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PAULA ZAHN NOW
New York City Tunnel Terror Plot Foiled?; Interview With New York Congressman Peter King; London Remembers Transit Bombings One Year Later
Aired July 7, 2006 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks for joining us. I'm John Roberts. Paula has the night off.
Here is what's happening at this moment.
Israel is denying Palestinian reports that the release of a kidnapped Israeli corporal could lead to freedom for some Palestinian prisoners and an end to the latest violence in Gaza.
Meanwhile, the military pressure on the Palestinian government continues. Late reports say Israeli missiles hit northern Gaza after troops pushed deeper into the area.
For the first time, a new al Qaeda video takes credit for the devastating bombings on London on this date last year. Top al Qaeda terrorists Ayman al-Zawahri is seen on the tape calling two of the bombers -- quote -- "martyrs" who learned to make explosives at an al Qaeda training camp. British investigators say the two had visited Pakistan.
At the United Nations tonight, the push for sanctions against North Korea continues. Japan is leading the charge, backed by the United States, Britain, and France, but China and Russia continue to push a softer approach.
Now to the "Security Watch" and the new terrorist plot apparently aimed at New York tonight. Three people are in custody in what the FBI says was a plan to blow up light-rail tunnels connecting New Jersey and Manhattan.
There have been confusing and even contradictory reports all day that are only now being sorted out. The story broke in "The New York Daily News," but the FBI says the newspaper got a key fact wrong. The plot did not involve attacking the Holland Tunnel. And officials say, there was no immediate threat.
And we're hearing all of this on the anniversary of the London transport bombings, which killed 52 people last July 7.
Let's get the latest now from justice correspondent Kelli Arena, who has been working the story all day.
KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. officials say there was never any chance a plot to attack New York tunnels would be successful.
MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We don't wait until someone has lit the fuse to step in and prevent something from happening. That would be playing games with people's lives. So, we always intervene at the earliest possible opportunity.
ARENA: Officials say the plot was in the early stages and called for putting suicide bombers with backpacks full of explosives on trains. The FBI says it was quickly maturing, with the attack planned for this fall.
MARK MERSHON, FBI NEW YORK ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: And they were about to go to a phase where they would attempt to surveil targets, establish a regimen of attack, and -- and acquire the -- the resources necessary to effectuate the attacks.
ARENA: With the alleged mastermind in custody in Beirut, officials went out of their way to insist the threat has been neutralized. The man they believe was the leader is Assem Hammoud, a 31-year-old Lebanese national.
MERSHON: We know that he has acknowledged pledging a bayat, or allegiance, to Osama bin Laden. And he -- he proclaims himself to be a member of al Qaeda.
ARENA: Lebanese security officials say Hammoud was taken into custody on April 27. They say he was using the Internet to recruit terrorists around the world.
According to a statement released by the Lebanese government, Hammoud was living a life of -- quote -- "fun and indulgence" to hide his extremist views. It also says he was supposed to travel to Pakistan for terror training. The FBI says that, in all, eight people are involved. At least two other alleged participants are also in custody, but the FBI won't say where.
As for the other five, officials say they do not believe they're in the United States.
MERSHON: There are still subjects out there, mostly known, some only partially identified or unknown. And we remain vigilant.
ARENA: Sources also say there is a loose connection between one of the individuals in the group and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al Qaeda leader in Iraq killed last month.
Mohannad Hage Ali is a journalist who covers Lebanon.
MOHANNAD HAGE ALI, "AL-HAYAT": Many mujahedeen, many fighters from the Arab world are coming back from Iraq and fighting in their own countries, joining the global jihad, feeding the global jihad of al Qaeda.
ARENA: The plot was first revealed in a New York newspaper, and that infuriated officials, who say the disclosure jeopardized the investigation. But there is another view. The story of an apparent law enforcement success came out on the anniversary of the London subway attacks, and suggests a political motivation for leaking.
JOE CIRINCIONE, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT: If this was a genuine plot, there's nothing wrong with that. But we do have to keep in mind, the Department of Homeland Security, in particular, is under a lot of pressure to show some results.
ARENA (on camera): The investigation is ongoing. The FBI says at least six countries are actively involved. Sources tell CNN, those include, Iraq, Canada, and Pakistan.
Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.
ROBERTS: The fact that Manhattan is an island makes it essentially vulnerable. Tunnels and bridges are its lifelines.
Mary Snow takes a look at what might happen if terrorists did manage to bomb one of those tunnels.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tunnels leading into New York City have long been considered terror targets. The PATH commuter train system, which the FBI says was the target of this latest plot, carries hundreds of thousands of commuters under the Hudson River from New Jersey to Manhattan every day.
SAMUEL PLUMERI, PORT AUTHORITY POLICE DEPARTMENT: I think that any -- any explosion, any blast in any tunnel, regardless of its size, would cause an issue, obviously, and a disruption. To get into details as to what that means, in terms size of explosives, etcetera, I'm not prepared to do that here today.
SNOW: Since the early 1990s, New York officials say nearly 20 attacks or attempted attacks have been made against the city. While today, the FBI specifically mentioned the transit tunnel, officials also say that a number of those threats over the years have targeted New York City's other river crossings, including a 1993 plot involving the Holland Tunnel.
Experts say, while bombs could severely damage tunnel interiors and ventilation systems, it's doubtful the force of a conventional explosion would break through the layers of bedrock into the river.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They would very unlikely cause a complete collapse of the tunnel and water rushing in.
SNOW: Engineers say the PATH tubes, much like the Holland Tunnel, are built under the riverbed, protected by bedrock in most parts.
Experts say that a "New York Daily News" report of a scenario to intentionally flood Lower Manhattan's Financial District would be unlikely, because New York is above sea level.
Pat D'Amuro, formerly with the FBI and now the CEO of Giuliani Security and Safety, says it wouldn't take much to inflict a lot of damage.
PAT D'AMURO, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: It's the fear and it's the panic that al Qaeda or groups like that would want to bring into play by attacking a venue such as that.
SNOW: Now, FBI Assistant Director Mark Mershon here in New York was also angry about the leak, calling it unprofessional behavior, saying it led to uncomfortable questions and upsetment with foreign intelligence services working with the FBI -- John.
ROBERTS: Mary Snow outside a New York subway station -- Mary, thanks.
Just a bit earlier, I spoke with Congressman Peter King of New York. He is the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
ROBERTS: Congressman King, how serious do you take this threat to be? The FBI says that none of these suspects was ever on American soil. There was no reconnaissance done. There were no materials obtained.
REP. PETER KING (R-NY), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I think it was very serious.
I first became aware of the plot back last September. Since then, I have been briefed on it by Homeland Security and also by the NYPD. And I do that Commissioner Kelly and the NYPD took it very seriously. And they actually deployed quite a few resources in Lower Manhattan to try to head off this plot.
This, to me, was very significant. And it is important that it was stopped. The fact that they had not began any actual operations, to me, is not that important. This was an informative stage. But it was more than just talking. And from all I could tell and from all I learned, this was pretty serious.
ROBERTS: Assem Hammoud, the suspect who is in custody in Lebanon, apparently swore bayat -- that's the -- the al Qaeda oath -- saying that he was carrying out Osama bin Laden's religious orders.
What does that say about bin Laden, if nothing else, as a power to influence these people around the world?
KING: Bin Laden has extraordinary power to influence.
In fact, I would say that his power today is more in the motivational and inspirational sense than it is actual carrying out of specific operations. No, there's no doubt that a whole generation of young Muslims have been drawn to this type of fanatical jihad. And they swear allegiance to bin Laden.
So, I'm not surprised to hear that. It's unfortunate, but it's reality that we have to face in this new world in which we live.
ROBERTS: Congressman King, here is another plot that's directed not toward Lincoln, Nebraska, or Peoria, Illinois. It's not New York in its crosshairs. What does that say about the decision by the Department of Homeland Security to cut terror financing for New York?
And could there also possibly be a political element in the leaking of this, trying to highlight those cuts?
KING: Well, first of all, I'm not aware of any political plot in the leaking of it. I would be very, very surprised and disappointed if that were the case.
But this does show how indefensible those homeland security cuts were last month. And what enraged me at time, among -- among other things, was that I knew about this plot. I knew that the NYPD had a -- had a large amount of police personnel and equipment being used on this.
And I knew what the costs were being run up. And, at the same time that we knew that, we couldn't talk about it, because it was top secret and classified, the Department of Homeland Security was cutting funding. That to me was indefensible. And what made it more so was the fact that we knew about this plot and couldn't talk about it.
ROBERTS: It must have been tough biting your tongue.
Congressman Peter King, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
KING: John, thank you.
ROBERTS: We move on now to our countdown on the top stories on CNN.com.
More than 19 million of you logged on to the Web site today.
At number 10 -- President Bush squeezes in some fund-raising during his trip in Chicago. He helped raise $1.2 million for Illinois Republican state treasurer. She's trying to unseat the governor, who's a Democrat.
And nine -- in Georgia, a father is accused of poisoning his children's soup and planning to sue the Campbell Soup company for their injuries. He's now in custody and will appear before a federal judge next week.
Numbers eight and seven are next.
Plus, continuing our "Security Watch," just how well are we protecting one of the terrorists' favorite targets?
ROBERTS (voice-over): Terror on the fast track -- they have hit the London subway and the trains in Madrid. As another plot unravels here, what are we doing to stop it?
And the "Eye Opener" -- discipline for delinquents, with a wet tongue and a wagging tail. You are won't believe a radical new program for people and pets -- all that and more just ahead.
ROBERTS: Flowers, silence, tears, and defiance -- in a little bit, we will show you more of London on the first anniversary of the transit bombings.
Now, here's what's happening at this moment. Discovery astronauts are prepping for tomorrow's six-hour space walk designed to test a new technique to repair the shuttle's vital heat shield. NASA also says Discovery has enough fuel to squeeze a 13th day out of the mission.
The minister's wife charged with killing her husband could be freed on bond. A Tennessee judge set $760,000 bond for Mary Winkler, who plans to live with a friend and fellow church member if she can raise the bond money. Investigators say she snapped because of repeated criticism from her minister husband and financial stress. Mary Winkler has pleaded not guilty.
And famed tenor Luciano Pavarotti is said to be recovering from surgery for pancreatic cancer, a form that has a survival rate of less than 4 percent. But Pavarotti's managers say doctors believe he has a good chance of survival. He is 70 years old.
We're continuing our coverage now of what the FBI says was an international terrorist plot to attack subway tunnels connecting New Jersey and New York City. The story broke today on the anniversary of last July's attacks on London's transport system.
It also came out as Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff toured Boston's transit system and spoke with our Dan Lothian.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): On the very day a plot to attack New York's trains and tunnels was revealed, and exactly one year after the assault on London's transit system, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff walked onto a subway train in Boston, confident, but aware of the constant threat the London attack reinforced.
CHERTOFF: I think it was a great reminder, first of all, about the fact that we cannot be complacent about terrorism, that it's not going to go away. It's not just a one-time event. LOTHIAN: In a one-on-one interview that lasted two subway stops, Chertoff said guarding against another terror attack on the American transit system is a complicated effort.
CHERTOFF: We have to look at all of the kinds of transportation, as well as our fixed infrastructure. You know, we have to worry about ferries. We have to worry about buses, as well as, obviously, the traditional aviation type of situation.
LOTHIAN: This latest case is the second plot against New York's transit system to come to light in the past month, after news of an alleged subway cyanide attack was revealed in early June.
CHERTOFF: What we try to do is not focus on any single threat, but look at all of the threats, and make sure we're covering them.
LOTHIAN: If trains and buses seem to be more vulnerable than air travel or perhaps even secured buildings, it's because, Chertoff says, the system has some constraints.
CHERTOFF: We have an open system. And that's one where we want to encourage people to come in and out without a lot of inconvenience. So, we try to build security that raises the level of safety, but doesn't actually break the system we're trying to protect.
LOTHIAN (on camera): Critics argue, not enough money has been spent on securing ground-based transportation since 9/11. It's been hundreds of millions of dollars vs. billions spent on aviation security.
(voice-over): But based on the potential catastrophic nature of a terror event in the sky, the federal government believes tax dollars are being used wisely. And Chertoff says strides are being made on the ground, like the addition of high-tech surveillance equipment and bomb-sniffing dogs to assist local law enforcement agencies.
CHERTOFF: We're doing other things as well, including random searches, surge operations, where we put more inspectors, more bomb- detection team into subways, either on a random basis on when there's a particular threat.
LOTHIAN: Chertoff used to ride these trains all the time while a student at Harvard. Now, as the nation's top terrorism fighter, he says he's confident commuters are still safe and that Americans should not live in fear.
CHERTOFF: Sure, there are no guarantees in life. But what we continue to work to do is to get as close as possible to safety.
LOTHIAN: Dan Lothian, CNN, Boston.
ROBERTS: And joining me now, CNN's security analyst Pat D'Amuro -- he is a former assistant director of the FBI in New York, now chairman and CEO of Giuliani Safety and Security -- and CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen.
Pat D'Amuro, why did the FBI go after Assem Hammoud at this point, instead of laying this -- letting this plot play out a little bit more and perhaps building a better and bigger case against this group?
D'AMURO: Well, John, as we have heard, Hammoud apparently was beginning to go into a phase of traveling to Pakistan to receive additional terrorism training.
It was unclear whether or not, I think, Hammoud was going to continue, or come back to Lebanon. If he were to go into an operational mode, we know that al Qaeda, once they begin an operational mode, will go silent, thereby making it much more difficult for law enforcement and intelligence authorities to track them and figure out what phase they're in.
ROBERTS: Peter Bergen, it appears as though the plot was very similar to the London transit bombings, in which the -- this group would wear backpacks loaded with explosives onto the PATH train that runs under the Hudson River into New York City, detonate those backpacks when the train reached the -- perhaps, the center of the tunnel, and try to -- to bridge the gap between the tunnel and the Hudson River, and -- and flood at least the tunnel and perhaps some basements in -- in downtown Manhattan.
In your experience and what you know of terrorism, would they be able to hand-carry enough explosives on that train to do that kind of damage?
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: I really don't know the answer to that, John. I -- that's a sort a hypothetical.
But I -- what I would point out is that the sort of conventional wisdom that al Qaeda, the organization, is -- you know, on -- has been on the ropes, and this ideological movement has taken over that is inspired by bin Laden, I think is seriously called into question by a lot of events in recent weeks, not only a huge number of tapes from Ayman al-Zawahri and Osama bin Laden.
We have seen something like eight in the last three -- three months from -- from both of them. Also, the London attacks, which are clearly, in my view now, an al Qaeda operation -- these guys, they were not self-starting. They were homegrown, but they -- they had training in Pakistan that made the attack successful -- and, now, of course, this guy in Lebanon pledging allegiance to bin Laden.
We have also had the new -- new head of al Qaeda in Iraq publicly pledging allegiance to Iraq in the last two weeks. So, it looks to me that the al Qaeda organization is kind of reconstituting itself and showing that it's got something of a -- of a kick to it.
ROBERTS: Hammoud told investigators in Lebanon that he was acting on religious orders from bin Laden. Would -- would that just sort of be in the general sense, or do you think that somebody picked up the phone and said, launch this operation? BERGEN: I -- I don't know the answer to that.
If he had been in Afghanistan or Pakistan, usually, when you swear an oath of allegiance to bin Laden, you would do it with a senior al Qaeda commander or to bin Laden personally. But, of course, that's much harder to do now.
And we saw the new al Qaeda leader in Iraq pledge allegiance to bin Laden over the Internet. So, I'm not sure how he pledged the allegiance, but it seems that he has.
ROBERTS: Pat D'Amuro, attacks on the tunnels and bridges that link New York -- Manhattan to the mainland have been in the planning stages since 1993, when the blind sheik led a group that wanted to bomb the tunnels and perhaps a bridge or two.
How vulnerable is that part of New York's infrastructure?
D'AMURO: Well, John, you're right.
We know that there's been numerous threats of the attacks to the transportation system in New York. I think that will continue. It -- it's important to note, though, that, since 9/11, a lot of security efforts have gone in to ensuring that the tunnels and the bridges are more secure than they have been in the past.
ROBERTS: So, they're more secure now than they were in the past. But are they secure enough? As Dan Lothian pointed out, we're only spending a half-a-billion dollars to secure ground transportation, vs. $20 billion on aviation.
D'AMURO: No, you're right. And I think this -- this country still has to understand that these threats are going to be with us for some time.
Security costs are going to mount and actually need to be considered as a -- as a part of doing business in this country and a part of operating in this country. It's something that this country hasn't really faced in the past, transportation security. Planes have been threatened numerous times. Ground transportation is something that, I think there needs to be much more of a focus on that. And many of the rail transportations systems in this country need to be looked at much more in-depth.
ROBERTS: Well, certainly, a lot of people are going to be asking a lot more questions, in light of this latest threat.
Pat D'Amuro in New York and Peter Bergen, thanks very much.
The FBI reportedly uncovered the New York tunnel plot by monitoring computer chat rooms. That's just one way terrorists have learned to use the Internet.
Allan Chernoff takes a chilling look at how easy it is to get a virtual education in terrorism techniques online.
ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A how-to video, step-by-step instructions on making a suicide bomb vest, it's part of a growing library of terrorism available on your computer over the Internet.
RABBI ABRAHAM COOPER, ASSOCIATE DEAN, SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER: The terrorist groups have made the Internet into a virtual university of terror.
CHERNOFF: Rabbi Abraham Cooper and a team of investigators track Internet terror and hate propaganda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a nonprofit group devoted to tolerance. They're finding a broad range of material on the Web that they say is aimed at potential terrorists: a 162-page manual on building explosives; diagrams on how to detonate bombs using cell phones; and advice on chemical warfare.
This cyanide bomb primer recommends targeting Christian churches in Islamic countries.
This man is explaining how to use a global positioning satellite system to find potential targets. The Wiesenthal Center traced some the instructional sites to Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Malaysia, though, some of the material, Rabbi Cooper says, has been posted on American sites, Like Yahoo!.
COOPER: We contacted Yahoo! when we stumbled upon a -- a total virtual library of terrorism. We're talking about hundreds and hundreds of documents.
CHERNOFF: Yahoo! promptly took the material off its site.
The First Amendment, guaranteeing freedom of speech, allows hate material to be posted on the Web. But, sometimes, Internet postings prevent law enforcement authorities with clues that can help them track down potential terrorists before they strike.
CHAUNCEY PARKER, NEW YORK STATE DIRECTOR, CRIMINAL JUSTICE SERVICES: It's absolutely a crime-fighting tool. Just like a lead from -- from someone in the community, who tells you that they see suspicious activity on the corner, these leads are very, very important.
CHERNOFF: The Wiesenthal Center says it tips off authorities several times a week, trying to ensure that its Internet monitoring can prevent instructions for potential terrorists from being put into action.
Allan Chernoff, CNN, New York.
ROBERTS: One more thing: The Wiesenthal Center said -- Wiesenthal Center says the number of Web sites encouraging hate or terror is up about 20 percent in just the past year. In London today, subway and bus riders brought along flowers for their daily commute. What else happened on this first anniversary of the London transit bombings? We will show you next.
And later: a unique program to help troubled teenagers. Will letting them take care of unwanted dogs give everyone involved a second chance?
Right now: number eight on our CNN.com countdown. Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe is a father again. His second child, a boy, was born today in Sydney, Australia. Crowe and his wife already have a 2- year-old boy.
And seven -- Comedy Center now says it will go ahead and air the so-called lost episodes of Dave Chappelle's comedy show. Last May, he walked out on his $50 million contract with the network.
And you can hear what Dave Chappelle has to say about all of this in his exclusive interview with Anderson Cooper. That's tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.
We will have numbers six and five on our countdown right after this.
ROBERTS: As we have noted, this is the first anniversary of the London bombings. Four suicide terrorists, three on a subway, one on a city bus, killed 52 people and wounded 100 others.
A new videotape released on the Internet today claims that two of the bombers were trained in explosives at al Qaeda camps. The tape includes footage of unidentified men mixing explosives and setting off a small explosion.
Al Qaeda's latest P.R. offensive had little effect in London today. People paused to remember the dead, but they also went on with their lives to defy the terrorists.
Richard Quest joins me from London now at end of what has been a very long and emotional day.
And -- and, Richard, how did people in London mark this grim anniversary?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think you summed it up perfectly, John, when you pointed out that there were two distinct messages coming from the British capital today.
The first was one of remembrance for those who died and those who were injured. Especially, for example, when there was a wreath laid at King's Cross, where a large number of those who perished when the first bomb or one the bombs went off.
Then later in the morning, there were two minutes of silence. The whole country coming to a standstill. The queen observing it in Scotland. Members of the government in London. The silence observed on trains and city streets. I was on a train coming in from London's Heathrow Airport. The train stopped, and everybody observed two minutes of silent contemplation.
And then finally this evening, there was a commemorative service and prayers were said at Regent's Park in London, one of the most beautiful parks in the capital city. The names of those who died were read out.
Now, in that sense, that was half the story from today, John. But the other half was the way in which people wanted to show they were getting on with life. So the capital has been thronged tonight. People have been out and about. We all used the tube. We were on the buses as normal. And that, I think, was just as important as the day went on.
ROBERTS: The Brits are known for their stoicism, Londoners in particular. Was there not one particularly poignant moment involving the woman who lost her legs in the London bombings?
QUEST: There was indeed. And that was a case where that woman involved walked along the street to one of the memorial services, and made it quite clear that the bombers may have taken her legs but she was going to carry on with her life.
There were other moments, too. For instance, the mother who read a poem that basically talked about how she came to London to seek her daughter.
Frankly, John, I do not know how some of those people got through the day. Because it is only 12 months since all this happened, and 12 months ago, people like myself were caught up in the maelstrom of covering the story. We were in the thick of it, if you like. But then today, there was a great sadness as we realized what we had been covering back then.
ROBERTS: I was there myself, Richard, and I remember the photographs of the missing that were hung on the fence at the King's Cross station. Very much like the photographs were outside the World Trade Center back on September the 11th. Do Brits believe that they are still in the crosshairs? Still very much actively in the crosshairs of al Qaeda?
QUEST: Absolutely. No question about it. Even the police commissioner in London, the head policemen if you like, said quite clearly that there is always the possibility and the real risk that the terrorists will strike again.
So yes, there were more police on the street. There are more security agencies in tube stations and subways. You can't avoid that. It goes back to what happened, and you may well remember this, the Brighton bomb of the IRA in the 1980s, John, when the IRA tried to blow up the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. They failed in that attempt, but they came up with a statement that's as true today as it was then. They only have to be lucky once; the rest of us have to be lucky every time. So the police say they have foiled at least three attempts in London, but they warn they may not be able to foil every attempt.
ROBERTS: Something that just about every one of us lives with every day. Richard Quest in London, thanks very much.
We have run across a fascinating program to help troubled teenagers. Will hooking them up with unwanted dogs make both of them more useful members of society?
Plus, who says video games only have to be about violence? Stay with us and see how one controversial game kept the guns but got religion.
First, number six on our CNN.com countdown. Frightening moments aboard a Delta Air Lines plane traveling from New York to Tampa last night. Federal authorities say a soldier who served in Iraq ran the cockpit door twice before three passengers could stop him. He's now undergoing tests in a hospital in Tampa.
And five, insurgents target mosques and religious sites in Iraq. Today, explosions killed 10 people and wounded 55. Also, three people died in a mortar attack at a market in Baghdad; 23 were hurt.
Numbers four and three on the countdown when we return.
ROBERTS: In this half hour, praise God and pass the ammunition, grab your computer mouse. Will a new video game with a Christian theme win any converts?
And at top of the hour on "LARRY KING LIVE," friends and former employers discuss the legacy of Enron founder, Kenneth Lay.
Now, here's what's happening at this moment. Mexico's conservative president-elect Felipe Calderon says he is confident his razor-thin victory will hold. Just a few tenths of a percent separated Calderon from his left-wing opponent Andres Obrador, who is pressing for a total recount. A major demonstration is planned for tomorrow in Mexico City.
And gamblers are counting the minutes as New Jersey lawmakers work through the night to finalize a budget deal to reopen a dozen casinos. Forty-six thousand hotel and casino workers were affected by the budget shutdown, the first time the 24-hour casinos have gone silent in 13 years.
And here's our nightly look at gas prices across the country, our "Crude Awakenings." The states with the highest gas prices are in red, the lowest in green.
Today's average for unleaded regular, $2.96 a gallon. That's an increase of about five cents over the last week or so, up a penny from yesterday. There may be a common solution to a pair of problems that you would think were completely unrelated: The roughly 100,000 teenagers locked up in juvenile offender programs and the millions of unwanted dogs given up to shelters and eventually destroyed. Getting these troubled kids and troubled pets together just might give both of them a second chance.
Well, there is a program like that, and as Keith Oppenheim shows us, it's a real "Eye Opener."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is just a single, right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jessica is 17 years old. We aren't using her last name because she's in juvenile detention. However, we were allowed to show her face. She's been locked up now for six months at this facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She got in trouble for using methamphetamine, running away from home, and stealing.
JESSICA, JUVENILE DETAINEE: I took stuff from my stepmom, and they pressed charges against me for that.
OPPENHEIM: Felicia is 16, in detention for nearly a year. She's had a history of violence, including assaulting staff while in treatment.
FELICIA, JUVENILE DETAINEE: I've been beat up a lot. And I just seen a lot of stuff.
OPPENHEIM: Both Jessica and Felicia are no longer in restricted units behind barbed wire. They're now in a transitional program, living in what looks like a dormitory, where Tamara Ward is preparing them for life on the outside in a very unusual way.
TAMARA WARD, SOCIAL SERVICE COORDINATOR: I felt like bringing dogs in, and working with dogs would be really beneficial for the kids.
OPPENHEIM: You heard it, dogs. Dogs from an animal shelter that face an uncertain future. If they're not adopted, they'll be destroyed. But by matching troubled dogs with troubled teens ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good boy.
OPPENHEIM: Ward figured the odds of survival for a dog could go up and the odds for a teen might be better, too. It's called Project Second Chance, where boy and girls in detention get a dog for three weeks. Their job? Train the dog so it's more likely to be adopted. Ward says, since 1999, 175 canines have been trained through the project. Nearly all have been placed in new homes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kiss her. OPPENHEIM: This time around, the dogs are, buckwheat, a 4-year- old male, black lab. And Rudy, an 8-year-old male, Pitbull mix, who may have been abused in his past.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got a couple of scrapes on your face.
OPPENHEIM: Jessica and Felicia admit they're nervous.
WARD: They don't care you've been in trouble. So, all they want is somebody that's going to love them and is going to show them the right things to do.
Number one, who is this.
JESSICA: Yes, I want this dog.
OPPENHEIM: Jessica gets Buckwheat, who clearly doesn't know the basics.
JESSICA: Buckwheat, sit. Sit.
OPPENHEIM: Felicia gets Rudy. He's got a long way to go, too.
FELICIA: Stay. Oh.
OPPENHEIM: From learning how to give these dogs a bath, to cleaning up after them, the teens discover what they and the dogs need to know. Who's being trained here, the dog or you guys?
FELICIA: I think both. Because we're trying to learn, you know, how to work with the dogs too.
OPPENHEIM: If all this seems adorable, it's meant to be much more. Research indicates juveniles in detention often lack empathy. In fact, many have had abusive relationships with people, and have been known to abuse animals as well. Tammara Ward believes, taking responsibility for a dog is fundamental.
WARD: If we can put that caring with the kids here and try to get them to where they connect with a being and have that transfer on to connect with a human being, then our hope is that, everything, all the crime and the behavior, will have a reduction in it.
OPPENHEIM: Sometimes the dog or the teen runs astray. Just two days after Rudy arrived, Felicia was kicked out of this facility. Felicia had discipline problems. She was talking back. And she was sent to an intense supervision program, where she is under house arrest. But Rudy here still had a shot at a second chance. For three weeks, another girl in detention stepped in to train Rudy to be an even better dog.
ANGELA, JUVENILE DETAINEE: No kissy?
OPPENHEIM: Her name is Angela.
ANGELA: My big baby. OPPENHEIM: And in short time, she transformed Rudy into a model of obedience, ironic given how wild Angela used to be.
ANGELA: I was a runaway. I was a big runaway.
OPPENHEIM: Now this 17-year-old was finding it hard to separate. At graduation, Angela wrote words for Rudy.
ANGELA: I'm looking for the kind of home that will accept me for who I am and not use me for a fighting dog or beat on me.
OPPENHEIM: As Rudy tried to eat his diploma, Buckwheat and Jessica strutted their stuff. Jessica, who finished high school while in detention is hoping to leave soon and get a job. She feels she owes a piece of her success to this black lab.
JESSICA: If you can take care of something else, then you know, you should be able to take care of yourself too.
OPPENHEIM: When the three weeks are up, the teens can't keep the dogs. They have to say good-bye.
JESSICA: It'll be okay.
OPPENHEIM: Jessica tries to be reassuring. Angela cries. She doesn't want to part with the pudgy pitbull.
WARD: You're giving more love than he's had in a long, long time. And there is going to be another family who's just going to love him and think he is wonderful and that's because of you.
OPPENHEIM: And the successful training ends with uncertainty. The girls let go not knowing if the dogs will live, and for that matter, wondering if they themselves will make it when they leave detention. Keith Oppenheim, CNN, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
ROBERTS: Keith finished shooting that piece about a month ago. Since then, Jessica has been paroled. Angela is still awaiting parole. The dogs? Both were adopted. LARRY KING LIVE is coming up in just a few minute's time. He joins us right now. Larry who's going to be with you tonight?
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: John, a fascinating hour. The life times, and untimely death of Ken Lay. We're going to meet former employees, angry. We're going to meet friends, who miss him very much. Journalists, who have covered him. Attorneys who have been involved in his case. All ahead for a full hour. The life and times of the late Ken Lay.
ROBERTS: Wide range of opinions on Ken Lay's death. Thanks, Larry. We'll see you tonight, 9:00 Eastern.
(MARKET REPORT) ROBERTS: Is there is an avid video game player in your house? If there is, have them take a look at this. There is plenty of violence, and believe it or not, a Christian message as well. How did they manage that? Stay with us.
First, number four on our CNN.com countdown. As our lead story, the Fbi says, it has foiled an alleged plot to blow up a train tunnel connecting New York City and New Jersey. Three suspects are in custody. Five are still at large. Only the alleged ringleader, Assem Hammoud, has been charged. He was arrested in Lebanon. Authorities say he has confessed and claims to be a member of al Qaeda.
And three, Sheryl Crow tells "Vanity Fair Magazine," how she battled breast cancer while breaking up with Lance Armstrong. Crow says the split was devastating for both of them.
Number two on our list is next.
ROBERTS: One of the biggest criticisms of video games is that they're too violent. Doesn't matter if you are re-creating world history or exploring systems in our galaxy. They mostly boil down to shooting and explosions. So does a new game that's coming on the market this year. But there's a big difference, a Christian difference. Ted Rowlands shows us a game that's generating a lot of controversy.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At first glance, it looks like any other video game with dramatic graphics, special effects, lots of violent shooting and death. But in this game, next to the button used to shoot bad guys is a button to pray.
TROY LYNDON, GAME DEVELOPER: We're the first product that appeals to more than one marketplace. The hard core gamers and also to Christian marketplace.
ROWLANDS: A Christian video game that appeals to the masses. That is what the makers of "Left Behind" are praying for. The game is based on the wildly successful "Left Behind" Christian fictional book series. And the game, like in the book, the world is in the hands of Satan. Players fight evil forces while gaining strength through prayer. Watch as a player stops shooting to bow his head and pray. Doing this, increases the player's strength on the battlefield. The Christian messages are there. But unlike other religious-based games, which stay away from violence, the main focus of this one is warfare.
LYNDON: The only way we're going to appeal to any hard core gamer in a real-time strategy game is to bring warfare to life. The difference is we have added a new element, spiritual warfare.
ROWLANDS: Troy Lyndon, who used to help produce main stream games, like Madden Football is confident that "Left Behind" is good enough to break in to the mainstream. The game created a buzz at this year's E-3 Video Game Convention in Los Angeles.
ADAM SESSLER, G4 TV: When you take religious-themed game, this is definitely the highest quality I have ever seen.
ROWLANDS (on camera): Producers of "Left Behind," say the violence in the game will be enough to attract the mainstream. But critics say that violence is violence no matter what. Whether God's involved, and it is inappropriate, especially for children.
JACK THOMPSON, VIDEO GAME CRITIC: This game is literally a wolf in sheep's clothing. And it's been marketed to Christian parents for their kids, trading on the label of Christianity. When in fact it's a very secular product that has a same harmful effects as other games that don't have the Christian motif.
ROWLANDS (voice-over): Christian video games have been around for years, and while they can be found on store shelves next to other games, they haven't made much of a dent in the market. Christian game developers, Tom and Bill Bean, are demonstrating one of their games called "Dance Praise." While none of their games have violence, they don't have a problem with "Left Behind."
TOM BEAN, DIGITAL PRAISE: They're doing it through a different method than we are. We're focussing right now, a little bit more on the family sector. And they're looking more at the hard-core gamers and I think there is a place at table for all of these different kinds of games and we encourage them, applaud them and hope they do great.
ROWLANDS: Doing great means attracting the hard-core players. We asked a couple people at convention to try out "Left Behind" and compare it to other games.
MARK WEINBERG, GAMER: I thought it was a good game. I thought it looked really great. It was fluid game play. I don't know enough about the story to really get emotionally involved. You know, on a quick play, it played great.
RONALD DIEMIECKE, GAMER: This whole spirit thing seems different. But it's kind of cool.
ROWLANDS: "Left Behind" is scheduled to hit store shelves later this year. The game's producers are hoping to attract enough players to make some money and make a difference.
LYNDON: I have an unusually blessed opportunity. In that, the same goal to distribute as many product as possible, also aligns with getting kids to think more about matter of eternal importance.
ROWLANDS: Ted Rowlands, CNN, Los Angeles.
ROBERTS: And as Ted Rowlands mentioned "Left Behind" goes on sale later this year, the target date October 17th, just in time for Christmas shopping. It'll set you back about $50. Now on to number two on our CNN.com countdown. A California teenager has been charged with vehicular manslaughter in connection with a car crash that killed two members of the royal family of the island nation of Tonga. Authorities say they were in the U.S. to discuss plans for political reforms in Tonga, which is located about halfway between Australia and Tahiti.
Next, it's the number one story on CNN.com. Why was former secretary of state Colin Powell in the hospital?
ROBERTS: Before we go, number one on our countdown. Former secretary of state Colin Powell is out of the hospital after being admitted late last night for altitude sickness. Powell became ill after a dinner with former President Clinton at a restaurant in Aspen, Colorado. Powell was released early this morning.
That's all for us tonight. Paula's back again on Monday. In one hour on "ANDERSON COOPER 360," Dave Chappelle speaks out about what drove him away from Comedy Central and how he feels about the network airing the so-called lost episodes of the Chappelle Show. It's an "AC 360" exclusive, tonight at 10:00 Eastern. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.
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