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PAULA ZAHN NOW
U.S. Soldiers Charged in Deaths of Iraqi Detainees; New York City Subway Attack Narrowly Averted?; Troubling Syndrome for Divorced Children
Aired June 19, 2006 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everybody. Glad to have you with us tonight.
Here's what's happening at this moment.
In Sedona, Arizona, hundreds of homes evacuated, as firefighters battle a fast-moving wildfire -- helicopters and planes are dropping water on the flames to keep them from spreading to a nearby canyon.
In Houston, Texas, torrential rains flooded streets and closed highways. Governor Rick Perry ordered National Guard trucks, along with three helicopters and rescue boats, into the area. These storms are expected again overnight, adding to almost a foot of rain already.
And, in New Orleans, National Guard troops and state police will start patrolling the streets tomorrow to put a lid on the violence. This weekend, six people, including five teenagers, were killed in the city. Governor Kathleen Blanco agreed to send the Guard after a request from Mayor Ray Nagin.
We're following two major developing stories tonight.
A massive search is under way in Iraq right now for two American soldiers who may be captives in the hands of insurgent murderers.
And there is another possibly damaging blow to the image of the U.S. military tonight. Several Marines are already being investigated for allegedly killing Iraqi civilians at Haditha and Hamandiyah.
And, today, in a completely separate incident, we learned that three more American soldiers now face charges of murdering prisoners in Iraq.
Senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre is here. He's been working on these developing stories all day long. He joins us now with the very latest.
Jamie, always good to see you.
What do we know about the circumstances of the deaths of these detainees?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know they started looked into it last month. And, today, they have decided to charge three Army soldiers, a staff sergeant and two enlisted men, with premeditated murder.
And what the allegation here is that these three soldiers killed, shot and killed, three Iraqi detainees, and made it look like that they were shot as they were running away from custody. But investigators, following up on a tip from another soldier, have looked into this. They have decided that this was in fact a premeditated crime and that the soldiers then got together and conspired to cover it up.
So, they are now in pretrial detention. And they will go into what's called an Article 32 hearing, where they will decide whether they will be -- face a court-martial or not -- Paula.
ZAHN: (AUDIO GAP) convicted, could they potentially face the death penalty?
MCINTYRE: Yes, they could, because, in the U.S. military, for premeditated murder, that does carry a potential death penalty.
ZAHN: We know, just south of where that allegedly happened, we had two American soldiers go missing. What is the latest on their status?
MCINTYRE: Well, you know, an Internet Web site has claimed that they were captured, but the U.S. military remains skeptical of that.
In fact, they are pulling out all the stops to try to get them back.
MCINTYRE (voice-over): It was Friday night about dusk in the Iraqi town of Yusufiyah, a hotbed of insurgent activity just southwest of Baghdad, smack in an area known by U.S. troops as the Triangle of Death.
Three U.S. soldiers in their Humvee were manning a checkpoint at a portable bridge that had been stretched over a canal. At 7:55 p.m., soldiers at another traffic control point nearby hear an explosion and small-arms fire coming from the bridge, and radio for help. Fifteen minutes later, a small quick-reaction force arrives and finds one soldier dead, two others missing.
Immediately, an extensive hunt is launched, and military dive teams begin searching the canal.
MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM CALDWELL, U.S. ARMY SPOKESMAN, COALITION FORCES IN IRAQ: We are using all available assets, coalition and Iraqi, to find our soldiers, and will not stop looking until we find them. We will never stop looking for our service members, until their status is definitively determined.
MCINTYRE: Over the weekend, the search is expanded to include 8,000 U.S. military and Iraqi army and police, along with manned and unmanned spy planes. Even F-18s from the aircraft carrier Enterprise are pressed into service to use their sophisticated targeting systems to look for clues.
Since Friday, three suspected insurgents have been killed and 34 detained. Seven U.S. troops have been wounded as they sweep through the area.
CALDWELL: Approximately 12 villages have been cleared in the area, and we continue to engage local citizens for help and information leading to the whereabouts of our soldiers.
MCINTYRE: The missing soldiers are 23-year-old Private Kristian Menchaca of Houston, Texas, and 25-year-old Private Thomas Tucker of Madras, Oregon. Their fate has attracted the attention of the highest levels of the U.S. government.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: And, obviously, their safe return is something that everyone will work for, and their safe return is something that everyone will pray for.
MCINTYRE: Now, one of the reasons the U.S. military is skeptical of that claim on the Islamist Web site that the two soldiers were captured is that no pictures or proof were posted along with the boast.
And U.S. military officials say they cannot confirm reports that the soldiers may have been left isolated and more vulnerable when a diversionary attack lured some of the soldiers from their unit away to another location. They say the official reporting doesn't support that scenario at the moment -- Paula.
ZAHN: A lot of confusing reporting out there tonight.
Jamie McIntyre, thank you for trying to set the record straight there.
Now, the stress and uncertainty for the families of those missing soldiers is huge. And, tonight, they are hoping and praying for some good news. But there is always that nagging fear of the worst that could happen.
Here's Ed Lavandera.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just before Private 1st Class Thomas Tucker shipped out for Iraq, he called his parents in his hometown of Madras, Oregon, and left this phone message.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
PRIVATE 1ST CLASS THOMAS TUCKER, U.S. ARMY: Hey, mamma. I love you. I love you too, dad.
You guys, be -- be safe while I'm gone. You know, (INAUDIBLE) down the road (INAUDIBLE) because you guys -- I worry about you guys, too. I am going to be OK. Everything is going to be OK. I am going to go defend my country.
Be proud of me. I love you guys.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
LAVANDERA: Tucker was guarding a military checkpoint with two other soldiers last Friday when they were attacked by insurgents. Twenty-five-year-old Army Specialist David Babineau from Springfield, Massachusetts, was killed. Witnesses say Tucker and Private 1st Class Kristian Menchaca were taken hostage.
Menchaca's family stands vigil in Houston, awaiting word of the soldier's fate. Menchaca's brother Cesar Vasques and cousin Gabriela Garcia were emotional through this interview, as they talked about fearing for Kristian's life.
GABRIELA GARCIA, COUSIN OF PRIVATE 1ST CLASS KRISTIAN MENCHACA: We're scared that he has been hurt, which is why we hope that they find him quickly.
CESAR VASQUES, BROTHER OF PRIVATE 1ST CLASS KRISTIAN MENCHACA: Now you have to think about what the terrorists or insurgents are doing to him, if he's still alive. They -- you know, they don't -- he might be being tortured now. And thinking about that, it just -- it just bothers me.
GARCIA: I heard that they are looking for him and the other -- the other man. I see him as a boy. I hope they find him. I hope they continue looking. I hope they do not forget about him and that other boy, that other man.
LAVANDERA (on camera): Twenty-year-old Kristian Menchaca grew up in this gang-plagued neighborhood in north Houston. He was raised by his mother. His family says Menchaca's childhood made him a tough man. They're counting on that toughness to get him through this ordeal.
(voice-over): Menchaca last saw his family about a month ago, when he was home on a brief 10-day vacation. His family says they noticed that months of being in Iraq had made him cold and reserved.
GARCIA: He needed to go numb to survive. To keep going at that moment, he couldn't allow himself to -- to feel the fear. It seemed to me like he was on survival mode. And I was proud, proud that he was doing what he needed to do to get what he wanted to get done. He was very proud of the work he was doing. And I could tell.
VASQUES: I'm still kind of, like, in shock that it's -- that, you know, out of all of the soldiers, one of them, it's my brother.
LAVANDERA: Menchaca's family is praying that the insurgents will free the soldiers unharmed. But asking terrorists, they say, for mercy isn't something that gives them hope.
Ed Lavandera, CNN, Houston.
ZAHN: And there's another thing to add. So far, the only American soldier officially listed missing in Iraq is Sergeant Keith Maupin from Batavia, Ohio. He was taken hostage when his fuel convoy was attacked two years ago. He was 20 years old then. Terrorists later released a video claiming to show his execution. But the military says that has never been confirmed, and he remains unaccounted for tonight.
Well, our next guest knows firsthand how terrifying it is to be held captive in Iraq. Ron Young was an Army chief warrant officer in March of 2003 when his Apache helicopter was shot down southwest of Baghdad. He and a co-pilot were taken prisoner by Iraqi troops. They were eventually rescued by U.S. Marines after 22 days in captivity.
And Ron Young joins me now.
Always good to have you on our show.
RON YOUNG, FORMER PRISONER OF WAR IN IRAQ: Thank you for having me.
ZAHN: So, it is a little unclear what has happened to these two missing soldiers, but there is a group linked to al Qaeda claiming responsibility for kidnapping them. If that is the case, what is going through their minds tonight? What's the first thing your training prepares you for?
YOUNG: Well, it is a difficult situation, because I think it is real individual. People deal with it different ways.
And I know, when I went through what happened with Dave and I, I mean, it was just so surreal that my mind couldn't figure out what was happening. I mean, we were laying on a bank. And these guys are taking us captive. And it was almost like an out-of-body experience. And it was truly terrifying, but it was just so shocking, that you just couldn't come to grips with it.
And, for these guys, I think it would probably even maybe be -- I mean, it is terrifying either way, but I think may be a little bit more terrifying for them, seeing some of the videos that we have seen over the Internet and some of the groups that have claimed to capture people and do some very extraordinary things to them.
ZAHN: So, how would the training kick in?
YOUNG: Really, the training for us is more of something to fall back on, because when you are training, of course, war is never going to be like the training.
But you have had all these iterations, so that, when you go to war and you end up -- and the emotions hit you, that you can fall back on the training and kind of go on autopilot and say, well, this is what I need to start doing. And then you start. And you can think through it, and you can regain control of yourself.
ZAHN: So, your first instinct, obviously, is to try to survive.
ZAHN: And, then, does the desire to escape, then, follow that pretty quickly, or not?
YOUNG: Well, if you have that opportunity. I mean, your desire always is to keep yourself alive and to do whatever it is that you can.
If that means befriending the captors, if that means taking off and evading, I mean, you look for opportunities wherever you can, either with the captors that you have or by, you know, trying to get away from them by any means necessary, signaling people. There is a -- a variety of different ways.
ZAHN: And, in your case, you actually ended up befriending a couple of your captors, which was part of your strategy. And that, in the end, you know, saved your life.
We felt like that, you know, Baghdad was falling. These guys were moving us. So, they're trying to hang on to us. And there's no telling what is going to happen by the end of it. And we decided that -- at this point, Dave and I talked a couple of times, because, as they're moving us, they're putting us in this vehicle together. And Dave and I are like, you know, look, this is what we need to do.
So, we started talking to these guys and befriending them, because we felt like it would be harder for them to kill us and walk away from us if they thought that we were friendly and, you know, at least could look us in the eye.
ZAHN: If it ends up being that these insurgents have taken these two soldiers captive, I know you feel there's a large motivation to separate the two and try to get as much information out of them independently of each other.
Well, I don't -- the thing is, is these guys are, you know, working at a checkpoint. They are not going to have a lot of information, really, that the insurgents want. But they are U.S. soldiers in a uniform. And they can use them as propaganda.
And, really, I feel like that would be more their motivation in this situation. And we could only hope that they want to barter for their lives for something that the insurgents want and that we would able -- be able to trade.
ZAHN: Well, as the hours pass, we hope to learn more and more about their status tonight.
Always good to see you.
YOUNG: Thank you. It was a pleasure.
ZAHN: Thanks for coming by to visit us in New York tonight, Ron Young.
YOUNG: Thank you.
ZAHN: We are going to move now to our countdown of the top 10 stories on CNN.com -- 17 million of you logging on today. And you know who you are.
At number 10, Andrea Yates returns to court in Houston this week for her second murder trial. She is accused of drowning her five children and is again pleading innocent by reason of insanity. Jury selection gets under way on Thursday.
Number nine -- President Bush warns he will seek sanctions if Iran doesn't give up its nuclear activities and accept a compromise deal from the West. Speaking at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, the president said that nuclear weapons in the hands of the Iranian regime would be a threat to the rest of the world.
Numbers eight and seven are next, plus, an incredible new revolution -- just how close did we come to another terrorist attack on U.S. soil?
ZAHN: On the "Security Watch": the second wave, the chilling new details, how al Qaeda was going to use cyanide gas to turn New York subway trains into death traps, millions of riders potential victims of an underground 9/11.
And the "Eye Opener" -- the bitter divide, parents who hate each other so much that they destroy the lives of their children. There are millions of victims. Is someone you know affected by parental alienation syndrome?
All of that and much more just ahead.
ZAHN: Still ahead, will a new federal report make you feel any safer about the chance of a terror attack the next time you ride on the train or take the subway? Probably not -- more on that in a little bit.
But here's what's happening at this moment. A new CNN poll shows nearly half of Americans would definitely not vote for Senator Hillary Clinton in the 2008 presidential election. But Clinton does have her supporters. The poll showed 22 percent of Americans say they would definitely vote for her. More controversy faces a woman who already won election as the first female bishop of the Episcopal Church in America. Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori says she believes homosexuality is not a sin. Now a vote is coming up on whether to bar gays from becoming bishops.
And another battle for Ramadi, often called the capital of the Sunni insurgency in Iraq -- hundreds of U.S. and Iraqi troops have poured into the city to set up new outposts in areas controlled by militants.
On the CNN "Security Watch" tonight, we are getting some very new and very chilling details on how close we came to what might have been al Qaeda's next wave after 9/11. The target, reportedly, was New York City's subway system. The weapon was supposed to be poison gas. But even though the plot was called off three years ago, it leaves us all wondering tonight whether if it is not a matter of if, but when the next terror strike hits the U.S.
Deborah Feyerick has the shocking details for us tonight.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Take the New York City subway and you will see it is pretty easy to carry on a suitcase, just as we did, no questions asked.
(on camera): How big would the device be?
PAT D'AMURO, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: It probably would have fit in a suitcase.
FEYERICK: So, a larger suitcase, less of an overhead...
D'AMURO: Somebody could make it small enough to fit into a backpack.
FEYERICK (voice-over): When threats of a cyanide gas attack in New York City's subways first surfaced in 2003, Pat D'Amuro was briefed at FBI headquarters in Washington on the attack plan, and even saw a model of the weapon.
(on camera): You saw the device back in 2003. How complicated is this particular device?
D'AMURO: Not extremely complicated. They were using containers. And then the containers would -- would hold all the material together. One of the containers or a couple of the containers would break, thereby mixing the components and causing the gas to disperse.
FEYERICK (voice-over): Details of the alleged plot are outlined in a new book, "The One Percent Doctrine," by Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Suskind. He writes that al Qaeda was just 45 days away from carrying out the subway attack when it was called off by Osama bin Laden's second in command. The reason is still unclear.
Nick Casale says the agency that runs the subways was warned at the time.
NICHOLAS CASALE, FORMER NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT OFFICIAL: We set up counter-observation teams at major transit hubs. We did not know what we were looking for.
FEYERICK: Casale showed us flaws that still exist three years later, like subway seats, supposedly locked, which flipped easily and could be used to hide explosives.
In Afghan training camps, FBI agents discovered names of the suspected al Qaeda members who were supposed to carry out the attack. They were never able to confirm whether the alleged terrorists had made it to New York, much less the United States. So, the threat level was considered low.
D'AMURO: It didn't get up to a DEFCON-5 or it didn't get up to raising the level on this particular threat.
FEYERICK: Hydrogen cyanide, which is colorless and smells of peaches or bitter almonds, was used in Nazi death camps in World War II. Intelligence official say, because of the airflow inside New York City subways, it is unclear how many people could actually have died.
Security officials say the subway plot was one of several being investigated at the time. They point to last year's terrorist attack in London's subways and say they are still concerned about this kind of plot.
Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.
ZAHN: And joining me now, terrorism analyst Peter Bergen.
Always good to see you, Peter.
So, if it is true that number two in al Qaeda called off this attack, can you explain to us why he would make that decision?
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, it is hard to get inside Ayman al-Zawahri's mind, but he might have made it for two reasons.
One, these kind of attacks don't necessarily yield a lot of victims. So, I mean, certainly, they -- they would cause a lot of panic, but they might not kill very many people. And the calculation might have been that this was not spectacular enough post-9/11.
Also, within al Qaeda, there has always been a debate about the use of weapons of mass destruction. For instance, the operational commander of 9/11 initially was going to attack an American nuclear plant as part of the 9/11 attacks. And they took that off the table, partly because -- because they didn't really know what was going to happen.
So, was it -- was it -- is it -- is it about scruples about the use of these kinds of weapons? Is it unintended consequences, perhaps worried about a backlash against them in the -- in the Muslim world? Who knows.
ZAHN: Let's talk for a moment about this dispersion device that they apparently developed to deliver this cyanide gas. It has been described as the holy grail of terrorism. Just how sophisticated was it?
BERGEN: Well, I mean, I think we know -- for instance, Paula, I'm sure you recall the pictures of the dog being gassed, which, almost certainly, cyanide gas, the tapes that CNN recovered in Afghanistan following the fall of the Taliban.
You know, the kinds of things that they were doing, I think, rise to the level of kind of amateur weapons-of-mass-destruction kind of experiments. I mean, they're not the sorts of things that would kill, you know, mass amounts of people. In fact, calling them weapons of mass destruction is really a misnomer. The only weapon of mass destruction is a nuclear weapon. And they certainly never got anywhere near that.
But they certainly are weapons of mass disruption. Remember -- remember, the anthrax attacks that -- that killed five people, but, you know, closed down parts of Washington, caused a lot of panic. These are the kinds of weapons they are experimenting with. These are the kinds of weapons that, I think, they have capabilities with. These are the kinds of weapons they would like to, you know, deliver in Europe and, you know, ideally, in the United States, if they could.
ZAHN: And I guess, in closing, a lot of people think that this report now confirms the fact that sleeper cells are here in the United States. And I understand your viewpoint now has been solidified by that.
Peter Bergen, we are all sorry to -- to hear that you are as equally concerned as some of the folks now on the 9/11 Commission. Appreciate your perspective tonight.
We are going to move on now.
So, New York dodged a big bullet three years ago, but you are going to be shocked at our next report about glaring holes in security of transit and rail systems all over the country right now.
And then, a little bit later on:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ted Rowlands in Cochise County, Arizona, near the Mexican border.
And this is Mercedes Maharis. The images that she has been able to capture with this video camera have even more people talking about the issue of illegal immigration. Coming up, we will have her story and show you some of those images -- that as PAULA ZAHN NOW continues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Was that just -- first, number eight on our CNN.com countdown. In Norway, construction on a doomsday vault gets under way. It will be carved into a remote Arctic mountain and will house millions of seeds, which could be planted to replace any crops wiped out after a global catastrophe.
Number seven -- the number two official at the State Department calling it quits. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, who put together a fragile peace pack in Sudan, is leaving to join the investment banking firm of Goldman Sachs -- numbers six and five straight ahead.
We will be right back.
ZAHN: We continue now with our "Security Watch."
The news that al Qaeda was 45 days away from attacking the New York subway system with cyanide gas, certainly, that will get your attention. But at least you can say to yourself, that was three years ago, and the attack was called off. Maybe so, but a federal report due out tomorrow says, even now, America's rails are still wide open to attack.
Homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve got an early look at the report's startling look at security on the rails.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The release of the deadly nerve gas sarin in the Tokyo subway system in 1995 killed 12 and injured thousands. If cyanide had indeed been used to attack the New York transit system, in this era of homeland security, would the affects also have been devastating?
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D), MISSISSIPPI: We are not nearly as robust in this area as we need to be. We could have had a major catastrophe on our hands.
MESERVE: A new Democratic congressional report obtained by CNN says that, despite the Tokyo attack and the 2004 train bombings in Madrid, and last July's transit attacks in London, the federal government has failed to produce a comprehensive tragedy to secure America's rail and mass transit systems. The administration disputes that.
ROBERT JAMISON, DEPUTY ADMINISTRATION, TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION: We have a strategy document for all of transportation security. Transit is one element of that strategy document.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they have such a strategy, I'm certainly not aware of it. MESERVE: The American Public Transportation Association says the federal government hasn't produced a plan for security or the money. The group estimates it would take $6 billion to secure transit. But the TSA says it has spent about 15 percent of that.
THOMPSON: Our best calculations indicate that about one penny per passenger is going into transit security, and over $8 per passenger going into airline security.
MESERVE: The TSA says it has taken steps to improve security, by increasing its numbers of bomb-sniffing dogs, experimenting with new technologies to detect explosives and chemical, biological and radiological threats, and conducting more exercises, doing more training, and sharing more intelligence.
ROBERT JAMISON, TSA DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR: We continue to make it a priority.
MESERVE: Though there is a general consensus that transit security is getting better, critics say it is nowhere good enough. They say that federal government must do more but the government is weighing transit against other vulnerabilities and right now transit is not at the top of the list, Paula.
ZAHN: I guess we got some heavy duty reading this time tomorrow. Jeane Meserve, Thanks so much for the update.
Meanwhile, we move on. Illegal immigration suddenly landed on everybody's radar screen this Spring but still ahead, see why it is an every day concern for many Americans. How would you like an immigrant round-up outside your home almost every night?
Plus, when divorce gets ugly, the vicious tactics used to turn child against parents and how it devastates families.
Right now number five on our CNN.com countdown, North Korea's nuclear threat. The U.S. says it will be forced to act if North Korea test fires a missile thought to be powerful enough to reach the west coast of the United States.
Number five, we told about it at the top of the hour. More than 8,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops are searching for two American soldiers missing in Iraq since Friday. A group linked to al Qaeda in Iraq has claimed, on a web site, that it kidnapped the men. Number four when we come back.
ZAHN: Welcome back. Here's what's happening at this moment, another blow for Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. It turns out he didn't even have a valid motorcycle driver's license when he crashed last week. He's been hit with a $388 fine and fees. The driver of the car was cited for failing to yield to oncoming traffic. A top oil industry analyst says putting ethanol in gases is costing as much as 30 cents a gallon to gas prices. The Oil Price Information Service says the price for Ethanol has doubled in less than three months from $2.50 a barrel to more than $5.00 a barrel.
Now onto our nightly look at gas prices across the country. Our Crude Awakenings. The state's with today's highest gas prices are in red. The lowest in green. The average price for unleaded regular rounds out to $2.86 a gallon. Our graph shows the most recent trend.
Now onto the heated issue of illegal immigration. You are about to meet a woman who hardly gave it a thought until she suddenly found herself on the front lines of a border war that is making headlines all over the world, and now she's making headlines herself for capturing some unforgettable video, some of which you might find disturbing, that documents a reality of the border war that few Americans have ever seen.
Ted Rowlands travelled to Arizona to meet her.
ROWLANDS (voice-over): 63-year-old retired school teacher Mercedes Maharis moved to Cochise County, Arizona with her husband five years ago.
MERCEDES MAHARIS: We came here to spend the last years of our life hopefully in peace.
ROWLANDS: Mercedes says this is her dream home. It's quiet, safe and peaceful here. At least that's what she thought until one night shortly after they moved in.
MAHARIS: I actually thought I was going to have a heart attack that night. This terrible giant helicopter was just coming right up our drive, it hovered right here and was flashing lights around.
ROWLANDS: This is home video from that night.
MAHARIS: I ran back in. Got my camera. Came out. I was in my night gown and I just started shooting.
ROWLANDS: Mercedes says about a dozen people were rounded up by the border patrol and she got it all on tape.
MAHARIS: I didn't think anyone would believe it unless they could see it.
ROWLANDS (on camera): This trail is how the people that Mercedes filmed that night got across the boarder. The boarder is just over this mountainside, about two miles away. Mercedes, that night, thought she was filming something special, but she would later find out that what she saw that night was actually an almost every day occurrence.
(voice-over): Almost every night Mercedes says people coming across the border walk right by her house, leaving behind trash and objects like this backpack.
MAHARIS: This was at the bottom of our drive Monday evening.
ROWLANDS: You haven't opened it yet?
ROWLANDS: Inside dirt covered clothes, a toothbrush, some medication and deodorant. Mercedes decided to use her video camera to document what was happening, not only to her but to other residents in Cochise County, so she started interviewing people.
MAHARIS: I talked to ranchers, activists, pacifists, boarder patrol.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say it is about 98 percent that are Mexican nationals.
ROWLANDS: She gathered video from the sheriff and border patrol.
MAHARIS: I wasn't going to make a huge production of it, I was just making a record of life and death on the border.
ROWLANDS: But five years and more than 24 hours of videotape later, Mercedes has created a 70-minute documentary and publicist say more than 20,000 copies of her DVD sold in the first month. It's a compilation of interviews, video and photos she's collected. Mercedes even helped write the original music.
ROWLANDS: Mercedes set out to document the negative effects illegal immigration is having on her and her neighbors. But she's also been touched by those people she's met who risked their lives to get here.
MAHARIS: To me it is very dehumanizing to have to go to the bathroom in the desert and to not have enough water and ultimately to give your life because you have the hope that you might send some money back home.
ROWLANDS: She ends her documentary singing a song in Spanish with some very graphic photos showing people who died trying to cross the border.
MAHARIS: I just have a difficult time understanding how it has gotten to this point. I don't know why there's no energy that's been put into this particular problem.
ROWLANDS: Mercedes Maharis has put her energy into her documentary and with the current attention on immigration issue she hopes it might play a small part in solving the problem so she can finally start enjoying her dream home. Ted Rowlands, CNN, Cochise County, Arizona.
(END VIDEOTAPE) ZAHN: Fascinating effort on her part. And it's worth noting that today is the first 50 Arizona National Guard troops began helping in the effort against illegal immigration and 300 more will be at it by the end of the week.
Coming up next, a return of the subject of what happens when families break up.
You won't believe the hard ball some divorcing parents are playing by turning their children against the spouse who is moving out.
Also ahead, just how far would someone go to embarrass a celebrity? find out how Beansa was stunned. We'll show you the videotape. And she just thought she was going out to dinner with fans, ain't what happened.
Right now number four on our CNN.com countdown. We covered a little bit earlier, heavy rain causing massive flooding in South Texas and parts of Louisiana. Houston's mayor says much of his city is swamped. As much as foot of rain has already fallen there. Number three straight ahead.
ZAHN: In tonight's eye-opener, a troubling syndrome that's tearing many children and parents apart is one that can be especially painful at times like Father's Day. While most kids were spending time with their dads yesterday, others went out of their way to avoid their fathers all together yesterday and experts say a growing number of children whose parents divorce are being taught by one parent that the other, in many cases, the father, is a monster. And the devastating results are detailed in this month's "Best Life" magazine. Jason Carroll has more in tonight's eye-opener.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is the end of another family get together at the Opperman home. These should be happy occasions but there are only bittersweet for Jeff Opperman. They remind him of a time before his contentious divorce, before he was alienating from his youngest son, a son who now wants nothing to do with him.
JEFF OPPERMAN, DIVORCED FATHER: I remember the child who would come get me at night when he had a bad dream. I remember the child who wanted to play baseball with me. That child doesn't exist anymore.
CARROLL: The last time Opperman saw his youngest son, he was 11 years old. That was six years ago. Now Opperman's only connection to him are through class photos, sent to him by his son's school once a year. His mother did not want us to show his face.
OPPERMAN: It is incredibly difficult for me. One day a year, when these pictures show up, I'm transported back in time and I relive the pain, all the anger, all the frustration of losing my child to parental alienation.
CARROLL: Parental Alienation Syndrome or PAS, some psychologists call it a form of brainwashing. It is what happens during a divorce when one parent deliberately destroys a child's relationship with the other parent, by bombarding the child with negative comments and feelings of hostility like in the Oscar nominated movie, "The Squid and the Whale."
CARROLL: It is not just in the movie. The author of a recent book on PAS says in real life it's deep rooted effects are felt by millions of children.
DR RICHARD WARSHAK, PSYCHOLOGIST: It as though they are developing the kind of hatred that people develop when they have a racial hatred, when they hate people just because they are of another race. They focus only on perceived negatives.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: I hated by dad, I hated myself.
CARROLL: For years this 17-year-old girl whose identity we concealed for her privacy believed her father wanted nothing to do with her after her parents' nasty divorce. She was just eight when her mother started telling her that her father never wanted to see her again.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: I thought he didn't love me. I thought he didn't want me anymore. I felt if my own dad didn't love me or want me, then who would.
CARROLL: But, when she got older and visited her father, she realized she had been lied to all of these years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It really made me see that my dad couldn't be the person my mom was making him out to be. He was so loving.
CARROLL: So loving, in fact, she decided to move in with him and is much happier now. Those who have studied PAS say most children never return to the alienated parent.
WARSHAK: What is washed out of their minds are any memory of having a good relationship with the parent. They really act, in many ways, like victims of cults do.
CARROLL: Experts say mothers are usually the ones accused of PAS because courts typically grant them primary custody. Skeptics worry abusive fathers will use PAS against mothers to gain access to their children or to avoid child support payments.
DR. AMY NEUSTEIN, SOCIOLOGIST: The PAS label sticks to the mother like glue. And that's very, very dangerous.
CARROLL: As in many difficult divorces, the two sides in Jeff Opperman's case disagree. A Superior Court judge said both parents bear some responsibility for the dilemma, but the judge in the case also said the court believed that the main responsibility rests with the wife, who allegedly sent the son wrong messages about his father. Opperman's ex-wife told CNN she didn't bad mouth him and encouraged her children to have a relationship with their father, adding Opperman is being vindictive. Opperman is thankful for now to have a relationship with his older son.
GREG OPPERMAN, CHILD OF DIVORCE: It was like I was trying not to play favorites and there is a lot of pressure to be someone's favorite.
CARROLL: On June 5, Opperman reached out to his son again. This time he sent an email. It reads: "I'll always be your dad no matter how old we get. I'll love you and miss you."
The response like the others over the years.
OPPERMAN: That's what happens. Not read.
CARROLL: If he does choose to respond, he says that he will be there for him. Jason Carroll, CNN, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
ZAHN: Tough road ahead there. Another thing we would like to add is a thank you to our friends at "Best Life Magazine" for their help in getting this story on the air.
"LARRY KING LIVE" is coming up in about 13 minutes from now, if you're counting. Larry is in town tonight, here in one of his favorite cities. Welcome to town, Larry.
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Favorite because of you Paula, where are you?
ZAHN: I'm just down the hallway from you.
KING: Tomorrow night we see each other. OK? This is frustrating.
ZAHN: Who is on the show tonight?
KING: Well, we're going to have a major panel discussion about our missing servicemen and what's going on there, including reports direct from Baghdad and then a major discussion with Charlie Rose. His first interview since returning to the states and to his program, having suffered for the second time in his life, heart surgery involving the valves. Charlie Rose, a major discussion on what's going on in Iraq with the missing soldiers and then later in the program Anderson Cooper will tell us how he got Angelina Jolie for an interview. All of that at the top of the hour. 9:00 Eastern, 6:00 Pacific, Paula.
ZAHN: All of his trade secrets released tonight on "LARRY KING LIVE." Thanks Larry, give Charlie our best. Glad to see he's up and around after that big scare.
We've got a lot more for you ahead tonight. Why does hidden camera video of Beance eating dinner turn out to be so embarrassing. And did the people who took it go way too far?
ZAHN: Still ahead, are they going too far to embarrass celebrities? Beance is used to the red carpet treatment, but you will see what was in store for her when she thought she was treating two fans to a night on the town.
Before that, number three on our CNN.com countdown. Actress Nicole Kidman and country music star Keith Urban head home to Australia get married, some time this weekend we're told in Sydney. Number two on our list is next.
ZAHN: You probably know that voice and that face. A story that may make you ask whether some people are going too far to embarrass celebrities, like Beyonce, and when she sat down for dinner at a very posh Japanese restaurant here in New York, it was supposed to be for a charity event. Instead, it turned into a publicity ambush and a recipe for some big trouble. Brooke Anderson with tonight's what were they thinking.
BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It began as a dinner between a celebrity and her fans. But the meal, at a trendy New York restaurant, quickly became hard for Beyonce Knowles to stomach. Beynoce thought she was with a couple of fans who had won an auction to benefit the Music Education Foundation, save the music, but the two women were on a mission for PITA, people for the ethical treatment of animals.
Armed with a hidden camera, you see that video here, the animal rights activists grilled Beyonce about wearing fur and using fur in her clothing line, the House of Derion. The activists made her watch this ad featuring Pam Anderson and graphic video of animals being killed. Beyonce sat, stunned and silent. Her mother stepped in and the PITA ambushers were eventually escorted out. The incident created a controversy. Harvey Levin, managing editor of TMZ.com, which was to post the video online, says the overall reaction is mixed.
HARVEY LEVIN, MANAGING EDITOR, TMZ.COM: There are some people who believe that PETA crossed the line, it was unfair to do to Beyonce. There are others who say that Beyonce was completely out of line to be upset at all about this and that it goes with the territory when you sell fur.
ANDERSON: The animal rights organization is known for its graphic commercials and aggressive tactics. PETA supporters in the past have pelted both "Vogue" editor and chief Anna Winter and celebutant Paris Hilton with flour for wearing and fur and PETA stands by its ambush of Beyonce.
LISA LANGE, VP COMMUNCATIONS, PETA: We have been writing to Beyonce since 2002. We have written two letters. We ran an open letter advertisement in "Billboard Magazine," we've pled with her numerous times. This was a friendly exchange that she had with PETA.
ANDERSON: She might not have thought it was friendly.
LANGE: She may say that but if we had a chance to do it all over again we would do it.
ANDERSON: Beyonce has no comment regarding the encounter, but her father and manager Matthew Knowles is reportedly fighting back. According to Levin, Knowles is angry PETA's video was posted on the web and he's demanding it be taken down.
LEVIN: This man was outraged and was doing everything he could and it fell on deaf ears with me.
ANDERSON: Levin says that PETA obtained the video legally.
LEVIN: New York, where it was recorded is a one party state, which means you don't have to get the other person's consent to record. It was done in a restaurant, where there is no expectation of privacy. There is nothing illegal about what PETA did.
ANDERSON: Maybe not illegal, but also maybe not in good taste. Beyonce's supporters say she was trying to help a good cause, Save the Music, and they believe it was outrageous to try to embarrass her this way. Brooke Anderson, CNN, Hollywood.
ZAHN: I guess you can see why she was kind of ticked there.
First, number two on our CNN.com countdown. Actor David Schwimmer wins a $400,000 judgment in a defamation lawsuit. A fund raiser claimed the former "Friends" star demanded two Rolex watches to attend his own charity event.
Coming up next, an emergency request from the mayor of New Orleans. That happens to be the top story on CNN.com. What's he asking for? Find out right after this.
ZAHN: Now to our top story at CNN.com. The National Guard returns to New Orleans. Louisiana's governor grants New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin's request for guard units to patrol the city after a weekend of deadly violence.
That's it for all us here tonight. Thanks so much for being with us. We'll be back, same time, same place, tomorrow night.
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