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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Terror Talk; War & Public Opinion; Rumsfeld under Fire; Politics of War; The Taliban & Terror; Blair in Crisis; Organs Online; Costly Katrina Cleanup; A Family Mourns
Aired September 6, 2006 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: ... and a new admission from the president about the CIA's secret prisons, all in time for the mid-term elections.
ANNOUNCER: The president throws punches at suspected terrorists.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will find you and we will bring you to justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: But will his speech help his own party's fight to stay in power?
Secretary Rumsfeld under attack in the Senate. Democrats call for a vote of no confidence. But will their political maneuver backfire?
And a father's tribute to the crocodile hunter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll remember Steve as my best mate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Tonight, an inside look at the life of Steve Irwin, from a man who knew him best.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Across the country and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360. Sitting in tonight for Anderson, and reporting from the CNN studios in New York, here's John Roberts.
ROBERTS: And good evening to you, once again.
Today at the White House the president was spilling secrets, secrets that have been out in the open since last November. Mr. Bush acknowledged for the first time that, yes, the CIA has held suspected terrorists in secret prisons around the world and that CIA operatives have used alternative methods of questioning. Methods the president says do not break any laws or involve torture.
Mr. Bush also revealed today that 14 prisoners, including the alleged mastermind of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad were transferred to the U.S. camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they could face military tribunals.
The president's speech may have been about the war on terror, but Democrats say it was also about something else, politics.
Here's CNN's Ed Henry.
ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president initially insisted his series of speeches about the war on terror wouldn't be political. Well, so much for that. In the third speech he acknowledged for the first time the existence of secret CIA prisons around the world, but sought to turn that to political advantage, two months before the mid-term elections. Once again, casting Republicans as the party that will keep America safe.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This program has helped us to take potential mass murderers off the streets before they were able to kill.
HENRY: The president revealed that 14 senior members of al Qaeda previously in CIA custody have been transferred to the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay so they can finally be prosecuted. Among them, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks; Abu Zubaydah, a field commander for Osama bin Laden; and Ramsey Bin al- Sheeba (ph), a would-be 9/11 hijacker.
Back in June the president had been dealt a major blow when the Supreme Court ruled that military tribunals set up by the administration were unconstitutional and could not be used without a legislative framework. Now the president has sent Congress legislation that he says would fix the problem. With victim of 9/11 families in the audience, the president played one of his political triumph cards.
BUSH: As soon as Congress acts to authorize the military commissions I have proposed, the man our intelligence officials believe orchestrated the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans on September the 11th, 2001, can face justice.
HENRY: Amid international outrage about the so-called black prisons, the president insisted techniques used on the detainees were tough, but legal.
BUSH: I want to be absolutely clear with our people and the world, the United States does not torture. It's against our laws and it's against our values. I have not authorized it and I will not authorize it. HENRY: And, the president claimed, the intelligence gleamed from the CIA program thwarted terror plots in Britain, Asia and the United States.
BUSH: Were it not this program, our If not for this program our intelligence community believes that al Qaeda and its allies would have succeeded in launching another attack against the American homeland.
HENRY: A year ago, the president said some of these attacks were stopped so Democrats immediately asked why the president is saying it again now on the eve of the election.
REP. JANE HARMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: I do think the timing is suspicious. For years many of us have been saying, the international world has been saying, and many litigants in court have been saying that his program violates the law and the constitution. And Congress is basically being told either take this program or you're coddling terrorists.
HENRY (on camera): The president will keep the heat on Democrats Thursday with his fourth speech, focusing on gaps in security that led to 9/11. He'll tout controversial post-9/11 tools like the Patriot Act, which he says, have helped prevent more attacks.
Ed Henry, CNN, the White House.
ROBERTS: Well, it remains to be seen whether the president's speeches will convince Americans to vote for his party in November.
Tonight, though, we do know how Americans view the war on terror and the war in Iraq. And, quite frankly, it doesn't bode well for the president.
Here's CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider.
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Public support for the war in Iraq remains weak. The latest figures, 39 percent of Americans favor the war, 58 percent are opposed. Not a significant change from two weeks ago.
Americans don't like to fight wars they can't win. That's why President Bush talks about the prospects for victory in Iraq.
BUSH: Victory in Iraq will be a crushing defeat to our enemies who have staked so much on the battle there.
SCHNEIDER: But only a quarter of Americans believe the U.S. and its allies are winning, while 12 percent think the insurgents are winning. The prevailing view? Neither side is winning. President Bush is making an effort to link the unpopular war in Iraq with the widely supported war on terrorism. After all, the president says, that's what the enemy does.
BUSH: For al Qaeda, Iraq is not a distraction from their war on America, it is the central battlefield where the outcome of this struggle will be decided.
SCHNEIDER: But most Americans consider the war in Iraq a separate military action. In fact, they no longer believe the war on terrorism is going well. 47 percent say they are satisfy with the way the war on terrorism is going. The lowest figure ever. And the first time most Americans have expressed dissatisfaction with the war on terror.
Anger over Iraq may be creating dissatisfaction with the war on terror. Americans who oppose the war in Iraq are deeply dissatisfied with the way things are going in the war on terror. That's true, even among Republicans.
(On camera): By linking Iraq with the war on terror, President Bush may not be building support for his Iraq policy, he may be creating doubts about how he's handling the war on terror.
Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.
ROBERTS: We don't need any poll to tell you that most Democrats don't like Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He's been the target of their criticism for quite some time now. Today some Democrats took action against Rumsfeld on the Senate floor, calling for a no confidence vote. But Republicans say the move was nothing more than a political stunt to hide the Democrats' own weaknesses in dealing with an increasingly unpopular war.
ROBERTS (voice-over): Iraq, it's the political puzzle the Democratic Party still can't seem to solve. Unable to settle on a single strategy for managing an increasingly bloody war. So now, with the fall campaign in full swing, Democrats are turning up the volume on one thing they can agree on.
SEN. TED KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: It is long past time for Secretary Rumsfeld to go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's time for new leadership at the Pentagon.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: We went to war with the secretary of defense we had. Now, it is time to complete the mission with a new secretary of defense that we need.
ROBERTS: Democrats are once again calling on the president to dump Donald Rumsfeld. This time, they're pushing a Congressional vote of no confidence in the defense secretary.
SEN. HARRY REID (D), MINORITY LEADER: This is about changing course in Iraq and the president demonstrating to the American people. He understands America cannot stay the course when the present course is taking our country in the wrong direction.
ROBERTS: To hear Harry Reid tell it, Rumsfeld represents all that is wrong with the administration's Iraq strategy. The faulty planning, the inability to acknowledge a rapidly deteriorating situation.
STU ROTHENBERG, POLITICAL ANALYST: For Democrats it is a symbol both of the failed policy, but also of the administration being in denial.
ROBERTS: These days Democrats aren't the only one sniping at the secretary. With polls showing a public increasingly dismayed with the war, a number of Republican candidates have joined the anti-Rumsfeld chorus.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans see it as a way of distancing themselves from the president without criticizing the president.
ROBERTS: On the Senate floor today, few Republicans rallied strongly around the defense secretary.
SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: He is an honorable and effective and totally self-sacrificing public servant.
ROBERTS: But most dismissed the no-confidence resolution as a political stunt that even Democrats admit has no prayer of passing.
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: Our friends on the other side of the aisle talk about a change in direction, fresh ideas, new direction, those are campaign slogans. They're not about solving the problem.
ROBERTS: The Rumsfeld issue, say Republicans, is just a way for Democrats to duck tough questions on the war.
SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R), GEORGIA: What I don't hear in addition to the criticism is what we would have done or what we ought to do. All I hear is blame being put on in this case, one man for the situation that's developed in Iraq.
ROBERTS: One man, who despite all the outcry, still has the firm support of the one man who matters most.
ROBERTS (on camera): Earlier tonight I discussed the Democrat strategy, as well as the president's strategy to refocus attention on the war on terror with Former White House Advisor David Gergen and TIME Magazine Columnist Joe Klein.
ROBERTS: Iraq is a huge problem for President Bush and his numbers on terrorism aren't as good as they used to be. Can he get past his problems in Iraq by trying to wrap them up in this idea of an existing and urgent threat from terrorism, Joe Klein?
JOE KLEIN, "TIME" MAGAZINE COLUMNIST: No, I don't think so. What's happening now in Iraq is absolutely crucial. We're having the battle for Baghdad. The battle that didn't take place in 2003. Military people say that we're going to know in the next month or so how that's going. If that battle goes badly, there's nothing the president can do to spin his way out of it.
ROBERTS: David Gergen, are the Democrats still vulnerable on this issue of terrorism as they were in 2004? Are some voters still queasy about letting them deal with national security?
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: I think it's very obvious that they're still somewhat vulnerable, but no where near as vulnerable as they were back in the last two elections. They have the polls to show that. And I think it's been the mishandling of the war in Iraq.
I think Joe Klein is absolutely right about that. Most Americans now, or a lot of Americans separate out Iraq from the greater war on terrorism. Iraq is increasingly seen as a diversion that has not gone well.
And these next weeks, the president, in some ways, his political fate may almost be out of his hands in the fate of a lot of Republicans. In this battle for Baghdad, there's not much you can do from Washington. You just have to hope for the best.
They've got a lot of troops in there and they may be able to pull it off. But, you know, so much now depends on what happens on the ground in Iraq in terms of affecting this election as well as what happens, by the way, in the economy. It's the 20 of those issues that I think really has the Republicans scared.
ROBERTS: Joe Klein, Jean Harmon (ph) from the House Intelligence Committee was complaining today about this commission legislation that the president is sending up to Congress, saying we're being forced to accept this, otherwise she says, we're looking weak on terror. How can the Democrats effectively fight back against what the president is doing?
KLEIN: Well, I think they're doing via Rumsfeld. And I think that events on the ground are...
ROBERTS: You mean there's no confidence measure?
ROBERTS: Calling for his resignation.
KLEIN: Exactly. I think this has been a very, very, very badly planned war. And now you have this incredible situation on the ground where the linchpin of the ruling government, Maqtadr Sadr, his militia went to war against the Iraqi army last week in the town of Diwinia (ph), and won. I think that the Bush administration, you know, on the substance... ROBERTS: How do these play to a draw?
KLEIN: On the substance of policy side, what I'm hearing is that Ambassador Khalizad is really despairing over the possibility of getting the Iraqi government to make the deals necessary to bring this insurgency to an end. And now you have the, you know, one of the leaders of the insurgency making -- and one of the leaders of the government being the same person. So it's a very difficult situation.
ROBERTS: David, what do you make of the series of speeches that the president has been giving? This idea of now the refocus on terror when we haven't heard that much about it for most of this year. Does he try to scare his base out to the polls?
GERGEN: Sure. And I think he's very clearly seizing upon the anniversary of 9/11, which the press is giving a lot of attention to. Magazine cover stories everywhere about 9/11 fifth anniversary and I think he's pushing the war on terror right now because he knows that is, that is the strongest card he has in his deck. And it's his ace. And he keeps playing it. It has played pretty well so far.
But I think his losing guard is Iraq. And so, you know, that's what he's caught with. But it comes back on this question of the Democrats, I think the Democrats were shrewd to choose the Rumsfeld issue and push that because it's so understandable. A lot of these issues are pretty murky, but on this one, Donald Rumsfeld has clearly lost the confidence of a lot of Americans. He is pretty unpopular now and I think it's an easy for the Democrats to say, instead of presenting our plan for Iraq, what we're saying is we need new management of this war.
ROBERTS: Right, lost the confidence of some Republicans as well?
KLEIN: Yes, I think that there was a qualitative difference though between what the president did today and the other speeches he gave this week.
ROBERTS: How so?
KLEIN: The other speeches this week were just spin and propaganda and they raised the question, if our enemies are Hitler and Stalin, what are you going to do to fight them? How are you going to mobilize the country? He didn't answer those questions. Today he was dealing with a matter of substance, with 14 really terrible actors who are going to be brought to justice. That's qualitatively different and it's a more important day than the rest of the week.
GERGEN: I totally agree with that.
ROBERTS: One thing that is also going to be interesting to see is the president has his idea for military commissions which is somewhat at odds with three very powerful members of the Senate, including John McCain and Lindsey Graham. So, will he be able to get that through?
David Gergen, as always, thanks very much. Joe Klein, as well. Appreciate you coming in.
GERGEN: Thank you.
KLEIN: Good being here.
ROBERTS: The secret CIA prisons that the president mentioned in his speech today may not be so secret after all. Here's the raw data.
According to the "Washington Post," the CIA prisons were created five years ago, just after September 11th. It is believed that these so-called black sites have been located in eight countries, including Afghanistan and Thailand. Top terror suspects were reportedly kept in isolation in the dark and in underground cells.
Our next stop tonight, Afghanistan. Where the war on terror began. The battle to drive out the Taliban was called a victory almost five years ago, but now the Taliban are back and the fighting is fiercer than ever.
Coming up, CNN Terror Analyst Peter Bergen is live from Kabul.
Also, President Bush's biggest ally on the war on terror, Tony Blair, apparently ready to step down. Coming up, new developments tonight on his big decision.
Plus, a mother of three in desperate need of a new kidney. He was willing to help. Coming up, how the Internet brought two strangers together. But did it save a life? When 360 continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: This program has been and remains one of the most vital tools in our war against the terrorists. It is invaluable to America and to our allies. Were it not for this program, our intelligence community believes that al Qaeda and its allies would have succeeded in launching another attack against the American homeland.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: President Bush today talking about the war on terror, which began almost five years ago in Afghanistan. And at first it looked like the Taliban had been defeated. But in many parts of the country, they've regained control. And the death toll for coalition troops has risen sharply. Bottom line, what was once touted as a victory in the war on terror is backsliding fast.
Joining me now from Kabul is CNN Terrorism Analyst Peter Bergen who has reported extensively on the Taliban and the region and Osama bin Laden.
Peter, let me bring you back to what President Bush just said. Speaking about the capture and detention of al Qaeda members and how it's helped prevent future attacks on the West. You wrote recently, though, that more attacks are likely, why?
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, a lot of the underlying factors in those attacks are still out there. The problem of -- are we disconnected?
ROBERTS: No, we're still good, Peter. Go ahead. Can you hear me? Looks like we're having some problem with Peter Bergen.
Tell you what we're going to do. We're going to try to reestablish Peter, but, in the meantime, we're going to move on and we'll try to come back to him just as soon as we get reestablished. As you can imagine, sometimes when you're dealing with communications more than half a world away, it can get difficult at times.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been President Bush's biggest ally on the war on terror and in Iraq. A partnership that has cost him dearly. Blair has been under increasing pressure to step down. And now the crisis has reached a head after a junior minister and seven government aides resigned in protest.
Plus, Britain's press association is reporting that tomorrow the prime minister is expected to announce that he is going to leave office next summer. His departure is going to be a huge loss for the man whose friendship is in part responsible. Here's CNN's David Mattingly.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Before 9/11, everyone wanted to know if the moderate British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a close friend to President Clinton, would get along with a conservative Republican from Texas.
BUSH: We both use Colgate toothpaste.
TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: They're going to wonder how you knew that, George.
MATTINGLY: After just two visits, one of them to the president's Crawford ranch, it was clear. Bush and Blair had become fast friend.
BUSH: I can assure you that when either of us get in a bind, there will be a friend on the other end of the phone.
MATTINGLY: After 9/11, Blair was invaluable to Bush and his eloquence, articulating to friends and enemies alike the need for a global war on terror. When other allies balked, Blair was a full partner in the war in Iraq, in spite of opposition at home. Bush gained an influential advocate in the U.N. and abroad. And Blair profited from the perception that he could influence the American president.
BLAIR: The reason why we are standing side by side with America is not because we feel forced to, it is because we want to. Because we believe that is the right place to be. ROBIN NIBLETT, CENTER FOR STRAT. & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: These are two men who are both driven by conviction. I think they are driven by a similar perspective that following your instincts and your values on foreign policy roots the foreign policy in something deeper than the moving and shifting sands of expediency.
MATTINGLY: The perception that Blair had the president's ear falter, however, when he failed to convince the Bush administration to take bold steps in fighting global warming and poverty in Africa.
A turning point in public opinion came at the recent G-8 summit in St. Petersburg when private comments were picked up by an open microphone.
BUSH: See, the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria and get Hezbollah to stop (EXPLICATIVE DELETED) doing this.
MATTINGLY: While U.S. voters reacted to the president's colorful language, British voters couldn't shake the image of their prime minister seemingly bowing to the seated president.
JOHN PRIDEAUX, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Almost a bit like a courtier, while Bush was sitting down, apparently not paying him much attention. And this was written up as, you know, a sort of low point in Tony Blair's relationship and the American administration.
MATTINGLY: Few presidential pals have had to pay a bigger price. And when Blair steps down, he will be leaving a void at a time when good friends are hard to find.
David Mattingly, CNN, Atlanta.
ROBERTS: And we have been working with the technology and did manage to reestablish contact with Peter Bergen, who's live in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Don't worry, Peter, it happened to us all the time during the Middle East war. These things just keep dropping out.
Back to where we started the conversation. President Bush said that he believes that the detention of these 14 people who have been moved to Guantanamo Bay was responsible for averting some attacks on the United States. Is there proof of that? And as you wrote, are there more attacks likely ahead?
BERGEN: Well, I mean, certainly Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the most (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of those high valuable targets. He certainly gave up actionable intelligence that led to the arrests of at least one person in the United States, certainly made -- averted a potential plot. So I think that statement from the president is true.
But some of the under lying causes of 9/11 remain with us, unfortunately. There's a lot of hostility towards the United States in the Middle East. Bin Laden has played off that again and again. The Iraq war causes complicated things. We have alienated Muslim immigrants in Europe. As we saw just recently with this averted airline plot in Britain, 23 British citizens accused of trying to bring down American airliners with liquid explosives just last month.
So, you know, some of these underlying tensions are still with us. They haven't really changed significantly since the 9/11 attacks. Unfortunately, you know, by the law of averages, we will be hit again. Al Qaeda has definitely been damaged, but it's reorganizing on the Afghan/Pakistan border and it showed some life with the London attack in July 7, 2005. Showed some ability to attack far from its home base.
ROBERTS: Peter, things look pretty calm behind you, but in other areas of the country, we were talking earlier about the problems that the resurgent Taliban are causing. How serious is that resurgence getting? And are NATO troops who have now taken over security in the southern part of that country at risk of being overwhelmed by it?
BERGEN: Well, you know, John, if you came here in 2002, 2003, people barely talked about the Taliban. The threat had receded into something of a nuisance. Today it is not a strategic threat to the Karzai government or to the United States and its allies, but it's certainly a tactical threat. We're seeing large scale deployments of Taliban formations of up to 150, 200 at any given moment fighting American troops, NATO troops.
That's actually kind of dumb strategy because when the Taliban attacks in formations like that, they tend to get pretty large with casualties. Just last weekend NATO saying that it killed 200 in a recent operation in the south.
As to what NATO'S -- I think NATO is doing a pretty good job. Concerns about NATO's abilities in the south I think have really receded. The question really is, will the country members that make up NATO tolerate rising casualties? The British, the Canadians, the Dutch. And we're seeing, you know, just in the last few days Canadian soldiers dying. And that's, you know, controversial in some of these countries.
ROBERTS: Peter, we're going to be hearing a lot more about this in the days to come because you were there joining Anderson Cooper who is going to be broadcasting from Afghanistan in the next few days. Thanks very much, appreciate you being with us.
BERGEN: Thanks, John.
ROBERTS: In a moment, we've got a shot of the day, but, first, Erica Hill, from "HEADLINE NEWS," joins us now with a "360 Bulletin."
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, Polygamist Leader Warren Jeffs made his first court appearance in Utah today. It was actually done by closed circuit TV from jail. In Utah Jeffs faces two counts of rape as an accomplice for allegedly arranging marriages between an underage girl and an older man. He told the judge he is looking for a Utah lawyer to handle his case. There is another hearing scheduled in about two weeks.
Israel says it will abandon its blockade of Lebanese seaports and airports tomorrow. That decision coming after the Israeli government was told U.N. forces would take over control of those posts. The blockade was put in place after war broke out between Israel and Hezbollah fighters back in July.
In Afghanistan the Taliban making a comeback. The U.S. military tells CNN the Islamic militant group has now infiltrated central Afghanistan, just 100 miles from the capitol city of Kabul. The Taliban have already made a resurgence in southern Afghanistan, particularly where NATO troops are based.
And have no fear, the CDC says everyone that wants a flu shot this winter should be able to get one. More than 100 million doses of the vaccine are expected to be available, which is a record high.
So, John, there you go. No shortage.
ROBERTS: All right. I'll make sure to get mine early and often.
HILL: There you go. Have a good night.
ROBERTS: Thanks, Erica. We'll see you again tomorrow. You too. Bye.
ROBERTS: Time now for the shot. A rare feat tonight in the world of professional baseball. A picture of Anibal Sanchez, a rookie on the Florida Marlins threw a no-hitter tonight against the Arizona Diamondbacks. It's quite a feat. These things don't happen every day. In fact, the last no-hitter thrown happened more than two years ago. This was just the 13th game that Sanchez started in the majors. He says the no-hitter was the best moment of his life. Pretty young. He's got lots of opportunity left.
360 next, connecting on the Internet in an unusual way. People in need of organ transplants, racing against time. We'll tell you what happens when they turn to cyberspace for help.
ROBERTS: Every 90 minutes in America someone dies waiting for an organ transplant. The total of nearly 7,000 deaths of year. The tens of thousands of patients on a waiting list are all in a race against time. Tired of waiting, some are turning to a Web site that says it's giving them the ultimate gift there is. The gift of life.
CNN's Randi Kaye has more on the claim and the controversy.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Elliot Riley is a Navy medic. He lives in St. Louis with his wife and 2-year-old daughter. Another baby is on the way. Hannah Towner is a former math teacher and mother of three. She's very sick with lupus. Her kidneys are failing and she's running out of time. Hannah lives 800 miles from Elliot, in Virginia, complete strangers until one day last fall. While surfing, Elliot found himself on this Web site, MatchingDonors.com.
ELLIOT RILEY, DONOR: I just saw there was a lot of people on there that basically needed somebody to help them out. I felt that it's a big way to make a difference in somebody's life, improve their quality of life and even save their life.
KAYE: MatchingDonors.com is a cyber meeting place where very sick people in need of transplants connect with living donors. People they've never met, but who are willing to give up an organ. Suddenly Elliot found himself compelled to save a life.
(On camera): So, a lot of people would read these profiles, maybe be touched by them and then go to the next Web site. What made you decide to do something more?
RILEY: You know, I have Hannah, my 2-year-old. And with her, I just hope that if she ever needed something like that, somebody else would be able to step up. I thought, I'm a healthy guy. I don't have much that runs in my family that would say that I would need a kidney down the line.
KAYE (voice-over): So Elliot filled out a simple form, blood type, which organ he would like to donate and a little background about himself. No money was required. The organ recipient pays all the fees.
With MatchingDonors.com, the donor gets to decide who receives his organ. So, Elliot continued to wade through the profiles until one made him stop. It was a plea for a kidney posted next to a family photo. The woman in need had the same name as Elliot's daughter, Hannah.
RILEY: I liked that her husband was a retired master chief in the Navy. As I said, I'm in the Navy, as well. So I thought that was really neat.
KAYE: Family and friends weren't a match for Hannah Towner.
DR. ROBERT MONTGOMERY, TRANSPLANT SURGEON, JOHNS HOPKINS HOSPITAL: Hannah is in a desperate situation. She's been on dialysis for a long time. She has a disease that has really ravaged her body. So, Hannah is a woman whose probably not going to survive if she doesn't get a transplant.
CAMERON TOWNER, HANNAH'S HUSBAND: She's been in ICU like every eight months for the past four years. So, it's been, there's been a couple times we almost lost her.
KAYE: Hannah is a prisoner in her own body. She spends more than 10 hours a day on dialysis, unable to go out except for the required doctor's visits. HANNAH TOWNER, NEEDS KIDNEY TRANSPLANT: A number of times when I was so ill and so sick, I was ready to go because, hey, there's no chance. There's no hope and all you have is physical pain. And mental torture, right?
C. TOWNER: You know, there's been times you wonder, you know, what will I do without her? You know, how -- we've -- I've thought about, you know, if she died, how am I going to take care of these kids and what would I do?
KAYE: That desperate, that's when they posted their request at MatchingDonors.com. Two days later Elliot Riley found the site.
H. TOWNER: We all kind of, you know, weep a little bit thinking that such a person in this world that can happen to me. Sometimes it's just so, how is it? There's an emotion there right now. I could just weep a little bit.
KAYE: But the obstacles were enormous. Would Elliot be the right match? Would he agree to undergo intense blood tests and psychological evaluations? Would his wife and the Navy allow him to do it? And, the Towners wondered, if he got past all of that, would Elliot put any conditions on his offer?
C. TOWNER: There's always this thought that they're going to want something in return, which is illegal.
KAYE (on camera): Do you plan on asking for money for your kidney at any point down the road?
RILEY: That would be unethical.
KAYE: There's no financial incentive at all to donate your kidney to a stranger?
RILEY: No. For me the motivation is that I get to help somebody else out. And hopefully one day if I need it, somebody can help me out in whatever way is needed.
KAYE (voice-over): It was arduous, but they made it through all those hurdles. At the time of our interviews, surgery was less than a week away. Hannah was hopeful, but there were still so many things that could go wrong.
C. TOWNER: There's been so many setbacks along the way. I think that if Elliot didn't show on next Tuesday, I would understand. And I almost won't be surprised. It's a great thing to do, but Elliot's got a wife and a 2-year-old and a baby on the way and if he ever decided that this wasn't what he wanted to do, I would totally understand.
ROBERTS: Dozens of lives have been saved through online organ donation. Will Hannah's be one of them? Will Elliot give her his kidney? Coming up, Elliot reveals whether he'll help or not, when 360 continues. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ROBERTS: Before the break, we showed you how a Web site is helping Americans awaiting transplants match up with organ donors. But as you'll see, the promise of a match doesn't end the waiting or the anxiety.
Once again, here's CNN's Randi Kaye.
KAYE: It's 6:30 a.m. at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland. Hannah Towner and her husband worry about Elliot. Will the stranger who was offering an extraordinary gift, one of his own kidneys, change his mind? After all, he has a wife, a toddler and a baby on the way. Will he even show up?
MONTGOMERY: She's somebody who is very vulnerable to dying without a transplant. She's in great need.
KAYE: But Elliot does arrive and the two strangers seem more like old friends, side by side, divided only by a curtain.
MONTGOMERY: So, now we're going to make the incision where we're going to deliver the kidney through.
KAYE: It is a four-hour surgery; and though MatchingDonors.com has already saved two dozen lives, organ donor matching sites are lightning rods for criticism. One concern, selling organs is illegal in the U.S.
Dr. Ben Cosimi is president of the Society for Transplant Surgeons.
DR. BEN COSIMI, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN SOCIETY OF TRANSPLANT SURGEONS: There are reports from individuals who have been registered on not only MatchingDonor.com, but on other sites as well, where the donor has requested money.
KAYE (on camera): Is there any way to be sure that the donors aren't extorting money from the recipients?
KAYE (voice-over): The site's Co-Founders Paul Dooley and Dr. J. Lowney say to their knowledge a recipient has never bought an organ.
PAUL DOOLEY, Correct.-FOUNDER, MATCHINGDONORS.COM: And out of the millions of people who come to the site, we've had less than 30 that have asked for money.
KAYE (on camera): How do you prevent side deals from taking place?
DR. JEREMIAH LOWNEY, CO-FOUNDER, MATCHINGDONORS.COM: We put on the Web site in bold letters, it's absolutely illegal for any financial gain through a donation. Can we ultimately be 100 percent sure? No. What we do is we try to help people find a potential donor.
KAYE: But nobody really knows if they're paying for it or not?
LOWNEY: Nobody knows if a brother donates to a brother and they're finding a new seller, you know, they have a new seller or a new addition to their home afterwards either. I mean, we don't know, in general, whether people are financially making any gains through donations.
KAYE (voice-over): As for Hannah Towner's husband, he wishes he could do something for Elliot.
C. TOWNER: Your hands are tied by the laws of the land. You can't accept any compensation, neither can you give any compensation.
KAYE: Another concern, how are donors and recipients matched? Currently more than 40 transplant matches from MatchingDonors.com are waiting for surgery dates. Recipients pay nearly $600 for a lifetime membership, but if they can't afford it, it's free. Donors look at profiles of potential recipients and, this also troubles critics, they then decide who deserves their organ.
(On camera): If I have a kidney that I want to give away, I consider it one of my possessions, just like I would a piece of furniture, a piece of jewelry. Don't I have a right to decide who I want to give that to and when I want to give it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, you do. The problem that, of course, you know, in the usual situation, it's not going to be a problem, but suppose Klu Klux Klan member said, I won't give it to anybody unless they're white. Should we say, OK, you have a right to decide? And we just don't know where that would lead us.
KAYE: Are recipients really being chosen based on their religion or the color of their skin? After all, the traditional means of getting an organ requires a spot on the U.S. transplant list, alongside more than 90,000 anonymous patients listed in order of greatest need.
(Voice-over): At MatchingDonors.com you'll find a family photo posted next to a heart wrenching plea.
LOWNEY: One of the questions is usually well, aren't you taking away from someone who may be more sick? So, if you find an organ for someone on your Web site, suppose that patient isn't the sickest patient. There is probably a sicker patient up there, higher up on the list. Aren't you taking away from that person that's higher on the list? And no, we're bringing new people into the system.
KAYE: Critics have been so outspoken that some hospitals have even refused to perform transplants for people who found donors online.
Back at Johns Hopkins, surgeons have removed Elliot's kidney and rushed it to Hannah's operating room. Once transplanted, the kidney begins working immediately in Hannah. With Hannah and Elliot now in recovery, families on both sides get the good news.
MONTGOMERY: It went beautifully. No trouble.
KAYE: But when Elliot awoke, he wasn't thinking about the medical and ethical debate he'd walked into.
MONTGOMERY: How you doing?
RILEY: Real good, sir.
MONTGOMERY: It went beautifully. It worked right away.
RILEY: Oh, that's great.
KAYE: In fact, Elliot was thinking about something very basic.
C. TOWNER: Elliot had given us his kidney, he has given us a lot of hope for, you know, a better life for her.
KAYE: Elliot was thinking about how this all started. For him, it was simply doing the right thing.
Randi Kaye, CNN, St. Louis.
ROBERTS: On 360 next, the cost of cleaning up from Hurricane Katrina. U.S. taxpayers are spending more than $100 billion on the effort. And where is the money going? We're keeping them honest.
And a heart-breaking perspective on the death of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin. His father speaks out about the loss of his son, when 360 continues.
ROBERTS: One year after Hurricane Katrina, it turns out that there are two messes to clean up. The physical devastation left behind by the storm and the financial damage. Billions of taxpayer dollars are at stake.
CNN's Joe Johns is keeping them honest.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The government has directed your tax money, $110 billion, to the Gulf states for the 2005 hurricanes. Of that, $44 billion has actually been spent. But, guess what? It's more like a blank check because the government can't tell you where all the money's going. No one knows.
DAVID WALKER, GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE: By not having these systems, you don't even know how much has been spent for what, much less what did we get from it and who benefited. JOHNS: FEMA is supposed to be responsible for telling other federal agencies what needs to be done and doling out the money to do it. But the GAO said today that when it comes to your money, FEMA has been overstating how much it sent to other agencies than it apparently did, while at the same time it's been understating how much has really been spent. In short the books are a mess.
Take the Pentagon, for example. Last year, FEMA said it had directed as much as $2.2 billion there for Hurricane Katrina spending. But by April of this year, the Pentagon itself said it could only account for just about a quarter of that money, $638 million.
The Coast Guard. This year, FEMA said it assigned $192 million to them for last year's hurricanes. But about the same time the Coast Guard said it would spend about $85 million.
The Army Corps of Engineers. On April 5th, FEMA said it assigned about $4 billion to the corps, but two days later the corps's own record showed it was obligated to pay out a full billion dollars less.
(On camera): We do know from other GAO reports there's been a sizable amount of waste, fraud and abuse in past Katrina spending. But the government wants you to know it's on the case.
(Voice-over): Here's what a top official told me late last month before the GAO report was released.
SCOTT KELLER, DEPARTMENT HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT: Catch them right away, but our IG is there forever and they will audit and they will audit and audit. And so you may not get caught today, but you'll get caught tomorrow.
JOHNS: Still, the GAO says the government needs to clean up its own records and put someone in charge of tracking the money. Was it spent? Wasn't it spent? Are billions missing? All good to know before another natural disaster. We'll be watching and keeping them honest.
Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.
ROBERTS: Well, the outpouring of grief continues for Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, killed on Monday by a stingray. Coming up, one of the people closest to him, his father, gives the first public glimpse of what his family is going through. And why he considered his son his best friend.
This is 360.
ROBERTS: When we first heard that Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray two days ago, most of us were shocked and saddened. It felt as if a good friend had been lost. Imagine the pain, though, being felt tonight by those who actually knew him. Well, today we heard from someone who probably knew Irwin best, his own dad.
STEVE IRWIN, CROCODILE HUNTER: I'm Steve Irwin and these are highly venomous sea crates.
ROBERTS (voice-over): To the world, Steve Irwin may have been larger than life. To Bob Irwin, he was a beloved son.
BOB IRWIN, STEVE IRWIN'S FATHER: I'm a lucky, lucky guy that I've had the opportunity to have a son like Steve.
ROBERTS: Fighting back tears, the grieving father looked at cards and flowers fans left for his famous son, before giving a very personal tribute of his own.
B. IRWIN: We were good mates. I'll remember Steve as my best mate ever.
ROBERTS: Bob Irwin is the first family member to speak out after Steve's death. He says the man millions knew as the crocodile hunter died doing what he loved most of all.
B. IRWIN: Steve and I have had a lot of adventures together. There's been many occasions when anything could have gone wrong. And Steve knew the risks involved with the type of work he was doing and he wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
ROBERTS: So popular was Irwin in his native Australia that the government offered his family a state funeral, but they turned it down and the reason was simple.
B. IRWIN: The state funeral would be refused because he's an ordinary guy. He's just an ordinary bloke. And he wants to be remembered as an ordinary bloke.
ROBERTS: Across Australia, the outpouring of grief continues.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was a good man and we've lost something very precious.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like I lost a son.
ROBERTS: Although his wife, Terri, is in seclusion, she did have a message for those who worked with Steve Irwin.
MICHAEL HORNBY, AUSTRALIA ZOO EMPLOYEE: We heard a radio call, like this afternoon from Terry, just a very brief one to say how grateful she was to the support from the staff and that was it. I have to say, it's probably testimony to Terri and her strength that she was even to think about the people at this time.
ROBERTS: Bob Irwin says Terri is holding up well. But he added, she is concerned about their two young children who will never see their father again.
ROBERTS: More of 360 in a moment. Stay with us.
ROBERTS: Just five days away from the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. And in New York City tonight, a test of the tribute of in light. The lights will shine where the World Trade Center stood, on Monday night.
That's 360 for this Wednesday night. I'm John Roberts, in for Anderson.
"LARRY KING" is next with the latest on the legal battle for Polygamist Leader Warren Jeffs.
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