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Do Airport Scanners Work?; Rescued Chilean Miners Speak Out

Aired November 22, 2010 - 22:00   ET


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN ANCHOR: And thanks to all of you as well for watching.

Tonight, you say you want them to keep their hands off you at the airport. Well, we have got some news for you about the alternative, those new scanners. We're going to tell you about some new research on how much they can apparently miss. And I will tell you this. It could be enough to take down an airliner.

What the study shows, what the government isn't telling you, but also another vital question: Is any of what we're putting ourselves through with airport security really providing, you know, airport security? "Keeping Them Honest."

And tonight, his high school classmates thought he looked so all- American, they called him La Barbie, as in Barbie and Ken. Well, now he's being called one of Mexico's most vicious drug lords and he's coming home to the United States -- "Crime & Punishment."

And a "CNN Heroes" A.C. 360 exclusive, heroes above ground and deep below in that Chilean mine. Miners and rescuers sit down with Anderson. That's tonight's "Big 360 Interview."

We begin tonight, though, as we always do, "Keeping Them Honest." There's some new information tonight. And if you're already unhappy about the enhanced pat-downs at the airport or those fancy new X-ray machines, you're not going to like this one bit.

There's some new research due out this week suggesting many of these gadgets now at about 70 airports around the country -- cost about $170,000 a pop -- they're put there to stop the next underwear bomber. Well, they simply won't do what they promise. They won't detect the kind of bomb that terrorists are using these days.

What's more, there's a Government Accountability Office report from back in March raising doubts about the scanners -- back in March. And on top of all that, we have also learned of another GAO report on real-life testing of how well or how poorly the bomb detectors work. You want to know the bottom line of that study? Well, so would we, but we can't and you can't, because the report is classified.

And, as we said, though, there's new research, and it's not classified. I'm going to tell you about it shortly. But this is all coming to a head right now because of the alternative, these new, tougher pat-downs. They are setting off a backlash, a breast cancer survivor, for example, being told to remove her prosthetic, a man soaked in urine when the TSA agent ruptured his prosthetic bladder, complaints of children being frisked, claims of needless groping. Pictures like these causing a major backlash across the country.

With that in mind, what does the head of the TSA have to say about it? What, if anything, is he doing about with the busiest travel weekend of the year coming up? Will there be any changes? Well, apparently not.


JOHN PISTOLE, ADMINISTRATOR, TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION: The public will see what we have been working on the last several weeks in terms of they have the option to not go through the advanced imaging technology in the 70 or so airports where we have those machines. If they do opt out of that, then they receive a thorough pat-down to make sure we don't have a Christmas Day-type bomber with a non-metallic device concealed on his body.


GUPTA: TSA Director John Pistole on "THE SITUATION ROOM."

And I'll tell you what. He really sort of hit the nail on the head. The scanners are designed to stop the alleged underwear bomber, Farouk Abdulmutallab. And if you look at the images pout out by the scanner makers and the government, you would think they work pretty well.

Take a look at this. There's a pistol on the left guy's right leg. And on the right-hand guy, on his waist, you see a brick of explosives or drugs. But, according to the authors of this new study to be published, again, this week in "The Journal of Transportation Security," it's just not that simple or that safe.

The machines, they say, are only good at detecting sharp edges. So, for example, look at this, their testing with dummies. The scanner picks up a water bottle on the left and a iron bar on the right because of those edges. But what it doesn't catch is this, a smooth, round, deadly pancake of PETN explosive.


PETER REZ, PHYSICS PROFESSOR, ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY: That amount is about 320 grams, which is, well, four times more than the underwear bomber had. And that wouldn't be detected by the machine. You could get that through. In fact, I think you could probably get even more through than that.


GUPTA: That's scanning technology expert Peter Rez. His colleague authored the study we just talked about. But, again, there have already been two other investigations of the scanners, and at least one of them, the nonclassified GAO report of March 17, which says this: "It remains unclear whether the AIT," meaning the new scanning technology, "would have detected the weapon used in the December 2009 incident, based on the preliminary information the GAO has received."

Couple of footnotes to all this. We don't yet have the full version of the private study that is coming out this week, but we don't yet have any version of the study that GAO apparently did. Also, we reached out to TSA today regarding this report and the classified report, but we haven't heard back from them.

And we do have a big travel week ahead and there's of big questions to ask.

So, with us tonight, James Fallows. He's national correspondent for "The Atlantic," a noted author on aviation and national security. And also Fran Townsend, former Bush homeland security adviser and current member of the Homeland Security Advisory Board.

Thanks to both of you.



GUPTA: Fran, let me start with you.

I mean, you have talked quite a bit about this. You say these measures are a deterrent. And there -- and there's obviously something to be said for that. But that GAO report I mentioned and this private study as well say these scanners might not have even stopped the Christmas Day bomber last year.

So, how -- how -- how good are these?

TOWNSEND: Well, first, we ought to be clear. The metal detectors that you normally go through, they wouldn't detect it, because they don't detect explosives.

The imaging -- the advanced imaging technology, these rapid scanners that we're going through now, they also don't detect explosives. They detect mass. And, frankly, the question becomes, if they can detect that there's an unexplained mass, it's going to lead you into a pat-down.

Are any of these things foolproof? Absolutely not. But what you do is, you create an operational environment that's unpredictable for our enemies, which means they can't be sure whether or not they can get it through. Your increase their risk, which means you increase the likelihood that you are going to throw them off their game.

GUPTA: Well, you know, I think part of the -- part of the issue this week, Fran, is the backlash. I mean, you hear these incidents of a young boy being searched and his father taking the kid's shirt off to prove the son wasn't a threat, the cancer patient, as I removed -- as I mentioned, having to remove their prosthetic breast.

I mean, have we really reached that level of scrutiny?

TOWNSEND: No. And, Sanjay, let me be clear. I'm not being an apologist for any of that. None of that is necessary.

And, frankly, you know, you travel all over the world. I travel in airports throughout the Middle East. There are private screening areas. None of that ever happens in public. People are able to be spoken to and examined and have a search that's not nearly as sort of public and humiliating. There's no reason to -- you don't have to do it the way it's being done.

And I think what you're hearing from Secretary Napolitano, John Pistole, the head of TSA, is, they understand they haven't gone about this as -- as well as they might have and they need to revamp and make sure that the people are trained to do this in the least invasive way as possible.

GUPTA: And, to be fair, I think a lot of the TSA agents do try and respect privacy as -- as much as possible. I travel a lot as well.

Mr. Fallows, I mean, you're -- you're calling what we are seeing here security theater. I read one of your articles. I mean, how do you sort of -- I mean, this is something you write a -- quite a bit about. I mean, how do you balance this, I mean, this -- this idea of making us safer with these sorts of screening measures? How do you reconcile...



It was the great security expert Bruce Schneier who -- who laudably coined that term security theater. And what he meant is things that look as if we were preventing threats, but -- but left out whole other areas that we were not concentrating on.

Of course, metal detectors make sense for going -- people going to airports. But if you look at the main sources of -- of where we have gotten information on threats, it's been from intelligence networks. Cargo -- you can get much more explosives into cargo areas than you could on a passenger.

GUPTA: Mm-hmm.

FALLOWS: And there's much less rigorous screening of cargo now than of the passengers going through one by one.

So, I think it's a question of proportion. And I think the sort of outcry of the last week or so, as people have been exposed to the pat-downs or the privacy intrusions of the advanced imaging technology, has brought to bear something which -- has brought up something that's been discussed for a couple of years, whether it makes sense to have so much cost, so much emphasis on this one aspect of the anti-terrorism fight, and neglecting out of proportion to a lot of other things which we could be doing.

GUPTA: Well, and -- and it's one of those things -- and again, it's a tough question to ask, but, I mean, if something were to happen, Mr. Fallows, you know, there was another terrorism -- terrorism attack of some sort, would people say, look, maybe you were not doing enough? We're living sort of not -- without that piece of the information right now.

FALLOWS: Oh, I think you have hit upon what is -- is, in fact, the social tragedy, if you will, about this.

I think our society, like anyone, on the whole is willing to accept some risk tradeoffs. We let people drive cars, even though 30,000 people a year die in cars.

GUPTA: Right.

FALLOWS: We accept other kinds of risks. And probably, as a whole society, we would be willing to say there are certain civil liberties we won't give up, even though there are some attacks that might still occur.

But for any politician to say, for any TSA administrator to say that, for any TSA screener to be the one who might be caught letting things through, that becomes very risky. And so that's why there's a kind of ratchet-like effect to these measures. They're easy to impose and very difficult for any public leader to say, look, maybe we don't need this. Maybe there's a different overall social balance that we can accept.

TOWNSEND: And, in fairness...


TOWNSEND: And, in fairness, Sanjay, I think we ought to be clear.

You know, it's not just the Christmas Day bomber they're trying to stop. Remember, we just had this -- this attempt of the cargo coming out of Yemen.

GUPTA: Right.

TOWNSEND: This is the same bombmaker.

And so they don't know how he's adapting. They don't know what he will try next. And so they're trying very hard to stop the next attack, but, as Jim says, there's not -- nothing is 100 percent guaranteed.

FALLOWS: And, again...

GUPTA: All right.

FALLOWS: Again, in fairness, the question of proportion, is it worth, you know, the extra money on intelligence to find the next bombmaker vs. screening every single person with the enhanced pat- downs? That's the question.

GUPTA: Right. And -- and we don't know how much of that other intelligence is going on right now. We see what we see, but a lot of people obviously interested in it, especially this week, given the busy travel week.

James Fallows, Fran Townsend, thanks so much.

TOWNSEND: Thanks, Sanjay.

FALLOWS: Thank you.

GUPTA: And let us know what you think as well. Join the live chat now under way at

Up next: Who are you going to believe, a politician or the videotape of that same politician? Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who made global news with her false allegations right here on 360 is trying to explain, that's not really what she said, not exactly. We will play the tape. You can make up your own mind.

Later: how they endured and how others worked around the clock to bring them back into the light. Several Chilean miners speak out, and so do their rescuers. Anderson has got the "CNN Heroes" 360 exclusive. That's ahead.


GUPTA: Another "Keeping Them Honest" report tonight.

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, she is back in the news. Is she trying to re-spin something she plainly said right here on this program, a false allegation she made? In a moment, we're going to play the tape for you, so you can decide.

You are going to recall this. Anderson invited her on to talk about the deficit and to identify some specific budget cuts for closing the gap. Instead, on the very first answer, she started talking about how much money President Obama's trip to India was costing, using a totally outlandish figure. Listen.


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Well, I think we know that, just within a day or so, the president of the United States will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day. He's taking 2,000 people with him.

He will be renting out over 870 rooms in India. And these are five-star hotel rooms at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. This is the kind of over-the-top spending. It's a very small example, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": No one really knows the cost, because, for security reasons, they don't disclose the cost. So, this idea that it's, you know, $200 million or whatever is simply made up. BACHMANN: Well, these are the numbers that have been coming out in the press. And, of course, those are the numbers that I have to...


COOPER: Do you believe what you read in the press?

BACHMANN: ... the numbers that are being -- well, should I listen -- well, should I believe what you say, Anderson? That's really the question.

COOPER: Well, I'm not reporting this -- this $200 million figure.


GUPTA: Now, to be fair, no one with any knowledge of the subject believes the trip costs anywhere near that much. The source of the story turns out to be a wire service report out of India quoting an unnamed provincial official.

But the congresswoman didn't mention that. And, in fact, it wasn't until Anderson challenged that she even said the number was being mentioned in the press, let alone the overseas press, let alone a single unnamed source in the overseas press.

And now is she trying to spin her way out of it? Take a look this recently on the BBC.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You claimed that President Obama spent $200 million a day on a trip to India. It's been roundly ridiculed as a quote...

BACHMANN: Well, actually -- actually, I didn't claim that.


BACHMANN: I was quoting a newspaper out of India. And I only used that quote...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, why would you do that?

BACHMANN: ... after many national -- well, many national -- it was -- number one, it came out of the host country in India. It came out of a well-respected financial newspaper. And that figure...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, you believed that, $200 million dollars a day?


BACHMANN: Well, excuse me. I -- all I did was I quoted the newspaper. I quoted the newspaper. And major national figures here in the United States, many across the media, for several days had already been using that figure.

The reason why it was so important is because the president has a two-year history of out-of-control spending. They have been unwilling...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You still believe he spent $200 million dollars a day on that trip? You believe that.

BACHMANN: I didn't say whether I believe it or not. What I said is that I was quoting a newspaper.


GUPTA: Now, in fairness, many politicians say thing for effect. And then they try to unsay them when someone puts them on the spot. But some do it more than others. And Ms. Bachmann, well, she seems to have a history.


BACHMANN: I mean, wondering, would you categorically renounce the United States moving away from the dollar and going to a global currency?


GUPTA: Well, that's the congresswoman during a hearing last year repeating another false allegation, that the United States might drop the dollar. In fact, the story was quite a complicated one about a Chinese suggestion to create a new global reserve currency, pretty esoteric stuff, but nothing to do with getting rid of the dollar.

That notion came from a headline on The Drudge Report. And there's more. Just before the 2008 election, Ms. Bachmann, appearing on MSNBC, suggested members of Congress, her colleagues, might be disloyal to their country.


BACHMANN: Most Americans, Chris, are wild about America. And they're very concerned to have a president who doesn't share those values.


BACHMANN: What I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America?


GUPTA: And later, on FOX, she said this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FOX NEWS CHANNEL, NOVEMBER 2008) ALAN COLMES, FOX NEWS: You said you were concerned during the campaign that Obama had anti-American views, and you said: "The news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look at the views of the people in Congress and find out if they are pro-American or anti- American."

BACHMANN: Actually, that's not what I said at all. COLMES: Well, I'm just -- I'm reading your exact quote.

BACHMANN: Actually, that's not what I said. It's an urban legend that was created. That's not what I said at all.

COLMES: We have the -- it's on tape. I have the...


GUPTA: By the way, in that BBC interview we played for you, the congresswoman also insinuated that President Obama was anti-American.

And we will see how or if she explains that next, I suppose.


GUPTA: Joining us now, conservative blogger Erick Erickson and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona.

Thanks to both of you for joining us.



GUPTA: Eric, is this crazy, or is this calculated? I mean, it's got a lot of people talking. Maybe she's not ready for prime time, some of her colleagues are saying. What do you make of this?

ERICKSON: I think this goes trying to keep politicians honest to going into the absurd.

You know, I saw that report on November 2, during election night, while I was on studio in -- at CNN. It was on The Drudge Report. She clicked through it. It was a media report out of India. It seemed like, when she was talking to Anderson about it on the 3rd, it seemed by clear she was basing her opinion based on that story, which was wrong, but was quoted all over the place.

Now, we talked about it that night after that interview on ANDERSON, and we were all pretty dismissive of it. It seems very much like it wasn't $200 million. But let's not say this was her view. She was basing it off of something that was in the media which was wrong.


GUPTA: Erick, I get that. I understand that. But, look, I mean, is there a greater level of accountability that someone like her needs to have?

Two hundred millions dollars a day, Erick, is what that unnamed official in the overseas wire article said.

ERICKSON: Right. Look...


GUPTA: It doesn't pass the commonsense test.


ERICKSON: You or I, Sanjay, wouldn't have said it, but she did.

You know, it doesn't for you or for me, and I don't think she should have said it. I think she probably should have come out and said she was wrong. But that was November 3, and she has moved on, and the rest of us haven't.

GUPTA: Yes. No, I understand what you're saying. And that's fair, what you said. But the point is that, is there a -- is there a higher level of accountability when she makes statements like that?

But let's move on for a second.

Now, Maria, you -- you have -- you have talked about this before. And you could argue that Michele Bachmann has actually got more media- savvy than some of her colleagues, though, despite all this, couldn't you?

CARDONA: Well, what I would say, in terms of -- of her being media-savvy, is that she certainly knows how to become fodder on cable news. I mean, look at us. We're here -- we're here talking about her.

And, you know, to your point, Sanjay, this is isn't the first time that she's done this. She's been making sort of ridiculous statements like this, outlandish statements, for the past two years, at least, and even before that.

So, I think the problem for Michele Bachmann, and frankly, for her supporters, is that facts and video are pesky things. You know, they are on the record. And people know exactly what you have said and what you haven't said.

And even though I think that this is something that she saw in a report, if it was something that she saw in a report, and that she didn't really believe, that she just wanted to mention that this was part of her argument, she should have said, this is what reports from India are saying.

GUPTA: That's right.

CARDONA: She didn't say that. And so this, again, goes to the facts as to whether she even knows what she's talking about when she's going on any sort of TV or any other interview. GUPTA: All right...


ERICKSON: But, Sanjay, it's...

GUPTA: Go ahead.

ERICKSON: ... it's not just -- it's not just Michele Bachmann's fault. It's also the media.

Take the -- the "Obama is anti-American" clip. You played the actual clip from where that comes from. And she didn't say Obama was anti-American. She referenced members of Congress and are they pro- America or anti-America, and does President Obama share a world view that most Americans are sympathetic with. She didn't connect him and anti-American. But the headline is, Obama is anti-American.

GUPTA: All right.

You know, to -- to Maria's point, we spend a lot of time talking about Michele Bachmann. So, in that vein, she's not the only politician who has got some differences in the media.

Sarah Palin is on a media blitz for her book. She got asked today an interesting question -- I'm going to play this for you, whether she would speak with journalist Katie Couric again. Here's part of her response.


SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: I want to help clean up the state that's so sorry today of journalism. And I have a communications degree. I studied journalism, who, what, where, when and why of reporting.

I will speak to reporters who still understand that the cornerstone of our democracy, that expectation that the public has for truth to be reported.


GUPTA: Erick, tell me if you agree with this. I mean, she's basically been communicating through FOX News, Facebook, Twitter, a lot of social media. She's not been facing too many reporters at all these days. Is it any way to prep for a presidential run? Can -- can she get away with that?

ERICKSON: Oh, absolutely. In a Republican primary, she can be on FOX News and have millions of people watching her, who, frankly, will go out and vote for her. She can go on talk radio.

Conservatives have fantastic outlets, other than the traditional news outlets, to be able to communicate in a primary. It won't work in a general election, but to get her the nomination, it absolutely would. And I would agree him. I wouldn't waste my time on CBS News either.


GUPTA: And, Maria, I mean, if -- if she does decide to run in 2012, can -- can -- do you a presidential candidate can get away with avoiding reporters who ask tough questions throughout their campaign?

CARDONA: I don't think so.

But I do tend to agree with Erick, that this will work for her if she wants the Republican presidential nomination, because we have seen that the conservative right wing actually do have their own outlets, and they do nurture their own spokespeople. And she happens to be one of them.

So, I -- as a Democrat, I really hope that she does exactly what Erick mentioned and -- and runs and wins the nomination, because he said it himself -- and I completely agree -- there's no way that, doing that, she could win the general election in -- in 2012.

GUPTA: All right.

CARDONA: And I think that she represents and Michele Bachmann represents a huge challenge for the Republican Party, and that's demonstrating that they actually have mainstream views. Palin and Bachmann do not represent those mainstream views.

GUPTA: All right. Well, stay tuned.

ERICKSON: Oh, I think...

GUPTA: We will have a lot more to discuss...


ERICKSON: ... they represent the mainstream a lot more than most people think.


GUPTA: Well, all right.

Erick Erickson, Maria Cardona, lots more, I'm sure, we will be discussing.

ERICKSON: Thank you.

GUPTA: Up next, though...

CARDONA: Thank you so much.

GUPTA: Thank you.

Up next, though, the growing health crisis in Haiti, the death toll in that cholera outbreak -- I was just there. The crisis is rising. Now health officials are predicting the scale of the new epidemic, and it exceeds all initial estimates. We will have the latest coming up.

And a "CNN Heroes"/A.C. 360 exclusive -- Anderson talks with several of the rescued Chilean miners who were trapped underground for nearly two-and-a-half months. How did they not fall into despair? How were they able to hold on to hope for all that time? There's some new insights. I will have that in a moment.


GUPTA: Coming up: a "CNN Heroes"/A.C. 360 exclusive. Anderson is going to sit down with some of the Chilean miners, who talk about their underground ordeal, including what it was like to ration their food for more than two months.

First, though, Susan Hendricks joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Susan.

SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sanjay, nine years after Washington intern Chandra Levy disappeared, a man has been found guilty in her death. A jury today convicted Ingmar Guandique of first-degree murder. He could get life in prison without parole.

A Secret Service agent who was there when JFK was assassinated on this day in 1963 says he was haunted by the idea that he could have gotten there just moments faster. Former agents haven't said much since that day in Dallas 47 years ago, but a new book called "The Kennedy Detail" includes accounts from many of the agents who were there.

At least 1,300 people have now died in Haiti's cholera outbreak, and health officials say the death toll could end up even higher than the 200,000 they predicted. Poor sanitation and lack of access to health centers are making the epidemic spread.

And, Sanjay, as you mentioned, you just got back. You have been there several times literally saving lives there. And in one of your reports that I have just watched, you see a warehouse full of supplies, yet people there, they're still dying.

GUPTA: Yes. Susan, it's unbelievable to hear those numbers you're talking about, that that many people could die. Again, this country just can't seem to catch a break.

But you're absolutely right. I mean, this warehouse you're looking at there, what was so striking was that it had some of the most basic supplies, which are all that are necessary, really, to try and treat patients with cholera.

With cholera, if you can get clean water, if you can get the most basic supplies, people live. If they don't get those supplies, they won't -- they won't survive. And -- and, unfortunately, that's what's happening now.

And, also, Susan, really quickly, you know, there -- there was a -- there was a sort of area where this outbreak began, the cholera outbreak. HENDRICKS: Mm-hmm.

GUPTA: But what's happening now was absolutely predicted, people walking around the country, disseminating this particular bacteria. And more and more people are getting sick now around the country.

So, hundreds of thousands, possibly, of illnesses predicted, it is mind-boggling -- people on their hands and knees, Susan, for clean water. We're talking about this...


GUPTA: ... in 2010.

HENDRICKS: Did he say why he wasn't...

GUPTA: Well...

HENDRICKS: ... distributing what was in the warehouse?

GUPTA: I mean, part of -- part of the issue -- and to be fair to these organizations, sometimes, they say we have got to plan ahead. If there's more cases in another part of the country, we may need to divert our resources over there.

Of course, that makes no difference to the people who are just a few miles away who didn't get the resources in the first place.


GUPTA: So, hopefully, we will get back down there Susan and talk much more about Haiti. I know a lot of people very, very concerned about it. It's a story we're going to keep on the front burner for some time to come.

Moving on, though, we have our "Beat 360" winners. We have got to get this in. It's our daily challenge to viewers, a chance to show up our staffers by coming up with a better caption for the photo we post on our blog every single day.

Tonight's photo: Some of the Backstreet Boys teamed up with a couple of New Kids on the Block and performed last night at the 2010 American Music Awards.

Our staff winner tonight is Will. His caption? "Back. Street's back. Oh, no!"



GUPTA: I don't know if that was my singing or the actual caption.

Our viewer winner, though, tonight, Kara from Charlottesville, Virginia, "Bravo unveiled its new show, 'The Real Has-Beens of Orange County'."


GUPTA: Kara, the "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way. Thanks for bearing with us.

Susan -- it's now time for tonight's shot. We've been reporting the aggressive pat downs and full body scans have outraged many travelers. But for "Saturday Night Live," it's great material for some laughs. Check out this skit.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When selected for a full body scanner, say "no." You'll be pulled aside by a TSA agent, and that's when the fun begins. And you never know who your agent will be.




KENAN THOMPSON, CAST MEMBER, NBC'S "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": But it's probably going to be us. Take off your damn shoes.



GUPTA: Does that make you want to travel, Susan, this weekend?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I love the fuzzy camera shots.

GUPTA: Right. The soft -- the soft camera shot, sure.


GUPTA: Yes, I don't know. I think maybe we're going to be talking about this for some time to come. You think?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Me, too. In fact, I don't know how those guys, those actors did it with a straight face.

GUPTA: I think -- I think every now and then they crack, as they say.


GUPTA: Susan, thanks so much. We'll be back with you shortly.

But back to the serious stiff. Next, an alleged drug kingpin captured in Mexico. Authorities say he's vicious; they say he's ruthless. The former high school football player from Texas used to look like a Ken doll. The incredible story of the La Barbie, ahead in "Crime & Punishment."

And an update on how a Utah park ranger is doing after being shot multiple times in the search, in rugged terrain, of a person of interest in that case.


GUPTA: Now in "Crime & Punishment," a man who's being called one of Mexico's most vicious drug cartel leaders is coming home to the United States. Back in high school, he got a nickname because his classmates thought he looked like an all-American icon. Now he faces charges of felony cocaine trafficking and criminal conspiracy and it's expected he'll be extradited to the United States soon.

Here's Gary Tuchman with the fascinating story of La Barbie.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He has light- colored hair and blue eyes, from a well to-do family, who played high school football in Texas for the school team. But now, Mexican authorities say Edgar Valdez Villarreal is a drug kingpin. He's ruthless and dangerous. In this interrogation by Mexican police following his arrest he's asked where he's from.

Laredo, Texas, he says. Valdez is an American, the only U.S. citizen believed to be in the upper echelon of the Mexican narco- trafficking world.

And on this interrogation tape, police ask him what business he's in? He says "a narco-trafficker." And then he's asked what his nickname is. "La Barbie." La Barbie, a name he got in school from friends who thought he looked like a Ken doll.

This mug shot shows him when he was 18 years old, arrested in Texas on charges of criminally negligent vehicular homicide. The charges were eventually dropped.

Valdez went to Laredo Giamatti High School. This picture is from the 1991 school yearbook. He was arrested for other reasons after high school, including DWI and public intoxication. But police say he was also a drug dealer.

SHERIFF MARTIN CUELLAR, WEBB COUNTY, TEXAS: You know, the things that he has been accused of, it's really -- it's really amazing even to us.

TUCHMAN: Martin Cuellar is the sheriff of Webb County, Texas, a county on the Mexican border along the Rio Grande. He was a state trooper when La Barbie was a teen and planned to meet him at this fast-food restaurant for an undercover marijuana deal.

(on camera) So you arranged the time and place to get the 300 pounds of pot? Said you were going to pay a large amount of money for it.


TUCHMAN: What happened when you showed up at that place?

CUELLAR: He never showed up. He never materialized.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): La Barbie never got busted for drugs in the U.S. Authorities say he ended up fleeing to Mexico, disappearing into the violent underworld, and rising to the top.

(on camera) Here in Mexico, Edgar Valdez was widely feared. Many believed he was one of the western hemisphere's most notorious drug cartel leaders. La Barbie, who used to knock heads on the football field, allegedly oversaw the cutting off of heads as a drug kingpin.

(voice-over) La Barbie's brothers, who live in this house in an upper class Laredo neighborhood, says he maintains his love for him. La Barbie's lawyer says his client will plead not guilty and that the interrogation tape was coerced, as well as legally improper.

Meanwhile, the sheriff wonders if things might have played out differently, had he managed to arrest La Barbie years ago at the fast- food restaurant.

CUELLAR: You know, we joke around and say, hey, you know, if you would have arrested him maybe he wouldn't have done what he's doing now, but you never know.

TUCHMAN: It will still be weeks before La Barbie is extradited back home to the United States, but it be the very opposite of a triumphant homecoming.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Laredo, Texas.


GUPTA: So how does a guy go from middle class, suburban upbringing in Texas to becoming an alleged cocaine kingpin in Mexico?

Well, Fred Burton is the vice president of counterterrorism and corporate security for Stratfor, a global intelligence company. He's the author of the best-selling book, as well, "Ghost: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent." Fred Burton joins us now from Austin, Texas.

Thanks, sir.


GUPTA: Good evening. Fred, you know, La Barbie, as you heard in Gary's report, he's probably the only American citizen known to have moved so high in the command structure of the Mexican cartels. Why do you think that's the first time that happened? What made him special?

BURTON: It's truly an amazing story. I mean, this is a kid that appeared to have everything going for him in la Laredo, comes from a pretty good family. Has siblings that are very, very successful, and I think things went bad for him after this car crash and hanging out with the wrong crowd. And the next thing you know, he starts dealing drugs in Laredo, and it's really an unbelievable turn of events with him able to navigate his way through the Mexican cartel system.

GUPTA: You know, one of the things Gary sort of alluded to, Fred, in his report was the violence that La Barbie was engaged in. I mean, it sounded -- some of it sounded awful. Some of what I was reading, as well. He was a real force to be reckoned with. What did you make of that?

BURTON: It's truly a brutal world that they're living with, and you rule by fear. And the only way you're going to get any kind of support in that world is to, in essence, execute your enemy. You have to rule with an iron fist. And you can't be afraid not to kill, especially to send that signal to your rivals.

GUPTA: And they would send videotaped messages, I understand, back and forth, with evidence of some of these gruesome killings. But something, you know, there were reports indicating that there was no fire fight between Mexican authorities and La Barbie when he was captured. Did that surprise you?

BURTON: The most interesting thing to me in looking at that is, especially in light of the revelation that he had been an informant for the Mexican government for two years, is that it's our intelligence indicates that he just turned himself in.

So he cut a deal. And in essence, he's going to turn government witness.

GUPTA: So he turned a deal, and you think that's because he's fearful of what's happening with the cartels or some retaliation from other cartels?

BURTON: There was no good ending to this story. Either he had to turn himself in or he knew he was going to end up being killed in a hail of gunfire. So in essence, by being an informant, he has gained his freedom from Mexico and will be extradited to the United States. And it would not surprise me in the least to see him testify against many other drug lords.

GUPTA: How valuable do you think the information that he provides will be?

BURTON: He's an extraordinarily valuable source from that stand point. He's going to be able to tell DEA and the Department of Justice how they launder their money. Intimate personnel knowledge of how these organizations work. How they kill. He literally knows where the bodies are buried.

GUPTA: It will be interesting to see what comes of that, and he'll be extradited to the United States, as we mentioned. Fred Burton, thanks so much for your insights.

BURTON: Thank you. GUPTA: Thank you. Still ahead, a "CNN Heroes" AC 360 exclusive. The Chilean miners and rescuers share some intimate candid details about their grueling 69 days underground. They sat down with Anderson. That's "The Big AC 360 Interview." That's coming up.

Plus, who made tonight's RidicuList. Our latest edition launched a crusade against Facebook but ended up apologizing to his congregation. We'll explain.


GUPTA: You know, much of the world spent days watching the dramatic rescue in Chile as 33 miners were pulled from the depths of the earth one by one. They'd survived 69 days trapped underground. They were profiles in courage, each and every one of them, and so were the men who risked their lives to bring them out of that collapsed mine.

This weekend, all 33 miners and their five rescuers where in Los Angeles for the taping of the "CNN Heroes" program. Anderson sat down with some of them for tonight's "Big 360 Interview." It's a "CNN Heroes"/AC 360 exclusive.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: When did you first realize something had gone terribly wrong?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): At first this was a lot of noise. After a few moments, there was a lot of dust. And then we felt a suction through the tunnel.

There was so much dust it was intense. I couldn't see very far in front of me. There was a thick cloud of dust. That's when I knew something big, something very serious had happened.

COOPER: Jimmy, you have not worked in the mines very long. When this happened, what did you think? What was going through your head?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I've only worked in the mines for four months. When this was happening, I only thought of God. Because I thought we were all going to die.

COOPER: You thought you were going to die?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes.

COOPER: What were you seeing around you? What did it feel like?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There was dust everywhere. I thought of my family. I thought of God. And my hope was that we could all come out alive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I was at the very bottom of the mine. I drive trucks, and I didn't hear much noise. We were able to finish loading the truck and I started driving out, but the dust became very thick. I couldn't see more than 50 centimeters from the front of the truck.

COOPER: Jose, did you know that people were going to start searching for you? And did you know that people were searching for you in those first few days?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes, I knew the company had the responsibility to start the search and come find us. There were policies in place to find us.

COOPER: Did you hear people searching for you? Could you hear them trying to find you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes. As soon as we heard the first drill, we knew they were looking for us. We heard it.

COOPER: And at that point, were you -- were you in complete darkness? Was it all dark? I mean, you had lights, but how often would you use your lights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There was light, and we had power coming from the battery of the truck. But it wasn't very much; it was very dim. Much like candlelight in the mine.

COOPER: And would you have those lights on all the time, or would you ration them? How did you...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We knew we were in a critical situation. And we needed to organize ourselves. We needed to organize many things, including rationing things like light.

COOPER: How did you figure out how much food you could actually -- everybody could have?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It was an issue that caused us tension. It was very, very delicate at the time.

COOPER: How do you hold on to hope? I mean, especially in those first -- first two weeks? How do you not fall into despair?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We used many things, especially faith. We also relied on the experience of the older miners. And we had to remain united. We relied deeply on each other.

COOPER: Mario, you wrote -- you wrote the letter to your wife. What did you say to her?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We've been married for 32 years. I told her things I've never told her. Or only told her very few times. I told her things that came from inside, from my heart. I told her how much I loved her. I told her that, if I were to come out of this alive, we would finally have the church wedding that we've never had.


GUPTA: That's amazing. That's a great story and an important program note on that. "CNN Heroes" an all-star tribute airs this Thursday on 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 5 p.m. Pacific.

Up next, see how much Harry Potter made in its opening weekend. I'll give you a clue. It's a record, even for them.

And see who we added to our RidicuList. This time it's a pastor that apologized to his congregation. Wait until you hear why.


GUPTA: We're following several other stories tonight. Susan Hendricks joining us again with a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Susan.

HENDRICKS: Sanjay, a 2-year-old boy was killed when he fell out after a luxury suite at the Los Angeles Staples Center. Police say the boy fell about 50 feet last night as his family was taking photos at the end of the Lakers basketball game.

More than 300 people have been killed in a stampede at a festival in Cambodia. Witnesses say a bridge packed with people began to sway, creating panic. Police then fired a water cannon, trying to get them to move. A doctor says many of the victims were suffocated and electrocuted, but the government denies anyone was electrocuted.

In Utah tonight, authorities are looking for Lance Leroy Arellano, the man you see here. He is believed to be armed and dangerous and seeking medical attention. He could be hiding in a state park. He is also a person of interest in the shooting of a park ranger on Friday night. The ranger is hospitalized in critical but stable condition.

And we are talking movies. Harry Potter making box office magic again, you could say. Part one earning an estimated $330 million worldwide this weekend. That includes $125 million here in the U.S. That is the best American opening weekend for the franchise, topping 2005's "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" by more than $20 million.

GUPTA: It's just getting better and better.


GUPTA: A lot of times, they have the sequels, and they actually go down. But they just keep getting better. It's hard to believe that's coming to an end.

HENDRICKS: Yes, Harry Potter just keeps going.

GUPTA: Two parts for this last movie, incidentally. So you get the first part now and the second part at the end of summer. I learned that the other day as I...

HENDRICKS: Yes. A lot of people will be disappointed there's only one left.

GUPTA: That's right. I know. Susan, thanks so much. Time now, though, to add another name to the RidicuList. It's out nightly list of hypocrisy, double talk and just downright ridiculousness. So who made the RidicuList tonight?

Well, meet Reverend Cedric Miller. He launched a one-man crusade against Facebook. He believes the social networking site is a threat to marriage, because he says it can rekindle old passions.

In other words, you friend an old flame on Facebook, and before you know it, an inferno ignites, and your marriage is toast. That's what he told a reporter last week.


REV. CEDRIC MILLER, PASTOR: Most times, is that Facebook creates the vehicle for people to really unite with their past. If it's a pre-Jesus past, it's something that needs to stay dead and buried.


GUPTA: Now, Reverend Miller is the senior minister at the Living World -- Living Word Christian Fellowship in New Jersey, and he says a large percentage of his counseling over the past 18 months has been for marital problems, including infidelity, stemming from Facebook.

He's warned his parishioners they should give up Facebook. Meantime, he gave church leaders an ultimatum: stop using Facebook or resign.

But around the same time, a local newspaper started digging. Turns out that Reverend Miller, shown here with his wife, Kim, also a pastor, had some lapses in his own marriage.

In 2003, he testified as part of a legal proceeding that years earlier he had a four-way affair with his wife and a male church assistant. Apparently, the church's assistant's wife was sometimes involved, as well. Keep in mind, Reverend Miller's marriage went astray before Facebook existed. Facebook didn't launch until 2004.

Over the weekend, the pastor apologized to his parishioners in what was described as a rousing, two-hour sermon. Cameras were not allowed, but here's some of that sermon.


MILLER: For any pain that my past mistakes have caused you, I, again, as I did many years ago, ask for your forgiveness.

To revisit those people, emotions or even memories is a betrayal to the covenant that you are currently in.


GUPTA: Now, Reverend Miller offered to step down if church leaders thought he should. He was showered with support after his sermon, and he's still sticking to his story that Facebook is a danger to marriage. Whether he's the one to be sounding the alarm, well, you can just decide for yourself.

You know what? It all seemed a bit ridiculous to us, so Reverend Cedric Miller, you land on the RidicuList.

We've got a lot more ahead at the top of the hour, starting with those new airport scanners. Expensive. Some call them intrusive. But here's the question: do they even work? Got some new research to tell you about. We're "Keeping Them Honest."