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Turning Point in Iraq?; Born to Binge?; Interview With Former FEMA FEMA Director Michael Brown; Binge Eating Disorder May Have Genetic Link

Aired June 14, 2006 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And good to have all of you with us tonight.
Here is what is happening at this moment.

The House slaps a one-year hold on a plan to ease restrictions on foreign control of U.S. airlines. The administration wanted to change a law that limits the influence of overseas investors. But labor groups lobbied hard for the delay.

More than 2,000 undocumented aliens have been rounded up in a coast-to-coast immigration sweep just outside of Washington. And federal agents arrested several undocumented workers at Dulles Airport. One even carried a security badge with access to the tarmac.

And operation Mountain Thrust is under way in Afghanistan tonight, with 10,000 Afghan and coalition forces sweeping through areas considered Taliban safe havens. At least 298 American troops have died in the war in Afghanistan.

Now, one of the most important questions being asked all over the country tonight: Are we finally at a turning point in Iraq? Consider it was only a week ago tonight that U.S. bombs killed terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

And before dawn this morning, President Bush arrived home from a surprise visit to Baghdad, where he met face to face with Iraq's new leaders. Just a few hours later, at the White House, reporters put the question to him directly is the tide turning in Iraq?

Well, the president's answer says it all. He senses something different is happening.

So, what is different? And will it bring U.S. troops home anytime soon? Will it make any of us safer?

Well, our search for answers begins with White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux, a member of the best political team on TV.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than three years since the Iraq war began, President Bush is still trying to convince the American people the U.S. invasion was worth it.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was the right thing to get rid of Saddam Hussein.

Al Qaeda's real.

I also understand the stakes of this war.

MALVEAUX: The mantra is the same. But the administration insists, this moment is different.

BUSH: Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for this opportunity to visit with your cabinet.

MALVEAUX: Fresh from his surprise trip to Baghdad, President Bush says he's looked Iraq's new prime minister in the eye and now has a partner he can support.

BUSH: I saw firsthand the strength of his character and his deep determination to succeed, to build a country that can sustain itself, govern itself, and defend itself.

MALVEAUX: The White House strategy to recapture support for Iraq is threefold -- first, seizing the moment. Introducing new initiatives, such as:

BUSH: Operation Together Forward started this morning.

MALVEAUX: A joint effort involving Iraqi and coalition forces, aimed at bolstering Baghdad security -- also, a new plan to drum up international aid for the Iraqis through the U.N., and a pledge by President Bush to send his own secretaries of commerce, agriculture, energy and treasury to Baghdad to help the Iraqis revitalize their economy.

The second part of the White House strategy, acknowledging mistakes and missteps.

BUSH: I was asked at a press conference in the East Room with Tony Blair, you know, mistakes. Abu Ghraib was a terrible mistake.

MALVEAUX: Mr. Bush also conceded, Iraqi troops need to be better equipped and rebuilding projects better planned.

The third part of the White House strategy, inviting new voices.

BUSH: I appreciate people's advice, and I appreciate their candor.

MALVEAUX: To demonstrate that point, today, the president briefed a group of bipartisan advisers, as well as the House and Senate leadership, about his Iraq trip.

(on camera): Clearly, there's a change in tone at the White House, but not in policy -- the hope of the White House strategy, to win over Americans, while at the same time reassure Republicans that they won't pay the price for Americans' frustrations over Iraq come midterm elections.

Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, the White House.


ZAHN: In the meantime, the president's trip to Baghdad was such a surprise and so secret that only a few select reporters knew in advance and got to go along.

And one of them happened to be our chief national respondent, John King. And before sending him home tonight for some much-needed rest, we asked him to share some stories from his reporter's notebook. What was it like to be on a super-secret mission to one of the most dangerous places in the world with the president of the United States?

Here's John's report.


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was Sunday afternoon, about 4:15. I got an e-mail from Dan Bartlett, counselor to the president, asking me if I was reachable. He said, the president is going to Baghdad. And we need to arrange a secret pool. And we want you to be the correspondent who goes.

They drove us to Andrews Air Force Base. We went up on to Air Force One. And they're waiting for about an hour. And, at 8:58 p.m. Eastern time, you hear these feet coming up the stairs. And it's a guy in a baseball cap carrying a gym bag, and he just announces, POTUS is aboard. And that was the president.

About six, seven minutes after he got on the plane, off we went.

It banked sharply. And, then, at one point, it was sort of almost coasting for a second, and, then, foom, a very quick descent, and down on the ground. And the idea is to minimize it as a target.

And they were hyper-sensitive about the security. So, they ran us on to these helicopters, and everybody straps in. It's pretty crowded, 20, 25 people. Dan Bartlett was sitting just to my right, Tony Snow just to his right.

There's a gunner in the back, who is strapped on to the -- on to the helicopter. In the front, there are two open windows -- on the side, the same thing, machine guns out the windows, guys not paying any attention to us on the helicopter, their eyes just completely focused on the ground.

So, you land on the helicopters. You get in the motorcade. They scoot you, two-minute drive, and then you're inside the compound. And you step out. And there's this majestic old palace that predates Saddam Hussein, but used to be one of the palaces in his government. Now it's the temporary U.S. Embassy.

He had told aides almost a month ago, as soon as this government is in place, I want to go. I want to meet this guy. BUSH: Thanks for having me.

KING: I spoke briefly to a couple of the aides to the Iraqi government, just asked them what you think about the surprise, what did Prime Minister Maliki think.

It was all about that, that they were surprised. They viewed it is an important sign of support that the president was there.


KING: Will this Iraqi government, finally, after so many fits and starts, provide stability?


KING: Pool is, you're the -- you're the collective. Once -- once John King steps on Air Force One, John King is not a CNN correspondent. He's the correspondent for all of the members of the pool.

There's a satellite feed book through the London tower. And, so, the international desk needs to get in touch with the London bureaus.

One of the frustrating things about these trips any time, and maybe especially this one, given the -- the gravity of it for the president, is that, no, you're very isolated. And you don't get much contact at all.

Only other thing that struck me is that -- is, having covered the White House for so long, I mean, this is the Bush presidency, and this is the Bush legacy.

BUSH: The mission that you're accomplishing here in Iraq will go down in the history books as an incredibly important moment.

KING: It was clear from the conversation that he just -- he believes he's right.

It's three years and three months after the beginning of the war, and the president is still trying to sell it to the American people. And -- and it is quite interesting. He is the leader of the free world, the president of the world's greatest superpower. And, yet, his political fate is largely in the hands of a man he just met.


ZAHN: That was John King reporting for us tonight.

And, so far, President Bush doesn't seem to be getting much of a bounce from this past week's events in Iraq. A new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll taken since the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, but before the president's surprise trip to Baghdad, shows his approval rating at 37 percent. That's just one point higher than their last poll in April.

So, we're back to the question that everybody is asking tonight. Is the U.S. and the Bush administration at a turning point in Iraq?

Two guests join me from opposite ends of the political spectrum, conservative CNN contributor Bay Buchanan -- she's president of the American Cause -- and Katrina Vanden Heuvel. She's the editor of "The Nation."

Good to see you both of you back together again.

All right, so to be perfectly fair, you two, everybody has to admit the president has come off some pretty good news in Iraq over the last seven days or so, Bay, but we also know that about 60 percent of Americans think it was a mistake to go to war in the first place, and an increasing number of Americans want American troops to come home.

So, what chance does the president have of making any impact on their opinions right now?

BAY BUCHANAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I -- I think it's going to be slow in coming, Paula.

Your -- your points are good ones. But the American people also want us to succeed there. Now that we're there, for whatever reason, whether we should be or not, they want to see the Iraqi people and this new government have an opportunity to really have self- determination.

And, so, I mean, this week is one where they might start thinking, hey, maybe there's a possibility, start turning. The president showed real boldness, went over there. I think the American people, again, will see that this is something they like about him, very American, to go right in there, boost the morale of this government and also our troops and our side, after what is, without question, a good week.

ZAHN: Katrina, the president making very clear no plans to bring 130,000 American troops home anytime soon.

Meanwhile, the Democrats are all over the place on this one. John Kerry wants them home at the end of the year. Hillary Clinton, another possible presidential contender, says, that's irresponsible; we can't set a timetable.

Doesn't that, in effect, help the Republicans and the president?

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR, "THE NATION": I think Democratic division is going to be mended. The country has turned against the war. Americans...

ZAHN: But it's not helping -- helping the party right now, is it, to have these Democrats with such distinctly different points of view?

VANDEN HEUVEL: Well, you have leaders in the Democratic Party.

You have Senator Feingold. You have Senator Kennedy. You have Senator Kerry. You have others running across this country who understand that Americans deserve more than the photo-ops and to change this press offensive in these last days, and that the best way to mark Zarqawi's capture and the formation of a new Iraqi cabinet, the best way to honor the 2,500 men and women who have died in this unnecessary war, is to bring the troops home.

And that's driving the politics and the base of the Democratic Party, the energy in this country. And the moderates and conservatives with a conscience understand that we can no longer be an occupying force, breeding more extremism. If we believe in the sovereignty of Iraq, any possibility of stability in that ravaged country, we must give the country back to them and provide peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance, and bring troops home.

Seventy-two percent...

ZAHN: But...

VANDEN HEUVEL: You know, 72 percent of the troops serving in Iraq want U.S. forces brought home at the end of this year.

ZAHN: All right, but, Bay...


ZAHN: Bay, just -- just try to address this question.


ZAHN: We know that you have twice as many security forces, Iraqi security forces, on the ground as American troops. And -- and no one seems to think that they are capable of defending their country right now. Isn't that a problem for the president?

BUCHANAN: A real problem, and -- and it has been the problem for the last couple years, to be quite honest.

They do have to get into a position to take charge. And I think that's exactly what the president said: You have got a new government here. It's time for you to take more and more responsibility.

But the key here is the timing. What did the prime minister ask the president? Give us 18 months. The American people are ready to give him 18 months. You don't pull the rug out from this new government and say, you only have six months, as some of the Democrats are suggesting.

I believe that the American people will see right through these Democrats. They're fighting amongst themselves, because there's no question we have an obligation to give this country the kind of time they need, hopefully only 18 months, maybe only two years.

ZAHN: All right.

BUCHANAN: But then we can start bringing some home.

ZAHN: We have got to leave the debate there tonight.

Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Bay Buchanan, thank you for both joining us tonight.



ZAHN: And we have to move on now to our countdown of the top 10 most popular stories on, about 19 million of you logging on to our Web site today.

At number 10 -- the wife of a Tennessee minister who has been indicted for killing her husband has pleaded not guilty. Mary Winkler's trial is scheduled to begin June 30.

Number nine -- the American Medical Association wants warning labels on high-salt foods. Too much salt is a leading cause of high blood pressure. The AMA also wants the food industry to reduce salt used in processed foods by about 50 percent.

Numbers eight and seven coming up next -- plus, some incredible new details of waste and fraud guaranteed to outrage you.


ZAHN (voice-over): Another FEMA fiasco, outrageous relief scams, checks that went to prisoners for Caribbean vacations, football tickets, even pornography, more than a billion of your tax dollars gone with the wind.

And the "Eye Opener" -- are millions of Americans simply born to binge? These sisters' drug of choice is food, driven to stuff themselves, just the way their mothers did. Can you really blame your genes for overeating? -- that and more just ahead.



ZAHN: And we're looking at a live picture out of Los Angeles tonight, where we are following some breaking news. There seems to be some trouble there. An unattended bag has forced a partial evacuation.

The L.A. bomb squad is on the way. The bag is in the rear of the level mezzanine of the Tom Bradley terminal of the airport. And, as soon as we have more information, we will get it to you -- but the LAPD bomb squad on the scene.

Here's what else is happening at this moment.

A brain scan confirms Steelers star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did not suffer brain injuries in his motorcycle accident on Monday. But he does have extensive injuries on his face. And, today, doctors aren't saying when he will be released. He was not wearing a helmet when his cycle struck a car.

German riot police arrested hundreds of rowdy World Cup fans after a beer-fueled brawl in the city of Dortmund. Most of the trouble began after Germany defeated Poland in their first round of games.

And a new government report says the Veterans Administration was warned four years ago about improving the security of its computerized data. The recent theft of computerized information of about 26 million veterans has become a major embarrassment for the V.A.

Now, less than a month into the new hurricane season, we're just now getting another example of how fouled up the federal response to Katrina was last year. You are going to be shocked and outraged at how much of your tax money went to people who scammed FEMA after the storm, not millions, not hundreds of millions. No, the number starts with a B. We are talking maybe as much as a billion-and-a-half.

Now, just wait until you hear what they spent it on. Here's homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Do these look like things you might need in a disaster, $3,700 worth of diamond jewelry, a $2,200 all-inclusive vacation in the Dominican Republic, $2,000 for New Orleans Saints season tickets, $600 for strippers, $400 for adult erotica products, $300 for "Girls Gone Wild" videos?

These are just a few of the purchases made with those $2,000 debit cards issued to some victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R), TEXAS: This is an affront to the American taxpayer.

MESERVE: But the real fraud, $1 billion worth, according to the Government Accountability Office, involved fake claims, sometimes multiple claims, made with invalid Social Security numbers and phony addresses.

REP. BILL PASCRELL JR. (D), NEW JERSEY: We're talking about a lot of money here. We are not even talking about contractual fraud yet. Wait until we get into.

MESERVE: The address of this New Orleans cemetery was used by one person to get more than $2,300 in rental assistance.

MCCAUL: And, then, when I look at a cemetery that was used as the damaged property, when the person didn't even live in the state of Louisiana, and he's receiving money at the taxpayers' expense, I got to tell you, this -- this has to stop.

MESERVE: But there is more. This inmate shows off the thousands of dollars he got in aid. The GAO says millions went to prisoners already housed, of course, at government expense. And one man who defrauded FEMA out of tens of thousands of dollars used some of the money for a sex change operation, the GAO confirms.

GREGORY KUTZ, GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE: Because FEMA has been around for a while, why weren't these controls in place in 2004, 2003, 2002, etcetera? Some of it is very, very basic, making sure that people that register have valid Social Security numbers. That's fraud prevention 101.

MESERVE: Hurricane Katrina was a catastrophe of unprecedented scope. Thousands up thousands lost everything they own, including identification. FEMA says its systems and personnel were overwhelmed.

DONNA DANNELS, FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: We just made the calculated decision that we were going to help as many people as we could, and that we would have to go back and identify those people who we either paid in error or that were -- defrauded us, and deal with that.

MESERVE (on camera): Though GAO estimates $1 billion in fraud, FEMA is in the process of recovering only about $17 million. It is looking for more. The agency claims to have revamped how it verifies and crosschecks information. And it won't be issuing debit cards again, until it figures out a way to limit what can be bought with them.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.


ZAHN: Here's another thing to add: Federal prosecutors in Louisiana say today that two more people have been indicted on FEMA fraud charges, and two others pleaded guilty in federal court.

In just a few minutes, I'm going to be asking former FEMA Chief Michael Brown what he thinks about this new report that says the agency paid more than $1 billion in bogus claims. And does he assume any responsibility for that himself? I will ask him.

Also ahead, there's more than water flowing through the sewers beneath San Diego. Why isn't more being done to stop the unseen flood of illegal immigrants? Can't believe it. That's the way they actually come into the country.

Also, why can't some people stop eating? Is it a lack of willpower, or could it actually be something else you can blame on your parents?

First, number eight on our -- Health Secretary Michael Leavitt comes under fire for using a jet that was leased to the Centers For Disease Control for emergency purposes. Members of Congress questioned the trips, saying most of them involved pushing White House policies. Leavitt didn't deny that, but also said he has been helping get ready many states around the country for bird flu. Number seven -- the search continues for missing publisher and former diplomat Robert Merrill. He vanished on Saturday while sailing alone on the Chesapeake Bay. His boat was found near Annapolis, Maryland -- numbers six and five when we come back.


ZAHN: "Girls Gone Wild" videos, champagne at Hooters, a sex change operation, you paid for it all. We're talking about the report out today on fraud in FEMA's distribution of disaster relief money after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. It says people may have scammed more than $1 billion out of FEMA.

Michael Brown lost his job as FEMA director right after Katrina. And I spoke with him a little bit earlier on about this massive waste of your money.


ZAHN: How is it that the federal government, in particular, FEMA, could get scammed for as much as a billion-and-a-half dollars, 16 percent of the total aid administered?

MICHAEL BROWN, FORMER FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY DIRECTOR: Well, unfortunately, Paula, this doesn't surprise me.

There are two factors, I think, we need to be aware of. One is, the men and women of FEMA are under tremendous pressure to get money out the door to disaster victims as fast as possible. Congress puts that pressure on them. The media does. The disaster victims do. Everyone does.

Second of all, what we're seeing in this report is what happens when you don't do the kind of catastrophic disaster planning that I had asked for, for three years.

ZAHN: All right, let me get this straight. You say this doesn't surprise you. And while it is true the majority of these funds were disbursed after you left FEMA, the fact remains, you were at FEMA when processes were supposed to be created that would stop this kind of fraud. Do you bear any kind of responsibility for what happened?


BROWN: What -- what happened, Paula, is that Katrina came about and created a catastrophic disaster, where the safeguards that we had in place for your run-of-the-mill disaster, the typical hurricane, all of those safeguards break down in a catastrophic event.

And my complaint is, is that I told the administration, I told the president directly, I told Congress, that unless we did the planning for a catastrophic disaster of how we handle hundreds of thousands of people, these kinds of breakdowns would occur.

ZAHN: You say it could have been avoided. But, in some cases, FEMA actually realized that bogus addresses were being given. There was a case of someone being given $6,000 in rental assistance. He was a GAO undercover agent. He used a bogus address. FEMA later verified it was a bogus address, but they still cut him a $6,000 check.

BROWN: I -- well, then -- then, that, to me, is incredulous, and that's totally unacceptable. If -- if people in FEMA are allowing that kind of thing to happen, then, absolutely, shame on them. That's not acceptable.

ZAHN: Let's talk about the misuse of debit cards. I don't know about you, but...

BROWN: Well...

ZAHN: ... as a taxpayer, I'm not too happy that some of this money went towards paying for football tickets, jewelry, porno, $10,000 for a sex change operation?

BROWN: Right. I mean, it is. It is totally unbelievable.

And that's why, even though the debit card program was started early, just before I left FEMA, we shut that down, because there were no controls on it. And, look, there -- there has to be ways that we can have those controls.

We give out billions of dollars in food stamps. And we tell them what they can and cannot use those food stamps for. And we have controls for that. There's no reason why FEMA can't have those similar kind of controls for debit cards, if, indeed, we're going to use debit cards.

ZAHN: Why weren't there even what were minimum controls in place that would prevent it, this kind of misuse of these debit cards?

BROWN: Well, see, I think -- I think what we're missing is, is that the minimal kinds of controls were there.

What Katrina has done, in all honesty, is expose the weaknesses in FEMA that I had been screaming about for two or three years. Now, if we don't fix those now, having learned -- learned about these and those having been exposed, well, then shame on the administration and shame on Congress for not doing it.

ZAHN: You have said tonight that you are angry about what happened, that you screamed at the administration for many years about what you saw as weaknesses in the system. What, though, could you have done differently that might have saved the government from getting scammed for a billion-and-a-half dollars?

BROWN: I should have quit earlier and gone public when the administration and Congress weren't listening to what I was saying about FEMA. That's what I should have done.

ZAHN: As I'm listening to you, it sounds to me like you're trying to have it both ways. On one hand, you're saying you wished you had gotten out earlier and expressed your outrage to the government.

But, by the same token, you were there at FEMA when these systems were supposed to be put in place that would save us from this kind of fraud.

BROWN: I'm not trying to have it both ways.

Look, I have accepted publicly in the -- in my congressional testimony, and on the media outlets, that I accept responsibility for the mistakes that I made.

What I'm not going to accept responsibility for are the mistakes that Congress and the administration made by not listening to what I was telling them, and following the recommendations that I made, that we wouldn't be sitting here today talking about these kinds of things.

ZAHN: Are you telling me tonight that there really was nothing more you could have done when you were at FEMA that could have prevented this kind of fraud?

BROWN: If it is, Paula, I don't know what it is.

I think what happened in Katrina, besides the size of the disaster, was the pressure to get money out as fast as they could. But the other thing we need to remember, too, is that we need to hold the people who cheated us just as responsible as those within the government, too.


ZAHN: My interview with former FEMA Director Michael Brown.

Coming up next, we change our focus quite a bit.

Overeating is an epidemic in America. But is it all a case of a lack of self-control? Coming up, some startling research that shows you, you may actually be born to binge.

A little bit later on, we will go beneath the streets of San Diego. Why will you find a super highway for illegal immigration under here?

First, No. 6 on the countdown. New York police arrest a man accused of stabbing four people in Manhattan over a 12-hour people. Three of the victims were tourists. Two were attacked in a subway. All have been hospitalized. Police say the suspect has confessed. So far, no word about any motive tonight.

Five, in Pennsylvania, 19-year-old David Ludwig, who admitted killing his 14-year-old girlfriend's parents is sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison. No. 4 on our countdown when we come back.


ZAHN: So where do you think you can find an easy road for an illegal trip into the U.S.? Rick Sanchez pulls out a flashlight and we will follow along right beside him.

Her ex-husband went to Congress. So what cause is Cher taking to Capitol Hill? You'll find out.

Then at the top of the hour of "LARRY KING LIVE," why was actress Daryl Hannah arrested for refusing to climb down from a tree. She'll be joining Larry tonight to tell us why.

Here is what's happening at this moment. Operations at LAX, Los Angeles International Airport, getting back to normal right now after a suspicious bag triggered an investigation. Part of the Tom Bradley Terminal was evacuated, bomb squad called out. But officials say it's all clear now.

The Justice Department has ordered a safety review of tasers after 184 recorded deaths. The stun guns are considered a safer alternative for police than firearms for subduing suspects.

And our nightly look at gas prices, our "Crude Awakenings." The state's with today's highest prices are in red, the lowest in green. Oh, getting nailed out there in California. The average today for unleaded regular, $2.89. That's about one cent less than yesterday and here's the trend of gas prices you've been paying.

All right. If we're honest, we all eat too much every now and then. Think of feeling so stuffed though after those holiday meals you just can't possibly manage another bite. But imagine if you felt compelled to do that two or three times a week. That's the struggle faced by people with something called binge eating disorder. Believe it or not, millions of folks here in the states suffer from this. And there is new evidence that it's not about a lack of willpower, but heredity. It's in their genes. You're about to meet some people waging this constant battle against food. It's tonight's "Eye Opener" and Deborah Feyerick is here with the story.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Paula, it is called binge eating disorder and researchers now believe that it's triggered by an inherited chemical imbalance in the brain. We met two sisters in Boston and they told us just how difficult it is to live with this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you're running?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And now I'm up to a five-minute run.



FEYERICK (voice-over): Jogging five minutes may not seem like a big deal, but when you've spent your adult life 50-to-100 pounds overweight, it's a huge victory.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our mom, she was a fat teenager, and she didn't want her daughters to grow up and be fat.

FEYERICK: Lisa in black and her younger sister, Jean, in green, were normal teenagers. Not thin, but certainly not fat. They say even as little girls they were keenly aware of food and wanting it more than their friends did.

(on camera): So your mother was telling you you should stay away from certain foods. What effect did that have on you?

JEAN: You wanted it more.

LISA: You just want it more.

FEYERICK: So cookies?

JEAN: Oh, cookies, cake.

FEYERICK: Chocolate?

JEAN: Yes.

FEYERICK: Any chips, or was it mostly the sweets

JEAN: No, I was not a salty...

LISA: ... No, we're not salty, but some people are.

FEYERICK (voice-over): A new study finds binge eating disorder has less to do with a person's metabolism than it does a chemical imbalance in the brain that may also cause depression, impulse control and mood disorders. Both Lisa and Jean say they suffer from anxiety and that for years food was their way of dealing with stress and anger.

JEAN: We sometimes say it's the good girl's drug, food. It's the good girl's drug, it's your way of coping.

LISA: I can remember eating way past full, until it felt like I couldn't put another bite in me. And that would make me sort of numb me out enough. And I thought at the time that that's what relaxed felt like. That was the only way I could get to relaxed.

FEYERICK (on camera): Is it that you were desperately hungry or you just wanted the food?

JEAN: Not hungry.

LISA: No, it has nothing to do with hunger. It has nothing to do with physical hunger.


FEYERICK: So if we pause here for a second, really their stomach's completely full, but their brains are on auto pilot, so they just keep eating.

ZAHN: So if it's not about physical hunger, are they eating because they're depressed or depressed because they're eating?

FEYERICK: Researchers don't know the answer to that. It is a circle, nobody knows where it begins.

ZAHN: So how do they deal with it?

FEYERICK: Well for these women, they deal by eating a little more. Let's take a look.


FEYERICK: So when people are binge eating, on some levels, they're self-medicating.

DR. JAMES HUDSON, MCLEAN HOSPITAL: Yes, there's something in the food that may be helping to soothe them or to relieve some kind of anxiety.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Dr. James Hudson is a psychiatry professor at Harvard's McLean Hospital. He recently published a study finding binge eaters are twice as likely to have a close relative like a parent or sibling who suffer the same disorder.

(on camera): The question on everybody's minds now will be, did I inherit this? What gene causes this?

HUDSON: Now there's not going to be a gene with a label on it, binge eating. It's more likely that there are genetic factors that lead to, say impulsivity to lead to overeating or lead to some other immediate kind of form of behavior, which in turn makes you much more likely to develop binge eating disorder.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Dr. Hudson says what you're served for dinner has little to do with binge eating. The bigger factor is DNA and like blue eyes or curly hair, not every child will inherit the same genetic mix. Take Lisa and Jean. They struggled with weight. Their two other sisters did not.

LISA: In a binge, sure, you could definitely eat a whole container over a couple hours.

FEYERICK (on camera): OK, and that's what it would be like. It would just -- you would come back at it, basically. So it wouldn't be as if you were shoveling it all in at one time.

LISA: No, that's not how I happen to do it.

FEYERICK: Is it like a discrete, continual eating?

LISA: Yep, exactly.

FEYERICK (voice-over): But inevitably, feeling full gives way to feelings of self-loathing.

JEAN: We felt very guilty and why did I do that? I'm out of control. I have no willpower. What's wrong with me? I mean, for years...

LISA: ... Why can't I stay on a diet?

JEAN: Why can't I stay on a diet? I mean, it's just awful. It's terrible. It is a terrible way to live.


FEYERICK: And terrible, Paula, because a lot of times they say, "OK, I'll start tomorrow, my diet begins tomorrow" and it just never begins, because they can't.

ZAHN: And there's no way they can stamp out those self doubts. But, I would think that there's got to be a little sense of relief on their part that they know this has been genetically passed along to them.

FEYERICK: Absolutely. They know there's a way they can deal with this. Let's take a look.


FEYERICK (voice-over): Lisa, a social work, who treats people with eating disorders, says she's recovered. She eats what she wants and has learned how to stop when she feels full.

(on camera): Someone might look at you and say, OK, you're in recovery. But at same time you're overweight. Isn't that a contradiction on some level?


FEYERICK: If you're recovered wouldn't you be thinner?.


FEYERICK: Why not?

LISA: Because being recover from a mental illness has nothing to do with the size of your body.

FEYERICK: Gene, however, still wants to lose weight. She says to be healthy for her three young kids. She and Lisa are weary of diets, having learned some diets actually slow metabolism.

LISA: Dieting can cause you to become a binge eater.

GENE: Yes. It is the worst, it is really dangerous behavior. It changes the way your brain functions. It changes your metabolism, especially for women. I would never, ever have developed an eating disorder if I hadn't tried dieting.

LISA: I say the same thing. Never.

GENE: I wouldn't be this size either, if I hadn't started dieting as a teenager. FEYERICK: If you had to guess, what do you think your natural body weight is, had you not dieted as much?

LISA: I, well, I don't know about weight. I probably would be maybe a size 16, 14, 16. Instead of a size 32.

FEYERICK: Jean is writing a children's book on eating right. She hopes her own three kids will develop a healthy relationship with food, especially since she has no idea if they, too, are genetically predisposed to binging.


FEYERICK: And of course, Paula, that's something she's very worried about, but she's trying to teach them not to have the same kind of hangups about food that she had growing up.

ZAHN: Another piece of maternal guilt that she has to live with. Deborah Feyerick, Thanks.

And we're about to take you on a trip through some of the darkest and dirtiest places any of us have ever seen. Who would venture into sewer pipes? Would you believe thousands of people trying to come here illegally?

And Capital Hill is about to get an earful from Cher. What's her latest cause? You're not going to believe it.

Number four on our countdown, the investigation into how drugs ended up in merchandise from two Home Depot stores in Massachusetts. Police say customers found marijuana stashed in new bathroom vanities. The customers are not suspects. At least that's what we're being told.

Number three coming up next.


ZAHN: Right now, more than 2,000 illegal immigrants are under arrest tonight, the result of a nationwide three-week roundup by immigration officials. They say the crackdown focused on criminals, child molesters, gang members and people who were deported once but snuck back into the country. But there are 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. and many more who are willing to risk their lives to get here. Just look at what Rick Sanchez learned by looking under the streets of San Diego.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You wouldn't think that underneath this 90-pound manhole cover, hundreds, maybe thousands of people, are sneaking into the U.S., through sewer pipes so filthy, so dangerous, city workers won't go inside them without first dropping a hazardous chemical detector to check for methane and other deadly gases. Yet dangerous as they may be, these subterranean tunnels offer huge rewards for smugglers who know them well enough to escort as many as 30 immigrants per trip, charging up to $1,500 per person for their expertise in avoiding Border Patrol agents like Kurstan Rosberg.

KURSTAN ROSBERG, BORDER PATROL: This is ultimately where the smugglers come out. They enter through a manhole to the north inside the U.S., crawl through the pipes and ultimately come out here.

SANCHEZ: Here in these rancid waters which lead to a grated opening. This is where smugglers use blow torches to bust through.

ROSBERG: So they've got time to work in concealment here, cut the grate, and then the people just run over and hop in.

SANCHEZ: The fence they jump is only 20 feet away. That's how close the Mexican border is. And you see these tall reeds? Agents say immigrants use these as hiding places before heading into the sewer pipes.

But then what? What's it like to actually go inside the sewer? For those answers we contacted the San Diego Streets Department Supervisor Aaron Snelling. The 6'5" he barely squeezes through an open manhole to show us the way. I follow behind. Fifteen to 20 feet underground, I find concrete pipes four feet across, too small to get through without crawling or slouching.

(On camera): And there is no visibility down here?


SANCHEZ (voice-over): The smuggler leading the way may use a cigarette lighter, but for the rest of the immigrants, including women and children, it looks like this.

We're in total darkness to show what you it's really like for these immigrants as they try and get in here. Go ahead now and turn on the light.

(On camera): This is how they have to go through these pipes. Literally feeling their way, because they're not able to see anything. You can see the smudge and the dirt and the mud that's -- you have to walk through to get through this thing. What makes it worse, oftentimes they come in to these pipes thinking they're only going to be in here a few minutes. But it turns out one of these manhole covers will be shut and they'll have to go to the next one, or worse. The smuggler will simply lie to them.

And we could be walking down this tunnel for a couple of blocks.

SNELLING: A good seven to eight blocks this way. Over 1,000 feet.

SANCHEZ: That's a long way.

SNELLING: Yes, it is.

SANCHEZ: To walk in the dark in a tunnel.

SNELLING: By just touch and feel, yes. SANCHEZ: That's got to be real creepy.

SNELLING: Real creepy.

(Voice-over): This is their escape patch. Imagine if a car or a truck passes over as someone tries to get out. That's why in some areas Border Patrol agents now seal the manholes or place sensors around them.

ROSBERG: The sensor will pick up the vibration and send a signal to dispatch. Dispatch will in turn call our agents in the area and they'll respond.

SANCHEZ: If they get there in time. For now, with a 23-mile network of sewage and drainage pipes, snaking under the U.S. border and 500 manholes, the serious border crisis has turned into a deadly subterranean game of catch me if you can.

Rick Sanchez, CNN, San Diego.


ZAHN: Amazing. You can catch Rick Sanchez's reports regularly on "ANDERSON COOPER 360" at 10 p.m., Eastern.


ZAHN: Well Cher has worn some pretty wild costumes over the decades, but now she is worried about what our troops are wearing, and she's passionate enough to bring her cause to Washington. What does she want? Stay tuned, we'll show you.

No. 3 on the countdown. A family tragedy in Indiana. A four year old boy was found killed and his two year old brother suffering from knife wounds after their father allegedly kidnapped them. He has been charged with murder and attempted murder. No. 2 on our list when we come back.


ZAHN: Here's things that don't sound like they belong together, Cher and body armor. What's up? The pop diva and Oscar winning actress has found a new cause. Jeanne Moos gives us the details.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The singer known for flirtatiously playing with sailor's hats has turned her attention to helmets. Cher likes to wear her own outrageous head gear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You look lovely as always.

MOOS: Now she's worried about what soldiers wear.

CHER, SINGER: It's the a difference between life and death. MOOS: Man the battle ships, Cher has come to Washington to fight for the fighting men and women. Her weapon, the quietly serious C- SPAN.

CHER: The helmet becomes a weapon in itself.

MOOS: Cher has teamed up with a group called Operation Helmet, dedicated to supplying soldiers with padding that improves helmets. The Army has already upgraded theirs, but the other services tend to have old-fashioned webbing inside that allows the helmet itself to strike the head in an explosion. When fitted with the new padding, watch what happens. Remember Sonny and Cher, well now it's Bob and Cher.

BOB MEADERS, FOUNDER OPERATION HELMET: She is the real thing. I can tell you that. She has a heart as big as Texas.

MOOS: Retired Navy physician, Doctor Bob Meaders founded Operation Helmet because the military couldn't come up with the money to upgrade existing helmets. Cher herself donated over $100,000. She's been visiting wounded soldiers.

CHER: That one boy really touched my heart so much.

MOOS: When she went to autograph a picture for the boy in the hospital...

CHER: ... How do you spell your name? And I looked over and he had to look at his wristband because he had head injuries.

MOOS: This isn't the first time that Cher has been on C-SPAN. On Memorial Day Weekend, she called in at 4:30 in the morning without mentioning who she was until she asked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And is this Cher?

CHER: Yes.

MOOS: Which prompted "The Daily Show" to use an "I Got Through Babe" graphic. Cher is an unabashed liberal, who opposes Bush administration policies.

CHER: I just cannot bare these people for another moment.

MOOS: Cher will join Doctor Meaders when he testifies about Operation Helmet before a congressional subcommittee. A performer whose own head gear turns heads may have soldiers tipping their hats to her.

MEADERS: Cher volunteered to hold my hand if I get overly nervous and start swooning.

MOOS: The former whose own head gear turns heads may have soldiers tipping their hats too. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ZAHN: Good for her and those kits cost anywhere between $70 and $100.

Coming up at the top of the hour "LARRY KING LIVE." Actress and environmental activist Daryl Hannah talking about her latest arrest and a whole lot more.

No. 2 in our countdown. In Thailand the hunt for a gunman who authorities say killed two soccer fans at a resort for cheering too loudly while watching a World Cup match on TV.

What do a graveyard, a vacant lot and dirty pictures have to do with a top story on You can guess. We'll give you the answer when we come back.


ZAHN: Top story on countdown. You heard it here a little bit earlier on tonight. A new report shows 16 percent of FEMA payments to Katrina and Rita victims, that's about 1.4 billion in your tax money, was spent on pornography, jewelry and vacations. More than $10 million also went to prisoners who weren't entitled to any disaster relief.

That's it for all of us here. Thanks so much for being with us tonight. We'll be back again tomorrow night.


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