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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

President Obama's Town Hall Meeting; Bad Medicine, Big Dollars; Jackson's Drug Source?; Teen Assassins; Ghetto Film School

Aired August 11, 2009 - 23:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, separating health reform fact from fear and a town hall meeting with a big difference -- President Obama. He attended one today in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and so did a guy outside packing heat, carrying a sign calling in so many words for death to tyrants.

The quotation from Thomas Jefferson, the handgun out in the open permitted under state law -- the combination, surprising to many people.

Meantime, at the office of Georgia Congressman David Scott who took on protesters the other day, someone painted a Swastika out front. And as you'll see in just a moment, anger was erupting at town halls across the country.

That said, there were moments of clarity and we hope to add some of our own tonight.

First, President Obama at Portsmouth High School, in New Hampshire in his own words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't believe anyone should be in charge of your health insurance decisions but you and your doctor.

I don't think government bureaucrats should be meddling but I also don't think insurance company bureaucrats should be meddling. That's the health care system I believe in.

One woman testified that an insurance company would not cover her internal organs because of an accident she had when she was 5 years old. Think about that; that covers a lot of stuff.

Now, they're only going to cover your skin; dermatology that's covered, nothing else. And let me just say, there has been a long and vigorous debates about this and that's how it should be. But I do hope that we will talk with each other and not over each other.

Because -- where we do disagree, let's disagree over things that are real. Not these wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that actually have been proposed.

I need your help, knocking on doors and talking to your neighbors. Spread the facts and let's get this done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want inflation to skyrocket by just adding this to the national debt so I'm wondering how we can avoid both of those scenarios.

OBAMA: I've said I won't sign a bill that adds to the deficit or the national debt. Ok? So this will have to be paid for. That, by the way, is in contrast to the Prescription Drug Bill that was passed that cost hundreds of billions of dollars by the previous administration and previous Congress that was not paid for at all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why have you not used the bully pulpit to chastise Congress for having two systems of health care; one for all of us and one for them?

OBAMBA: If we don't have health care reform, the gap between what Congress gets and what ordinary Americans get will continue to be as wide as it is right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: President Obama this afternoon in New Hampshire, the tone entirely civil.

Not the case this morning in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, where now Democratic Senator Arlen Specter got an earful.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER, (D) PENNSYLVANIA: You want to be led out of here, you are welcome to go. But wait a minute. Now wait a minute. Now wait a minute.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have awakened a sleeping giant. We are tired of this. This is why everybody in this room is so ticked off. What are you going to do to restore this country back to what our founders created according to the Constitution?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Well, it wasn't the only heat directed at Senator Specter in Lebanon. He did, however, soldier on -- holding another town hall in Lewisburg, where the tone improved somewhat.

We sent 360's Gary Tuchman there to try and get past the rage beyond the sound bites and to really understand why people are so riled-up.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are in the land of the free and home of the brave.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The words of one woman both angry and concerned.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am very, very, very scared. I believe we are going down -- I think this health care reform act is a vehicle not for health care. This is a vehicle to take us down to a path of total socialism and totalitarianism.

TUCHMAN: At this Lewisburg, Pennsylvania town hall held by Senator Arlen Specter, it's apparent many Americans see health care reform as an effort to harm the American way of life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Herman Grebles (ph), as you remember he was Hitler's advance man, he says, tell a lie, make it a big one, repeat it often and it becomes the truth.

TUCHMAN: Health care and Hitler? Most would agree that's a stretch at best, deeply offensive at worse. But words are weapons to many of the people attending these meetings. They demand to be heard and care enough to show up way in advance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First of all, they're pushing it too fast. It needs to really be thought over.

TUCHMAN: I asked this woman what concerned her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The cost, taking my liberties and rights away from me.

TUCHMAN (on camera): But President Obama says your liberties and rights won't be taken away. You can keep what you have. Do you not believe him?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do not.

TUCHMAN: Why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because he has not told us the truth about many other things.

TUCHMAN: So you just don't trust the man?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. I do not trust him.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): It's a common theme here -- lack of trust in the president, lack of respect for many of the men and women who represent them in Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm here to hear Arlen Specter say that he'll accept the same health care that he's going to try to give us.

TUCHMAN (on camera): So you want senators and congressmen not to get any better health care than you get under this new plan?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think -- I mean, what are they? Are they -- you know, someone special?

TUCHMAN (voice-over): There are supporters of health care reform here, but their numbers are much smaller, their voices not as loud.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we need it desperately.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Many of the people of these town hall meetings who are against President Obama's vision of health care reform say they are the silent majority. Of course, if they are the majority, what happened on Election Day when the man who made no secret of the desire for substantial change to the health care system won the White House?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you work for him.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Many blame apathy on Election Day but apathy is not an issue here right now.

(on camera): There are periods of time where there's complete quiet in the room, but it doesn't last more than a few minutes before people start yelling or shouting angry comments.

(voice-over): But this one was hard for anyone to disagree with.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to just express to the press that this is not a Republican or a Democrat. This is an American.

TUCHMAN: An issue that continues to snowball during Congress's summer recess.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: Gary, when people come to these town halls and they have this discussion and the tempers start to heat up, do they leave those meetings actually angrier than when they came in the front door?

TUCHMAN: Well, when the opponents to reform left this auditorium today at Bucknell University certainly they're not very happy but they don't for the most part seem to be angry and one of the reasons for that when we asked people is that there's a grudging respect for the Senators and Congressmen who come and knowing they'll be badgered and hold these hearings.

Now, we're in the middle of the State of Pennsylvania today, Arlen Specter represents the whole state, so most of the people are from Pennsylvania. But yesterday we were at a hearing with Congressman Steve Rothman of New Jersey and many of the people there were not from his district. And they say, our Congressman didn't have the guts to hold a hearing and that's why we had to come here.

And today the second row, right behind me, an opponent of reform said to Senator Specter while he was getting badgered this quote he goes, "I can't believe you run for this office." And everyone kind of laughed and we certainly haven't heard a lot of laughs in these town hall meetings.

ROBERTS: Yes. There are certainly a number of Democrats who are holding these meetings despite the fact that many of the Democrats are not. Claire McCaskill, another one in Missouri who took a lot of heat today as well.

Gary Tuchman for us tonight in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Gary, thanks so much for that. Well, given all the heat directed at the president and his party at these town halls. The question is, politically at least, why even bother? One view is at AC360.com where senior political analyst David Gergen weighs in. Check it out.

And while you're there, join the live chat now underway.

Coming up next, Dr. Sanjay Gupta answering fears and concerns about health care reform with the facts.

Also, more searches in the Michael Jackson case, zeroing in on his doctor; Lisa Bloom and Jim Moret "Digging Deeper" on that.

Tonight on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: We've been talking tonight about health care reform. President Obama's effort today to quell the anger and get his message out. Questioning at his town hall this afternoon in Portsmouth, New Hampshire was skeptical at times but it was totally calm.

Other town halls have run the gamut. And we've been showing you some of what Senator Arlen Specter dealt with today. Moments of rage but also genuine doubts about the cost of health care reform.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Social Security, bankrupt. Medicare, bankrupt. Medicaid, bankrupt. You are taking our kids' future and -- post office. And taking the kids' future and driving it right into the toilet. We cannot afford this, period.

Keep the government out of it. We are doing just fine. Thank you, sir.

SPECTER: Well, I have made a commitment here today earlier that I will not vote for a plan that adds to the deficit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Earlier, you heard President Obama reiterating his own version of that pledge. He also reminded people that the enormous price tag covers ten years, not just one; something opponents rarely mention.

That said, there are many objections, some more reality-based than others. 360 MD Sanjay Gupta is "Keeping them Honest" tonight. He and I spoke earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: All right Sanjay, let's tackle that first one, cost. Arlen Specter said he won't sign anything that adds to the deficit, President said the same thing. Senator Claire McCaskill has said the same thing. But the Congressional Budget Office tells a different story when it comes to the cost.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That they do and they say it's about $239 billion of potential addition to the deficit. And that was, I think, a wake-up call for a lot of people who are really paying attention to the numbers. It is hard to piece this all together.

What I can tell you, John -- and you and I have talked about this -- I have read through the House bill in its entirety. The way it's written specifically is they say that unless the Finance Committee can come up with certain money to try and offset some of these deficits, it's not going to pass.

What I think is a little bit more nebulous John, is this idea that in the long run through ideas like prevention, adding more wellness dollars to try and keep people healthy in the first place, how much money is that going to save, is that going to help offset things in the long run?

ROBERTS: Let's listen to this exchange at Claire McCaskill's town hall today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: Can you promise that my tax dollars will not fund abortions? I can tell you that there is not one word in this bill that would allow federal tax dollars to be spent on abortions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: All right. As you can see, a very hot button issue. And Sanjay, from what you've read of the various bills out there, is she correct?

GUPTA: Well, somewhat correct. And this is confusing, again. But let me try and break this down this way. This is how I understood it.

There is an amendment out there that basically says there will be no subsidizing of abortions by any private health plan within this exchange.

What it does not say, John, and this is important, that it would prohibit the moneys by being used by the public option. Now, there is something know as the Hyde amendment and this is for people who pay attention to this sort of thing that basically says, no federal dollars can be used towards federally subsidizing abortion and the supporters of this public option will say that applies here, as well.

ROBERTS: The final thing that we want to get in to, is whether or not people will be able to keep their own insurance because the critics of these plans say, people will be forced into this public health care plan and a study done for the Heritage Foundation by the Lewin Group (ph) says 88 million people, at least 88 million people will be forced into the public plan. Let's listen to this exchange from President Obama's town hall in Portsmouth today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I still worry that if we go to a public option period, that the private companies, the insurance companies, rather than competing, because who can compete with the government? The answer is, nobody.

So my question is, do you still as yourself now support a universal plan or are you open to the private industry still being maintained?

OBAMA: The only thing that I have said is that having a public option in that menu would provide competition for insurance companies to keep them honest.

ROBERTS: It would seem clear Sanjay that at least some people are going to go into a public plan. The big question is, how much would that take away from the private plans. How much would it undercut it and what number of people would eventually...

GUPTA: Right.

ROBERTS: ... end up in the public plan?

GUPTA: That's right. And that study you quoted, John, has numbers sort of varying from tens of millions to over hundred million, possibly going toward the public option.

A lot of supporters of the public option say, look, we've got the U.S. Post Office and yet we have FedEx and UPS. So you can have public and private competition all existing at once.

There's also this idea that not everyone is going to be eligible for the public option. Just because it's cheaper doesn't mean everyone is going to qualify for it.

Having said that, there is this idea still that the public option could start to grow larger and larger and it could become more all inclusive, all of that on the backs of taxpayers' dollars and that might eventually crowd out private insurance. And that's -- those are the sorts of arguments and counter argument right there.

ROBERTS: Dr. Sanjay Gupta helping to straighten it all out for us tonight. Doctor, I sure appreciate it. Thanks for joining us.

GUPTA: All right John, thanks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: And up next, the cost of doing nothing; the staggering amount of waste in health care. You think it's millions? Billions? Think higher, way higher.

Tom Foreman is running the numbers for us tonight "Keeping them Honest." Also, the latest search involving Michael Jackson's doctor and the powerful drug that no one should get outside a hospital that Jackson was reportedly getting at home.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: As you have no doubt noticed, who could miss it, the debate over health care reform seems to be get louder each and over day. As the decibels climb, here at 360 we are committed to filtering out the racket and focusing on the facts.

So tonight we are "Digging Deeper" on a new number that was recently thrown into the debate; $1.2 trillion. According to the accounting firm Price Waterhouse Coopers, that's how much of our health care dollars are flat-out wasted each and every year.

It's also fully half of what the U.S. spends each year on health care. How could we be wasting that much money? And what's it being wasted on?

Well, Tom Foreman tonight "Keeping them Honest."

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, this study by Price Waterhouse Cooper identifies what it calls three key areas of massive waste and the first is us.

Medical problems related to obesity such as heart disease and high blood pressure cost our medical care system $200 billion a year. Problems related to smoking over here cost us $191 billion a year.

If we just took better care of ourselves, this study suggested we could save as much as half trillion dollars that our government and we are currently spending on our problems.

The second big area of waste is clinical problems: doctors and nurses sometimes prescribe the wrong medicine. They over-medicate. They make other mistakes, too. Patients use emergency rooms for some problems like sore throats that ought to be handled by their regular doctor; the cost of all of that, more than $90 billion.

In addition, this study found that sometimes doctors overcharge because they can make more money from it, but also that they're sometimes so afraid of malpractice lawsuits that they order many tests and procedures just to protect against possible accusations that they overlooked something; the cost of that, $210 billion a year.

That's why Senators in support of reform like Maryland's Ben Cardin are being confronted in town meetings by people demanding that legal reform be part of any health reform package.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why isn't tort reform a part of any of these bills?

(END VIDEO CLIP) FOREMAN: Of course, the study also found sometimes doctors just overcharge because they can make more money that way.

And finally, this study found waste in operational costs. Just filing the papers to collect for insurance companies cost up to $210 billion a year.

One case the researchers cite is Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, 700 different health plans, employers and other groups are involved in paying the bills there, each with its own rules and paperwork.

All of these combined areas could add up to $1.2 trillion in waste or as the study notes more than half of our health spending -- John.

ROBERTS: Staggering amount of money. Tom Foreman for us tonight. Tom thanks so much.

And coming up, authorities raid a Las Vegas pharmacy used by Michael Jackson's doctor. What were they looking for there? That's coming up in just a moment.

But first, Erica Hill joins us now with the "360 Bulletin." Hi Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, Eunice Shriver, the sister of President John F. Kennedy is being remembered tonight as a tireless champion of the disabled. She died early this morning at the age of 88.

Shriver was the fifth of nine Kennedy's children, she's also was mother to Maria Shriver who is of course, California's First Lady. In 1962, Mrs. Shriver founded the summer day camp that grew into the Special Olympics which today operates in 170 countries.

Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias is sick with swine flu. Government officials say he fell ill on Sunday complaining of a sore throat and fever. He was diagnosed today with the H1N1 virus. The President's overall health is said to be good. On his doctor's advice, though, he's resting at home this week.

Talk about a jolt from General Motors. The company today saying its Chevrolet Volt car will get an estimated 230 miles per gallon -- yes, 2-3-0. The electric car is expected to go on sale next year. GM's CEO predicts the triple digit mileage will be a game changer for GM. We'll see.

It is a boy for Grammy winning singer, Jennifer Hudson; the 27- year-old Oscar-winner giving birth yesterday to her first child, David Daniel Ortunga Jr. The publicist released the news today. The baby is reportedly named after Hudson's fiance and weighed in at a healthy seven pounds, 14 ounces -- John.

ROBERTS: It's great that they've got some good news in that family. They can certainly use it.

HILL: Yes, they could use it.

ROBERTS: Erica thanks so much.

Next up on 360, a new raid in the Michael Jackson death investigation. Police search a pharmacy in Las Vegas. Are they getting closer to an arrest? The latest just ahead.

And later on, teen killers working for the drug lords and living in the United States; the shocking story from this side of the border, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: A major, new development in the Michael Jackson death investigation, police raiding a pharmacy in Las Vegas. A source tells us it sold the powerful anesthetic Propofol to Jackson's personal physician Dr. Conrad Murray.

Another source says Dr. Murray gave Jackson Propofol on the last day of his life. Dr. Murray is the subject of a possible manslaughter charge in the case.

Jim Moret is the chief correspondent for "Inside Edition," he's also an attorney and so is CNN's legal analyst Lisa Bloom and both of them join me now.

Lisa, the search of this pharmacy comes just a day after the coroner's office said that it was withholding the results of the autopsy, including the cause of death at the request of investigators from Los Angeles Police Department.

So what do you make of the timing of this raid on this pharmacy at the same time that the coroner's office is saying we're at a crucial point in the investigation?

LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think it's good news for Dr. Murray and good news that maybe short-lived but at least at this point the police don't feel that they have enough to go forward and arrest Dr. Murray. They're holding up the disclosure of the coroner's report and the toxicology results. They are continuing to investigate and they are continuing to investigate Propofol, which is the drug that's at the center of this dispute.

Apparently they just don't feel that they have enough yet to connect all of the dots and to indict or to arrest Dr. Murray.

ROBERTS: Jim Moret, do you know what they were looking for at Applied Pharmacy today?

JIM MORET, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, "INSIDE EDITION": Well, they are looking for records of all of the drugs sold by this pharmacy presumably to the doctor and specifically they're looking for Diprivan.

And Lisa is an optimist, I think. Because if I were Dr. Murray's attorney I think I'd be holding my breath right now because I think that they are making it very clear that they're looking solely at Dr. Murray with respect to this Propofol and they may be looking at other doctors, as well. But with respect to the manslaughter investigation, I think he is solely in their sites.

ROBERTS: A question that I had in all of this. And Lisa, maybe you could answer this. Is it unusual for the coroner's office to cooperate with the police department and withhold the results of the autopsy and the toxicology report?

You know I -- we look back on so many cases that involved criminal charges or at least criminal investigations and the coroner's office told the public the cause of death.

BLOOM: Everything about this case is unusual. You are right, John, from beginning to the end. I mean, in most cases there isn't such intense public interest in the coroner's report so it just gets issued as a matter of course.

In a high profile case, it is not unusual for the police to ask other agencies to hold back information. Police need to have some confidential information when they're doing an investigation. They can't have all the cards on the tables; so that makes sense.

But from Dr. Murray's defense point of view once again, if the coroner's working too closely hand in hand with law enforcement, that's an argument that he can use at trial. I mean, the coroner is supposed to be an independent agency composed of scientists issuing scientific results. They're not supposed to be at the beckon and call of law enforcement.

I'm not saying they are, all they're doing is withholding the report but at this point but that's the kind of defense case that could be building.

ROBERTS: Jim, the search warrants that have been executed over the last few weeks have been looking into a number of potential charges, manslaughter being the most serious of them as far as we know. Do you think that there's any chance that Dr. Murray could be charged with manslaughter?

MORET: I do. I think that clearly, that's what investigators are looking at.

You're talking about a drug that you simply can't get a prescription for and also a drug that you can't administer to yourself so you need somebody there. You also have reports that the doctor admitted he administered this drug to Michael Jackson and in a setting that's medically unsound.

No doctor would do it outside of a hospital or clinic setting. Therefore, they'll hold the doctor responsible if, in fact, he gave the drug that killed Michael Jackson to him the night before he died.

ROBERTS: What do you think about potential manslaughter charges, Lisa? I mean, if you were defending Conrad Murray, do you think you could get him off if he's charged with that? BLOOM: Jim's clearly right about the Propofol. It should not be administered without safeguards and outside the hospital setting.

The problem is, is the Propofol the only medication of significance in Jackson's system? I mean, if there are, let's say, 10 or 12 medications and if as I expect the coroner's going to say that Jackson died from an interaction of toxic drugs then it may be difficult for law enforcement to pin all of this on Dr. Murray.

And remember, legally, they have to prove causation. They have to prove that Dr. Murray's actions were the cause of death or a significant cause of death. And that means they have to link it all on the Propofol and, remember, that's the drug they're continuing to look at in this pharmacy search today so I just don't think they have it yet.

They may but I don't think they have it yet.

ROBERTS: And again, if they don't charge him with manslaughter, plenty of other things they could charge him with: over-prescribing, prescribing to addict. Jim, is it your sense that the LAPD wants to make an example of this man?

MORET: I think that they have a lot of pressure on this case. I think that early on, they didn't secure the property for four days. That was clearly a mistake in this case.

I think they're going very methodically and not to make an example but they really need to get some results and some result that won't have a public outcry because clearly something horribly wrong went on in Michael Jackson's house the night before he died.

ROBERTS: Jim Moret and Lisa Bloom, it is always great to catch up with you. Thanks so much for joining us tonight.

BLOOM: Thank you.

MORET: Sure.

ROBERTS: Much appreciated.

Let us know what you think. Join the live chat happening right now at ac360.com.

Coming up next, an American soldier serving his country and allegedly serving a Mexican cartel. Did he murder for them?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Tonight, an American soldier is under arrest for allegedly working as a hit man for a Mexican drug cartel. The soldier, Michael Apodaca (ph) is stationed at Fort Bliss in Texas.

Authorities say the 18-year-old and two other men allegedly killed a former cartel member in May after he was exposed as a government informant. All three suspects face capital murder charges. This is not the first time a U.S. citizen has been accused of being an assassin for Mexican druglords. With the promise of money and power, young people on this side of the border are recruited into a world of violence.

Ed Lavandera has tonight's "Crime & Punishment" report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Look at the elaborately tattooed eyes, the cold eyes. The faces of admitted murders, young Americans killing for Mexican drug cartels.

But it took many murders in Laredo, Texas to track down Gabriel Cardona and Rosalio Reta. One of the first victims was Moises Garcia, gunned down while he helped his pregnant wife and 3-year-old boy into their car.

Then the bodies began to pile up; seven murders in a yearlong stretch. But when investigators found fingerprints on a cigarette box in the shooter's getaway car, the chilling truth unraveled; the truth about Gabriel Cardona and Rosalio Reta.

DET. ROBERT GARCIA, LAREDO TEXAS POLICE: They were very good at what they did. They were professional at what they did.

LAVANDERA: Assassins is what they were. How Gabriel Cardona and Rosalio Reta evolved from average, American teenagers into hit men is laid out in court records and these police interrogation videos obtained by CNN.

In this tape, Reta happily details how he carried out his first cartel assassination at the age of 13.

"I loved doing it; killing that first person. I loved it. I thought I was superman," said Reta.

Detective Robert Garcia is the man sitting across the table from Reta.

GARCIA: That's one thing that you wonder all the time. What made him be this way?

LAVANDERA (on camera): Like many Americans, these teenagers started hitting the cantinas and bars just across the border in Mexico and that's where investigators say the cartel was waiting to recruit them.

(voice-over): These kids were easy targets for the cartel. The two started living the high life. They got tattoos honoring Santa Muerte, the grim-reaper like saint honored by drug traffickers.

Cardona had eyeballs tattooed on his eyelids and markings covered Reta's face.

(on camera): Cardona and Reta should have been in school here but instead investigators say they dropped out and joined the cartel's payroll. They drove around town in a $70,000 Mercedes. They were paid $500 a week as a retainer to sit and wait for the call to kill. Then they could make up to $50,000 for a hit.

(voice-over): Prosecutors say Cardona and Reta were hit men for the Zetas, a group of former Mexican special military forces that at the time were doing the dirty work for the notorious Gulf cartel.

GARCIA: They just told us that they're already here. There are sleeper cells. They're already here in the U.S. not just in Laredo. They're all throughout the U.S.

LAVANDERA: In Cardona's interrogation, he tells detectives the Zetas are moving their operations deeper into the U.S. Cardona says he knows of hits carried out in Houston and Dallas.

Cardona and Reta are in prison now serving long terms for murder but before they were arrested, federal authorities recorded a phone call between the two young men.

Cardona brags about killing 14-year-old Inez Villareal, the innocent cousin of a Cardona enemy who's also murdered. Cardona laughs about torturing both, making "guiso" or stew out of their bodies in large, metal drums. Villareal and his cousin have never been found.

But before the call ends, Cardona says there are three left to kill. There are three left.

It is a reminder the cartel's work never ends as they recruit the next generation of killers.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Laredo, Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: Cartels recruiting Americans to kill. Will we see more of it?

Joining us now is Fred Burton. He's a counter-terrorism expert as well as a best-selling author.

Let's look at this latest case, this arrest yesterday. Private Michael Apodaca an 18-year old Patriot missile battery crewman stationed at Fort Bliss in Texas accused of being a hit man for the Juarez cartel. Does it surprise you?

FRED BURTON, COUNTER-TERRORISM EXPERT: John, it doesn't surprise me in the least. If you look at this business, it is a dirty business and the informant that was killed was clearly an operator for the Juarez cartel.

And then the group that was put together carry out the assassination on U.S. soil, there's information that that individual was also an informant with the U.S. authorities. So this kind of twist and turn in this business is not unusual but the fact that it's taking place in El Paso on U.S. soil should be a wake-up call for all of us here in the United States.

ROBERTS: I would certainly think so.

Fred, to what extent have these cartels begun to either infiltrate or recruit from U.S. military and law enforcement?

BURTON: We have seen reports of this in the past, John, specifically with the National Guard with cartel recruitment of individuals.

Look. There's so much money to be made in this business that the informant length is very broad within the public service sector, within all facets of society when you start looking at some of these border towns. So the fact that you have a U.S. Army soldier that was hired to do this is also not surprising.

ROBERTS: This fellow who's assassinated, Jose Gonzalez, who was living in El Paso, living a fairly open life, people thought he was involved in legitimate businesses also believed to be a U.S. informant. They got to him pretty easily. They found him out and got to him pretty easily.

What does that say about who you can and cannot trust?

BURTON: It shows you the internal security and intelligence collection capabilities of the cartels; that they're capable of identifying U.S. government assets that should be protected. This is the kind of person that should not be killed on U.S. soil.

Now, it shows you their intelligence collection capabilities. It shows you their reach. It shows you their counter-intelligence and surveillance capabilities. If they can kill U.S. government informants, they can pretty much kill anybody they want and get away with it.

ROBERTS: As you mentioned, this was a hit on the American side of the border in El Paso. Hits like this happen all the time on the Mexican side of the border. What does it say about the potential for the violence in this country to increase and spread beyond border towns?

BURTON: Well, I think we are already seeing that. We have the downstream drug supply network in Atlanta is being controlled by the Mexican cartels.

We have had a whole series of abductions in Phoenix. The Phoenix police department has done a wonderful job looking at those. We have problems in Los Angeles as a result of this.

There really is no city that's not untouched today with this phenomenon. And as you move closer to the border, you have more of the violence. Their ability to reach out and touch these individuals is much more opportune for them.

ROBERTS: Not an encouraging picture that you're painting for us tonight. Fred Burton, it's good to catch up with you. Thanks so much.

BURTON: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Up next, teen film makers from Harlem and the Bronx with dreams of Hollywood. You may see their work on the big screen some day.

Tonight, we give you an up close look at their inspirational work.

And searching for answers: new developments in that midair collision over the Hudson River when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: A new school set to open next month here in New York City in the south Bronx will be the first of its kind in the country; a public high school with a focus on filmmaking. It's called the cinema school and the driving force behind it is Joe Hall.

Hall has a passion for film sharing with young people for nine years through a program called "Ghetto Film School."

Erica Hill has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Quiet on the set.

HILL (voice-over): Common words to begin production on any film set but this isn't just any film set. This is Uganda in East Africa and the production team, a bunch of American teens; all students at the Ghetto Film School an unaccredited film production training program in the South Bronx.

For founder Joe Hall, a former social worker in the Bronx and one-time USC film school student, this program is a perfect mix of his two loves; helping talented youth find their path and film.

JOE HALL, FOUNDER, GHETTO FILM SCHOOL: Ghetto Film School is a non-profit that helps get talented young people from the Bronx and Harlem into the film industry so we are looking to provide them with a comprehensive education in cinematic story telling and then get them ready for internships. And hopefully have the connections and pave the way so that they can pursue a creative career.

HILL: Since its creation in June of 2000, over 400 students have participated in the program but getting accepted isn't easy. Out of some 120 applicants, just 20 are picked for the 15-month program. Even more competitive; winning a spot on the annual thesis trip which for many students will be their first trip outside the United States.

Films are shot on location in places like London, Berlin, Paris and Africa. Each student fills a critical production crew role.

Theresa Dilworth wrote this year's winning script which was shot entirely in Kampala, Uganda.

THERESA DILWORTH, STUDENT, GHETTO FILM SCHOOL: The whole experience seemed like almost surreal. Like I couldn't believe I actually wrote a movie and that I was going across, you know, the ocean all the way to Africa to see it get made. And it was like a really great experience.

I learned so much about film making through it, you know, like just seeing it come to life.

HILL: The film "Live Joseph" about a man with 24 hours to live after being bitten by a snake was shot in only nine days offering students both firsthand film experience and real life education in a setting very far from home.

ALMA OSORIO, STUDENT, GHETTO FILM SCHOOL: It's been an incredible experience going to Uganda to film this. It was my first time outside of the United States. It was definitely something that changed me as a person.

DESTIMONA ANOKYE, STUDENT, GHETTO FILM SCHOOL: It was kind of like a gateway and we're attached to the industry in a really humble way. And I felt like it makes us like accessible to our goal, we can get where we need to be because we have the access and the resource. It means a lot to me and I plan to be with GFS my entire life in terms of remembering the experience and giving back to people because that's what they believe in, giving back to the community.

HILL: Joe Hall isn't done giving back. Next month, he'll open a cinema school; a magnet school in the Bronx with a high emphasis on humanities and, yes, film production; continuing a growing tradition.

Erica Hill, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: Next, the latest in the crash above the Hudson River. Divers recover more wreckage and search for clues to the tragedy.

Also, $65 million dollars of jewelry stolen in the broad daylight; we'll tell you where it happened and who police are searching for.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: As always, no shortage of news tonight. Let's get the latest now on some of the other stories that we're following.

Erica Hill joins us again with a "360 Bulletin." Hi, Erica.

HILL: Hi, John. The search for bodies in Saturday's New York air collision is now over. Crews today bringing the last two victims ashore; a crane pulled their plane out of the Hudson. In all, nine people died when that plane hit a helicopter above the Hudson River last weekend. We are getting a first look tonight from inside the men's prison in Chino, California. This is a view of the damage from rioting over the weekend that left 250 inmates hurt, 55 of them seriously. That violence appears to have been racially motivated.

Overseas the military government in Myanmar sentencing opposition leader Aung Sung Suu Kyi to 18 more months of house arrest. She is, of course, a Nobel Laureate and the face of the country's pro- democracy movement. According to the court she violated terms of her previous house arrest when an American swam across a lake to her home for an uninvited visit.

Both Secretary of State Clinton and the U.N. secretary-general as well as the Dalai Lama condemning that sentence.

Newly-released surveillance pictures tonight of a massive jewel heist in London. Two men caught in the middle of an armed robbery that netted them, get this, about $65 million in schwag (ph). The pair, who are still at large, are considered to be armed and dangerous.

And up in the sky off the South Carolina coast it's a bird, it's a plane; oh no, it's 96-year-old Pauline Sherman and her great- granddaughter, parasailing side by side. Great grandma Pauline, by the way, has never even driven a car. It's only the second time she's been on a boat. But she thought why not try it?

John, her granddaughter -- not her great granddaughter -- who went parasailing with her, actually said they're going to have to invent something for her to die of. She's an inspiration to all of us.

ROBERTS: Ninety-six years old and still going strong. That's a lot of fun, too going up in a parasail.

All right. Here we go. Now our Beat 360 winners: it's our daily challenge to viewers, a chance to show off our staffers by coming up with a better caption for the picture that we post in our blog every day.

Tonight's picture, here it is: White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel reads to students during reading to the top event at the Department of Education. He was joined by Education Secretary Arne Duncan and White House Domestic Policy Secretary Melanie Barnes.

Staff winner tonight: Rick. His caption, "The administration's new strategy on health care town hall forums." You'll not get a lot of backtalk from the kids.

Our viewer winner is Bob from Massillon, Ohio -- I hope I got that right. His caption, "And this, kiddies, is the new health care reform bill that you'll be paying for the rest of your lives. And don't forget, social security will be broke too."

HILL: It's interesting so many of both the staff and viewer submissions have to do with health care and town halls today. ROBERTS: I wonder why. Couldn't be that it's captivating the imagination of the nation, could it be?

HILL: No.

ROBERTS: Bob, your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way.

Still ahead on 360 a birthday blowout that took a terrible turn. Just remember, pranks are always fun until someone gets hurt. And candles are fire. The "Shot" is just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Okay, Erica. Tonight's shot is proof that some birthday celebrations really are unforgettable.

This video just now getting traction on YouTube, three years after a familiar birthday ritual went terribly wrong. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(FAMILY SINGING "HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU")

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Rick Escalante's birthday party started off well, nothing too wild. It was cake and candles; the usual singing. But things took a terrible turn when the silly string and glitter hairspray ambush starts.

Rich singed his eyebrows and suffered minor burns on his ear. His sister told us his wife bought the supplies but didn't think the flammability issue all the way through.

HILL: Well, as long as you're not spraying it directly into the candles then in theory there probably shouldn't be a problem.

ROBERTS: It was probably the hairspray more than anything.

HILL: You think?

ROBERTS: I think the silly string itself might be flammable. I've never tried to set it on fire but I could assume that.

HILL: I'm guessing that would go up in flames.

ROBERTS: I think the propellant from the hairspray probably was the real culprit.

HILL: I think it was the glitter.

ROBERTS: Men shouldn't be wearing glitter anyways.

Erica, great to see you tonight. See you again tomorrow.

You can see all the most recent shots at our Web site at 360.com. That does it for this edition of 360. Thanks for watching.

"LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.