Skip to main content
Search
Services


 

Return to Transcripts main page

ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

CIA Secrets Revealed; Government Doing Enough to Keep America's Pets Safe?

Aired June 22, 2007 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Randi Kaye.
In just a few minutes, Anderson has got a 360 "Keeping Them Honest" special report, a look at how millions of your tax dollars are being spent on Capitol Hill and beyond. We're following the cash requests, seeking the truth, holding lawmakers accountable.

First, we're "Keeping Them Honest" at the CIA -- tonight, some of its dirty secrets. These days, there's debate over the CIA's interrogations of terror suspects. But go back more than 30 years, and there were other questions about its tactics, questions now with answers, yet, not the kind many want to hear.

Documents to be fully disclosed next week show the agency -- quote -- "did some things it shouldn't have."

CNN's Brian Todd has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Wiretapping, surveillance, break-ins, opening mail, infiltrating dissident groups, the CIA is prohibited from those operations domestically, but did so anyway in the 1960s.

CIA Director Michael Hayden says, next week, he will declassify and make public more than 700 pages of old internal documents called the family jewels.

TOM BLANTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ARCHIVE DIRECTOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: This is the CIA's internal assessment, written by the senior CIA officers, of what might have been illegal, what crossed the line, what was over the edge, what was outside the charter.

TODD: Among the activities they found: wiretapping and surveillance of several journalists, including Brit Hume in 1972, when he was a researcher for investigative reporter Jack Anderson.

PETER EARNEST, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL SPY MUSEUM: They use the phone. They see people. They travel about. They drive their cars. So, at any given time, they're exposed to circumstances in which their phones could be tapped, their movements monitored.

TODD: Other illegal activities exposed in the documents? The infiltration of anti-war groups, opening mail to Americans from the Soviet Union and China, including four letters to Jane Fonda.

EARNEST: It was during what it was believed to be what it was being directed to do by the executive office. And, by that, I mean the White House.

TODD: A front-page story in 1974 on eavesdropping prompted an internal review by the CIA director at the time. But the agency kept a lid on the family jewels for 30 years.

Then National Security adviser and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger argued in a 1975 meeting -- quote -- "If they come out, blood will flow. For example, Robert Kennedy personally managed the operation on the assassination of Castro."

The plot never came to fruition, and political assassinations are now counter to U.S. policy.

(on camera): Current CIA Director Michael Hayden says he's working to make the agency as open as possible. Today, there is far more oversight from Congress. And the debate over privacy vs. intelligence is more public.

But, as these documents show, it is just as controversial as it was decades ago.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAYE: We're following several other stories tonight. Here's a 360 bulletin.

The Associated Press is reporting, the U.S. is helping expand a prison in Afghanistan to take some of the prisoners now held at Guantanamo detention center in Cuba. The fate of Gitmo is unknown. A White House meeting was canceled, after the AP reported, the Bush administration was nearing a decision to close the facility.

New developments tonight in the case of Jessie Davis, the pregnant Ohio woman missing now for 10 days. Police say Davis is not the mother of a baby girl found on a doorstep about 45 miles from Davis' home. Another woman admitted to police that she abandoned that newborn. Meanwhile, hundreds of volunteers joined authorities again today to help search for any sign of Davis.

There's fallout tonight from yesterday's horrific accident on a Kentucky amusement park ride. Six Flags and another park operator have shut down similar drop-tower thrill rides around the country as a precaution. That's after a 13-year-old girl's feet were severed on the Superman Tower of Power at Louisville's Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. The girl underwent surgery for that today.

And a delayed, but picture-perfect homecoming for the space shuttle Atlantis. The shuttle, with its crew of seven, touched down at Edwards Air Force Base in California. But the trip is not over yet. Atlantis will still have to hitch a ride home to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA says that leg of the trip, on the back of a jumbo jet, will run nearly $2 million.

I will be back at the top of the hour with another 360 bulletin.

Now let's turn it over to Anderson for a 360 special report, "Keeping Them Honest."

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening. We're coming to you tonight from a pump station along the 17th Street Canal in New Orleans. This is a brand-new station that was built in the last two years, since Hurricane Katrina. It's one of the stations that's supposed to protect this city in the event of another storm like Katrina.

The question is, will it work? That's one of the things we're here investigating.

It's been almost two years since we first made our "Keeping them Honest" promise. We have returned to New Orleans and done some 20 shows or more since the hurricane hit.

Tonight, this is a 360 special, "Keeping them Honest."

Hundreds of millions of taxpayers dollar were wasted by the government in the scrambled recovery effort following Katrina. But it doesn't take a catastrophe to invite government waste. In fact, it happens every day.

And, tonight, in this 360 "Keeping them Honest" special, we will give you the truth of how your tax dollars are being spent.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): Your money goes a long way in Washington, really. It helped pay for a ski lift in Alaska, an airport runway expansion in rural Wisconsin, and renovations at a historic hotel in Florida.

Your money also funds pensions for convicted lawmakers. In "Keeping them Honest," we will also look at a border checkpoint. Problem is, there is no checkpoint. Security there is based on the honor system, if you can believe it -- also ahead in this hour, a flaw in the medical system where a hospital handled an emergency by calling 911 to try to save a patient's life.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: We begin right here in New Orleans, where bodies from Hurricane Katrina still haven't gotten a decent burial, some of them unidentified, some simply unclaimed, all of them lying in a kind of bureaucratic limbo. The question nearly two years since the storm is, why?

CNN's Susan Roesgen investigates.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the first few days and weeks after Katrina, search teams recovered more than 1,000 bodies in the New Orleans area. And most of the dead were identified and buried -- most, but not all.

Every day, New Orleanians drive past this unmarked warehouse on Poydras Street near the Superdome, never knowing that the bodies of 100 men and women lie in plastic-wrapped caskets inside. Thirty are still unidentified. DNA tests have found no matches. The rest are identified, but unclaimed by families who haven't been able to bury them.

DR. FRANK MINYARD, ORLEANS PARISH CORONER: I hate to go over there. And I have always -- but it -- what were we going to do? I mean, we were lucky to find Poydras Street.

ROESGEN: The New Orleans coroner, Dr. Frank Minyard, has a plan, but not yet enough money to pay for it. Minyard wants to put the bodies in mausoleums in a memorial designed to look like the shape of a hurricane.

The memorial would be here in an old cemetery. But ground hasn't been broken yet, because the memorial would cost about $1.5 million, and the coroner has only been able to collect about $250,000 in private donations. And he's unwilling to move any of the bodies that have been identified, but unclaimed out of the warehouse.

MINYARD: I just think -- I mean, you can't spread these victims all over. This is a memorial for the hurricane.

ROESGEN: So, this is where the bodies remain.

But Terry Kent, who believes one of her relatives may be among the unidentified bodies, says the city has waited long enough to give the dead a proper burial.

TERRY KENT, RESIDENT OF NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA: Please bury those bodies. Even if she's not there, those people need to be buried, too. Everybody needs a resting place.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: It's amazing that this is going on. Why does the coroner have to go hat in hand for donations?

ROESGEN: You know, you would think, with all the billions of dollars sent to New Orleans for hurricane recovery, you wouldn't have to do that.

But, actually, government recovery money can only be spent on things that were damaged or destroyed. And this is a memorial that wasn't there before that they want to build anew. So, that's part of the problem.

The other problem is that the coroner says: Look, this city is broke. I can't go to the city council and ask for money. I can't go to the mayor's office and ask for money. The city is so cash- strapped, nobody has any to give.

COOPER: And it's taken a long time for this memorial idea to really get off the ground. I mean, it seems like such -- it's a necessity. I mean, it should be remembered, what happened here.

ROESGEN: You would think so, too, but I think there are two things that have slowed that down. First of all, in the beginning, all they really cared about was identifying the bodies. Nobody wanted to bury them, because they were still trying to get the DNA matches.

After that, Anderson, if you can believe this, the state of Louisiana offered to bury all these dead in a cemetery plot paid for by the state, to build a chapel, to make it nice for the families to come and grieve the loss.

And Mayor Nagin said, no. This was about an hour away from New Orleans. He said, no, I want them here in New Orleans, even knowing that the city had no money to pay for it.

COOPER: It's an unbelievable report.

Susan Roesgen, appreciate it. Thanks very much, "Keeping them Honest" tonight.

You know, people deserve a proper burial. They also deserve shelter.

FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, spent $2.7 billion on mobile homes and trailers after Hurricanes Katrina and then Rita. It was your money, all of our money.

Then came all the red tape and the foul-ups that delayed the trailers' arrival where people desperately needed them. Now many of the trailers are coming back, and they have been vandalized.

CNN's David Mattingly wanted to know whodunit and who did it. Who trashed the trailers, and who wasn't looking out for their property and your money?

Here's what he found out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hundreds of empty FEMA trailers parked side by side, endless rows of aluminum boxes baking in the sun, we have seen these pictures before. But you have never seen FEMA trailers like this.

(on camera): Is that what I think it is?

JOSH DAVIS, FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY STAGING AREA MANAGER: Bullet holes.

MATTINGLY: Bullet holes.

(voice-over): These trailers are trashed and vandalized, many apparently by victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita who once lived inside. Purchased at taxpayer expense for $18,000 or more, FEMA officials say nearly 10 percent of them came back unfit to use again.

DON JACKS, FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: We wonder why people would then cause excess damage to the place that they have been given to live in. And, sometimes, we just don't know.

MATTINGLY: FEMA says its trailers are inspected every 90 days. But, apparently, a lot can happen between inspections.

DAVIS: This one, they -- they just took everything.

MATTINGLY: At a FEMA storage site near Houston, manager Josh Davis shows us how thorough someone stripped and looted their former home.

DAVIS: The couch, all the lights, smoke detectors, vent covers.

MATTINGLY: Almost everything was gone but the kitchen sink.

(on camera): They took the toilet?

DAVIS: They took the shower controls. It looks like they started trying to take the tub out, and decided not to.

MATTINGLY: So, what happens to the people who ruin these trailers, paid for by your tax dollars? Chances are, absolutely nothing. In most cases, even if the trailer is completely unusable, the government usually decides it's just not worth going after the person who trashed it.

JACKS: The cost of prosecution far outweighs the value of either the trailer or the value of the damage or what we could get from the person who was living in that trailer.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): "Keeping Them Honest," we wanted to find out just how many trailer-trashers have been punished. Calls to state prosecutors in Texas and Louisiana reveal they have taken no one to court. And neither the U.S. Justice Department, nor the Office of Inspector General for Homeland Security could say for sure if they were working on any cases.

As for the trailers, they simply go up for auction on a government Web site.

JACKS: Putting them on the auction and receiving a third, maybe even half of what was originally paid for the trailer...

MATTINGLY (on camera): But some of these trailers don't get that much, do they?

JACKS: And I can't answer that, because I have not looked at -- at every trailer that's been sold on the Web site. I have checked it, and I'm seeing trailers that -- that the bids are one-fourth of what they sold for new, one-half of what they sold for new. MATTINGLY: Checking auctions in progress online, we found one damaged trailer with a single bid of only $601. And with losses per ruined trailer potentially reaching the thousands, the cost to the taxpayer is adding up.

David Mattingly, CNN, Jasper, Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: David, what does FEMA do when they find someone who's trashed a trailer?

MATTINGLY: Anderson, I wish I could tell you that they got really tough, but all they do is send them a letter, and not a very strongly worded one at that.

All they tell them is: Here's what you broke. Here's what you need to pay us to fix it or to replace it. And, if you don't do that in 30 days, then there could be more enforcement action.

And the few times that they have done this, you could count on one hand. So, they're not going after it very aggressively, part -- in part because they believe that the people that were living in these trailers don't have the money to pay.

COOPER: So, that's why they're not being more aggressive; they think people just can't pay?

MATTINGLY: Also because FEMA says they're not an enforcement agency. When it comes to these trailers, they're just landlords dealing with a bad tenant. So, all they can do is go to the enforcement agencies and say, we want this person rounded up and prosecuted.

But they haven't done that yet. And, of course, the enforcement agencies don't really know what's going on with this case, and they haven't done any prosecutions themselves.

COOPER: Never heard of a landlord who's not aggressive like that.

David, appreciate it. Thanks for the reporting -- "Keeping them Honest" tonight, David Mattingly.

It's not just in New Orleans; it's also in Washington and beyond. We're "Keeping them Honest."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): From sprucing up a ski lift to shelling out for an airport.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Right down here. To Rice Lake Regional Airport, various improvements, $2 million.

COOPER: The gifts your tax dollars bring to Congress. It was supposed to end.

GRIFFIN: There was supposed to be some kind of change.

SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: Well, they lied to the American public.

COOPER: So, what happened? That's next.

Also:

TRACY SPIVEY, WIFE OF PATIENT: He was panicking, very scared. I had never seen that kind of fear in his eyes, ever.

COOPER: Scared, because he was dying. He should have had help. He was in a hospital. So, why did they have to call 911?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And were you stunned that, here you are in a hospital, and they're calling 911?

T. SPIVEY: All I can remember saying is -- looking at him and saying is, you have got to be kidding.

COOPER: That's just ahead -- when "Keeping them Honest" continues.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back to this 360 "Keeping them Honest" special. We're coming to you from New Orleans from the pump station at the 17th Street Canal.

Before the break, we showed you how people in power right here need to be held accountable for promises they made and continue to make about rebuilding New Orleans.

Of course, the demand for answers goes far beyond this city. There are lawmakers on Capitol Hill who have no problem spending billions on pet projects that often make no sense at all. And we're all we're paying for them.

CNN's Drew Griffin tonight, "Keeping them Honest."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN (voice-over): We're on a treasure hunt, looking for your money.

Let's start with $2 million, your tax dollars right here. Listen.

(on camera): I think I hear a plane.

(voice-over): This is the tiny airport in tiny and remote Rice Lake, Wisconsin. Pull up a chair, grab a magazine, a newspaper, because it's going to take a while to show you how your federal tax dollars were spent here.

JERRY STITES, AIRPORT MANAGER: It's a pretty slow day today. So, if we had known you were coming, I'm sure we would have been busier.

GRIFFIN: We will get back to how Congress spent your money in Rice Lake in a moment.

Meantime, here are more ways Congress has secretly spent your money.

Chances are, you weren't a guest at the historic Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida, last summer. But taxpayers spent $96,000 to help renovate it.

Skiing more your style? You paid $250,000 last year to renovate a ski lift. In our treasure hunt, it was tricky to find that one. The money came out of last year's massive transportation bill -- no mention of skiing.

Instead:

TIM PHILLIPS, PRESIDENT, AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY: For the construction of the Alyeska Roundhouse in Girdwood, Alaska, $250,000.

GRIFFIN: In Congress, such treasure is called an earmark.

ANNIE PATNAUDE, DIRECTOR OF MEDIA RELATIONS, AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY: Again, no -- no name. And, oftentimes, these earmarks are certainly a bit vague.

GRIFFIN: Annie Patnaude watches Congress for a conservative economic watchdog group. She found two earmarks for the Alyeska Roundhouse -- a total of $500,000 for the top of a ski lift.

Tim Phillips is president of the watchdog group.

PHILLIPS: I mean, imagine this. You have got a blank credit card that's the people's money. And you have the ability to spend that money in complete secrecy, without ever having to be accountable for that. No wonder we're having abuses and waste and fraud and mismanagement. It's a recipe for it.

GRIFFIN: That recipe for pork was supposed to change this year. The new open, Democratic Party-controlled Congress promised the earmark process would no longer be secret. All earmark requests would be made public, with plenty of time for debate.

SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: Well, they lied to the American public. It was a game.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Senator Coburn says, it's the same over on the Senate side.

CNN obtained this e-mail written in February from the Senate Appropriations Committee, asking Senators to submit all requests for earmarks by April 13. So the earmark requests for this year -- and there have been thousands in the past -- have already been filed. But not even other members of Congress can find out who asked for how much and for what.

COBURN: No, they aren't published. And they're not out there. I couldn't find them if I wanted to.

PHILLIPS: If you're a member of Congress and you're asking for tax dollars for a project, the least can you do is have the, you know, let's say the political courage to put it up on your Web site in advance and to disclose it well before any vote takes place.

GRIFFIN: Sounds reasonable, but not to the Senator who gets final say on spending, Appropriations Chairman Robert Byrd.

In an e-mail to CNN, the Senator's staff told us, "Allowing the public to actually see earmark requests in advance isn't a good idea."

Apparently, the public can't be trusted with that information.

"If all earmark requests are made public," the e-mail says, "this would almost certainly lead to an increase in requests, as members are pressured from home to compete for more projects."

PATNAUDE: This is an omnibus appropriations bill.

GRIFFIN: This behemoth of a bill is chock-full of one-line requests for your tax dollars. We followed the clues back to where we started this treasure hunt.

(on camera): So, this is the Rice Lake Airport I asked you about?

PATNAUDE: Sure. Look for it on there.

GRIFFIN: And this is on page 1,384. And it's somewhere in this fine print, I'm taking it.

PATNAUDE: Look -- look for it.

GRIFFIN: Right down here.

PATNAUDE: Right.

GRIFFIN: So, Rice Lake Regional Airport, Carl's Field, Wisconsin, various improvements, $2 million.

(voice-over): Two million dollars in federal funds without debate.

Back at Rice Lake, Wisconsin, we sat at the end of the runway and waited four hours. In all that time, we counted one corporate jet, one twin-engine plane, and five single-engine planes, a total of seven aircraft in four hours -- on a good day, we're told, 34 planes in an hour, but no commercial flights. But this airport is vital for corporate executives who like to visit Rice Lake's manufacturing plants, but, apparently, don't like to stay the night.

STITES: Before we did the expansion on the runway, they couldn't land here. They had to drive an hour-and-a-half to get to their plant, because our airport wasn't large enough for that.

GRIFFIN: And which U.S. congressman decided extending the runway for a few corporate jets was worth your money? Wisconsin Democrat David Obey, the very same person now in charge of appropriations and earmarks.

He said in a statement, "Wisconsin doesn't get its fair share."

"My only apology," he wrote, "is that I can't do more for Wisconsin."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Drew, the Democrats promised this was going to be the most open earmark process in history. Is it?

GRIFFIN: They made that promise before they got in power. Then, once in power, it all kind of clammed up, Anderson, and they kind of changed the definition of what open was going to mean.

COOPER: Imagine that.

Drew, thanks.

From the shameful, but legal practice of earmarks to criminal allegations, we're keeping everyone in Congress honest.

See this guy? It is Democratic Congressman William Jefferson. He was indicted on 16 federal corruption charges. When his home was searched, you may remember, authorities found $90,000 cooling off in his freezer. Jefferson's future may include prison time. And, to help pay for his defense team, maybe he can use some of the money he will collect from his pension, if he retires.

Like we said before, it is your money.

Once again, here's Drew Griffin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Former Congressman Randall Duke Cunningham pleaded guilty to accepting more than $2 million in bribes, but he still gets his congressional pension of an estimated $64,000 a year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you going to tell the judge today?

GRIFFIN: Convicted Congressman James Traficant gets an estimated $40,000 a year. Both of them are still in prison. Why hasn't anyone stopped it? Senate Bill 2268 was introduced last year to do just that. The bill would have banned the pensions of lawmakers convicted of what its co-sponsor called the really bad crimes: stealing, bribery, public corruption.

SEN. KEN SALAZAR (D), COLORADO: It's really that white-collar crime, where people, instead of representing the public interest and the people of the country, instead are representing their own personal interests. And, so, that's why we went after the white-collar crime.

GRIFFIN: But, even as good as it sounds, the bill never even got a vote. It got to this Senate subcommittee and died.

The chairman of last session's committee was Republican George Voinovich of Ohio. His staff told us he was just too busy. The ranking Democrat was Senator Daniel Akaka of Hawaii. He emerged from a vote in the Senate and says, he doesn't know why there was no vote last year.

(on camera): You support it, and you will support it?

SEN. DANIEL AKAKA (D), HAWAII: I will. Yes.

GRIFFIN: I -- but I'm still -- I spent two days trying to figure out why nobody supported it last year.

AKAKA: Yes, that's right. I didn't, but this year is different.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Two more senators on the subcommittee, one Democrat, one Republican, also had no explanation for last year's failure. In fact, they couldn't remember what happened.

SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: The question is, is what happened to it last year? I don't answer -- I don't know the answer to that question.

SEN. MARK PRYOR (D), ARKANSAS: I can't remember all the specifics. We had a lot of amendments last year.

GRIFFIN: If their memories are a little weak on the subject of getting crooks a pension, it's because they say, last year, ethics weren't a big issue. Now they are.

PRYOR: This year, we're going to try to do our dead-level best to pass the amendment to take pensions away from senators and congressmen who have been convicted of public corruption while they're in office.

GRIFFIN: But critics are telling us nothing will change, and, if we want to find out why, just go into the House Ways and Means Committee hearing room, and see how Congress has treated one of its own who was caught and convicted, but certainly not forgotten.

(on camera): That is convicted Congressman Dan Rostenkowski's picture up there. The former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee went to prison for stealing public money. He got a pardon from Bill Clinton. He got a spot on the wall. And he gets, from you and me, the federal taxpayers, an estimated $126,000-a-year pension.

MELANIE SLOAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND ETHICS IN WASHINGTON: This is money they don't want to take away from their colleagues and their colleagues' families. These are their friends we're talking about.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Drew, since you first reported on this, Jefferson's been indicted. If -- if he was convicted and went to prison, would he lose his pension?

GRIFFIN: No. Anderson, that bill that they promised would pass hasn't -- hasn't even been voted on. It hasn't passed. So, the congressman is going to get his pension, no matter what.

No matter what he's convicted of, no matter if they kick him out of Congress, he's going to get that pension, because -- because of the fact that Congress has, again, not done anything to move this bill along. His pension will go through.

The only exception is if, somehow, buried in all these charges is the charge of treason. And I haven't seen that. He's just charged with padding his own pockets.

COOPER: Promises made and promises broken.

Drew, appreciate you "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.

Next, we're traveling halfway around the world. A deadly chemical linked to China found in pet food and other items here in America, how did it happen? Is the federal government doing enough to keep you and your pets safe? "Keeping them Honest" -- when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back to this 360 special, "Keeping Them Honest".

Before the break, we were on the money trail. Convicted members of Congress checking pensions. Hundreds of millions of taxpayer money for pet projects. That's what people in power are doing with your money.

"Keeping Them Honest" means holding them accountable. They make decisions that change lives. Some might say cost lives. Take for example the pet food scandal. How did deadly chemicals get from China to here and who's to blame?

CNN's Joe Johns investigates.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): How does their food get on our tables? Call it Globalization 101. American companies buy China's cheaply produced food at cut rate prices. China opens up its vast consumer market to American companies. We buy their food; they buy our products. But what goes into the food may not always meet the same standards.

March, a number of dogs and cats mysteriously die across the U.S. The likely cause, pet food tainted with melamine, a compound found in plastics. The source: wheat gluten from China.

Melamine was most likely slipped in to artificially boost protein levels, making it more valuable. The big question: what other foreign chemicals are finding their way into American food? And what do consumers think about it?

WENONAH HUNTER, FOOD AND WATER WATCH: I think most Americans would be shocked to know how much of their food supply is coming from other countries.

JOHNS: An estimated $68 billion worth of agricultural products from other countries will come into the U.S. this year. Your dinner table is like a mini United Nations.

HUNTER: When you eat a ground hamburger, it could come from 100 cows from 20 countries.

JOHNS: Now in the wake of the pet food scare, a new focus on people food. Turns out melamine-contaminated food from China has been fed to fish, chicken and hogs headed for U.S. dinner tables.

But since the government says melamine in small amounts isn't harmful to humans, we're not supposed to worry about it.

But there have been other problems. Chinese catfish, banned by states like Alabama and Mississippi because they contain antibiotics that aren't allowed in the U.S.

Chinese toothpaste, discovered to contain a poison commonly used in anti-freeze. Not something you want on your child's toothbrush.

China insists the concerns are overblown. Still, the government says it's cracking down.

You would think the U.S. would be cracking down on China. Only about 1 percent of food imports actually get inspected.

Still, the pet food scandal has gotten Washington so worked up, Congress and the administration are actually talking about enforcing the law they enacted five years ago. It requires meat, fruits and vegetables to be packaged with a label saying where they came from. It's called country of origin labeling, COOL for short. It's already being used on seafood and seafood.

But politics and lobbyists have kept it from going into effect on other foods like meat. Now, though, after all that Fido and Fritz went through, COOL's time may have come. SEN. BYRON DORGAN (D), NORTH DAKOTA: I think, you know, the scandal of tainted pet food is going to move us in this direction, because finally I think people say, you know, this is not just some academic debate.

Country of origin labeling, understanding where the meat you purchased, where it comes from, fruits, vegetables, where it comes from, is a matter of human health. In some cases, life and death.

JOHNS: But "Keeping Them Honest", country of origin labeling, while it sounds good, is not all it's cracked up to be.

BRUCE KNIGHT, USDA: Country of origin labeling doesn't apply to the pet food. Doesn't apply to institutional uses, doesn't apply to what you purchase in a restaurant, does not apply to anything that's been processed food. It only applies to that which shows up in retail.

JOHNS: Meaning the raw food you'd cook yourself, not whatever your kids eat at school or at college while studying, perhaps, globalization.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So Joe, is melamine harmful or not? And why hasn't the government been able to figure out the answer to that by now?

JOHNS: Well, it certainly seems harmful to pets. If you combine it with cyanuric acid, it doesn't seem harmful to humans. But the whole issue here really, Anderson, is that the pets seem to be sort of the canaries in the coal mine.

Early warning that, with global product manufacturing, you really don't know what you're bringing into your home to feed to your pets, to your children, even to yourself. This time it was melamine and cyanuric acid. What is it going to be next time?

COOPER: Scary stuff, Joe. Appreciate the reporting. Thanks. "Keeping Them Honest", next on the border.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPL)

COOPER (voice-over): Security or insecurity?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: My name is Gary Tuchman. I think you'll find I have a clean record.

COOPER: It looks like a shack. It's actually a border checkpoint that relies on the honor system. What are they thinking?

And later, the hospital in need of a doctor.

TRACY SPIVEY, WIFE OF PATIENT: The last thing he said is, "I'm in trouble."

COOPER: A patient slipping away, and no one is there to save him.

SPIVEY: I said, "Baby girl, he got very sick." And I said, "Daddy's not coming home."

COOPER: How could this happen? We're "Keeping Them Honest" next on this 360 special.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: All the presidential candidates sound the same about our border: it needs to be safe, secure, well guarded. Well, maybe they should take a trip up north to see the kind of border protection you've been promised and you're putting up the money for. It is almost laughable at times.

CNN's Gary Tuchman tonight, "Keeping Them Honest".

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN (voice-over): It's late afternoon, rush hour in many places. But not here, on this desolate roadway in the Canadian province of Manitoba, where a monument separates Manitoba on the left from Minnesota on the right. A sign warns that you're about to arrive at the official U.S. border checkpoint.

And then there it is, the Jim's Corner customs reporting station, which looks like a shack and operates on the honor system. Two sheriffs on the American side are not happy about it.

(on camera) What percentage of people in general do you believe check in there?

SHERIFF DALLAS BLOCK, LAKE OF THE WOODS COUNTY, MINNESOTA: I believe it's less than 30 percent. Maybe even far less than that.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): When we entered Lake of the Woods County, Minnesota, from Canada, we went through the rather unorthodox process.

(on camera) Push to call, push the American flag.

(voice-over) Inside the shack, a video phone connected to a border agent 50 miles away.

(on camera) Hello, U.S. Customs. I'm at the Jim's Corner. My name is Gary Tuchman. I think you'll find I have a clean record.

(voice-over) The agent looks at you through the camera, and you look at the agent.

(on camera) What is your name?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Officer Johnson.

TUCHMAN: Hello, Officer Johnson. (voice-over) Officer Johnson would have no way of knowing if people were just driving by the shack without stopping, which indeed often happens, because many honorable people can't be bothered with the video phone that often doesn't work.

(on camera) I'm going to hold you up my passport first. Can you see it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.

TUCHMAN: That's me.

(voice-over) We were approved to enter the U.S. in a most unusual tourist town called Angle Inlet. It's actually an enclave, not physically connected to the rest of the U.S. You have to drive 40 miles within Canada to the northern side of the Lake of the Woods to get there.

There are far more deer than people who live here. The town is the state's only remaining one-room public schoolhouse.

But amid the charm of this tranquil town, the sheriff of Lake of the Woods County says drug dealers drive past Jim's Corner and then take boats in the summer or snowmobiles in the winter into the heart of the U.S.

And he says there's even more.

(on camera) It is your professional opinion that terrorists have gone through Angle Inlet into the mainland United States?

BLOCK: Yes, it is.

TUCHMAN: And that's through intelligence?

BLOCK: Yes, we have pretty accurate, pretty reliable intelligence that that has happened. I don't think Osama bin Laden is going to check in there. But -- so you're really on your honor system.

TUCHMAN: It's 6 p.m. on a chilly day, so most of the boaters have gone back to shore for the evening. This lake is very empty.

But even in the summer in the middle of the day, it is very uncrowded on this lake, which makes it easy for people who might be up to no good to go relatively unnoticed.

(voice-over) Some of the year-round residents are concerned all this talk could scare away tourists. Jerry Stallock owns a restaurant.

JERRY STALLOCK, OWNER, JERRY'S RESTAURANT: I personally don't think this is the biggest threat, as some of the other people.

TUCHMAN: But the sheriff says in this post 9/11 world one cannot be too careful, although he does admit to a transgression. (on camera) Do you stop at the border station?

BLOCK: I do, sometimes.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): U.S. Customs and Border Protection tells CNN it's officers who periodically visit this border area will start making more frequent visits. And better technology will be added, including cameras providing surveillance over the area, not just inside the shack.

We did encounter one man from Manitoba who did stop at the video phone.

(on camera) Any luck?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No luck.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But it didn't work, so he called on a pay phone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, John Fonteroy (ph) reporting in at Jim's Corner.

TUCHMAN: To report his arrival into the United States of America.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Gary, has anything changed at the border since you filed that report?

TUCHMAN: Well, if you paid a visit right now to that part of Minnesota, you would still see the video cameras there. The people at the Border Patrol say they still don't think, because of the remoteness, because of the lack of people that go there, that they need a living person inside the booth.

That being said, though, they've increased the frequency and the thoroughness of the patrols and their Border Patrol vans around the area. They say they're keeping a real careful eye on the area.

COOPER: What do the people who live there, the locals, think?

TUCHMAN: It's funny; we got a mixed reaction up there. There were some locals who said, yes, we think it's OK to have some people come in in eight-hour shifts and watch this border.

But most of the people, I would say, told us, "Please don't give us the publicity. This has worked fine. We don't have to stop at a border when we come home all the time. You're just giving the terrorists information."

Look, Anderson, of course, the bad guys knowing what they're doing already before they're watching CNN. We do the stories. But the good people, to keep them informed, we don't want to keep things like this quiet. COOPER: When we come back, there's no time to spare. It sounds outrageous, and it is. A hospital forced to call 911 when a patient stopped breathing. A hospital. All the doctors had gone home for the night. How could that happen? It could have happened to you, next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Part of our "Keeping Them Honest" promise is to get the facts, the answers. Even when we have them, some stories, well, they don't make sense.

Take this next report of a hospital in Texas. Believe it or not, when the staff needed a doctor for a patient in dire need, they had to call 911.

Once again, here's CNN's Gary Tuchman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN (voice-over): This is Steve Spivey's father, his mother and wife. What they went through when Steve was in the hospital was harrowing.

SPIVEY: He was panicking, very scared. I had never seen that kind of fear in his eyes ever.

TUCHMAN: Steve Spivey, a father of three, was in this Abilene, Texas, hospital for neck surgery after a truck accident. The operation seemed to go well, but the 44-year-old started to choke that night. His wife was at his side.

SPIVEY: Nurses felt like he was just having a panic attack, and the last words he said were, "No, I'm in trouble."

TUCHMAN: The hospital Spivey was in is one of about 140 in the country owned by the physicians who work there, but all the doctors had gone home for the day when Steve lost the ability to breathe.

SPIVEY: His eyes were bright green, and they turned very dark. His face turned dark. And he grasped my hands and shook them like this and looked me in my eyes and then closed his eyes and went out. That was his last breath.

TUCHMAN: Tracy Spivey kept yelling to call a doctor, but in the meantime, incredibly, she says she performed CPR by herself for 15 minutes.

SPIVEY: There was no pulse. I checked, you know, three different places for pulse and could find none. I told them we have no pulse. The one nurse said, "What's wrong? What's happening?"

And I said, "He's dying."

TUCHMAN: About two hours after Steve started gagging, the surgeon arrived. SPIVEY: All I heard was the surgeon yell very loudly to call 911.

TUCHMAN (on camera): And were you stunned that here you are in a hospital, and they're calling 911?

SPIVEY: All I can remember saying is looking at him and saying, "You've got to be kidding."

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Steve Spivey was pronounced dead at a different hospital.

Tracy went back to the hospital with her attorney as they met with a hospital lawyer in preparation for a likely lawsuit.

DARRELL KEITH, ATTORNEY: I look forward to being their champion.

TUCHMAN: Darrell Keith is her lawyer.

KEITH: Well, I think that the physician-owned hospitals, as a general rule, tend to be more profit-driven than patient safety- driven.

TUCHMAN (on camera): After the death of Steve Spivey, the federal government decided to no longer allow the use of Medicare at this hospital, and now the facility is shut down.

(voice-over) The hospital CEO did not want to go on camera, but did sell us, "911 is a last resort to Mr. Spivey's case. We were trying to get the patient to a higher level of care."

He also said that the facility may reopen some day in a different form.

At another physician-owned hospital in Arlington, Texas...

GREG WEISS, USMD HOSPITAL AT ARLINGTON: If we treat every patient like a family member, the patients will want to come here. The referring doctors will want to refer here.

TUCHMAN: ... doctors are in the facility around the clock. The physicians here at USMD reject the broad-brush criticism they hear about doctors owning hospitals and have immense pride in their facility.

DR. JOHN HOUSE, PHYSICIAN OWNER, USMD HOSPITAL: We want a place where we can take care of our patients the way that we want to take care of our family members, and we have the ability to do that by owning and controlling our own facility.

TUCHMAN: But some members of Congress want to take a closer look at how these types of hospitals are regulated.

REP. PETE STARK (D), CALIFORNIA: The hospitals are often second- rate. Sometimes illegal. And it takes profitable business away from community hospitals. TUCHMAN: Tracy Spivey still has nightmares about when she told her 10-year-old daughter the horrifying news.

SPIVEY: I just put her in my lap and held her, told her to be strong, and I said, "Baby girl, our daddy got very sick, and Daddy is not coming home."

TUCHMAN: Tracy still can't believe a hospital had to dial 911.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So what's the latest on the case?

TUCHMAN: The latest on the case is this: the West Texas hospital still remains closed. The family, no later than next week, will file the papers they need to file the lawsuit.

And the saddest part of the story, Anderson, we did this original story in April. In May, Steve Spivey's mother passed away, the mother we showed at the beginning of the story. So it's a very tragic time for the Spivey family.

COOPER: Gary, appreciate the report. Thanks.

That ends our special report. We take our "Keeping Them Honest" promise seriously. From here in New Orleans to Washington and across the country, we're committed to accountability, checking the facts against the hype. We won't let up, and we hope you won't either.

Thanks for joining us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com

Search
© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by CNN.com
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines