||PAULA ZAHN NOW
CNN Security Watch: Anthrax; McCain: No Confidence in Rumsfeld; Interview
With Rusty Yates
Aired December 14, 2004 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND
MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone. Thanks for joining us here.
The U.S. government is spending more than $5 billion to protect you from an
anthrax attack. Tonight, is that money being wasted? Find out in our CNN
security watch investigation. And John McCain says that he has no confidence
in our secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld. So what might that mean for
the secretary's future?
A CNN security watch investigation. American soldiers crippled. They blame
an anthrax vaccine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, you couldn't even touch my body. I couldn't hold
my weapon's stock.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: As the government spends $1 billion for a new drug to protect you,
critics say, not so fast.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole program is so badly thought out. It really is a
(END VIDEO CLIP) ZAHN: And a candidate poisoned permanently disfigured. But
he was lucky he got away his life.
The long and deadly link between murder and politics. That and more as PAULA
ZAHN NOW continues.
ZAHN: The security watch continues with the CNN investigation into the
billions being spent to protect you from an anthrax attack. And why some
experts say, it's a waste of money.
ZAHN: Welcome back. Guarding against bioterrorism, another part of tonight's
security watch, a new report from the Trust For America's Health finds most
states are not prepared for a bioattack. Yet, three years ago, five
Americans died after inhaling anthrax. It was found inside anonymous letters
sent to some news organizations in New York and Florida as well as to some
politicians in Washington. While those attacks remain unsolved, they have
prompted the federal government to order a new anthrax vaccine. But there
are now questions about it just as there are questions about the safety of
the current anthrax vaccine, given to some U.S. troops. Tom Foreman has this
EDDIE NORMAN, FMR. ARMY SGT.: I couldn't lift my pelvis. You went from one
of the most fittest soldiers in the army, I mean, 300 PT, Goldstream awards
to just nothing. I'm talking about in a matter of -- in a matter of a year,
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A veteran of both Gulf Wars,
Eddie Norman believes that the army's anthrax vaccine physically destroyed
NORMAN: I was so swollen up at time that, I mean, I couldn't -- you couldn't
even touch my body.
FOREMAN: Norman was given the complete series of eight shots of the vaccine
before deploying to the Gulf in 2000. He says his immediate reactions to the
shots were so severe, he was flown home for treatment.
NORMAN: I mean serious, serious pain. You know, they don't think, it is
really hard for someone to imagine they haven't actually experienced this
pain. You know, shaking, you know, in the night time. Uncontrollably
FOREMAN: The final diagnosis by his doctors, Eddie Norman had a muscular
disorder called Fibromyalgia.
NORMAN: They say they suspect it to be the anthrax vaccine.
FOREMAN: Despite thousands of documented complaints like that of Eddie
Norman, the government is developing a new vaccine. In July, a new law
passed, Project Bioshield with a price tag of $5.6 billion. It will create a
national stockpile of the new anthrax vaccine for the civilian population.
Dr. David Ozonoff is an expert in infectious diseases and public health at
DR. DAVID OZONOFF, BOSTON UNIVERSITY: The whole program is so badly thought
out and unthought out.
FOREMAN: For more than a decade, troops deployed to the Persian Gulf were
required to take Biothrax, the only existing anthrax vaccine but the
Veterans Administration has documented more than a thousand cases of
servicemen and women who blame Biothrax for a whole range of serious
CHRISTINA KUTZ, FMR. SENIOR AIRMAN: 2003 was probably the worst year for me.
I couldn't eat anything. I was throwing up constantly.
FOREMAN: Former senior airman Christina Kutz returned from Iraq in April
2003 knowing that she still had to complete the series of anthrax shots.
There is no way I could say no because I didn't want to get court martialed
and I couldn't see myself -- I like the military. I loved my job. I just
couldn't do it. FOREMAN: But after her fourth injection in July, Kutz was
told she had developed an intestinal ailment known as Crohn's Disease. She
was given a waiver from further vaccinations.
David Ozonoff believes it is the vaccine's effectiveness that also makes it
OZONOFF: Some of the antibodies that are manufactured against those
organisms also work against parts of your own body.
FOREMAN: Colonel John Grabenstein heads up the army's vaccine agencies.
COL. JOHN GRABENSTEIN, ARMY VACCINE AGENCY: I think the debate's been
settled. After we took 18 human safety studies to the National Academy of
Sciences, the country's best scientists and they reached the conclusion
after over a year and a half of considering the matter that the anthrax
vaccine is as safe as other vaccines.
FOREMAN: But in November, a federal district court in Washington, D.C. ruled
otherwise. Citing hundreds of complains like those of Eddie Norman and
Christina Kutz, the court sent the vaccine to the FDA for reexamination and
halted mandatory inoculations. Now, as part of Project Bioshield, the
government has awarded a contract worth more than $1 billion to a small
pharmaceutical company called VaxGen. It will manufacture 75 million doses
of the new vaccine by 2007 for civilian use.
OZONOFF: There is no scenario that you can imagine that you would ever need
that many. So, I don't know what's -- I don't know what the thinking was
there. Or if there was any thinking.
FOREMAN: Dr. Lance Gordon is Vaxgen's CEO.
DR. LANCE GORDON, CEO, VAXGEN: The driving issue from the federal government
was the need to get product into inventory in the quickest possible time
with the highest probability of success.
FOREMAN (on camera): A clause impending bioshield legislation allows for
fast tracking the anthrax vaccine. The new vaccine will be ready in 2007,
but it will be untested and unlicensed by the Food and Drug Administration.
OZONOFF: But until there is that kind of public health emergency, I don't
know why you would short-circuit the necessary safeguards.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Critics say the project amounts to an improper
government subsidy, a windfall for Vaxgen, a company with some serious
missteps in its recent past.
In 2003, Vaxgen withdraw its AIDS vaccines after faulty testy results were
discovered. Last August, Vaxgen was delisted from the NASDAQ after its
accounting practices were questioned by the SEC.
Despite that, the government gave Vaxgen the bioshield contract. GORDON: I
believe that their judgment was that we were the most reliable company,
having a product available to meet the urgent need. Something I'm very proud
FOREMAN: But under the pending bioshield legislation, Vaxgen and other
manufacturers cannot be held liable for illnesses caused by the new vaccine.
And whether or not the drug works, many experts question whether it is
needed at all. It is very difficult to fashion a weapon of mass destruction
out of anthrax.
OZONOFF: Only a handful of people know the secrets to weaponizing anthrax.
It's very, very hard to do.
FOREMAN: And inhaled anthrax can be treated with antibiotics, all which
amounts to a seriously flawed program, says Ozonoff.
OZONOFF: If you wanted to beef up public health in this country, you sure
wouldn't want to do it this way. It is sort of like trying to, you know,
make Tang by inventing the space program.
FOREMAN: Vaxgen vows that its new anthrax vaccine will be better than the
old one, though its potential for serious side effects remains unknown.
GORDON: The safety is already largely established, but again, you know,
we're not going to challenge humans with anthrax and potentially kill them
to test the vaccine.
FOREMAN: In the meantime, two months short of retirement, Eddie Norman is
struggling with the effects of the current vaccine.
EDDIE NORMAN, FORMER ARMY SGT.: I got pain through here now, but I've got to
work, you know? You know, I have to. If I don't work, then my family is out
on the streets.
FOREMAN: And Christina Kutz' hopes of going back to the Army are fading.
CHRISTINA KUTZ, FORMER SENIOR AIRMAN: I'll probably never be able to go back
in, unless they misdiagnosed me or a miracle.
ZAHN: Our Tom Foreman reporting tonight.
The maker of Biothrax, the BioPort Corporation, canceled an interview with
CNN and then didn't return our calls. But today, the company did give us
Quote, "BioPort Corporation takes adverse events very seriously and
thoroughly investigates every report. We are confident of our vaccine's
safety and efficacy, which has been repeatedly affirmed by several
government agencies, including the FDA, CDC and DoD, as well as the
prestigious Institute of Medicine. More than 1.3 million soldiers have been
protected with licensed anthrax vaccine since 1998." So how great of danger
is all of this for you? There may be no one who knows more about medicine
and bioterrorism than Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of
Health. I'll be talking with him next.
ZAHN: Welcome back.
We are continuing our discussion about anthrax. Perhaps nobody knows more
about the dangers posed by bioterrorism and the reliability of vaccines to
protect us than Dr. Anthony Fauci. He is the director of the National
Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of
Always good to see you. Welcome, Dr. Fauci.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS
DISEASES, NIH: Thank you, Paula. Good to be here.
ZAHN: Dr. Fauci, we know with the old vaccine that in 10 percent of the
inoculations, people got very, very sick. What proof do you have that you
won't have the same numbers with the new vaccine?
FAUCI: The clinical trials of the safety will tell us that, Paula. And the
way the vaccine is formulated, what it is, the purity of the material would
be strongly suggestive that you're not going to see a substantial amount of
ZAHN: When will we know for sure, Dr. Fauci?
FAUCI: Well, the safety studies are ongoing now. We've done some before.
We've also got to do efficacy studies in animals.
And I would say that by the time we're ready to make that first milestone in
2006, we'll be rather sure in a substantial way that we're dealing with
something that's safe.
ZAHN: We're going to quickly take a look at a graphic, which basically
reinforces something that a report on bioterror preparation by the Trust for
America's Heath did.
Only six states in this country are adequately prepared to distribute and
administer vaccines and antidotes in case of an emergency. So would this
vaccine even get to the people who need it?
FAUCI: Well, I think it will. Obviously, there is work that needs to be done
at the state and local health arena to get the responsiveness capability
better than it is now.
It was much worse than it is now. When we started, we, the government and
the Department of Health and Human Services, under Secretary Thompson,
started putting money into the state and local health infrastructure to
build it up. It improved it markedly but there's still a ways to go. We've
shown that we can respond at the local and state level with challenges like
we've seen, for example, with SARS, which luckily didn't hit us hard. But I
don't disagree that there is work to be done of getting preparedness at the
state and local public health level.
ZAHN: How troubling is it to you that most states don't even have one these
FAUCI: Well, that is troublesome, and the CDC is working very closely with
the states to try and work with them, to bring along their plan. They've put
out a formula about a timetable of getting a plan, of making sure that the
plan is a viable plan.
The CDC has been very hard at work, working locally with the state and local
ZAHN: We hope no one ever has to execute that plan. Dr. Fauci...
FAUCI: I hope not.
ZAHN: ... thank you so much for joining us tonight.
FAUCI: You're quite worth it.
ZAHN: I appreciate it.
And remember to stay with CNN day and night for reliable news about your
Coming up next, politics and murder, and why the poisoned Ukrainian
presidential candidate can call himself a lucky man. That's next.
ZAHN: You only have to look at the before and after photos -- Boy, check
this out -- of Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko to see
that someone wanted him gone or, at a minimum, at least incapacitated.
Doctors now confirm that, in fact, he was poisoned.
Marking politicians for assassination is certainly not new in some corners
of the world, and the methods of carrying it out have often been pretty
Here's national security correspondent David Ensor.
DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As Hollywood and Shakespeare remind us,
political assassination has been around as long as politics.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Et tu, Brute?
ENSOR: Back in those days, it was harder to kill a leader and not have his
blood on your hands.
But under Soviet communism, the KGB turned political killing into an art
form. Some suspect spy chief Lavrenti Beria poisoned his boss, Soviet leader
Joseph Stalin. Many put the KGB successors high on the list of suspects who
had reasons for poisoning Viktor Yushchenko, the Ukrainian presidential
candidate who survived dioxin poisoning, though it did disfigure him.
TONY MENDEZ, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Who else did you have in mind? That would
be the way to answer it.
ENSOR (on camera): It does appeared to have been botched and to have
MENDEZ: Oh, yes. Heavy-handed. But that's, you know, that's again standard
fare for some of those boys.
ENSOR (voice-over): In a display case at the International Spy Museum in
Washington, there's an umbrella on display, like the one used to fire a
lethal poisoned pellet into the thigh of a Bulgarian dissident in London in
H. KEITH MELTON, HISTORIAN: So as Georgy Markoff (ph) was standing on
Waterloo Bridge waiting for a taxi, someone came up behind him and literally
poked him with an umbrella and walked away.
ENSOR: That umbrella was first purchased in Washington by then KGB officer
Oleg Kalugin to be converted into a weapon. Now an American citizen, Kalugin
says Russian intelligence never stopped using drugs and poisons.
OLEG KALUGIN, FORMER KGB OFFICER: In fact, we had a number of incidents in
Russia lately where people were either assassinated or poisoned or
administered some drugs which incapacitated them.
ENSOR: Spy museum director Peter Earnest, a former spy himself, says a
congressional investigation in the '70s found that the CIA also plotted to
PETER EARNEST, DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL SPY MUSEUM: What they found,
interestingly, was that there had been plans to assassinate several people,
including Fidel Castro, Patrice Lumumba, and others and they also found that
the CIA never successfully assassinated anybody.
ENSOR: Some say all is fair in time of war. The CIA has lately killed its
share of al Qaeda leaders. Israeli assassinations are almost commonplace.
Assassination, it's the dark side of politics.
ZAHN: David Ensor, reporting.
Results now from our question of the day, right after this. We'll be right
ZAHN: Now, on to the results of our question of the day. We asked if there
was too much coverage of the Scott Peterson trial, overall. Eighty-six
percent of you said yes; 14 percent said no.
Not a scientific poll. Just the flavor of what visitors to our web site are
"AMERICAN MORNING" is on the road this week from Japan. Here's Bill Hemmer
with a preview of what's ahead tomorrow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL HEMMER, CO-HOST, "AMERICAN MORNING": Paula, hello again from Tokyo.
Join me tomorrow for my exclusive interview with the prime minister,
Junichiro Koizumi. We'll talk about U.S.-Japanese relations now and
certainly as they relate to the current war on terror.
Also, we are not out in the country. We're in downtown Tokyo. We'll take you
high above the busy streets of Tokyo tomorrow for a look at the rooftop
gardens so important to the Japanese people here.
Hope to see you at 7 a.m. Eastern Time on "AMERICAN MORNING" -- Paula.
ZAHN: Thanks, Bill. Nice vista, there.
That's "AMERICAN MORNING," as he just said. First thing tomorrow morning.
Thanks again for joining us tonight. That wraps it up for all of us here.
Tomorrow, some of Saddam Hussein's top officers go on trial next week. But
will he testify, and what's in store for them? We'll be talking with the man
who's been training the Iraqi judges.
"LARRY KING LIVE" is next. He will take you inside the Scott Peterson,
regardless of what that poll just showed. Again, thanks for joining us
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR
SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT