Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
President Bush Wins Tax Cut Victory; NSA Under Fire For Domestic Spying Program; New Orleans Prepared For Hurricane Season?
Aired May 11, 2006 - 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: Tonight on 360, a political victory for the president, but can a $70 billion tax cut help his sinking poll numbers?
That, and the latest on the hunt for Warren Jeffs, the fugitive polygamist cult leader.
ANNOUNCER: The nightmare scenario:
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was separating children younger than 7 from their families, and bringing them without their families to Texas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Warren Jeffs, will this be his Waco, surrounded by follows and dozens and dozens of children?
Major tax cuts, or are they? Here's a clue: It helps if you're a millionaire.
And, if you're not a terrorist, why is government tracking your calls? The uproar over a secret program that has truly got your number.
ANNOUNCER: Across the country and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.
Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.
COOPER: And good evening again.
We begin tonight with some big developments in Washington, Republicans in trouble and their plan for fighting back. With poll numbers sinking and the base eroding, they are choosing a weapon that has worked for them in the past, one they hope will work again, a tax cut -- tonight, all the angles on the tax bill passed today, a $70 billion tax cut expected to be signed by the president shortly.
We will run the numbers, politically and financially.
Also, another weapon in the Republicans' arsenal, the first lady, the one member of the Bush White House with positive poll numbers. Suddenly, we're seeing an awful lot of her.
First, the tax bill and your bottom line -- who wins? Who loses?
CNN's John Roberts investigates.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Another giveaway to the rich is how Democrats put it, leaving little for the middle class.
REP. ALCEE HASTINGS (D), FLORIDA: That amounts to just a little bit more than a tank of gas.
ROBERTS: Just the tonic the economy needs, according to Republicans.
REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: It's something that's important to keep this economy coming.
ROBERTS: So, who is right? According to the moderately liberal Tax Policy Institute, low-income earners, $20,000 to $30,000 a year, will have their taxes reduced by about $9; $50,000 to $75,000, $110; $100,000 to $200,000, just shy of $1,400. But, if you make over $1 million, you'll save a whopping $42,000.
LEN BURNHAM, TAX POLICY INSTITUTE: You would expect, of course, the tax cut to be bigger for higher-income people. But, even as a share of income, it grows the -- the higher the income is, the larger the tax cut is as a share of income.
ROBERTS: So, are tax cuts good for the economy? Congress has been slicing tax rates for five years. GDP is humming along. The Dow is flirting with record territory.
BURNHAM: Well, the stock market was last in record territory in the late 1990s, when tax rates on capital gains were higher than they are now.
ROBERTS: But what has even nonpartisan observers really ticked off is what they call a revenue-raising gimmick to keep the cost of the bill below $70 billion, a price tag Republicans could pass with a simple majority.
It would allow investors to convert traditional IRAs, funded with pre-tax dollars into so-called Roth IRAs by paying taxes on the account's investment gains. The bill's supporters say it will raise almost $6.5 billion over the next 10 years, but because Roth IRAs grow tax-free, in the decades after that, critics say, it will cost the government some $35 billion.
STEVE ELLIS, TAXPAYERS FOR COMMON SENSE: This is all about taking care of the now and forgetting the future. This is denying future generations some of the tax revenue that they were anticipating to help pay for the cost of government then.
ROBERTS: So, how does the tax cut break down in terms of households?
A study down by the National Women's Law Center found that two- tenths of 1 percent of all American households -- that's about 345,000 households -- will get that $42,000. The overwhelming majority of American households, some 77.3 percent, 113 million of them, people who make less than $75,000 a year, will get back, Anderson, an average of 30 bucks.
COOPER: Hmm. Wow.
John, stick around. We are going to talk to you in just a moment with John King as well.
Want to turn now to the first lady and a hard fact for the White House -- the last time President Bush enjoyed the public approval that his wife now enjoys, it was back in July 2003, which may explain why she's coming to a congressional district near you very soon.
Here's CNN's John King.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's give a warm welcome to Congressman Christopher Shays and Mrs. Laura Bush.
KING (voice-over): There's no question this member of the Bush family is welcome on the campaign trail, and for good reason. First lady Laura Bush remains popular at a time her husband is not, a 61 percent approval rating in a new CNN poll, compared to 34 percent for the president.
Adding to his woes is rising Republican discontent about record deficits, rising gas prices, the Iraq war, and the Bush immigration policy many conservatives believes rewards lawbreakers.
STANLEY GREENBERG, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: The reason why the wrong track right now is going -- is going south is not because of Democrats. It's going south now because of, you know, Republicans. We have in our polls 40 percent of Republicans saying the country's headed in the wrong direction.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: John Porter delivers to be reelected.
KING: At one recent campaign event, the president made light of his political predicament.
BUSH: The truth of the matter is, Porter said, you know, why don't we invite Laura and leave you at home, George W.? (LAUGHTER)
KING: The first lady is taking a higher midterm campaign profile, raising some $7 million so far, and often popping up in places where the president's standing is especially poor.
LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: Here in Connecticut, there are few advocates for young people as tireless as Congresswoman Johnson.
Amy Walter tracks congressional races and says, more often than not, the first lady's stops are in suburban areas, where moderate swing voters, especially women, are mad at the president, yet critical to Republican chances this year.
AMY WALTER, "COOK POLITICAL REPORT": So, the person you want to bring up to help you with fund-raising from the White House, somebody who gets a lot of attention, brings the access and the star power of the White House, but doesn't bring the political baggage, is the first lady.
KING: Still, Mrs. Bush is not immune from the administration's political slump. That 61 percent approval rating now is down 20 points from January. But her standing is still much higher than the president's or vice president's. So, Democrats expect to see more of the first lady in key races, and perhaps doing more than just raising money.
LISA CAPUTO, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY FOR HILLARY CLINTON: She could also be used to convey a message. Karl Rove and company would be wise to look at how to utilize the popularity of this first lady to help her husband.
KING: But while she is, without a doubt, a campaign asset now, there are limits. The biggest problem for the Republican Party is disillusionment, mounting disillusionment, among conservatives.
And, Anderson, come late October, into early November, the job of turning out those voters , trying to convince them to get out and vote, will be the president's, not the first lady's.
COOPER: John King, thanks. Stick around.
As high as it is, Laura Bush's 61 percent approval rating matches up pretty evenly with other first ladies. Here's the "Raw Data."
While her husband was in office, Hillary Rodham Clinton averaged a 64 percent approval rating. In a 1987 poll, 58 percent thought highly of Nancy Reagan. During Jimmy Carter's last year at the White House, Rosalynn Carter had a 59 percent approval rating. And, in 1940, Eleanor Roosevelt received the approval of 68 percent of the country. So, while the first lady's numbers are high, some news today could end up hurting the president's already low marks. A front-page article in today's "USA Today" says the wiretapping program run by the National Security Agency, the NSA, and approved by the president is far more expansive than previously thought.
The paper says the NSA is creating a massive database of domestic calls. And that means the government might know who you are calling and when. On top of that, there's a good chance your phone service provider is helping out.
Here's CNN's national security correspondent, David Ensor.
DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The newspaper report that the National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, with help from AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, hit the Senate and the Bush administration like a ton of bricks.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: Now, are you telling me that tens of millions of Americans are involved with al Qaeda? If that's the case, we have really failed in any kind of a war on terror.
ENSOR: The timing could hardly be worse for the administration, given that the president's nominee for CIA director, General Michael Hayden, on the Hill seeking support, was director of the NSA when the program to collect phone call data on Americans reportedly started, after the 9/11 attack.
GENERAL MICHAEL HAYDEN, CIA DIRECTOR NOMINEE: All I would want to say is that everything that NSA does is lawful and very carefully done.
ENSOR: That from the general, after the president had already been out doing damage control.
BUSH: The privacy of ordinary Americans is fiercely protected in all our activities.
ENSOR: So, what is the point of collecting all the billions of telephone numbers we all call and putting them into the massive Cray computers out at the NSA headquarters? To look for patterns, experts say, that might catch a terrorist sleeper cell in this country.
RICHARD FALKENRATH, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: This data might help the government identify a -- a -- a communication link between a known or suspected al Qaeda operative abroad and one at home that had multiple cutouts within it, meaning there was not a direct connection between terrorist A and terrorist B, but they work through a series of intermediaries, C, D, E, and F.
ENSOR: The government can collect the numbers of C, D, E, and F without needing to know their names or what they say.
FALKENRATH: Big Brother is not listening to those calls, does not know what the content is.
ENSOR: The phone companies declined comment, but the idea Big Brother may have most Americans' complete phone calls records strikes some as outrageous.
JAMES BAMFORD, AUTHOR, "PRETEXT FOR WAR": That doesn't give you a -- a right to spy on everybody, just because you think you're going to prevent terrorism. There has got to be a real reason before you start spying on Americans. I mean, how many people are killed every day by people in stickups or people that rob 7/Elevens? Does that mean that we begin spying on everybody that goes into a 7/Eleven?
ENSOR (on camera): A knowledgeable former U.S. official says the program is legal, because there is no law against the government accepting information voluntarily provided.
While the companies may not turn over names and addresses, a long list of phone numbers only can, experts say, be legally given to the government. Of course, anyone with Internet access can then trace most telephone numbers to a person.
David Ensor, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: A lot to talk about with part of the best political team in the business, John King in Washington and John Roberts right here in New York.
Guys, thanks for joining us.
John, let's start off with you, John Roberts.
You know, Nancy Pelosi, giving a press conference today, you could almost see the joy in her face, the glee over this. I mean, Democrats in Congress were briefed about this NSA program, but can they really use this as a big strategy?
ROBERTS: Yes. Now that it's -- now that it's out there in the public, it's anybody's game.
I mean, this -- this is one of those "Oh, my God" moments. President Bush gets one on the Republican scoreboard, a bone to conservatives with the tax cut that made it through the House and the Senate, and then this thing comes out.
You know, take a look at what Dianne Feinstein was saying a couple of days ago. Well, I think this guy Hayden is really qualified. I'm a little uncomfortable with the military uniform, but I think he's a good guy, and -- and prolonging these confirmation hearings would be a bad thing.
Look at what she said today: I think there's serious problems with this nominee.
I mean, they just -- they gift wrapped this thing and just handed it to the Democrats.
COOPER: John King, it's reported that Karl Rove is planning something of a summer offensive to try to fire up the conservative base, pushing to outlaw same-sex marriage, new abortion restrictions. You think that's going to work? I mean, that -- that's -- that's the old playbook.
KING: Well, first, I wouldn't put all of it on Karl Rove. There are a number of ballot initiatives in the states and a number of initiatives being debated in legislatures around the country that would put banning same-sex marriage on state ballots or new abortion restrictions making their way through, I believe, 10 legislatures right now.
And there will be a Senate debate on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. And Karl Rove says, yes, those can help Republican turnout. Is it the thing a majority the Americans want the Congress dealing with right now or the country dealing with right now?
No. The economy, gas prices, Iraq all rank much higher. Health care also ranks much higher. But, as we have discussed before, this White House is running on a strategy that, to win in November, you have to turn out your conservative-base voters. And those are the issues, abortion, same-sex marriage, judges, tax cuts, that work with Republicans.
COOPER: John Roberts, I mean, is fear of the Democrats and them gaining control of the Congress, is that perhaps the Republicans' best weapon for getting people to come out?
ROBERTS: Well, I mean, other -- other than what John was talking about, in terms of trying to motivate the base through other means, yes, I mean, they're going to try to demonize the Democrats, to say this is what's going to happen if they win in November, that they're going to hold impeachment hearings; they are going to be after the president, the same way that Bill Clinton was dogged.
COOPER: Which the Democrats have said they kind of will. I mean, Nancy Pelosi has talked about that.
ROBERTS: Yes. I mean, but will they really? Or are they just talking about that to fire up their base, you know?
You have -- you have got to jump through a lot of hoops to get there. And look at what happened to the Republicans after the Bill Clinton impeachment hearings. They lost a lot of ground because of it. The public sympathy, whether or not you like President Clinton eventually ended up with him.
So, that's -- it's a dangerous game to play. But -- but, certainly, this idea of, here's what the world is going to be like under a Democratically controlled Congress is something Republicans are going to try to play on.
COOPER: John King, recent polls showing the president's support, even among conservatives, slumping badly. How much, really, can the first lady, Laura Bush, help to reverse that decline?
KING: Well, among conservatives, probably -- probably not all that much.
But, look, the president is down. republicans are now resigned to the fact that he will not get to 40 percent, not get above 40 percent this year. So, they have to use every weapon they have. And if the first lady can help in Pennsylvania, in Connecticut, in suburban Missouri, help one, two, three, or four endangered Republicans first raise money, and then maybe, down the road, help generate a little interest, win over a supporter, a moderate swing voter who is mad at the president right now, every little bit will help right now.
The key question for the first lady is, what will she do when fund-raising season is over? Will she get out there and do rough-and- tumble campaigning? She has resisted that in the past. She says, this year, she will campaign through November.
COOPER: All right, John King, John Roberts, thanks, guys.
Another concern about the government is how it is going to respond to this year's round of hurricanes. And the season is coming. Officials in New Orleans say they have a plan to prevent another Katrina-like debacle. Remember? I think we have heard this before. On closer inspection, it does not seem like much of a plan at all, and it doesn't seem like what they have said is already, you know, a done deal. They don't seem to have the plan at all. Tonight, we are "Keeping Them Honest."
Plus, the hunt for one of the FBI's most wanted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRENT JEFFS, NEPHEW OF WARREN JEFFS: He puts on a front like he's a very nice man, a very giving man, very happy. But underneath all that, he's very dark and very evil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's the nephew of polygamist Warren Jeffs. Some tips are coming in about his uncle's whereabouts. We will have the latest -- coming up.
And a polygamist community north of the border under fire -- we will tell you why one of their leaders, a man who broke away from Warren Jeffs, could end up in jail -- when 360 continues.
COOPER: So, with a lot of fanfare, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin announced an evacuation plan for his city, in case it gets hit with another hurricane this summer. Now, the plan, it sounds good on paper, but the devil is in the details.
And we have been investigating this plan. It turns out, the details, well, they haven't really been worked out.
Tonight, CNN's Susan Roesgen is "Keeping Them Honest."
SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We know what went wrong in the New Orleans evacuation during Katrina, just about everything. People who had a car got out. Those who didn't were on their own.
Longtime resident Ben Hunter paddled out in a canoe. This year, the city is promoting a new evacuation plan. City buses would round up people who don't have cars, and then the state would bus them to shelters away from the city. Amtrak trains would evacuate the sick and elderly. And the airlines would keep their planes at the New Orleans Airport, until all the tourists got out.
When I asked the mayor how firm the plan is, he said, everything is good to go.
RAY NAGIN (D), MAYOR OF NEW ORLEANS: The fundamentals of this plan is basically to get as many people out as possible pre-event and right after the event.
ROESGEN: But we found out that the plan isn't so solid, after all.
Amtrak says it hasn't actually signed on the dotted line. It's not a done deal. And, even if there is a deal, state officials tell me there aren't enough doctors to put on the trains to care for the sick and elderly being evacuated.
As far as the airlines evacuating tourists, that's not a done deal, either. The Transportation Security Administration says it's still just being talked about. But how about the buses to get people out? The city estimates that 10,000 people will need help getting out, but New Orleans has fewer than 100 city buses. And the city is still negotiating with the bus drivers, who haven't agreed to stay.
Finally, shelters -- less than three week before the start of hurricane season, city officials admit not a single out-of-town shelter has been lined up. We asked the New Orleans emergency management chief, Terry Ebbert, the architect of the mayor's plan, if it's really ready to go.
He says, the city is counting on the state and federal government to make it work.
TERRY EBBERT, NEW ORLEANS HOMELAND SECURITY CHIEF: The plan is land-based transportation out of the city on buses. That's the plan. These other -- other areas are improvements to the plan, which I believe that the federal government will make good on.
ROESGEN: Will that happen, or will people like Ben Hunter have to paddle out of his neighborhood in a canoe again? BEN HUNTER, HURRICANE EVACUEE: We have been through Katrina, you know? I mean, you -- it's like, we are from Missouri. Now you have got to show me. You know, we -- I don't have the faith.
ROESGEN: Hunter says, this year, he won't wait around for the city's help. He will leave before a hurricane even gets close.
Susan Roesgen, CNN, New Orleans.
COOPER: Twenty wives, about 100 children, a polygamist trying to escape a government crackdown -- that story is coming up.
But, first, Erica Hill from Headline News has some of the other headlines we are following -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson.
We begin in Ohio tonight with a verdict in a decades-old murder case -- the Reverend Gerald Robinson found guilty of killing a nun and former colleague more than 20 years ago. Sister Margaret Ann Pahl was choked, then stabbed 31 times in what prosecutors said looked like a ritual slaying.
The priest, who is now 68 years old, received the mandatory sentence, 15 years to life.
In London, a long-awaited report on the July 7 suicide bombings says Britain's intelligence agencies missed chances to thwart the attacks, by failing to follow up leads on two of the men who became the country's first suicide bombers. Fifty-two commuters died in the attacks. The government report also blames a lack of funds and a failure to anticipate homegrown terrorism.
Health experts from the CDC, the FDA and the NIH said today it is still unclear what is causing a spike in deadly bacterial infections, including a half-dozen cases in women who took the RU-486 abortion pill. Officials have not directly linked the death to the drug. Today, they said more study is needed.
And, in Cape Cod, a new step before the prom is raising a few eyebrows. School officials have ordered criminal background checks on prospective dates who are not students at the school. Six were banned from attending. Now the school, though, has changed its mind, and those dates will be allowed to join the party, Anderson.
COOPER: Yay. It's like a...
HILL: Oh, hooray. We can go to the prom after all.
COOPER: With -- with a criminal.
COOPER: Well, or at least someone who had a criminal background. HILL: Well, or as one of the kids said yesterday in one of the packages: Hey, you know what? I learned from my mistake.
COOPER: There you go. They should be able to go to the prom, too.
HILL: They have learned. They have moved on.
COOPER: They should -- they should be able to go. Would you -- would you -- did you take someone with a criminal record to your prom?
HILL: No, I didn't, actually. But, you know, maybe I was missing out.
COOPER: Maybe so. I didn't get to -- I didn't go to my prom. So, there you go.
HILL: Well, if it was anything like mine, you didn't miss much.
COOPER: Good to know.
COOPER: Erica, thanks.
Well, as the massive manhunt for fugitive church leader and polygamist Warren Jeffs continues, we are on the story tonight, all the angles. Most of us have only really seen him in pictures, still photos that offer no hints of what people say are his dark secrets. But one man who you're about to meet has known Jeffs for decades, says he has a good idea where he is hiding. And it's not in the U.S. We will travel to Canada to hear from him.
Plus, a town ruled for years by Warren Jeffs, a town with many secrets to hide.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And you can see there are some angry people here who don't want the camera to be...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No cameras allowed here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say again?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry. This is private property. No cameras allowed.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Nearly everyone in this town that Gary Tuchman takes us to practices polygamy, and they do not want you to see what their life is really like. Tonight, we will take you inside a place that is literally built on polygamy -- next on 360.
COOPER: A massive manhunt and tips pouring in -- the latest on the search for fugitive polygamy leader Warren Jeffs -- next on 360.
COOPER: Well, yesterday, we were in Utah, keeping track of the manhunt for polygamist church leader Warren Jeffs, a fugitive whose sect has been compared by some to the Taliban.
Now the FBI says that new leads are pouring in to its offices since it added Jeffs' name to its 10 most wanted list last weekend. The problem is, no one knows for sure exactly where Jeffs is. He has compounds in Utah, Arizona, Texas, supporters, even, in Canada. Jeffs is wanted, among other things, for sexually assaulting a minor, being an accomplice to rape.
The fundamentalist sect he leads is notorious. There are many, including former members, who believe it is a cult, and a cult that could be heading the way of Waco. We will have more of that in a moment.
But, first, a profile of the man who controls it all.
COOPER (voice-over): To his thousands of followers, Warren Jeffs is the chosen one, a prophet who speaks for God on Earth. To others who have studied his sect, he is pure evil.
JON KRAKAUER, AUTHOR, "UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN": He has the kind of pathology that would put him on a par with Joseph Stalin or Saddam Hussein. He's raped and sodomized many, many children, girls, women, and he's created this culture that -- that is damaging in its own right.
COOPER: Jeffs rules over the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day saints. Known as the FLDS, the group shuns the outside world, living a kind of "Twilight Zone" existence in sealed- off communities in Utah, Texas, Arizona, and British Columbia, building churches and waiting for judgment day.
GARY ENGELS, MOHAVE COUNTY INVESTIGATOR: These chosen people believe that they will be lifted up while God sweeps the Earth clean of the wicked people, and then they will be sent back down to rebuild the Earth.
COOPER: Those who left the FLDS describe chilling accounts of Warren Jeffs. He's all-powerful, believed to have dozens of wives himself, and picks what women church elders should take. In a rare audio recording made by a disgruntled member and obtained by a local radio station, Jeffs preached about first-time brides and obedience. Listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
WARREN JEFFS, POLYGAMIST LEADER: Many young men, when they receive their first wife, they're just so untrained. And the woman, if she's not careful, will be overbearing and always ask permission for what she wants. And, ladies, build up your husband by being submissive. That's how you will give your children the success. You will want your children to be obedient and submissive to righteous living.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: Jeffs also spews hate, warning his believers of a wicked world.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JEFFS: You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, or rude and filthy, uncomely, disagreeable, and low in their habits, wild and seemingly deprived of nearly all of the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: Brent Jeffs is the nephew of Warren Jeffs. Here's how he describes his uncle.
BRENT JEFFS, NEPHEW OF WARREN JEFFS: He puts on a front like he's a very nice man, a very giving man, very happy. But, underneath all that, he's very dark and very evil. And he will do anything to hide himself and get away from all these charges. And, so, all I can say to everyone out there is, just keep your eye out for him.
COOPER: Tonight, Jeffs is a fugitive on the run, but still very dangerous. That is what has so many concerned, fearing his maniacal authority, coupled with a blind devotion, will lead to a violent showdown.
KRAKAUER: The problem is how to arrest him, and without provoking some calamity that would dwarf the calamity of Waco or even Jonestown. That's the -- that's the challenge.
COOPER: Well, what this story has done, really, is blow the lid off polygamy in America.
There are believed to be tens of thousands of people living in polygamist families. Not all of them, of course, are followers of Warren Jeffs.
In fact, in a moment, you will meet some other polygamists who say that they are feeling the heat because of Jeffs. A man who used to follow Jeffs named Winston Blackmore says he and his many wives fear that authorities, under pressure because of Warren Jeffs, will make arrests just to make a point.
Plus, what life is like inside Warren Jeffs' communities. More from best-selling author John Krakauer, who gives insight in his book "Under the Banner of Heaven", when 360 continues.
Polygamy had been hiding in plain sight for more than 100 years in this country. But the allegations against Warren Jeffs and his reputation as a fanatical and abusive leader have put polygamy on the national radar like never before. You're about to meet a man who knows Warren Jeffs well, a former follower who served as a bishop in his fundamentalist sect. He was eventually ex-communicated. He now lives in Canada and believes that Jeffs may be hiding in Canada as well.
We want to be clear, the man you're about to meet is no longer a follower of Warren Jeffs. But he is a polygamist and because it's illegal in Canada, he now fears the government there will crack down. CNN's Dan Simon reporting tonight from British Columbia.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It looks like a motel, but its home for Winston Blackmore and his wives, about 20 he told CNN, and their children. About 100 of them. Polygamy is illegal in Canada, but the family has escaped a government crackdown until now. You're in this country now illegally?
EDITH BARLOW, WIFE OF POLYGAMIST: Yes.
SIMON: Edith Barlow came to Bountiful more than 10 years ago from Colorado City, Arizona to marry Blackmore and have children. But now she's been told she has to leave the country or face deportation, where her application to become a Canadian citizen was turned down.
BARLOW: My biggest thing is I don't understand why I can't be here with them.
SIMON: You're breaking the law.
BARLOW: Well, that's true, but I don't have any other options.
SIMON: That's because she says leaving would also mean leaving her children behind, five of them from 16 months to 8 years old, all born in Canada. If you wanted to, could you just take your kids with you back to the states?
BARLOW: My children have every right to be in Canada and that's where they want to be and that's where their father wants them to be.
SIMON: Edith is not alone. Two of Blackmore's other wives including Marsha Chatwin are also facing deportation. What happens if the Canadian government decides that they want to deport you back to the U.S.?
MARSHA CHATWIN, WIFE OF POLYGAMIST: Well, they'd have to drag me. Because I don't want to leave my children.
SIMON: But these aren't the families' only problems. Blackmore says he could face trouble for having sex with some of his wives when they were in their teens. In Canada a girl can marry at 16. But if they were any younger, Blackmore could be arrested and prosecutor for having sex with a minor. Were any of the women under 16 when you married them?
BLACKMORE: Yes, just barely.
SIMON: Just barely.
BLACKMORE: Just barely.
SIMON: Blackmore didn't exactly say how many of his wives were under 16 when they married.
BLACKMORE: There was one that was and one that lied about her age but that's not unusual for women is it?
SIMON: Blackmore might be laughing now but he knows there's a real possibility he could be thrown in prison. He says the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada's equivalent of the FBI has been interviewing him and his wives about their age when they married and first had sex. The agency declined to confirm it's investigating Blackmore and his wives. It did say, "We do have an active investigation but there's no firm time line."
Blackmore and his wives think they know why, after years of living a polygamist life the government is now investigating them. They believe the FBI's hunt for fugitive polygamy leader Warren Jeffs has cast a new and negative light on the polygamist lifestyle. How do you convince the government that what they're doing is wrong?
CHATWIN: That's why I'm here to tell them.
SIMON: A large polygamist family under pressure and on the verge of breaking apart.
COOPER: Well Dan, if Canada does decide to deport the wives what can they actually do to fight it?
SIMON: Well, if Canadian immigration officials want to do that they're going to have to come in with handcuffs because these women will certainly not leave willingly. If that happens there will be a deportation hearing and they're going to lose because after all, they're on the record as saying, they're being here illegally. The problem is, is the PR issue. I'm not sure Canada wants to be in the business of yanking these mothers away from their children. That may not be good PR and I'm sure that will play into it.
COOPER: And you said that Mr. Blackmore thinks that Jeffs is in Canada. Why does he think that?
SIMON: Well, you got to understand Mr. Blackmore and Mr. Jeffs have a long rich history. In fact, Jeffs pulled Mr. Blackmore out of his post as head of the Fundamentalist Mormon Church here in Bountiful. And he's saying that he knows Jeffs and he knows the way he thinks. So, he thinks he's probably in Canada for two reasons, number one he would not be under the crosshairs of the FBI, number two, he's got a lot of supporters here and they could take care of him. We talked to the authorities here in Canada and they say they're working with the FBI to develop any leads as to whether or not Jeffs might be here in Canada.
COOPER: It's still just stunning, I mean when you said he has something close to 20 wives and maybe as many as 100 children, I mean that's sort of -- I mean I know we've been doing this story for a couple of nights but it still just boggles my mind that you know -- just on a daily basis what it's like to have 100 kids. It's hard to imagine. Dan, appreciate the report. Thanks very much.
360's cameras received a very different reception in a polygamist community along the Arizona-Utah boarder. Things were hardly idyllic, we'll just say as Gary Tuchman rolled through town everyone rolled up the welcome mat. We'll show you, coming up.
Plus a warning --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Now everyone needs to take a deep breath and slow down or there's a danger that something horrible will occur.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Best-selling author Jon Krakauer has been investigating Warren Jeffs' world for years. His advice on the case may surprise you when 360 continues.
COOPER: There are tens of thousands of people living in polygamist families in America. The exact numbers really are not known. They believe that a man must have multiple wives to enter heaven. An estimated 10,000 people are followers of Warren Jeffs, he's really in his sect he has absolute authority over everyone men, women and children and he is known to have divided families, thrown out young men and assigned wives to other men, even though they were married to someone else. Many of his disciples can be found in a community that really wants nothing to do with the outside world. And a trip there it's like taking a trip into the twilight zone as CNN's Gary Tuchman found out.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're 110 miles north of the Grand Canyon on the state line of Arizona and Utah, behind me, Colorado City, Arizona. This is Hildale, Utah, they're basically twin cities. Two different states but the people who live in these two towns ignore the state line, they live one particular type of life. It is not unusual for homes to have more than 10 wives and more than 30 children. You could see some of the wives and children here going into this home. The wives wear long dresses. They wear their hair tied up in a bun, very traditional old fashioned clothing. We haven't seen one woman here in this town here in Arizona who has been wearing clothing you consider more typical.
We're driving now because the fact is it's very hard for us to shoot in front of people's homes without making them angry, without making them suspicious. Lots of these people have had their parents and grandparents end up in prison because of polygamy. They do not trust the police. They do not trust the news media. They're not particularly happy to see us. This is the center of commerce here in Colorado City. This is the food town. This is where the families come to get their groceries. They won't allow us inside with the camera but we can tell you it is very busy as you might expect. There are many households. And you can see there are some angry people here who don't want the camera to be taken.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No cameras allowed here. Sorry, this is private property, no cameras allowed.
TUCHMAN: So now we're off the property, where legally we're allowed to shoot. We can tell you that according to local authorities, the district attorney's office which pays visits here with their investigators, 99 percent of the families here are polygamist families, most of those families --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to have to ask you guys to not be by our store, please don't point that at me.
TUCHMAN: Okay. Well no this is --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't want you on the store parking lot or videoing the customers in and out, it makes them nervous so they don't want to go in the store.
TUCHMAN: Okay this will just take one minute. We're on a public sidewalk here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, this is private property.
TUCHMAN: We were saying that authority's estimate 99 percent of the families here are polygamist families. Most of them are supporters of Warren Jeffs. But it's very important to point out there's a town just two miles to the south of here called Centennial Park. Centennial Park was formed about 20 years ago by people who did not want to be loyal to Warren Jeffs and his father. They are not supporters of Warren Jeffs, but they also practice polygamy. That, the people in Centennial Park and the people here, agree upon.
COOPER: Well the question of course tonight is where exactly is Warren Jeffs? As we mentioned, some people say that he could be hiding in Canada. There's others who say he could be right here in the U.S.
JOHN KRAKAUER, AUTHOR, "UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN": The last positive placement I have for Warren is at the Texas Ranch on more than one occasion in the last several months.
COOPER: Jon Krakauer has done more research than anyone on this subject. Not any ordinary ranch he's talking about. Those are the pictures. It's a massive compound in Texas. In Eldorado, Texas, that some fear could be the next Waco. That is the major concern. Coming up we're going to hear more from author John Krakauer who has spent years studying Jeffs' sect.
Also ahead tonight, a closer look at the compound. We'll tell you what local law officials have learned about what is really inside and why it worries them so much next on 360.
COOPER: Through much of his rule Warren Jeffs' headquarters was in Hildale, Utah, in Colorado City, Arizona where Gary Tuchman just showed you. They're really two small towns right next to each other. But in recent years he's been building a secluded compound in Eldorado, Texas. And he's been asking what he considers his chosen followers to go there. In his book, "Under the Banner of Heaven" Jon Krakauer paints a very disturbing picture of Warren Jeffs' sect. I spoke to him earlier today.
COOPER: You know Jon, there's obvious a lot of media attention on this now and the attorney general of Utah and of Arizona are talking about it and it's on the -- this guy's now on the FBI's 10 most wanted list. Did authorities drop the ball on this? They've known about this for years and you've been talking about it for years
KRAKAUER: Well they didn't drop the ball. It was just the inevitable lack of focus. I mean, you know, it's predictable that there were some of us just begging someone to pay attention and get Warren Jeffs when it would have been relatively easy. But you know we could get the attention of some people low on the totem poll but their superiors were distracted with what they thought were more pressing matters and they just weren't willing to devote the resources or whatever. I mean the same thing happened with David Koresh and Waco. It would have been easy do arrest him on numerous occasions but they waited until there was a crisis.
COOPER: We were in Eldorado, we had correspondents there yesterday and you know it's not as if the authorities are blockading the compound or anything like that. On the surface it doesn't look like there is that rush to quickly move in there. Local law enforcement, you know told our reporter look, unless they know for a fact that he is there, they're not going to move in about.
KRAKAUER: Well, yeah, I don't know. I mean there have been other statements by federal officers saying look, if we knew he was there, we'd go in right now and get him. You know, he is there. He's almost certainly there. He might not be there this minute but he's spent most of his time there I'm convinced of it. It's the one place I visited most of his compounds, maybe virtually all of the ones we know about. And he hasn't been at those compounds most of the time when I visited them. You know the last positive placement I have for Warren is at the Texas ranch on more than one occasion in the last several months.
COOPER: Because it sounds like he's been pulling up stakes from Hildale in Utah, and from Colorado City and sort of getting his chosen followers all to go to this place in Texas. And we're looking at pictures of the compound now.
KRAKAUER: Yeah I mean one of the very disturbing things is that we were getting very credible reports for over several months now that he was separating children younger than seven from their families. He saw -- under the age of seven is the age of innocence and bringing them without their families to Texas. So there is many, many scores, maybe hundreds of these, very young children that he's brought there. And that's --
COOPER: So he would just take these little kids I mean away from their parents and just say, you know, send them down to Texas?
KRAKAUER: That's right. In many instances. Sometimes if the parents were among the favored they would go as well. But in many instances we have you know very worried parents calling me saying can you check, can you see how my children are? They've been taken from me.
COOPER: You think he could live out on that compound in Texas for a year?
KRAKAUER: Oh, he's -- I mean, he -- we have very clear evidence that he has been stockpiling food, diesel fuel, he's got a great well there. I am -- you know, I bet that you could seal that place tight today and he and his followers would be happy for a year at least and probably more without having to go outside.
COOPER: It's also interesting because he never apparently in his ideology before, you know we're looking at this picture of what is the temple on this Texas compound right now, this white building. I was told that when I was in Utah yesterday that he never used to say you needed a temple to talk with God or to reach heaven that you just needed pleural wives. And then he reversed his philosophy and decided to build this temple. What do you make of that?
KRAKAUER: It's a disturbing trend. It wasn't just Warren. In the fundamentalist ideology throughout these fundamentalist Mormon groups, they always thought that the world would be wiped clean by a hurricane of fire, whatever and they would inherit the mainstream Mormon temples. That they saw themselves as the true inheritors of the church and they would reclaim their rightful temples. And Warren, this is a shocking thing out of nowhere decided that he would build his own temple, contradicting previous theology. I mean, that temple is a sight to behold. You know, it's beautiful in kind of a scary, creepy way. And it's just -- it's exquisitely constructed. Those guys really know how to build stuff.
COOPER: And for those who don't understand the idea, the need to have multiple wives, it's basically the only way that men can get into heaven and for wives to agree to be you know one of several wives is the only way for them -- and to be obedient to the male is the only way to get into heaven. Is that correct?
KRAKAUER: Yeah, it goes back to the original teachings of the LDS church in Joseph Smith's day. The mainstream church as you pointed out correctly and importantly has moved beyond that and no longer practices polygamy. But the fundamentalists believe the church went wrong when they did that, so you know Joseph Smith said this wasn't a minor thing. It was one of his most important and holy doctrines that was ever revealed to man on earth.
COOPER: The concern obviously for authorities if they did go in is keeping him alive and keeping -- not having this end in some sort of a bloodbath. In a sense he would become a martyr to his followers if he did die.
KRAKAUER: And this is an important point, I'm glad you brought that up. Because this is -- you know everyone's concerned about avoiding a great loss of life. I mean, everyone is -- I think law enforcement is very aware of that, especially in Texas. But what people seem to be less aware of is that you can't go in there and simply kill Warren either. If you left everyone else alive and killed Warren, you would have a huge problem.
Because you have to remember that life on this earth doesn't matter that much to these people and their belief system. It's -- they have a different view of existence. And if Warren dies he would certainly become a martyr. There's a real danger that if you martyr Warren, if you don't make a great effort to take him alive, that you will -- you will spark great havoc and bloodshed even after his death.
COOPER: And we'll talk more with Jon Krakauer about the possibility of bloodshed if Warren Jeffs was killed. The possibility of revenge killings by his followers who are still living and would still be out there.
The shot of the day coming up. But first Erica Hill from "Headline News" has some of the business stories we're following. Erica?
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Hey Anderson. Stocks plunged on Wall Street today amid uncertainty over inflation and higher interest rates. The Dow Jones Industrials sank nearly 142 points. The NASDAQ fell 48 while the S&P 500 closed down nearly 17 points. And as for retail sales, the April numbers show a weaker than expected gain. Up just .5 percent last month, that's lower than the .8 Wall Street was expecting. Analysts say soaring gas prices may be forcing consumers to cut back on spending in other areas. But one thing that is still on the rise, gold. Soaring today to a new 26-year high of $728 an ounce at one point, before it settled in at $721.50. So that's up more than $15. Gold apparently.
COOPER: If only I had been hoarding gold.
HILL: If only. Start now.
COOPER: All right hold on for the shot now Erica. The favorite piece of video caught our eye today. Take a look at what happened to a Russian helicopter during joint training exercises with Japan in the Sea of Okhotsk. First the chopper's hovering then a split second it slams into the water there, it gets caught in the surf, tilts forward. Watch what happens next. Yikes!
COOPER: Horrible. 12 crew members were rescued but the pilot of the chopper died.
HILL: That's just incredible. And it's amazing -- I mean it's such great news that 12 of them survived, so sad that one did not. But amazing that they were even rescued from that. It just looks horrific.
COOPER: I know it's amazing anyone got out of that. Erica thanks.
Well coming up, just ahead, satellite dishes, high-tech surveillance, night vision goggles. All turning up inside that Texas compound where authorities fear Warren Jeffs might make a bloody last stand with scores of young children all around him. We will take you there or as close as we could get today.
Also ahead tonight, 26 years after the grizzly crime this priest hears the verdict and the sentence for the murder of a nun.
And it was caught on tape, a suspect in handcuffs, a police officer pulled the trigger. Ahead on 360.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com