Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Senate Reaches Compromise on Immigration Reform Bill; Proof of Life Emerges For Americans Held Hostage in Colombia
Aired May 17, 2007 - 22:00 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, everyone.
Some are calling it a sellout to big business. Some say it's an act of surrender to millions of illegal immigrants. Others call it long overdue. We're talking about a truce in the battle of the border, compromise legislation on immigration reform. The question now is, will Congress pass it, and will Americans buy it?
Also, three Americans held captive in a foreign land for four years, the longest time American government employees have ever been held captive -- no word on them until now, a possible sighting that confirms s they're alive. The question tonight, is anything really being done to help them? We will investigate.
Plus: He helped polygamist leader Warren Jeffs when Jeffs was on the lam. Now he's suing him. And he's trying to get his family back from the church that he says took them away.
All that is ahead -- but, first, the immigration battle.
You're looking at a vigil going on right now in MacArthur Park in Los Angeles. Organizers call it a procession and vigil for justice, liberty, and immigration reform.
Now, this, of course, is the same spot where, earlier this month, L.A. police fired rubber bullets and swung nightsticks at protesters and reporters and bystanders alike. Tonight, the police are under investigation. And, in Washington, an immigration compromise is on the table, 380 pages worth hammered out by Senate and White House negotiators.
Here's how the plan works. After meeting certain criteria, millions of illegal immigrants receive temporary visas called Z visas before applying for permanent legal status. They must also pay a $5,000 fine. Each head of household would have to return to his or her country of origin within eight years. They are guaranteed admission back in.
And green cards would be awarded based on a point system that would favor education over family ties.
Now, the plan also doubles border patrols, expands the border fence with Mexico, and creates 400,000 guest-worker slots.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a bill where people who live here in our country will be treated without amnesty, but without animosity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, that's how the president sees it.
To many in Washington and around the country, it still amounts to amnesty. The compromise now heads into what is expected to be a bruising battle in the Senate and especially the House. That's because the country is divided, or of two minds, depending on how you frame the question.
Take a look at the latest CNN/Opinion Research polling data. When asked if they favored building a 700-mile-long fence on the U.S.- Mexican border, 45 percent said yes; 53 percent said no. On the question of letting foreign nationals in to work, even without a chance at citizenship, it was 48 percent yes, 50 percent no.
When it comes to letting illegals stay if they have a job and pay back taxes, however, 80 percent favor that. But in other recent polls, one that phrases the questions differently, the margin changes drastically.
With all that in mind, I spoke earlier with Frank Sharry, the executive director of the National Immigration Forum, and CNN's Lou Dobbs.
COOPER: Lou, everyone from the White House, Republican Senator Arlen Specter, making a point that this is not amnesty.
LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Right.
COOPER: Is it?
DOBBS: Well, Congressman Brian Bilbray said, the more that he heard that it wasn't amnesty today, the more he believes it is amnesty.
And, obviously, the devil is in the details. And the details are not even beginning to surface, let alone the broad outlines. It's going to be days before anyone can read this document that is not yet written. So, it's very hard to tell whether there is real sincerity, real backbone on the border security provisions, and whether there are real and determined, sincere efforts to bring enforcement of U.S. immigration law to bear.
Without those two things, this deal, no matter how ballyhooed the -- the result today on Capitol Hill, it hasn't got a chance in the world.
COOPER: Frank, let me ask you the same question. A, is this real, playing off what Lou said, and, also, is it amnesty? FRANK SHARRY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM: I think it's very real. I mean, it's extraordinary to have Senator Jon Kyl, a senator from Arizona with impeccable security and enforcement credentials, coming up with a deal with Ted Kennedy and Ken Salazar, who have impeccable pro-immigrant credentials.
And they figured it out. You get tough at the border. You get tough on employers. You figure out how to bring immigrants and immigration out of the shadows, and the combination is, we end illegal immigration as know it.
COOPER: Is it granting amnesty, though?
COOPER: Is it rewarding those who got into this country illegally?
SHARRY: No. Amnesty is a free pass to the front of the line.
What we have here is, you have -- you have to sign up. You have to pay a fine of $5,000, go through a process of eight years of learning English, paying taxes, living crime-free. And, then, at the end of that period, you have to make a home application in your home country and get to the back of the line, so you can get a green card. That's not amnesty in my book.
COOPER: Lou, it says 6,000 new border agents, 370 miles of additional fencing.
COOPER: Does that sound like good numbers to you?
DOBBS: Well, Duncan Hunter, the -- the -- the Republican from California who put through the border fence, over 750 miles of it, last year, put into law -- they have now constructed two miles of it -- as he said today, this compromise reduces that fence to just about half what he put into law. And they have only built two miles of it anyway, which means, by the time George Bush leaves office, they should have up about 10 miles of fence along our -- our 2,000-mile border.
COOPER: Frank, there is a temporary-worker program in this proposal. Each work visa lasts two years. It can be renewed up to three times. In between renewals, the worker has to leave the U.S. Do you have any problems with the program?
SHARRY: We do. I think that's going to be one of the most controversial aspects of this package, the idea that temporary workers who come -- some want to come and go home. And that's not a problem, of course.
But some will end up sinking roots and wanting to become an American. And we just have to have a meaningful path to citizenship for some of those who come, so that we don't reproduce the illegality that this bill is designed to stop.
DOBBS: Well, one of the questions that arises, Anderson, if I may, is, right now, very few senators have even seen the outlines of this compromise.
The second part of that is, we don't know how many illegal aliens are in this country, whether they be 12 million or 20 million, or some number in between. The question is, are senators, are congressmen and this president prepared to just simply give all of them a -- a path to citizenship or amnesty?
And is there going to be a cap on the number? Because, if there's not a cap on the number, we could see a -- just a surge in illegal immigration that will confound even the best and most sincere efforts of those proponents of this compromise. That's very troubling.
COOPER: Frank, what about that? Is there a cap on a number? There's certainly, I know, a date limit. I think it goes back to January 1.
SHARRY: Sure. Sure.
COOPER: But does that really matter?
SHARRY: Look, there -- there's certainly a cap on the number of people who are going to be admitted in the future.
But, listen, if we're going to -- I mean, the American people are hungry for a solution. And they want their leaders to lead. I mean, it's extraordinary that you had this group of bipartisan senators saying, look, let's figure out if we can walk and chew gum at the same time. Let's build some fencing on the border. Let's increase the agents. Let's get tough on employers who hire people here illegally and combine that with...
COOPER: But didn't they talk about doing this back in '86, and -- and they passed the law, and none -- the enforcement provisions really weren't upheld?
SHARRY: The -- the enforcement wasn't tough enough. The legalization wasn't good enough. And it made no provision for the fact that some workers are needed as a future flow to fill labor market needs.
DOBBS: But we have had -- Frank, you -- you know we...
SHARRY: This bill is going to be -- this bill is going to be -- is going to be a much better approach to solving the problem. I honestly think that we're going to reduce illegal immigration significantly over the next five years because of this bill.
COOPER: We are going to have to leave it there.
COOPER: Frank Sharry, Lou Dobbs, good to have you on the program.
DOBBS: Good to be with you.
COOPER: We were surprised at how the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. has surged over the years. Take a look at this "Raw Data."
In 1980, there were an estimated three million undocumented people in the U.S. -- three million -- five million in 1995. By 2000, the figure was at 8.4 million. Today, it stands at some 12 million. But some estimates put it as high as 20 million.
I want to show you a picture now. Take a look at these three people. You have probably never seen them before. They are Americans held hostage, not in Iraq or Iran or any place you might expect. They're being held on the territory of a neighbor and ally of this country, and they have been held captive by rebel fighters for the last four years.
Their families have kept their stories alive. And, today, they got a piece of hope. It comes from a man who literally walked and crawled and swam his way out of the jungles of Colombia to bring it.
His story and theirs now from 360's Randi Kaye.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He emerged from out of nowhere, a gaunt, shadowy figure from the Amazon jungle who holds clues to three missing Americans. He brought hope, all soured by a tale of terror.
JHON FRANK PINCHAO, ESCAPED HOSTAGE (through translator): They would chain us to each other's necks to sleep. There were months when we had to wear them for 24 hours. Most recently, we only wore them for 12 hours.
KAYE: After nearly nine years in captivity, Jhon Frank Pinchao says he slipped out of his chains when the guards weren't looking, then walked 17 days through the jungle, before police picked him up.
He was held captive a group called by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as FARC. FARC has been at war for decades with the Colombian government. It's blamed for the kidnappings of hundreds, including police, politicians and U.S. civilians.
Just weeks before escaping, Pinchao says he caught a glimpse of these men, the longest-held U.S. government hostages ever, seen here in this proof-of-life documentary by a Colombian journalist, captured in February 2003. They had been working for Defense Department contractor Northrop Grumman, surveying fields of cocoa, a key ingredient for cocaine, when their plane crashed.
MARC GONSALVES, HOSTAGE OF FARC: I love you guys. And I'm just waiting to come home.
KAYE: This video was taken only months after Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes, and Keith Stansell were kidnapped. Until now, it's been the only solid evidence they were taken alive.
JO ROSANO, MOTHER OF HOSTAGE: I have other evidence from God. He tells me every day in my heart that he's alive and he will be home.
KAYE: And, if Marc Gonsalves' mother, Jo Rosano, needs more proof, it may be this e-mail sent from another hostage's brother just before Mother's Day. She believes this part is from her son.
ROSANO: "You have the complete adored mom security. And, any moment, we are -- we are going to reunite. For that reason, you must take care of oneself."
I read it over and over and over.
KAYE: Rosano says she has visited Colombia three times to urge the government to find her son.
ROSANO: I look around. I see all these mountains. And I say, my son's somewhere up there. And I am getting no help at all from this government, no help at all.
KAYE (on camera): Have you contracted President Bush? Have you attempted to reach him about this?
ROSANO: Oh, my gosh. I e-mailed him about 50, 60 times. And all I got was an automated e-mail.
KAYE: FARC considers the men political prisoners, and says they will only be released in an exchange for FARC prisoners held by U.S. and Colombian governments. But the U.S. does not negotiate with terrorists. And FARC, in the eyes of the federal government, is a terrorist group.
(voice-over): A rescue attempt, it seems, could be too dangerous.
PINCHAO (through translator): They told us that their responsibility was to keep us alive, but that the minute a rescue attempt was made, and we cannot extract them all alive, we will have to kill you.
KAYE: Northrop Grumman released this statement today: "Northrop Grumman continues to work on efforts to secure the safe, timely release of all three employees. We are deeply concerned about news reports of a possible health issue involving one of our employees." Pinchao says Gonsalves has hepatitis. His mother worries he won't survive. She also fears he will be punished for Pinchao's escape.
PINCHAO (through translator): I asked God to protect them. I hope they are not paying the price because of me. But I imagine they are.
KAYE: The U.S. State Department is again promising action.
SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We want to see these three returned to their families safely, and as soon as possible. And we're going to do whatever we believe is appropriate to make sure that that happens.
KAYE: Until then, Jo Rosano will continue to pray, hoping somebody hears her...
ROSANO: Thank you, lord.
KAYE: ... hoping her son, too, might someday simply appear out of the jungle.
Randi Kaye, CNN, Bristol, Connecticut.
COOPER: And joining me now are Keith Stansell's stepmom and dad, Lynne and Gene, his daughter, Lauren, and son, Kyle.
Appreciate all of you being with us. I'm sorry it's under these circumstances.
Gene, it must have been an extraordinary moment when you heard the news that your son was seen.
GENE STANSELL, FATHER OF HOSTAGE: Yes.
And good evening, Anderson.
It was a wonderful moment. This is the first time that we have really had proof of life in over four years -- or, rather, the second time. The first was on a video done by an independent person in Colombia.
COOPER: What kind of communications have you had with the U.S. government, with the Colombian government? Do you feel people are really working as hard as they can to try to get your son out?
G. STANSELL: Well, I'm sure that they are. Grumman Corporation has been wonderful. They have done everything they can do.
The problem with the government is this policy of not dealing with terrorists, which I can understand. However, there are other governments that are at least talking to these people. And it would seem that, if we can't deal with the FARC directly, we could at least get a little information.
We have written letters for the past four years, made several recordings that Grumman has attempted to broadcast. I understand that, occasionally, the guys do have access to a radio. But we do not really know whether they are aware of anything that's going on. We have heard nothing from them.
COOPER: And, Lauren, you recently wrote an article about your dad's situation for the local -- for a local paper in Colombia. What was the idea of that? You thought maybe that they -- he might be able to see it somehow?
LAUREN STANSELL, DAUGHTER OF HOSTAGE: Right.
We have heard that they get some old articles from time to times. We are hoping that, by having the article in the Colombian paper, that, at some point, you know, they might get a scrap of it, and just know that we do remember, and we are thinking of them, and that they haven't been forgotten.
COOPER: And, Kyle, you were only 10 when your dad was taken. You must still -- I mean, you must think about him every day.
KYLE STANSELL, SON OF HOSTAGE: Yes, sir. It was a -- a long time ago. A lot of things have changed, sir.
COOPER: Lauren, what do you -- what do you want people to know about -- I mean, how do you get through this? You know, four years, day in and day out, and not knowing. I mean, today, as Gene was saying, was a good day, because you got a first proof of life.
LAUREN STANSELL: Right.
COOPER: But how do you get through those bad days?
LAUREN STANSELL: Thanks to my dad. He taught me how to be a survivor. Without him, I wouldn't have been able to do it, my brother or myself. I think he kind of knew that we were going to need those skills one day.
COOPER: Lauren, how -- how has it been -- Lynne -- I'm sorry -- how -- how has it been for you?
LYNNE STANSELL, STEPMOTHER OF HOSTAGE: It's been a long four years.
We're just very, very grateful for this coverage. If we can encourage, somehow, our State Department, our -- our federal government to help somehow in effecting a hostage exchange -- we pray they don't try to go in and overcome the FARC, because we know that we won't see Keith home and Marc and Tom home alive.
So, we're praying that they do a humanitarian exchange. And that's -- that's our faith, just -- we're very grateful for this proof of life, that this man has -- had seen our son just maybe two weeks ago, and that he was alive and well, and that all three Americans are alive and well. We're -- we're just praying that we can get a humanitarian exchange going.
COOPER: And I know, you know, you hope...
G. STANSELL: We hope...
COOPER: I'm sorry, Gene. Go ahead.
G. STANSELL: I'm sorry.
We hope that they are receiving good medical attention, the best possible under the circumstances...
LYNNE STANSELL: Right.
G. STANSELL: ... because we have heard that they're -- the -- in the case -- IN Marc's case, that he was sick. And we -- we wish him the very best, as well as all the other captives there.
LYNNE STANSELL: Right.
COOPER: And, if there's any way -- you know, I don't know -- our program is seen in Colombia, all throughout the region. If there's any way...
LYNNE STANSELL: Yes.
COOPER: ... they could possibly hear this, is there a message you want to send to them?
LAUREN STANSELL: We just want them to be strong and keep their faith, and know that they're not forgotten, that there are people working hard every day to bring them home soon, but safely.
LYNNE STANSELL: Yes, and that we are working on a humanitarian exchange, rather than trying to go in and -- and free them, because Keith said on the video that was made six months after he was captured, please don't try to come in here and free us that way, because we may come home, but it won't be coming home alive. So...
G. STANSELL: And Keith...
LYNNE STANSELL: ... we're praying.
G. STANSELL: Keith pretty well knows what he's talking about. He's an ex-Marine. He's an outdoorsman, a hunter. And he's very well-informed on what could happen to them.
G. STANSELL: And they're guarded -- from everything I have read, they're guarded primarily by teenagers within 14. So, it's a rough situation.
LYNNE STANSELL: Right. G. STANSELL: Yes.
COOPER: Well, Gene and Lin and Lauren and Kyle, I appreciate you talking about it. And I hope the message gets to them. And -- and I hope -- hope your prayers are answered. And we will be thinking about you and thinking about Keith and all the other hostages. Thank you.
LAUREN STANSELL: Thank you very much, Anderson.
G. STANSELL: Thank you for this coverage.
LYNNE STANSELL: Thank you, sir.
K. STANSELL: Appreciate it.
COOPER: Hard to imagine what it's like -- four years.
Coming up: more pressure on one of the president's top men.
COOPER (voice-over): New trouble for one Al, new buzz about another.
AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am Al Gore. I used to be the next president.
COOPER: From Gore, to Gonzales, to her legal battle with the president's right-hand man -- "Raw Politics."
Also tonight: He says they took his wife and baby.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They tell me to -- to walk away. They're not mine, that they have been placed to another man.
COOPER: They are the polygamist sect run by Warren Jeffs. He is a man who once called Jeffs his prophet. Now his family is still missing, so he's talking and suing -- when 360 continues.
Cooper: You know, sometimes, it's hard to know where to start "Raw Politics," but not tonight. After weeks of controversy, World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz has agreed to step down. In Washington- speak, the bank's board of directors accepted his resignation, but make no mistake. He was pushed.
Here's CNN's Tom Foreman.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the embattled World Bank president was under intense scrutiny for a sweetheart pay package for a close female friend at the bank.
Board members say they accept that he acted ethically and in good faith. But, in the name keeping them honest, they also say a number of mistakes were made. He will be gone by the end of June.
Alberto Gonzales still in his job, but top Democrats want a no- confidence vote.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: It is clear that the time has come for the attorney general to step down.
FOREMAN: Worse, another big Republican, Norm Coleman, says a cloud of suspicion means new leadership is needed at the Justice Department.
And, if that's not enough bad news for the White House, Valerie Plame was in court today, pressing her plans to sue the vice president, Karl Rove, and a few others over outing her as a CIA spy. The defendants say this is just a vendetta by Ms. Plame, who lost her job and has been subject to widespread public scrutiny.
Well, guys, funny how that works out, isn't it?
Republicans count on conservative Christians to help them win elections. And now the highly influential religious leader James Dobson says he will sit out the campaign if Rudy Giuliani gets the nomination, doesn't like Rudy's position on abortion rights or his three marriages.
And would you vote for this guy?
GORE: I am Al Gore. I used to be the next president of the United States of America.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
FOREMAN: Former Vice President Al Gore, like the ghost of elections past, is showing up in a lot of places, "TIME" magazine, pushing a new book. So, chatter is ramping up about a candidacy. Let's hear the theme song from the Draft Gore Web site.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Run, Al, run. How can you lose when you already won?
FOREMAN: Wow. That's really, really bad.
This could be good news for many Democrats who are not satisfied with their choices as of yet. But, for the front-runners, this will have them feeling the heat. And it won't be global warming.
It will be "Raw Politics" -- Anderson.
COOPER: Tom, thanks.
Just a reminder: You can watch "Raw Politics" and the day's headlines whenever you want on our new 360 daily podcast.
Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh.
You can download it -- I added that in -- at CNN.com/AC360podcast, or get it from the iTunes store, where it is a top download.
Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh.
Erica Hill joins us now a 360 bulletin.
COOPER: Hey, Erica.
ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, more airstrikes and more deaths in Gaza. At least six Palestinians, including a Hamas militant, were killed in six airstrikes by Israel.
Those airstrikes were in retaliation for rocket attacks. And Gaza City is a battlefield, with two Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, fighting one another. Many Israelis feel the rocket attacks are actually an attempt by Hamas to provoke an Israeli ground battle.
And at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, forensic experts hope to soon have an I.D. on the fourth U.S. soldier killed in an ambush last Saturday in Iraq. Three other U.S. soldiers are missing after that attack. And, once they do know the fourth soldier's I.D., then they will know which three Americans are missing.
And, near Sacramento, California, hundreds of people lining a river to watch biologists try to lure an injured humpback whale and her calf back to the Pacific Ocean, some 90 miles away. It could take weeks to get them back where they belong. Experts, though, are hoping that recorded songs of humpback whales may inspire them to make that trek.
COOPER: Aww. Let's hope so.
HILL: Keeping our fingers crossed for that one.
HILL: All right, on now to the "What Were They Thinking?" of the night. Anderson, I don't know about you, but "American Idol" has me back as a fan this season.
COOPER: I hear you.
HILL: And I was -- I was super upset last night, Melinda Doolittle getting the boot. America, what were you thinking? Here's what happened. She is the singer with, frankly, just an incredible voice. She is Simon Cowell's personal favorite. He was visibly upset when she was voted off.
In fact, the decision surprised a lot of people, many thinking she was really the best of the bunch. But she's heading off -- making it to the finals, Jordin Sparks, and the human beat box, better known as Blake Lewis -- Paula a big fan of Blake. Randy might be, too. I don't know.
Simon, I'm not sure who he would go for. But, then again, it doesn't matter, because America votes, right, Anderson?
COOPER: That's true.
HILL: Do you vote?
COOPER: Oh, gosh, that's true.
I have not yet voted, no.
HILL: I haven't voted either.
COOPER: I interviewed Simon Cowell for "60 Minutes," but I have not actually voted.
HILL: All right.
HILL: What's your favorite in the final?
COOPER: I was surprised Melinda -- I mean, I kind of -- I -- I haven't been following it as closely this season as I normally do, because my TiVo's broken, which is...
HILL: Oh, no.
COOPER: Yes, I know. It's...
HILL: It's no good.
COOPER: ... derailed my entire life.
But -- so, I haven't been able to catch it as much, because I usually work during time of night.
COOPER: But, Melinda, I -- I was kind of rooting for.
HILL: I know. I think she's going to be all right, though.
COOPER: You think?
HILL: Oh, gosh, you kidding? She's got -- she's going to have a record deal. She will be fine. I will buy her album.
COOPER: You know, there have been a lot of people on "American Idol" who I thought they were great. And then they get voted like the third to last to go. And you think, oh, they will come back, but then you never hear of them again.
HILL: Yes, but then look at the people who win, like, say, the Taylor Hicks, the Anderson Cooper wannabe, shall we say?
HILL: He hasn't -- not that he's doing poorly, but he hasn't really shone -- you know, shined as much as some other winners. So, there you go.
COOPER: He's no Clay Aiken.
HILL: Well, who is?
COOPER: Well, yes, that is true.
HILL: There's only Clay.
COOPER: That is true.
Erica, thank you.
HILL: See you later.
Now here's John Roberts with what's coming up tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, thanks, Anderson.
Coming up on "AMERICAN MORNING": a new way to test child car seats, not for safety in a crash, but for the chemicals used to make them. We're going to demonstrate a new X-ray machine that shows if your baby's car seat might be toxic.
Join us for "AMERICAN MORNING," beginning at 6:00 a.m. Eastern -- Anderson, back to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: John, thank you very much.
Up next: When polygamist leader Warren Jeffs went to jail, he left his wives in good hands.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Special foods, special clothing, just almost like princesses. I'm going to say queens and princesses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now the young man who helped watch over those polygamist princesses says the church is keeping his wife and son from him. His fight to get his family back -- coming up next.
COOPER: We've been following this guy's case for some time now. Warren Jeffs, polygamist sect leader, self-proclaimed prophet of God, and now prisoner awaiting trial.
Tonight, the strange saga of Warren Jeffs turns even darker. We're going to tell you the story from a young man who was driven out of the church. And what he says Jeffs took from him, is frankly hard to believe.
CNN's Gary Tuchman reports.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Twenty-two-year- old Wendell Musser has a construction business in western Idaho. Keeping busy helps him cope with the mystery involving the two loves of his life: his wife, Vivian, and his toddler son, Levi.
WENDELL MUSSER, FORMER FLDS CHURCH MEMBER: I missed his first birthday. He just started walking when I got excommunicated.
TUCHMAN: Excommunicated from the church run by polygamist leader Warren Jeffs. And as a punishment, Musser says Vivian and Levi were taken from him. And nobody will tell him where they are.
(on camera) Have you searched for them?
MUSSER: Yes, I've searched everywhere for them, where we've lived in Colorado and Utah and Arizona. I've talked to her father, my father, families.
TUCHMAN: Who are still in the church?
TUCHMAN: And they won't talk to you?
MUSSER: No one will talk to me. Yes.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Warren Jeffs is now in jail, awaiting trial. He's accused of arranging marriages of young girls to men. He's pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.
But for those still devoted for the church, devotion to Jeffs, who they believe is a prophet, often takes precedence over one's own flesh and blood.
(on camera) Do the officials in the church know where she is?
MUSSER: Yes, they do.
TUCHMAN: And what do they tell you when you say you want to be brought back to your wife?
MUSSER: They tell me to walk away. To -- that they're not mine, that they've been placed to another man.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Musser says he has 45 brothers and sisters and three mothers. And he had a special relationship with Warren Jeffs.
MUSSER: He is my uncle, my real uncle. My mother is his sister.
TUCHMAN: In the winter of 2005, he received a phone call from the so-called prophet, who Musser estimates has around 180 wives.
MUSSER: He said I qualified for a mission and to be a caretaker for his family.
TUCHMAN: Jeffs asked Musser to move to a rural area of Colorado, and take care of some of his wives while he was on the run. Musser told his prophet protecting the wives was a privilege.
MUSSER: They had high needs: special foods, special clothing. Just almost like princesses, I'm going to say. Queens and princesses.
TUCHMAN (on camera): Wendell Musser says he moved three times with the same eight or nine of Warren Jeffs' wives, most recently to this house in the isolated Colorado mountain community of Westcliffe.
He says Jeffs spent time here but presumably spent more time at other secret locations with other wives. So, in essence, Musser was the leader of this polygamist household.
Last spring, around the same time that Jeffs reached the pinnacle of infamy by appearing on the FBI's ten most wanted list, Musser's world came crashing down.
(voice-over) He was arrested for DWI. After spending two days in jail, he went back to the mountain home.
(on camera) You got to the house. And your family was gone?
MUSSER: They were gone, yes.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): So were all of Jeffs' wives. Wendell Musser had been stripped of his position as the caretaker and stripped of his family. (on camera) This is the ultimate punishment in this church, isn't it?
GREG HOOLE, MUSSER'S LAWYER: Absolutely. Banishment.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): So Musser's lawyer, Greg Hoole, has filed a most unusual lawsuit: a request for a judge to order Warren Jeffs to reveal where Vivian and Levi are.
MUSSER: I still think of her every day. And I like to think that she thinks about me. She can't help that; look at our little boy. And I mean, we had so much together.
TUCHMAN: Musser has talked with the police about Jeffs, including about how Jeffs' wives didn't know how to act when he would make his occasional visits to the picturesque hideaway.
MUSSER: We would have the room set up in a way where he could sit in front of us and talk to us.
TUCHMAN (on camera): What would he talk to you about?
MUSSER: He would read his revelations. And it was like a meeting.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Church officials would not comment to CNN about the lawsuit.
Musser says that now, for the first time in his life, he can be responsible for himself, but his heart aches for his little son. And he's adamant that he will wait as long as it takes to find out if Vivian wants him as much as he wants her.
MUSSER: I think that she would think that's very honorable and that I really do love her a lot to be waiting for her like I am and looking for her.
Reporter: Gary Tuchman, CNN, Payette, Idaho.
COOPER: Gary called Wendell's father today to ask him about his son and his grandson. He said, "No comment, thank you," and then hung up the phone.
Up next, the investigator who's working Wendell's case. An award winning investigative reporter, Mike Watkiss, who has been following the FLDS and Warren Jeffs for years.
Also tonight, "Keeping Them Honest". A deadly problem in what the government is or isn't doing about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (voice-over): A toddler nearly died. Others did from tainted spinach. Lawmakers promised action. That was last year. What about now?
MICHAEL ARMSTRONG, FATHER OF E. COLI VICTIM: I was pretty angered. Especially after I found out this is a known problem. They came back and said, "The spinach is fine. You can eat it." It's back on the shelf. What did they do differently? What did they change to make it safe?
COOPER: That's what we wanted to know. 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta is keeping them honest.
Also tonight, a sicko attacks inside a church. But wait until you see the victim go Old Testament on him. Details and your chance to nail a pervert, when 360 continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TUCHMAN: Have you searched for them?
MUSSER: Yes, I've searched everywhere for them, where we've lived in Colorado and Utah and Arizona. I've talked to her father, my father, our families.
TUCHMAN: Who are still in the church?
TUCHMAN: And they won't talk to you?
MUSSER: No one will talk to me, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Hard to imagine. Once again, that's Wendell Musser, talking with 360's Gary Tuchman about his search for his wife and children. He claims jailed polygamist Warren Jeffs took them away from him. Now he's asking a judge to force Jeffs to reveal where they are.
For more on the case and on polygamy in America, Mike Watkiss joins us. He's a reporter for KTVK in Phoenix. And Gary Engels is an investigator for Mojave County, Arizona's, attorney's office. Gentlemen, appreciate both of you being with us.
Gary, you interviewed Wendell Musser. You've been working this case. What's the latest?
Hey, Gary, this is Anderson. Can you hear me?
GARY ENGELS, INVESTIGATOR, MOJAVE COUNTY ATTORNEY'S OFFICE: Now, I can, yes.
COOPER: OK. Great. You've been working this case. You've been trying to follow up on leads. What's the latest on Wendell Musser's case? ENGELS: Well, you know, as a missing persons report, there's not a lot we can do other than enter it on a computer and make contact with individuals who we think might know where they are. And that's been done by the Mojave County Sheriff's Department. Both Wendell Musser's father and Vivian's father have been contacted, and they've not been willing to cooperate.
COOPER: And I guess without cooperation, there's not much you can do?
ENGELS: There's not much we can do, other than keep them listed on the computer. And if they're ever contacted by any law enforcement agencies, we'll be contacted.
COOPER: Mike, what's going on in the Jeffs trial right now?
MIKE WATKISS, KTVK REPORTER: Well, it's basically at a stand still. He has some very top-notch lawyers who are basically lawyering this thing to death. They're objecting to everything, entering what are called interlocutory appeals. Basically, they're appealing much of the trial before there's been a trial.
Trial was set to start at the end of last month. With all of the lawyering now going on -- and this is pig heaven for defense lawyers, because you basically have a client with unlimited resources. They're being paid by the hour. And they're good lawyers. And they are lawyering this from top to bottom.
So we don't even have a trial date. They're looking at change of venue. They're looking at his mental health. So many issues now on the table. And the trial, nowhere in sight.
COOPER: Mike, last month, I understand Jeffs stood up, asked the judge if he could read a statement. The judge denied a statement to be read. But a local news photographer zoomed in on it. I've got a picture of the statement. And it read, "I've not been a prophet. And I am not a prophet." Any sense of what that means?
WATKISS: Well, I was about three feet away from Mr. Jeffs when he made that sort of abrupt jump in court. Very end of trial. And tried to address the judge. And again, we did get a look at what was on that document. Apparently, telling the judge he's not a prophet.
I think it's all very interesting, and it may have impact on his followers. But I think from a prosecutorial point of view, it doesn't matter a bit.
What Mr. Jeffs is saying today has really no bearing on the way he was conducting himself when these alleged crimes -- he was obviously holding himself up to be the prophet, putting this young woman, this 14-year-old young woman, into a marriage with her cousin that she didn't want. That's the basis of the Utah trial.
So the bottom line is, what he's saying now, I don't think it impacts the prosecutors a bit. They say he's guilty of the crimes. He was acting as the prophet at that time. And he did this to this young woman. That's what they want to go in and prove to a jury.
COOPER: Gary, since the trial is under way, have you seen any changes in the FDLS community?
ENGELS: Well, I've seen a little bit of change. Some of the people that live up here that are no longer FLDS members tell me that some of the individuals around here that snubbed them before have been more friendly to them.
But I have not seen a lot of change. And I don't think we'll see much change in this community for many years. It will be real slow.
COOPER: But they still consider Jeffs the prophet?
ENGELS: I think that there are the die-hards that will always consider him the prophet. There are those that are probably questioning it right now.
COOPER: Mike, you were telling me before about Gary as an investigator. This case has only gotten this far because of the work of reporters like yourself, but also law enforcement like Gary.
WATKISS: I've been covering this story long enough to know who the good guys and the bad guys are in terms of the officials in both Utah and Arizona. Most of them have been cowards. They have let this go unchecked for many years.
Gary Engels, about three years ago, stepped up and does something that nobody else has done. After much of the reportage and the activists sort of drew attention to this, the Mojave County attorney, a guy named Matt Smith, real gutsy guy, hired Gary Engels to go in and be basically the one outside law officer in that community.
He has been instrumental at putting the case against Jeffs together. Also, putting together cases against several of his followers down in Kingman, Arizona. Gary Engels is a cop who has gone where nobody else has gone.
COOPER: Gary, appreciate what you've done and being on the program. Mike Watkiss, it's always good to talk to you.
We'll continue to follow it. Thanks very much.
WATKISS: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: Let's get your thoughts on Warren Jeffs, polygamy and the case you've heard about tonight. Just send us an e-mail by logging onto our blog at CNN.com/360blog. Again, that's CNN.com/360blog.
Up next, poisoned food danger. What could be done that isn't being done to make food more safe? 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta is "Keeping Them Honest".
Plus, a sickening attack inside a church. It was all caught on tape. How the victim fought back, ahead on 360. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: Tonight, we're "Keeping Them Honest" and turning our cameras on food safety. Today, the FDA said that farmed fish that may have eaten tainted ingredients from China should be safe to eat. The agency has found no traces of contamination.
Two days ago, declared 56,000 pigs safe, as well. Many dogs and cats, of course, weren't so lucky. Some died from kidney failure.
And as for humans, well, the scare has left many of us wondering once again if we can really trust the food we eat. It's the focus of an hour-long CNN special this weekend. And tonight, Sanjay Gupta has a preview.
Remember that deadly spinach outbreak last year? The one that turned the ultimate health food into a killer? Take a look.
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A year ago, Ashley Armstrong was a healthy, rambunctious 2-year-old. Some kids won't eat vegetables. But Ashley, no problem.
ELIZABETH ARMSTRONG, MOTHER OF E. COLI VICTIM: We're very healthy eaters. We love lots of salads. Lots of fresh vegetables. Fresh fruits.
GUPTA: Then last September, after a family dinner of lasagna and spinach salad, Ashley got sick, with vomiting and diarrhea.
(on camera) Well, what happened next with Ashley?
E. ARMSTRONG: We found blood in her diaper. And that didn't seem right. It started getting worse. More frequent. That's when they saw her kidneys were failing.
GUPTA (voice-over): The culprit, E. coli 0157-H7, the bad kind. Once, it was a problem in tainted hamburgers. But since 1995, there have been more than 20 outbreaks linked to fresh greens, like the baby spinach in the Armstrong's salad.
After weeks for fighting for her life and months of dialysis, Ashley is home again, but life will never be the same. She's on several medications. Doctors say she'll need a kidney transplant in a few years. Fresh vegetables are strictly limited.
E. ARMSTRONG: We thought it was safe. It says wash three times. We put it in a bowl, and we ate it for dinner. And our lives were changed forever.
M. ARMSTRONG: I was pretty angry. Actually. Especially after we found out this is a known problem. They came back and said, even two or three weeks after the outbreak, "It's fine now. Spinach is fine. You can eat it." It's back on the shelf. What did they do differently? What have they changed to make it safe? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you tell the truth and nothing but the truth?
GUPTA: The Armstrongs testified before Congress, asking for tougher food safety laws.
M. ARMSTRONG: Wasn't getting better. It was getting worse.
GUPTA: Most spinach growers are now taking voluntary steps to keep their spinach safe. Congress must decide if that's enough.
(on camera) Now, along with those congressional hearings, Democrats in the House and the Senate have introduced bills to beef up, if you will, food safety. They told us it's not likely to pass this year.
Ashley's recovery is ongoing. She went back to school a few months ago, is doing well physically. But she still has these long- term health issues. Doctors say there's no doubt she's going to need a kidney transplant, probably in three to ten years.
Because she's so young, she's likely to need multiple transplants. A kidney typically lasts about 20 years, so she gets a transplant at age 10, she's probably going to need another at age 30 and so on and so on.
You know, Anderson, on a personal note, as a father it was hard to hear some of the story from Ashley's parents, especially when Mr. Armstrong talked about watching her lie there and thinking, "It's my job to protect her. I couldn't do anything. It could easily happen to anyone."
The whole story is extremely powerful, extremely moving. You can see it all on my special this weekend.
COOPER: As Sanjay said, the special, "Danger: Poisoned Food", airs on CNN this Saturday and Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern.
Still ahead on the program tonight, our special report about part of the world we all need to know better: Africa. "Dispatches from the Edge". And you've heard about the tortoise and the hare? How about the tortoise and the cat? It's our "Shot of the Day" is coming up next.
COOPER: "The Shot of the Day" is coming up. Yesterday, it was the rabbit versus the snake. Tonight, it's a tortoise versus a cat. That's right. We can't pass up on the zany animals.
First, Erica Hill from Headline News joins us again with the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica. ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, police in Middletown, New York, are searching for a man who sexually assaulted a woman inside a church. The attack was caught on tape. The suspect leaps on top of the woman, gropes her. She fights back, stabs him in the neck with a pen. And then he fled. All of this happening in less than a minute.
We have some more now on the resignation of embattled World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz. Today, he agreed to step down on June 30, after a bank panel said he broke rules by arranging a generous pay package for his girlfriend back in 2005. She worked at the bank and was transferred to the State Department to avoid a conflict of interest but stayed on the bank's payroll, and her salary climbed higher and higher.
On Wall Street, stocks slipping today. The Dow fell 10 points to close at 13,476. The NASDAQ and the S&P also finished the day down.
And check out the most expensive hybrid car. It's a $124,000 Lexus sedan. It went on sale today in Japan. It will arrive in the U.S. later this year. The gas/electric hybrid has a V-8 engine. It can accelerate from 0 to 62, in 5.5 seconds. Are you going to turn in the subway card for it or what?
COOPER: I'm going to stick with the subway for now. Actually, yes.
Time for the "Shot of the Day". It looks like a very nice car, though. It's time for the "Shot of the Day". We bring you an animal battle, a tortoise versus a cat. That's right. The tortoise is defending its turf in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The cat, much bigger. Doesn't scare the tortoise. The tortoise takes on the cat.
HILL: I may be little, but I'm mighty. I'm a tortoise.
COOPER: The video was shot by I-Reporter Salvio Myer. We appreciate it. Kind of cool. The tortoise just runs right up there.
HILL. I know. It cracks me up. And the cat's like, come here. I'm going to get a piece of you. Flees. The tortoise keeps on going.
COOPER: That's right. Apparently, no cats or tortoises were harmed in the filming of that video.
HILL: Thankfully. Some of the grass may have been flattened. But that's all.
COOPER: Yes. If you see your report, some ants may be squished. What can you do about that?
HILL: Yes. They're small.
COOPER: If you see -- if you see or record some cool video, tell us about it: CNN.com/360. We'll put some of your best clips on the air.
And up next on 360, truce on the battle of the border. Is the compromise legislation on immigration reform amnesty or not?
We'll let you decide. Both sides represented.
Plus, we'll take you inside Africa, a country often ignored New insight about Africa's problems with correspondent Jeff Koinange. It's a 360 special report, "Africa: Dispatches from the Edge". It's coming up.
COOPER: You're watching the only live newscast on cable right now.
Tonight, we'll take you to a place of unparalleled riches and beauty, the birthplace of all of us. We'll show you where the beauty endures, where the wealth is being squandered and the heritage torn by violence. We're talking about Africa.
The report is called "Dispatches from the Edde", and it's coming up in the hour ahead.
But first a quick look at the latest headlines, starting with immigration. Crafting it was easy, passing it may be even tougher. But Americans have said they want the battle on the border settled, so doing nothing simply was not an alternative.
COOPER (voice-over): Americans demanded action, and today they got it.
SEN. TED KENNEDY: In the agreement we just reached is the best possible chance we will have in years to secure our borders, bring millions of people out of the shadows and into the sunshine of America.
COOPER: A bipartisan group of senators struck a landmark deal that could pave the way to citizenship for every undocumented man, woman and child in this country.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com