are talking about an upcoming PTA meeting within their hometown.

BASH: Democrats say all that is besides the point, because the program violates federal law. They're honing their message, too, saying expanding surveillance powers may be necessary, but the solution is asking Congress for the power.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: Tell us what needs to be changed. Let's do it legally. But, for some reason, the president doesn't want to do that.

BASH (on camera): The Republican chairman holding congressional hearings served notice, he intends to be tough on the administration, listing 15 controversial questions in this letter he expects the attorney general to answer.

Dana Bash, CNN, the White House.


ZAHN: So, we have all been wondering -- and I'm sure you have as well -- exactly how the NSA listens in on communications. We rarely hear from the people who do it.

Well, our national security correspondent David Ensor was invited to go behind the scenes of the top-secret NSA for an amazing inside look at exactly how it is done and to meet a spy with his ear to the rest of the world.


ENSOR (voice-over): With powerful technology, positioned around the globe, under water, and in space, the super-secret National Security Agency eavesdrops on literally billions of communications worldwide.

Author Jim Bamford has closely studied the agency.

JAMES BAMFORD, AUTHOR, "PRETEXT FOR WAR": Any kind of communication that go through the air, go through a wire, go through a fiberoptic cable, that's what NSA is interested in.

ENSOR: But, ever since the agency was discovered snooping on Jane Fonda and other anti-Vietnam War activists, and ordered by Congress to get special court approval for any domestic surveillance, there has been fear about the NSA's awesome intrusive power.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Let's get into his life.

GENE HACKMAN, ACTOR: The government has been in bed with the entire telecommunications industry since the '40s. They have infected everything. They can get into your bank statements, computer files, e-mail, listen to your phone calls.

WILL SMITH, ACTOR: My wife has been saying that for years.


ENSOR: Watching the movie "Enemy of the State," back in 2000, then NSA Director Michael Hayden decided he did not want the agency's image shaped, as he put it, by the last Will Smith movie.

So, in 2001, he gave CNN cameras an unprecedented behind-the- scenes look that has never been repeated. We saw everything from the biggest accumulation of computing power in any one building on Earth, to labs where the NSA tests the latest biometric devices to identify people. And we met Everette Jordan, a spy in headphones.


EVERETTE JORDAN, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY LINGUIST: That particular style is called "rocking," called rocking on a word. And so you will hear a word that you don't quite get, and then you go back and forth over it a couple of times until you get it.


ENSOR: Jordan demonstrates with a Russian news broadcast. But the conversations he listens to, picked up by the NSA's worldwide array of powerful surveillance technology, could involve a Russian general, an Iraqi nuclear scientist or a European terrorist.

JORDAN: You have to listen for -- for irony. You have to listen for sarcasm, for tension. You have to listen for rhetorical statements being made. You also have to listen for humor.

ENSOR: He is a gifted linguist -- fluent in Russian, Spanish, French, German, Arabic.

JORDAN: (SPEAKING IN ARABIC) which means the name of God, the merciful and compassionate, in Arabic.

ENSOR: What does he listen for? First and foremost, for threats to the U.S.

(on camera): Have you ever had the sense that you translated something that was of critical importance to U.S. national security?

JORDAN: Absolutely. There have been many cases, and that's one of the fun things about being a linguist, knowing that the work that you have done has gone right downtown to the president of the United States.

ENSOR: Have you ever found yourself listening to an American, a U.S. person, on a tape?


ENSOR: And what do you do -- what are the instructions -- you never have?

JORDAN: No, I haven't.

ENSOR: What are your instructions in the event you should find yourself listening to an American?

JORDAN: We erase the thing, but we also report that thus and such has happened.

ENSOR (voice-over): To say NSA employees are security conscious is putting it mildly.

(on camera): Most of your colleagues would probably not be willing to give an interview like this.

JORDAN: You got that right.

ENSOR: Tell us why not. What would be the downside for them?

JORDAN: One of the ways that we're very successful is that the work that we do is very quiet, they would be traveling on official U.S. government business. To sit here in front of a camera as an NSA employee is -- is something like killing one's career.

ENSOR: We checked. Everette Jordan still works at NSA. He's a manager now. Though flattered by the president's praise and his visit, some of the people at the NSA are uneasy about criticism that their domestic surveillance may be illegal. Most of them want to get out of the limelight as soon as possible. Their work, they say, is best done in the shadows.

David Ensor, CNN, Washington.


ZAHN: And we can well understand that.

There is this: Congress begins hearings next month into whether the president's domestic spying orders are in fact legal.

Still ahead tonight, wait until you see this astonishing videotape, as a police officer pulls three children out of the trunk of a car. What the heck was their mother thinking? And what happened to her?



Use a phone, you're leaving a trail. Anyone with a credit card can get your phone records just by going online -- details when PAULA ZAHN NOW continues.


ZAHN: And, also ahead, a story I think you're going to be talking about. You are going to meet a woman who spent 18 months disguised as a man. What did she learn on the other side of the gender divide, and what can we learn from her, or him? She's back to a her now.

But, first, our countdown to the most 10 popular stories on More than 19 million of you clicked on to our Web site. At number 10, a story that first aired on CNN last night, Denise Herbert's outrage over the lack of government help when it came to searching for her mother after Hurricane Katrina.


DENISE HERBERT, DAUGHTER OF MISSING HURRICANE KATRINA VICTIM: I'm very angry. Because guess what? Everybody in America got a mom, but where is mine?


ZAHN: Yesterday, Denise Herbert learned that her mother didn't survive the storm.

And, at number nine, rapper Kanye West posing as Jesus Christ on the cover of the next issue of "Rolling Stone." We will have more on that story coming up right here on this show, as well as number seven and eight on our top 10 list.


ZAHN: Still ahead tonight, a heart-wrenching mystery in a small town -- why would five high school football stars take their own lives?

And, tonight, there's a verdict in a murder case that grew out of the church abuse scandal. The former priest who was a flash point for the scandal was strangled to death in prison more than two years ago. Well, today, a jury convicted his killer.

Dan Lothian has been following this story all day long and has just filed this report.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Convicted pedophile and former priest John Geoghan was serving a 10-year prison sentence for groping a young boy when he began talking to convicted killer Joseph Druce.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ever think of him as a person?

JOSEPH DRUCE, CONVICTED MURDERER: At one point. At one point, I did.

LOTHIAN: Geoghan had been accused of molesting about 150 children. Druce, who himself claims to have been abused as a child, says that, as he got to know the prison's most notorious inmate, Geoghan became arrogant and was unrepentant.

DRUCE: And the guy was talking about molesting kids, getting out and starting a mission and molesting more kids. And I wasn't going let it happen.

LOTHIAN: So, two-and-a-half years ago, he sneaked into Geoghan's cell, jammed the door shut with a book, then beat him and used his socks to strangle the 68-year-old former priest.

DRUCE: He was like, General, it doesn't have to be like this. You know, that was his last words. General, it doesn't have to be like this. And I was like, you ain't hurt no more kids. It is over for you, pal.

LOTHIAN: This prison surveillance tape shows the aftermath, as guards struggle to get into the cell and restrain Druce. Already serving a life sentence for killing another man who had allegedly made a sexual pass at him, Druce testified how Geoghan's death brought him relief.

DRUCE: I just knew I had to stop him. I admitted I killed him.

LOTHIAN (on camera): During the two-week-long trial, his attorney used the insanity defense, arguing that Druce was mentally ill and delusional and believed he was carrying out God's will by sending a clear message to other pedophiles around the world. But the prosecutor insisted he was a calculating criminal, who planned his attack for weeks in order to become a big shot at the Massachusetts prison.

(voice-over): They described how he spent hours stretching his socks to create the murder weapon, and how he warmed up to Geoghan, making friendly visits, in order to catch him off guard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Druce understood that what he was doing was wrong. He understood it was criminal.

LOTHIAN: After deliberating for about seven hours over two days, the jury agreed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guilty of first-degree murder.

LOTHIAN: Druce waved to the jury, told them, "It is all right; good job," and did a thumb's up. The prosecutor said, no one like pedophiles, but no one gave Druce the right to become an executioner.

Dan Lothian, CNN, Boston.


ZAHN: And there is one more thing to add. Druce will now receive another life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Still ahead tonight, at 17 minutes after the hour here, Rapper Kanye West is turning heads. Check out this cover about to hit newsstands, dressed up like Jesus for this cover.

First, though, we move on to some of the other top stories tonight from Erica Hill at Headline News.

Hi, Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Paula. Just hours ago tonight, near Gainesville, Florida, seven family members were killed in a horrible crash involving a school bus. Officials say a tractor trailer rear-ended a car, slamming into the back of a school bus. The car then burst into flames, killing everyone inside. All of them were children between the ages of 21 months and 15 years. And, at this point, still not clear who was driving the car. It is illegal, though, for a 15-year-old to drive in Florida. Three children on the school bus were injured.

Votes are being counted now in the first Palestinian parliamentary elections in a decade. Exit polls show the dominant ruling party, Fatah, failing to clinch a majority, with 40 percent backing the radical militant group Hamas.

And back stateside, the full Senate now debating the nomination of Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court -- a final vote will be held at the end of this week or possibly early next. The nomination is expected, though, to be approved.

Paula, we will hand it back over to you.

ZAHN: Thanks so much, Erica. See you a little bit later on tonight.

So, have any of you ever wondered if your partner is telling you the truth, whether he's cheating on taxes, cheating on you? Well, you may be in for a major surprise when we show you just how easy it is to find out that, as well as a lot of other secrets. All it takes is about $100 to actually get access to phone company records and learn who has been talking to whom.

And, right now, no one is safe from this invasion of privacy, because the law hasn't caught up with the technology.

Here is Jonathan Freed.


FREED (voice-over): Whether you're wired or wireless, you leave a trail of the people you call and when you call them. That trail can be traced by your phone records. They're for sale. And experts say everyone is vulnerable.

ERNIE RIZZO, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: Who they call, and who call them, and who they call after they call them is really -- I mean, you can -- you can uncover undercover cops. You can uncover informants.

FREED: Ernie Rizzo is a Chicago private eye. He has always used phone records to figure out what someone he's watching is doing.

RIZZO: I used to have call the phone company and pretend that I lost my bill, and the bill was too high, and, "What numbers did I call?"

FREED: Tricking the phone company into giving up personal information is a skill. Until about a year ago, only people like private investigators could pull it off.

But, these days, information brokers on the Internet offer private phone records to anyone with a credit card. Web sites claim all you need is the phone number and about 100 bucks. They promise results within hours.

(on camera): When did you first become suspicious?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: About right before we were engaged.

FREED (voice-over): Naomi (ph) prefers we don't use her last name. She recently hired Ernie Rizzo to find out if she was the only woman in her fiance's life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, he would be leaving at different times, being up at odd times. You know, not -- it wasn't the same.

FREED: With information provided by Naomi (ph), Rizzo says he used a data broker to get the goods on the man he says was up to no good.

RIZZO: Why would you first call your -- your fiancee and ask what she's doing that night? And she said she's busy with her girlfriends, and the next call, two seconds later, bing, bing, bing, bing, to his old girlfriend, and then he's gone for the night. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what happened there.

FREED: No laws specifically target the obtaining and selling of someone's phone records. There will probably be some soon. But Illinois is already trying to shut down an information broker by using the state's consumer fraud act.

In a lawsuit, Illinois' attorney alleges a Florida company, First Source Information Specialists, doing business as, among others, obtained phone records by misrepresenting itself to phone companies, by posing as customers and even as agents of the phone companies themselves.

Calls to CNN to the lawyer representing First Source were not returned. Verizon Wireless says it is stepping up security.

MICHAEL MCDERMOTT, VERIZON WIRELESS: We are aggressively pursuing actions to shut them down.

FREED: Among other things, Verizon is training its agents to recognize information brokers' tricks. And Verizon has joined companies like Cingular Wireless in suing some brokers.

MCDERMOTT: We are working with the states' attorneys general in Illinois, in Florida, in Tennessee, anywhere that there -- we have identified this problem to exist.

FREED (on camera): How often do you get called by somebody asking to do a phone record search?

PEGGY SHAPIRO, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: Well, it is happening more and more. I can tell you that honestly.

FREED: Peggy Shapiro has been a private investigator for more than 25 years. She doesn't use phone records searches, unless she's working with law enforcement on something like a missing-person case. Shapiro says the only people who really have to worry are those with something to hide.

SHAPIRO: The everyday person out there, could they be affected? Yes. Is it likely that they're affected? If you put them into statistics, statistically speaking, I would say that their probabilities are low.

FREED: Naomi (ph) never felt lower than when she learned the truth about her fiance. She broke off the engagement.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As much as it hurt, it was good to know, because, later on, it would be even harder.

FREED: She hopes any new laws won't make it too hard for people to get answers in what she calls legitimate cases like hers.

Jonathan Freed, CNN, Chicago.


ZAHN: And, still ahead tonight, five high school football stars, same team, same small town, what could have driven all five of them to take their own lives?

But, next, what secrets did this woman learn after spending 18 months disguised as a man, a man named Ned?

Now on to the top 10 most popular story of the day. We showed you some 19 of the million hits. Well, actually, we showed you number nine and 10. But now we are going to show you number eight, something everyone is still talking about, the shooting at the Maryland day care center.

Prosecutors now say the father of the 8-year-old boy who shot a 7-year-old girl showed his son how to use the gun the night before.

And, at number seven, a story we brought you Monday night right here about an ex-stripper who is now trying to bring religion to other sex workers. You can see it by logging on to the "Watch Video" section of

Stick around. We have got number five and number six of the countdown straight ahead.


ZAHN: So, have you ever tried to imagine what it's like to be a member of the opposite sex, to really know what they say and do, especially when the other sex isn't around? Well, get ready for a funny and sometimes very rude awakening, thanks to a sizzling new book written by a woman who actually spent a year-and-a-half pretending to be a man. And, believe me, it is a real "Eye Opener."


ZAHN (voice-over): Men and women, we live together, work together, interacting on a daily basis. But how much do we really know about how the other half lives, thinks and feels?

Journalist Norah Vincent decided to find out. She put on a disguise, becoming Ned, infiltrating a world totally unknown to most women. In the process, Vincent's assumptions about men and women are turned on their head. She writes about her experience in her book "Self-Made Man."

(on camera): What was the most surprising thing you learned about men by being a man for 18 months.

NORAH VINCENT, AUTHOR, "SELF-MADE MAN": That there is a secret life going on there that is -- I -- I talk about it, it's as if I was hearing sounds that only dogs can hear, you know? It was like I switched the channel and, suddenly, there was this entirely other world going on that you couldn't tune into or you didn't understand the language as a woman. And they wouldn't let you understand it. But, once you were a man, suddenly, you were privy to it.

ZAHN (voice-over): Vincent knew, in order to pull this off, Ned would have to be believable. To make herself appeal more masculine, she got expert advice.

VINCENT: I went to Juilliard, and I had a voice coach talk to me about how to use the lower portions of my register and to stay there, to project an attitude of maleness, and the way I walked, to really kind of work on that, and just the -- the pose of a man.

ZAHN: She went to the gym to bulk up her body and created a beard by attaching pieces of crepe hair to her face. It took her up to two hours in the morning just to get dressed.

(on camera): How long did it take you to nail Ned?

VINCENT: I would say it took me a couple of months. The first few months, I -- I made a lot of mistakes. I had to learn to just stop reacting as spontaneously as I might as a woman to what might be going on around me, because my voice would rise in excitement.

And guys have sort of had that bred out of them. And so what you -- what you see is that there is a lot of silence. There are many fewer words. And, yet, there is so much being said in those silences.

ZAHN: You talk about how empowering it was to simply wear a square-shouldered suit.

VINCENT: It really -- a signifier of maleness. And, interestingly, people in restaurants and so on, they treat you more differentially when you're wearing a suit as a man.

You will say things that, you know, coming from a woman would sound really impolite, to say the least. You know, you just say, yes, give me that, you know, when you're ordering something. Yes, I will have the steak. Thanks. You know, not even say thanks.

It is just expected. That's how guys talk, whereas, as a woman, I would say, "I'm really sorry. Would you mind getting us some water when you have a chance?" You know, something like that.

ZAHN: Vincent as Ned worked as a door to door salesman, went to strip clubs, spent time with monks at a monastery and for eight months played on an all male bowling team where she got a lesson in male bonding.

VINCENT: They didn't know me from Adam. I walked in the door , and they welcomed me like an old friend.

ZAHN (on-camera): Why were you so successful at being part of their gang?

VINCENT: One of them had a son who was about I think 12 at the time. And I remember thinking that I was learning things at about the same pace that he was. Manhood is something you emulate by watching. I learned what was acceptable to say and do, and I just started to mimic them.

ZAHN: You actually developed some pretty nice friendships with a couple of men. And one man in particular whose wife had suffered from cancer.

VINCENT: These guys talked about it. He said a few words, OK, you know, I had to go to the hospital, she's not doing well, I'm feeling pretty bad. And that was it. And there wasn't much that we could really do. That was wasn't acceptable for us to jump in. I wanted to, of course, as a woman. I wanted to put my arms around him and so on.

It is not OK to reach over. And sometimes men, what I learned is, they don't want that. It is smothering to them.

ZAHN (voice over): Ned's next stop was more provocative.

(on-camera): You spent some time in strip clubs with men.

VINCENT: In my opinion, I don't think it is pleasurable. You know, there is a lot of bluster about well, you know, I can get a woman or I want to see a woman for her parts and disembody her. And I don't think that deep down it feels very good.

I saw a lot of pain in those places. And I didn't expect that. I thought that they would be sort of, you know, a lot of jeering going on or a lot of laughing. I didn't see very much laughing. I saw a lot of pain.

ZAHN (voice over): Surprising to Vincent, some of her most revealing insights about men she gained when Ned went on dates with women.

VINCENT: I just felt as if they always assumed that I was a cad until I, you know, proved otherwise.

ZAHN (on-camera): And you describe one woman in particular as being bitter and being angry, and that you actually felt like you were being attacked. How surreal was that for you?

VINCENT: Well, in a way it was funny because some of the things she said, I just thought, you know, if you only knew who you were talking to. She was giving this sort of feminist rant, and I thought, you know, honey, I've been there. You know, I'm passed that.

ZAHN (voice over): Even more surprising to Vincent is what happened when she eventually revealed her true identity to some of these women.

VINCENT: I had a rule that there were three dates and that I would tell them, but interestingly, several of the women wanted to keep seeing me even romantically even after they knew I was a woman. And these were heterosexual women. Whereas, you know, if you did it the other way around, you can imagine you would have gotten beaten up if you had been a man in a woman's disguise and then told a guy that you were actually a guy, forget it.

ZAHN (on-camera): What is it you think that women don't get about men?

VINCENT: I think women don't understand maybe how much power we have over them. I mean, they need us not just sexually, but just they need our esteem. Their definition of their manhood is part of being admired by women.

ZAHN: Norah, in the book you're very candid about the fact that you're a lesbian. Do you come out of this process with less respect for women?

VINCENT: Yes, oddly enough in a way I do...

ZAHN: Is that troubling to you?

VINCENT: No. Because I think I went into it prejudicially thinking -- expecting more of women. I had that sort of we're more evolved kind of prejudice.

ZAHN (voice over): As much as Vincent learned about men by being Ned, eventually the deception took its toll. She had a nervous breakdown.

VINCENT: It was extremely hard. It was a very heavy burden. I'm just not a very good liar, and I felt extremely guilty about the continued deception.

ZAHN: Vincent recovered. Most of the men she encountered eventually learned Ned was in fact a woman and were accepting of her.

(on-camera): Norah, how much of Ned has rubbed off on you?

VINCENT: The best part, which I think is the part that is thinking makes it so, that if I'm afraid of something, I just buck myself up and I say do it, believe it, do it now. And then it just -- it is an amazingly powerful thing that projection of confidence, the denial of fear, I'm going to do it and you do miraculously do it.


ZAHN: I guess we could all learn from that. Norah Vincent also says she's has never felt more grateful for her size 11 feet until it was time to dress as a man. The book is called "Self-Made Man."

When we come back, a devastating mystery. Why would five star athletes in one small main town take their own lives?

Also, tonight what happens when a rapper shows up on a magazine cover looking like Jesus? Well, I guess you probably have figured out there is some controversy over that. A brand new Kanye West blowup still ahead.

But first, number six on our countdown, Richard Hatch is convicted of failing to pay taxes on the million dollars he won on "Survivor." He now faces up to 5 years in prison.

And at the number five, David Ludwig, the Pennsylvania teen accused of fatally shooting his girlfriend's parents and then running away with her, pleads not guilty to two counts of homicide.

We're got number four and number three coming up. Stay with us.


ZAHN: And welcome back. We have a lot more to come for you tonight, including this amazing videotape that you're looking at. Yes, you're actually seeing what you think you're seeing. A cop pulling three kids out of a car trunk. You are not going to believe who put them there in the first place.

And a provocative and highly controversial new look for rapper Kanye West on a magazine cover.

But now we move on to a mystery that has devastated a small community in Maine. Five young athletes, who were all stars on the same high school football team, shared a tragic fate. They all killed themselves.

Jason Carroll has been looking into this chilling mystery and has just filed this report for us.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In a small town like Winthrop, Maine, population a little more than 6,000, high school football is everything.

Gifted players are local heroes. That's why the community was stunned when one of the Ramblers, Jason Marston, committed suicide in 2003. He was just 15. Most people thought it was an isolate tragedy, that is until the following year when former player Lee St. Halair (ph) took his own life. St. Holer was 20.

Jason Marston's father and others in the community started to wonder if there was a connection.

BRIAN MARSTON, FATHER: People are, of course, going more and more what is going on here? We have to do something about this.

CARROLL: Then on January 8th of last year, another former star player, Brian Donovan, committed suicide. Three suicides in such a short time was bad enough. But suspicion turned to alarm just three days after Donovan's death.

GODFREY: Grandson Troy there. Two years ago.

CARROLL: When another former Rambler, Troy Ellis, hung himself. He was 24.

GODFREY: We were completely baffled. Left no indication, made no indication that he wanted to take his life.

CARROLL: And as incredible as it seems, the football suicides didn't end there.

(on camera): Do you remember many of these games?

STEVE GARWOOD, FATHER: Almost all of them.

CARROLL: All of them.

(voice-over): Steve Garwood watches his son on tape replaying in his mind how Chad's promising future abruptly ended one night.

GARWOOD: He was just a model son. Nothing could have shocked anybody in this community more than to hear that Chad had done what he had done.

CARROLL: Chad Garwood hanged himself on January 11th of last year. Exactly five months after Troy Ellis' suicide. Garwood's college roommate at the Southern Maine University found his body. He's buried at a small cemetery just a few blocks from the home where he grew up.

GARWOOD: I just miss him and wish he were back.

CARROLL: This is the place where Steve Garwood says he often wonders why his son took his life.

GARWOOD: I think at least in my son's case it was easier for him to see that as something he could do after having seen some of his friends do it.

CARROLL: In all, five young men from Winthrop High School's football team committed suicide within the past three years. The people of Winthrop knew they had a crisis on their hands. They called town hall meetings about the suicides. Why were they happening? How could they be stopped? School administrators didn't want to talk to us about the issue including the most troubling question, did football have something to do with what was going on?

The high school commissioned a study to find answers.

CHERYL DICARA, MAINE YOUTH SUICIDE PREVENTION PROGRAM: Suicide is very complex. It is not just the result of one thing or one or two things coming together. It is usually a very complicated number of factors that come together.

CARROLL: All five players knew each other, but were not all close friends. None of the young men wrote a note. Troy Ellis stopped playing ball after leaving Winthrop High School and was frustrated working in construction.

ELLIS: He was having a hard time trying to make ends meet. And that can be depressing. You can't immediate your financial obligations --

GARWOOD: He was nominated Male Athlete of the Year.

CARROLL: Chad Garwood did play college ball after his award winning years in high school. But he told his father, it just wasn't the same. And Chad was increasingly upset over what was happening at home. His parents were in middle of what both told us was a messy divorce.

GARWOOD: He had everybody fooled he was OK. But he obviously wasn't.

CARROLL: Garwood does not believe high school football had anything to do with the suicides. But the school's coach, Joel Stoneton, believes it explains at least part of what wept wrong.

JOEL STONETON, COACH: You go from an environment of feeling constant positive reinforcement from us and our program to not having that on a daily basis to not having a thousand people out here watching you play football. When those type of things happen and they disappear, it is gone for them and I think sometimes they might feel lost.

CARROLL: Each time Steve Garwood visits his son's grave, he feels overwhelming regret.

GARWOOD: Just sorry I couldn't have figured out how to make him happy. And just wished he used better judgment and not did what he did. Really wished he called me that night.

CARROLL: As an entire community struggles and wonders what, if anything, could have been done, there are many other fathers and mothers here who worry that it might not be over. Jason Carroll, CNN, Winthrop, Maine.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ZAHN: Hope that's not the case. It is probably worth noting that among people between the ages of 15 and 24 years old, suicide happens to be the second leading cause of death after car and other accidents.

Still ahead, we move on to Kanye West's new controversy over his new look on the cover of "Rolling Stone." Just who does he think he is?


ZAHN: About 14 minutes away from the top of the hour. That means it is time to check in with "LARRY KING LIVE" to get a preview. Give it all away right now. What are you doing tonight? What are we going to learn?

LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: First, I'm ticked.

ZAHN: You said lavender -- you really did lavender, didn't you? I tricked you. We've had our wardrobe coordinated for many nights in a row.

KING: The story of my life.

ZAHN: Tomorrow, Larry.

KING: Yes what tomorrow? What are you going to wear tomorrow? What color?

ZAHN: You pick it and I'll wear it.

KING: Blue.

ZAHN: Blue. Okay, you got it. Who are you talking to tonight besides me?

KING: Dominick Dunn will be with us to talk about his -- another season on Court TV of his program "Power, Privilege and Justice." Special correspondent for "Vanity Fair." His brother was the late John Gregory Dunn and he's always fascinating, never dull.

Dominick Dunn with opinions on lots of things. It is crime night tonight, Paula. It is a crime that you didn't wear purple.

ZAHN: I will follow the wardrobe memo tomorrow. Girl Scout's honor. You got it. Have a good show. Looking for you and Dominick in 13 minutes from now.

Up next, videotape you have to see to believe. Kids in a car trunk. But why would their mother put them there? What was she thinking?

Also ahead, if you dress up as Jesus for a magazine cover, you can count on a lot of controversy. And that's exactly what rapper Kanye West is facing tonight. Right now, number four in our most popular countdown: 19 million hits in all today. A New Orleans couple who evacuated during Hurricane Katrina and moved to Georgia died in an apparent murder- suicide, leaving behind two children.

At number three, our top story tonight, the president's visit to the National Security Agency where he again defended his domestic spying program. Keep it here. We'll have number two on our countdown coming up.


ZAHN: We turn now to a controversy involving superstar rap artist Kanye West. He's been nominated for a Grammy award this year. And, of course, he already has a Grammy for his hit song, "Jesus Walks."

Well, now the outspoken West is actually posing as Jesus.

Here is Chris Lawrence with more.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): On the cover of "Rolling Stone," Kanye West wears a crown of thorns, and some say makes a mockery of the crucifixion.

BILL DONOHUE, CATHOLIC LEAGUE: Why are these guys ripping off Catholic iconography to make a cheap point?

LAWRENCE: Catholic League president Bill Donohue calls it cheap because it's been done before by other artists. He says, for someone so creative, West went the easy route with "Rolling Stone."

DONOHUE: They take Christ imagery to sell and hawk their own services or product.

LAWRENCE: "Rolling Stone" editor Joe Levy defends the cover, and Kanye.


JOE LEVY, ROLLING STONE EDITOR: One of his biggest and greatest songs is "Jesus Walks." The song is specifically about the constrictions he felt as being a rapper, not being entitled and encouraged to address religion, to talk with God in his music.

LAWRENCE: Levy says West sees himself as someone persecuted for speaking his mind.

LEVY: So he is a spiritual man and that's certainly something that's reflected on this cover.

LAWRENCE: West came under fire last year after the criticized the president at a Hurricane Katrina benefit.

KANYE WEST, RAPPER: George Bush doesn't care about black people.

LAWRENCE: He took flack when he talked about his gay cousin and demanded that hip hop stop spreading homophobia.

LEVY: He's one of the first people, if not the very first, to do this. Probably the first major rapper to stand up and say, it's not OK.

LAWRENCE: But it's Kanye as Christ that make some say the magazine went too far.

DONOHUE: The fact of the matter is this wasn't meant to be reverential.

LAWRENCE (on-camera): "Rolling Stone" says the cover is an outlet for artistic expression. It was never meant to offend any religious group. But in a day and age where you've got "Vibe," "Spin," "Billboard," "Blender," all of these other music magazines, a little controversy certainly sells more copies.

Chris Lawrence, CNN, Los Angeles.


ZAHN: And one more thing, the Grammys will be presented on February 8th. Once again, Kanye West up with eight different nominations.

Coming up, the scandals and secrets of the rich and famous. Our Larry King's focus tonight, as Larry told us just a couple of minutes ago. He will be joined by Hollywood insider Dominick Dunne. That is at the top of the hour.

But first, number two on our countdown of's countdown. A new Pentagon study says there aren't enough troops to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Don't go away. You'll never guess what you thought number one was today. Coming up right after this.


ZAHN: Now we move on to the number one story in our countdown at the top stories on today about 19 million hits. Actor Chris Penn, who appeared in the films "Rumble Fish" and "Starsky and Hutch," was found dead in his Santa Monica apartment. He happens to be the younger brother of actor Sean Penn.

Police say there are no signs of foul play. It is still not clear what he died from.

So what would you say about a mother who locks her children in the trunk of her car while she is driving around? Well, tomorrow, a Maryland woman will be sentenced in court for doing just that.

A short while ago, officials released a videotape showing her three kids coming out of that trunk.

Kathleen Koch has been following this unbelievable story.


KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It looks like a normal traffic stop on a warm June day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get them out of the back. Get them out of the back.

KOCH: But then 37-year-old Lenora Lucas (ph) of Thurmont, Maryland, goes to the trunk and out come her 9-year-old son, 3-year- old daughter and an 8-year-old friend. Lucas puts the children in the car, and Sergeant Shawn Tyler (ph) then begins questioning her and filling out the citation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would you let your kids ride in the trunk?

KOCH: Sergeant Tyler had seen Lucas put the children in the trunk in the parking lot of a video store, followed her and made the stop. He notices she has a special driver's license.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you do for a living? Drive a school bus?

KOCH: At the time Frederick County Maryland officials said Lucas had not driven for the school system in three years. She was convicted in November of three counts of reckless endangerment.


KOCH: And at tomorrow's sentencing in Frederick, Maryland, Lucas faces up to 15 years in prison. But the prosecutor says he'll be seeking probation since she has no prior criminal record and has taken remedial action, including parenting classes--Paula.

ZAHN: Does anybody know how this defense is going to be mapped out Kathleen?

KOCH: Well, again, I think they are going to portray her from what we understand--her defense attorney wouldn't speak to us--but as a woman who meant no wrong, and the police certainly believe she did not mean to harm these children.

She apparently told them the kids wanted to ride in the trunk. She had those inside seats folded down, and she just wanted to be a cool mom. But obviously not a mom with very good judgment, Paula.

ZAHN: Yes, don't know how that will go down with a judge or a jury.

Kathleen Koch thank you so much for the update. We appreciate it.

And that wraps it up for all of us here tonight. Appreciate your being with us. Tomorrow the latest on the investigation into the mysterious disappearance of the young man who vanished on his honeymoon cruise. Thanks again for joining us tonight. Good night.


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