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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Tenet's Tough Talk; Iraq: The End Game; What's in Your Food?; Nightmare in Paradise; Immigration: Has Anything Changed?
Aired April 30, 2007 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening from Los Angeles. Tonight, truth about Iraq. The White House says, you don't know it. Tonight we set the story straight, the real story about the progress, the promises and the money it is costing you. We're keeping them honest. That is coming up.
But first, from slam dunk to the fall guy, former CIA Director George Tenet is sharing secrets about al Qaeda, 9/11 and Iraq. In his new book, Tenet says he did his best to protect Americans. He also accuses the White House of making him the scapegoat for a war they seemed to determined to wage.
George Tenet spoke with Larry King earlier tonight. Here he is in his own words.
LARRY KING, HOST "LARRY KING LIVE": The Colin Powell speech, you're sitting behind him.
GEORGE TENET, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Yes.
KING: Do you know he had the wrong information?
TENET: No. The greatest pain here, of course, is we allowed the secretary of state to present information that didn't hold up. It eroded his credibility, our credibility and it's something we've had to deal with ever since.
KING: What went wrong? How did -- why was it wrong?
TENET: Well, you know, Larry, we've thought about this a long time. A lot of it has to do with history. Ten years of following this guy deceive, deny, not tell us the truth, and history played an important role in us. His brother-in-law's defection, how close they were to a nuclear weapon in 1991 when we thought they were years away.
So when you take our history, you take his deception, you take his denial, we looked at what we weren't seeing and believed there was a lot more there.
And here's the other thing, we watched this deception mechanism work even as inspectors were on the ground. We had a source, an important source who told us even after we produced our estimate, production of chemical and biological weapons is continuing.
KING: So he tricked you?
TENET: Well, here's the irony, OK?
TENET: The irony of the whole situation is he was bluffing and he didn't know we weren't.
KING: The buildup of the war?
TENET: Well, you know, Larry, I am more critical at the back end. I'm more critical about when we saw data that came forward, when we understood what this insurgency looked like, when we understood the implications of de-Baathification, when we understood the implications of disbanding of the Iraqi army, when we took the Sunnis and basically shoved them off, when we looked at what was happening on the ground.
I think that we had a lot of data in our possession, data that we faithfully reported that we all should have done a better job. And the NSC should have done a better job. So look, these are tough jobs. And I think -- and I think particularly in the postwar environment, I think we looked at data. I think the data was available. I think the intelligence was clear. I think the course should have been changed.
KING: Why can't we find, kill, capture Mr. bin Laden?
TENET: Larry, I need you to understand that hundreds of people wake up every day and focus on both bin Laden and Zawahiri. I also need you to understand that the game is all about getting after people one level below -- the senior operational planners, the financiers, the logisticians, the document forgers, the people that can hurt you. And we've been very successful at that over the last four or five years. You have to keep working at that. You'll get a break someday. You'll find these people, but you have to show patience and keep our eye on the ball.
KING: You think he's got more al Qaeda cells in the United States?
TENET: Look, Larry, I say in the book, there's nothing I learned in my time as director that didn't convince me that they must have more people here. I never -- now, can I prove that to you? I can't. But my operational sense tells me, they would have understood, after an event like 9/11, that the country's going to get very tough and going to shut our borders and we're going to do things. And my fear is, is other people are infiltrated in and they're going to be patient.
KING: Do you fear a nuclear attack?
TENET: I -- what I fear is -- most, Larry, is terrorists acquiring nuclear capability because I know...
KING: In what?
TENET: Because I know bin Laden has the intent to do so. And it's a tough issue. And it's the one that I worry about the most even after leaving office.
KING: What if he does?
TENET: Well, Larry, let's hope he doesn't. And let's hope we can get on top of this and prevent that from happening.
KING: But if he does, how does he deliver it?
TENET: Well, Larry, I don't know. And I don't want to speculate other than to say, you know, he looks at -- he looks at the United States and he thinks about us as a target. He wants to hurt us commensurate with our standing as a super power in the world. And you know, When we think about what he's been capable of, this is the one area that causes me the greatest concern.
COOPER: You can catch Larry's full interview with George Tenet coming up in the next hour on CNN.
Not everyone though, of course, agrees with what Tenet is saying. Among them, six former CIA officers. In an open letter, they criticize Tenet for his, quote, "failed leadership."
Larry Johnson and former CIA Analyst Ray McGovern signed that letter. They join me now. We must tell you first that neither served under Director Tenet.
Larry, you believe that Tenet's hands are just as bloody as any other official and that he should have spoken out before the war. Your quote was played for him during Larry's hour, and this is how he responded. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TENET: I viewed my job to protect American soldiers, to make them safe. The notion that we -- I have blood on my hands is just something I will never accept.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Why do you say he has blood on his hands?
LARRY JOHNSON, FORMER CIA ANALYST: Because he had information, intelligence in his possession. For example, in the fall of 2002, that Iraq had no WMD. That came from a high level source in the Iraqi government. The Iraqi foreign minister, to be precise. He had that information. He also had corroborating information from that, from the brother-in-law -- the son-in-law Kamel.
So you have two sources saying there's no WMD. Yet, George Tenet sat behind Colin Powell and gave the credibility of the CIA as saying yes, this is a credible case for going to war.
COOPER: The fact that he had some sources saying there are no WMD, they had other sources, though, saying there was.
COOPER: And he's saying to this day, that they -- he in his gut, believed they had WMD. You're saying he's lying?
JOHNSON: Yes, I'm saying he lied. He lied particularly on curveball. The one source they had that said that they had an active biological weapons program and other programs. George Tenet and John McLaughlin, who I'll note is a commentator on CNN, were told multiple times by senior CIA officers, and there are documents to back this up, if the intelligence committees will simply call for them, they were told repeatedly that the curveball was a bogus source. And yet, George Tenet has the audacity to go out and hawk his book, to be paid for telling these lies, and he knows damn well it's a lie.
COOPER: Ray, you think one of the more damning blunders you heard from Tenet was his defense of the slam dunk, his assertion that it was meant to help the president prepare a case to the public. Why do you think that is so particularly damning?
RAY MCGOVERN, FORMER CIA ANALYST: Well, it shows that George Tenet never really got to know what his job was all about. His job is to tell the president the facts without fear or favor. His job is not to help the president embellish the facts or shape the facts into a sort of slam dunk case to sell it to the American people or the Congress.
And we're talking about a constitutional issue here. Congress has the power to authorize or to declare war. What this administration did, in which George Tenet was a full-fledged conspirator, was to deceive our elected representatives into thinking that it was necessary to start this war. That's as bad as it gets.
I would like to sort of pick up for just a moment, Anderson, on what Tenet -- we just saw him say. I mean, he talked about Saddam Hussein's brother-in-law. Well, you know, Tenet's not a really good defect guy, you know. It wasn't his brother-in-law, it was his son- in-law. OK? And what was his son-in-law? His son-in-law was in charge of the nuclear, biological and chemical weapons development and the missile development in his country. He defected to Jordan in 1995. We debriefed him. You know what he said? He said there are no weapons of mass destruction, they were all destroyed after the first war.
Now, Tenet knew that. Bush knew that. Cheney knew that. And they turned that information on its head and bragged about this high- level defector. They identified him by name, Hussein Kamel. And they said, he told us that Iraq had all manner of weapons of mass destruction.
You know, "Newsweek" had this story three weeks before the war started. They put it in their little periscope section, and no one, no one in the print media or the electronic media picked it up. That was authoritative, again, documentary evidence. It was purloined, and it was given to "Newsweek." It turned out to be exactly right.
And let me just, you know, this fellow, Bill Harlow (ph), who helped Tenet write his book. This is what he said when he was asked about that, a report in "Newsweek." He said, it is incorrect, bogus, wrong and untrue. Turns out to be documentary. Look on page 13, Hussein Kamel says all of these things were destroyed at my order.
COOPER: And Larry, you believe he should give back the medal of freedom?
JOHNSON: Sure. You know, he's tried to -- he's come up with this silly explanation that he was getting it for all of the CIA employees, for their valiant work in fighting the war on terror in Afghanistan. That's nonsense. He's standing on that platform with Paul Bremer, Jerry Bremer and with Tommy Franks. And there's nothing in what George Bush said to him that said this is for the work that you've done on the war on terror. Instead, he was taking credit for what he did as well in Iraq.
And please understand, Anderson, our beef with George Tenet is not about his role in the war on terror, it's not about his reform of the CIA. I think he did some good things there. It is specifically on this issue that he played a direct participatory role in taking the country to a war that we did not need to enter. And there are 3,000 plus American men and women dead. And there are 24,000 wounded -- some of them missing arms, legs, horribly disfigured -- and he wants to walk way from that and be worried about his reputation? I'll debate him anywhere, anytime.
COOPER: Larry Johnson, Ray McGovern, appreciate your perspectives. Thank you very much, gentlemen.
Tomorrow, the anniversary of the defining moment in the war in Iraq. It was on May 1, 2003, you'll remember President Bush declaring an end to major combat operations. There was the day. Four years later, of course, the war drags on. The death count climbs -- 104 U.S. troops were killed in the month of April. So far making this month the sixth deadliest since the war began.
The news is grim, but the Pentagon and the White House say it is not the total picture. They say and have been saying for years now, progress is being made with reconstruction projects. That is their claim.
Here are the facts now from CNN's Barbara Starr.
BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After you build maternity and pediatric hospital in northern Iraq, the sewer system doesn't work. Medical waste and contaminated water back up into patient's rooms.
But just last year, the U.S. said the hospital was providing first-rate care. Today it's a $7 million example of a U.S.-financed reconstruction effort gone wrong. In the latest report from the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, inspectors also found continuing problems providing Iraqis with electricity, clean water and sewage treatment.
Rick Barton tracks postwar reconstruction issues for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
RICK BARTON: We've made bad choices in terms of the large projects. And then we put it all on a very fast timetable, thinking that we could get the stuff done and get out of town.
STARR: Congress budgeted some $20 billion to rebuild Iraq. More than 80 percent of it has been spent. And most Iraqis don't feel it's brought them a better life.
The latest report looks at $150 million worth of projects. It's just a snapshot, but the vast majority of the projects are no longer in working order.
At Baghdad International Airport, 17 power generators were delivered last year. Today, 10 are no longer working. It cost the American taxpayers $12 million. At $5 million barracks at airport for Iraqi special forces, there isn't enough water to flush the toilets.
Barton calculates Iraqis see less than 30 cents on the dollar of reconstruction money turned into real improvements in their daily lives. The insurgency and government corruption in Iraq are partly to blame. But Barton says, so is poor U.S. management.
BARTON: It's been clear that it's been in the control of the top political players in our government. And so they're the ones that are most responsible.
STARR (on camera): The inspector general's work has already resulted in nearly half a dozen convictions, but that's just the beginning. There are another 79 cases of alleged wrongdoing under investigation, 28 of them ready for Justice Department prosecution.
Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
COOPER: This is a staggering report. Eight of the reconstruction projects that this report examined, the new reconstruction projects, the projects which had been touted as successes by the Bush administration, eight of them -- seven of them are not successes, seven of them are not working.
CNN's Michael Ware has covered the war for years now in Iraq. He tells it like it is. He joined me earlier from New York.
COOPER: Michael, 104 U.S. troops have died so far in April, the sixth deadliest month of the war so far. And in the past six to seven months they have been especially deadly for U.S forces. Is this because the insurgents have shifted to once again targeting Americans instead of Iraqis? Or is it because of the change in U.S. tactics, Americans are just being exposed more?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, it's a little bit of both. There has been some kind of a shift, particularly amongst the Sunni insurgents, to refocus their attacks on American troops and Iraqi troops.
These homegrown guerrilla fighters are well aware of how unpopular al Qaeda's attacks against the civilian population are. And these homegrown fighters need that civilian population. Indeed, that's who they're fighting for.
So, yes, there has been some shift within some parts of the insurgency to refocus on U.S. forces.
But by and large, particularly this month, the main reason why we've seen such a dreadful spike is that essentially U.S. troops are out there much more. They're much more exposed. They're putting themselves back on the front line.
The concept of trying to push the Iraqis forward, to put an Iraqi face on this war has failed. It hasn't worked. So now, under the new strategy, under the new war commander, General David Petreaus, American troops and American Marines are being forced to step up and take on the fight themselves.
And don't forget, we're seeing U.S. troops not sheltering within their large combat bases or garrisons, as they have in the past. But now, we're seeing them break down into remote combat outposts that are very, very small, that are much juicier targets for the insurgents.
Even though these places are heavily defended, nonetheless, the American troops are much, much more exposed today.
COOPER: Michael, there's also a stunning report out by the inspector general for Iraq reconstruction -- at least I found it stunning. They sampled eight reconstruction projects that the U.S. had been saying were success stories, and they found that seven of them were not even functioning.
Now, the Bush administration has been saying all along, you know, the media isn't reporting success stories. Now it seems the success stories aren't success stories at all. Why are these projects failing?
WARE: Well, I have to tell you, Anderson, I mean, I can't say that I've personally seen one major successful reconstruction project. I mean, this is one of the greatest complaints of the ordinary Iraqi. Almost since the war began, but certainly in recent years they're saying, where is everything you promised us? Where are the things that we're supposed to be holding on for that you're supposed to be fighting for?
I mean, there's been untold corruption throughout the Iraqi administration. So the ability to harness the bureaucracy, to deliver any kind of aid, is crippled or nonexistent.
Also, you have a wealth of security concerns. It's so difficult to get an engineer to a project or to protect workers as they build something. And we've seen time and time again, every time the Americans or American funding refurbishes a school or repairs an oil pipeline, it's blown up in retaliation.
Anything seemed to have been touched by the American or the occupier's hand is a target. So, this is absolutely devastating.
COOPER: And what's amazing about this report is even when it's not terrorism-related, when it's not insurgents attacking these things, it's, you know, multimillion dollar equipment just going unused, they're not being enough spare parts. It doesn't seem like there's follow-up to these reconstruction projects even when they survive any attacks or interest by the insurgents. It's a stunning report. We'll talk more about it in the coming days.
Michael Ware, thanks a lot.
WARE: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: Well, the violence in Iraq fueled a sharp increase in global terrorism last year. Here's the raw data just out today.
According to the State Department's annual report on terrorism, the bloodshed in Iraq accounted for nearly half of the 14,000 attacks in 2006. Iraq was also linked to two-thirds of the more than 20,000 terror-related deaths worldwide. The number of attacks rose more than 25 percent from 2005. And the number of deaths blamed on the attacks grew by about 40 percent.
Next on the program tonight, a new scare over the story that began with contaminated pet food.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (voice-over): Deadly ingredient, the chemical that's killing cats and dogs may have entered the human food chain. Are you safe? We're keeping them honest.
Also, in the hunt for a killer, was an American wrongly accused?
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are 10 different people who have signed affidavits saying they saw Eric here between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon right here, in his office.
COOPER: The alibi, the case, the question. 360 continues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (on camera): Well, nightmare began when dogs and cats in America -- mostly cats -- started dying after their kidneys suddenly failed. It didn't take long for investigators to track the deaths to tainted pet food. And soon the trail stretched all the way to China and a chemical called melamine.
Tonight, there are new developments to report and new concerns about foods that people eat.
CNN's Joe Johns is keeping them honest.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The FDA says 38 poultry farms in Indiana received contaminated feed from China in early February, and fed it to poultry within days of receiving it. Thirty of the farms raise broiler chickens for people to eat. Eight farms raise chickens for breeding.
The FDA says all of the broilers, which are believed to have eaten feed contaminated with melamine, have since been processed into human food.
The agency adds, the likelihood of illness after eating those chickens is quote, "very low."
When melamine first showed up in tainted pet food, it appeared that this might have been an isolated incident. But Chinese business officials have told the "New York Times" that melamine has been routinely added to various types of animal feed there for years. Why? To make buyers think that the protein levels were higher than they actually were, increasing the market value.
So why did melamine suddenly start killing pets? Scientists now say it was combined with another chemical.
ALAN WILDEMAN, UNIVERSITY OF GUELPH: Well, I think we've identified what we feel is an important and likely underlying causative agent of why the animals are getting sick.
JOHNS: Scientists from Canada and the U.S. believe they may have unlocked a mystery. They've learned that melamine combined with another contaminant found in the pet food, cyanuric acid, forms crystals in the kidneys.
WILDEMAN: What we've done is experiments that show, if you take cat urine and you add melamine to it, and cyanuric acid, the crystals will form in the cat urine in a test tube as you're watching them. So it happens within a matter of hours.
JOHNS: It's the crystals that are suspected of killing the pets. The ASPCA has seen a case that suggests that's exactly what happened.
DR. LOUISE MURRAY, ASPCA BERGH MEMORIAL ANIMAL HOSPITAL: We actually had a case recently where the cat's kidneys were completely obstructed. And when we went to surgery, to try to relieve the obstruction, there was no normal stone. Instead, the aortas were completely full of these melamine-type crystal. JOHNS: And now the pet food investigation has turned into scrutiny of the human food supply.
CAROLINE SMITH DEWAAL, CENTER FOR SCIENCE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST: We see the pet food recall as a warning sign for the government that they need to do more to protect the food supply. It could easily happen to an ingredient used in human food as well.
JOHNS: The FDA has already announced that 6,000 hogs in several states may have eaten tainted pet food and should be destroyed and not put into the human food chain.
Meanwhile, the FDA investigation into China continues. A lawyer for one of the U.S. companies that received tainted wheat gluten from China confirms that his client received a search warrant for documents and computer files that was served last week. And FDA inspectors are expected to head to China to continue the probe.
Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Well, just ahead. He's an American who his family said just wanted to do a little good in the world. Tonight he sits in prison, convicted of murder, even though many witnesses say he's innocent. How could it happen? The disturbing story, when 360 continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAGGIE ANTHONY, ERIC VOLZ'S MOTHER: I have moments when I'm very emotional, but I have a job and my job is to get my son free.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That was Maggie Anthony, whose son, Eric Volz, was convicted of murder in a court in Nicaragua. His case has received a lot of attention. And you're about to find out why.
CNN's Rick Sanchez went all the way to Nicaragua to interview the Nashville native. Here what he's found.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was like a lynch mob. Angry Nicaraguans have been waiting for this moment. And 27-year-old Eric Volz was at the white, hot center.
How he got here, to this awful place, is a story of whom do you believe?
Great waves attract surfers to this sleepy seaside town of San Juan del Sur, and that's what originally drew Volz here two years ago. But he was also starting a magazine, "El Puente," the bridge, a serious cultural magazine intended to improve relations between Nicaraguans and Americans.
Then, last November, Doris Jimenez, just 25 years old, is found dead. The murderer apparently strangled her with his own hands in the clothing store she owned here.
By U.S. standards, the police response was casual. The murder draws bystanders who actually crowd in to look. In just minutes, evidence is critically tainted.
The murder of this beautiful, young woman was a sensation. Police would quickly charge four men with the crime, one was American Eric Volz. He dated Jimenez, but they had broken up.
Thousands of miles away in Tennessee, Eric's mother gets the news.
MAGGIE ANTHONY, ERIC VOLZ'S MOTHER: I got a phone call from a man that I had no idea who it was. So I walked off to the side and he told me that Eric had been arrested for Doris's murder.
SANCHEZ: For Volz's mother, it was the first step in what she considers the railroading of her son.
His alibi rests entirely on this story, that he was two hours away from the victim at the time of the murder. And he provided testimony from witnesses who back him up.
(on camera): Keep in mind, the court record indicates that the murder took place Tuesday at 11:45 a.m., just 15 minutes before noon. Yet there were 10 different people who have signed affidavits saying they saw Eric here between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon right here in his office.
RICARDO CASTILLO, NICARAGUAN JOURNALIST: We were in the same house, room. We had lunch.
SANCHEZ (voice-over): The caretaker on the property says that he, too, saw Eric that morning and afternoon.
(On camera): You can swear that he was here Tuesday at noon?
He was there in his office, you say, you saw him. He was wearing shorts.
He was wearing shorts at noon?
(voice-over): Ten witnesses for him, no authentic forensic evidence against him. And yet Volz had a sense of foreboding.
ERIC VOLZ, ACCUSED OF MURDER: I'm worried that this is bigger than anybody really understands.
SANCHEZ: His premonition proved correct. (on camera): With Eric Volz on trial, his life hanging in the balance there in that courtroom, the mob here on the street was getting even more tense.
And the message that they seemed to be sending to the judge was clear. We want the gringo convicted.
(voice-over): Outside, the chanting, viva Nicaragua and death to the gringo.
Inside the courthouse, Volz's lawyers present witnesses to prove he was in his Managua office two hours away at the time of the murder -- 10 of them. His defense also provides cell phone records. Even this time-stamped instant message conversation Eric says he had with a colleague in Atlanta.
That's Volz's screen name, epmagazineeric. He's swapping messages from about 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 in of the afternoon, covering the time just before noon when Jimenez was killed.
His lawyer is convinced the alibis will win Eric his freedom.
RAMON ROJAS, ERIC VOLZ'S ATTORNEY (through translator): The evidence presented before the district judge all coincide in showing his lack of participation and his innocence.
SANCHEZ: Outside, the mob is growing more agitated. Police fire rubber bullets to hold them back. Leading the mob, Jimenez's mother, Mercedes. Like prosecutors, she believes Eric Volz was obsessed with her daughter and jealous that she was dating others.
Tell me what evidence you think there is.
(on camera): So he had a big scratch on the back of his shoulder?
MERCEDES ALVARADO, DORIS JIMENEZ'S MOTHER: Yes.
SANCHEZ (voice-over): Volz did have marks on his shoulder at the time of his arrest. This photograph was taken the day after Jimenez's funeral.
Volz told police the marks came from carrying her coffin. And in fact they do correspond to the correct shoulder.
But the prosecutor tells me she's certain the marks could only have come from fingernails. She also tells me Eric had blood under his fingernails when they arrested him two days after the murder. But she admits they never proved it.
What about witnesses, I ask. Surely somebody in the busy town would have seen Eric if he was there. How is it possible that nobody saw him?
Her answer, no, nobody saw him. Nobody, that is, except this man.
He is Nelson Dangla (ph), who testified he saw Eric just after the time police believe Doris was murdered. But Dangla has his own story. He was originally arrested for Jimenez's murder as well. And in exchange for testifying against the American, he received full immunity.
And that is why Eric is so worried, as he sits outside the courtroom waiting for the verdict.
E. VOLZ: I've been sitting in this room for almost 45 minutes alone. It's a thin wall right here. And that's where the trial is. There's like four police outside my door with machine guns. I'm just about to walk into the courtroom.
SANCHEZ: No one in Eric's family is prepared for what comes next. This is Volz's mother, telling his father the outcome.
ANTHONY: It's a guilty verdict.
SANCHEZ: Eric was found guilty of murdering Doris Jimenez. He was also found guilty of raping her, even though police never concluded that she had been raped.
He was sentenced to 30 years in prison. And if that seems strange after what you've heard, listen to this. Another man was also convicted of the same crime, by the same prosecutor, and the same judge, even though the prosecution never connected him with Eric Volz.
CNN arranged to interview Volz in prison. In fact, we got a Nicaraguan court order allowing us access to him. But when we arrived, we weren't allowed to see him.
(on camera): We have a signed document that was given to us by the presiding judge in this case, which is supposed to give us permission to go in and interview Eric Volz, but the director of the prison is telling us that he's not going to let us in.
We have been here now for the better part of five hours. And still they're saying the document's not good enough and that we're not going to be allowed to talk to Mr. Volz.
(voice-over): We don't know why. Perhaps Nicaraguan authorities decided they don't want this story told worldwide. We'll never know. And until his appeal, his parents can only see him in prison.
ANTHONY: Every meal I think of him and what he's not eating. Every ice cube, every cold glass of anything, he doesn't have.
SANCHEZ: The U.S. embassy in Nicaragua is following the case. So for now, Eric Volz is in prison for 30 years and despite a formal trial, no one seems certain justice was served. Rick Sanchez, CNN, Managua, Nicaragua.
COOPER: Well, as you heard, Eric's mom is fighting to appeal his murder conviction, has been traveling back and forth between Nashville and Nicaragua.
She joins me now.
Maggie, it's good to have you with us. I'm sorry it's under these circumstances.
You just talked to Eric by phone today. How's he doing?
ANTHONY: I did. I just spoke to him today. He's not feeling well. We're not quite sure what's wrong. He's under a doctor's care right now. But it's always great to talk to him. We don't get to talk long and it's always such a delight to hear his voice.
COOPER: You visited him in the prison, you've been down to Nicaragua three times. What are the conditions like in that prison?
ANTHONY: It's a very difficult situation. It's a typical third world prison. I'm not really an expert on that, but it's difficult. It's overcrowded. It's understaffed. It's hard. It's very hard. And it's very dangerous.
COOPER: Does this -- this must just be like living in a nightmare for you. I mean, your son, sort of convicted in this court where the rules of evidence didn't really seem to matter very much. It sounded more like what the mob was chanting mattered more.
ANTHONY: Well, unfortunately, the judge, we believe, ruled out of fear, rather than out of reviewing the evidence. And it is a nightmare. It's one of those things where you know, just even listening to the story when you were playing it right now, it just seems like they're talking about somebody else. Even now, even through all this. And that we're into the sixth month of this whole nightmare. It's awful. It's just horrible.
COOPER: And seeing this video of your son being hustled into a vehicle while there's this mob outside, do you feel his life is still in danger?
ANTHONY: Yes, it is. It's a dangerous prison. His life is in danger.
COOPER: We also saw the video of you receiving the verdict by phone and calling Eric's dad to tell him. I don't think any mom could really imagine what that moment must have been like.
ANTHONY: Yes, it was really horrible. I mean, when I -- every time I hear it, it's still kind of, you know -- my throat closes up and I think I'm going to start crying again. It was a horrible moment. It was totally unexpected for us. We had no idea. Twenty minutes before that phone call, my husband and I were sitting on our couch with our laptop, looking at airfares, convinced that Eric was going to come home.
COOPER: What happens now? I mean, there's an appeal. What is the process?
ANTHONY: We are now in the process of waiting for the appellate court to give us a date. They have had the papers for a couple of weeks now and we're just waiting to hear from our attorneys as to when the judges will actually review the case files and then set a date for the actual appeal.
COOPER: Are you hopeful for this appeal? Because it's not going to take place in the same court in the same small town. It's going to be in a bigger town, correct?
ANTHONY: Yes. We're really hopeful. It's a totally different scenario. It's a different venue. It's a different town. Again, it's three judges. It's a totally different situation. And we're very hopeful in that.
One of the most amazing things that gives us hope besides that is, like you said, my husband and I have been in Nicaragua most of this past five months. And this past two weeks, I, myself, and my husband and -- are just beginning to understand the magnitude of the support that we're getting. And we're getting letters from all over the world, e-mails, phone calls, even from Nicaragua, from parents, who all say to us this could be my son, this could be my daughter. It's just one degree of separation.
And this is really a story of injustice. It's not a story of politics. It's not one country against another. And for us to know this and to read this and to have people call us, is so powerful. And it gives us great hope because so many people are so outraged and just can't believe this incredible injustice.
COOPER: You've got a Web site, I think, about your son. What is it?
ANTHONY: It is friendsofericvolz.com. And it's a place where you can go and get updates, read the facts. There's links to videos, the media, MySpace, a place to donate, support. Whatever you need is on that Web site.
COOPER: Maggie, appreciate what you're doing. Appreciate you joining us. Thanks very much.
ANTHONY: Thank you. Thank you so much.
COOPER: You take care now.
Will that support that Maggie spoke of persuade Washington to take on Eric's case? We're going to hear from the U.S. consulate general in Nicaragua, coming up next.
Also, these stories. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (voice-over): Their mother was deported. Their lives changed forever.
TERES MATA, DAUGHTER OF DEPORTEE: I wanted to graduate and be something in my life.
COOPER: The war over immigration, seen through the eyes of children. When 360 continues.
COOPER (on camera): Before the break we told you about that young man, Eric Volz, an American convicted of murder in Nicaragua.
His family is appealing the verdict and his 30-year sentence. Marc Meznar is the consulate general for the U.S. embassy in Nicaragua. I talked with him about the case a few days ago via satellite.
COOPER: Marc, you visited Eric in prison. How is he doing?
MARC MEZNAR, U.S. CONSUL GENERAL, NICARAGUA: Boy, you know, considering the circumstances, Eric is holding up really well.
COOPER: What are the conditions like there in the prison?
MEZNAR: Well, you know, I mean, we're in a developing country and even their best cell really doesn't come close to U.S. standards. So it's -- there are primitive conditions and that's one of the reasons I say he's holding up well, considering the circumstances.
COOPER: His parents -- his family says his life has been threatened in prison. Is that a concern of yours?
MEZNAR: Yes, certainly. And he has also made those concerns known to me personally.
COOPER: Is there any way to protect him while he's in prison?
MEZNAR: They have additional guards around his cell and he's escorted into public areas. So we really feel that the Nicaraguan authorities are doing all they can to protect him. And that's one of our main concerns for U.S. citizens that are incarcerated abroad.
COOPER: Do you think Eric's trial was fair?
MEZNAR: Well, you know, we have some concerns. The embassy monitored the trial. We had consular officers there and other embassy officers. And we really came away with some concerns because a lot of the evidence that was potentially exculpatory was dismissed by the judge and other evidence was not admitted. COOPER: How much of, you know, it was a small town, there were certainly a lot of it seemed like anti-American sentiment there, certainly anti-Eric sentiment. You had this mob of people outside the courthouse chanting, people brandishing all sorts of, you know, implements and weapons and stuff in the street. How much did that play into the judge's decision, do you think?
MEZNAR: The tensions were very high. In fact, we had to warn American citizens to stay away from the courthouse and to be on the lookout for tension.
So, many people feel that the judge perhaps took those -- the street tension into consideration when she made her decision.
COOPER: I understand that even at one point Eric and somebody from the embassy -- I don't know if it was you or some consulate official -- had to run for safety and hide in a gymnasium until the crowd sort of disbursed.
MEZNAR: That's correct. That came at the 6th of December hearing when an embassy officer, along with Eric, had to basically run for their lives and hide. That's correct.
COOPER: What comes next in this case?
MEZNAR: You know, he -- his defense has made a motion for an appeal and it's been received in the appellate court in he cit of Grenada. And we're happy about that because it's farther away from where the scene of the crime. A panel of three judges is going to review the case and look at it and then decide whether the judge, the initial judge made a correct decision.
COOPER: For U.S. officials, consular officials like yourself, this has got to be a tricky situation. I think a lot of people in the United States kind of expect, well, you know, people from our embassy can just go down there and you know get this guy out of prison. Obviously, it doesn't work like that. What can you do? What do you do? What's your role?
MEZNAR: We do want to respect the Nicaraguan sovereignty here. In fact, we have to respect they're sovereignty. And they are in the -- Eric is in the hands of the judicial officials here. But what we do do is monitor the trial. And if we feel that there's a miscarriage of justice or that there hasn't been transparency, we make our concerns known and we have done that at really the highest level of government.
COOPER: Are the Nicaraguans aware that this can impact how Americans view the country and Americans' willingness to travel to their country?
MEZNAR: I think that, you know, Nicaraguans do have to take this into consideration, that the eyes of the world -- particularly of the United States and our government are on this trial.
COOPER: Marc, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much. MEZNAR: You're welcome.
COOPER: Well, ahead on 360, immigration and the young casualties of the battle on the border. We're going to meet three young Americans who were forced to Mexico, when 360 continues.
COOPER: The American-born children of illegal immigrants face a difficult choice. Do they stay behind when their parents are deported? Or do they go with them and start over again in a country they've never seen? Imagine facing that decision.
With the story, here's CNN's Thelma Gutierrez.
TERES MATA, DAUGHTER OF DEPORTEE: We are sad and depressed, living in Mexico.
THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are the words of a desperate young girl to the president of the United States.
MATA: I am 15 years old. Can you please help us?
GUTIERREZ: Teres Mata's world was turned upside down after her mother, an undocumented worker, was arrested and deported to Mexico after living in the United States for 20 years, leaving Theresa and four brothers all alone in Yakima, Washington.
After their mother was deported, her older brother had to drop out of high school to support his siblings. For four months they struggled to stay together, but couldn't make it. So neighbors raised money to fly Theresa and her two younger brothers to be with their mother in Jalisco, Mexico. A country they had never been to before was now home.
(on camera): In Mexico you had to leave school in order to work?
MATA: Yes. Because we didn't have money.
GUTIERREZ: What would happen to your education?
MATA: Well, I just went away for a while, but I didn't want to leave school, because like, that was something really important and I wanted to graduate and be something in my life.
GUTIERREZ (voice-over): Teres's dreams of becoming a veterinarian dashed at the age 14.
MATA: I feel sad.
GUTIERREZ: What makes you feel sad?
MATA: Like just remembering every day I had to wake up early in the morning and go to work.
GUTIERREZ: Where did you work?
MATA: In a cafeteria.
GUTIERREZ: Then something happened that would change her fate.
(on camera): One day while Teres's mother was waitressing, she met a California couple and told them her story. She asked the couple to help her American children return home.
(voice-over): Alicia Flores went to Teres's home and shot this videotape.
ALICIA FLOES, GUARDIAN: I wanted to see the suffering, especially the suffering of these children.
GUTIERREZ: Flores returned to California, and a few weeks later Teres faxed her this letter, appealing to President Bush. Her touching words prompted Flores to bring Teres back to the United States.
Teres is just one of 3 million American children born to undocumented parents who face separation if their mother or father is deported.
GARY MEAD, U.S. IMMIGRATION & CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT: They really only have two choices. They can take the child with them back to their country of origin or they can leave the child with relatives or other guardians.
GUTIERREZ: That's why Flores offered to open her home to a girl she didn't know, an agonizing decision for Teres and her mother, who would have to be separated once again.
Recently, Teres's brother, Jesus, also came to live with the Flores family in California.
It is a bittersweet homecoming. Teres and Jesus are back in the country of their birth, living with a family of strangers, not sure if they'll live with their mother ever again.
MATA: Oh, God, I wish I was you so I could bring my mom back again, but I can't.
GUTIERREZ: Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Oxnard, California.
COOPER: A family divided by the border. We'll have more of 360 after this.
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