Skip to main content

tv   CNN Presents  CNN  January 16, 2012 2:00am-3:00am EST

2:00 am
make sure you have a great week. i'll see you back here next weekend. i'm don lemon at the cnn world headquarters in atlanta. good night. tonight on "cnn presents," "anonymous." they live in the shadows. >> this is the closest thing to a global revolution that we have ever gotten. >> but their message and tactics have ignited a movement around the world. >> we are anonymous. >> a rare look inside the shadows group secret ops, toxic schools. >> that was a building that were storing chemicals that were cancer-causing agents, and because of the vicinity and the children that are involved, you didn't care. >> reporter: these parents have every reason to be angry. their children's school had toxic chemicals and even worse, they were the last to know. prescription for cheating.
2:01 am
they read our x-rays, but a cnn investigation reveals a disturbing question over the certification of many radiologists. >> isn't it cheating? >> revealing investigations, fascinating characters, stories with impact. this is "cnn presents," with your host tonight, brooke baldwin and dr. sanjay gupta. >> we begin tonight with a rare look inside anonymous. >> they're this shadowy and motley group of hackers who answer to none, drawn together by love of internet mischief. >> now they're evolving into this movement of social change. a real driving force behind the wall street occupiers. they're hated by security and hunted by the fbi. >> one of the questions we're asking is who are these people and why are they taking to the streets? to get some answers, amber lions stopped into the shad dose. >> hey, back up! back up! >>er it's a dark and disturbing vision.
2:02 am
a world where riot police attack with impunity. >> medic! medic! >> what happened?! what happened?! >> she got shot! >> get back! >> reporter: where democracy is corrupted by greed and dissent is crushed. >> let him go! >> reporter: that's how anonymous sees america, and they say that's why they're fighting back. >> we are legion. we do not forgive. we do not forget. >> reporter: it's a movement that defies description. leaderless, faceless, anarchic. >> this is our space! >> reporter: a loose collective born on the internet, anonymous has no official members and no hierarchy. but within the group, some individual anoms have greater
2:03 am
standing, earned by their skills as hackers, video makers -- >> to see it with my own eyes and record it myself. >> reporter: -- and increasingly street-level activists. troy, not his real name, is one of them. >> this is what happens when the people have had enough. this is what happens when greed goes unchecked. >> reporter: troy says he was drawn to occupy wall street after watching his mother struggle with medical debts. he, himself, is working two jobs to make ends meet, despite having a college degree. >> just lose track of days, lose track of time. but it's worth it. it's all worth it. >> reporter: we met him at the occupy wall street camp at zuccotti park. >> there's no specific person that talks for us. it's more like a hive, you know? an idea is brought up and whoever agrees with it, if the overwhelming majority of people agree with it, then we go with it. >> reporter: so we're following troy and he's been out here policing, kind of making sure that all of these protesters are getting along with the community
2:04 am
and not causing any problems. >> we're handling internal affairs as far as damage control within the community. making sure that everybody's respecting the local small businesses around here. how's it going? >> reporter: but he's not just watching over the protests. he's also watching the police. part of the evolution of anonymous from hackers to activists. anonymous was born a decade ago in one of the weirdest and darkest corners of the internet. an anything-goes image board called 4chan. 4chan users post anonymously and the name stuck. >> we do not forgive. >> reporter: the group adopted a distinct identity and its own symbolism. a mask taken from the movie "v for vendetta," a retelling of the english leader guy fox and his plan to blow up the house of lords in 1605. instead of gun powder, anonymous uses the internet.
2:05 am
anonymous attacks its targets by flooding and crashing corporate and government websites or digging up and publicizing highly embarrassing information. it's called trolling. they troll targets out of genuine outrage, but also just for fun. >> lulz, it's a kind of pluralization and bastardization of love out loud. >> reporter: new york university professor gabriella coleman has been watching for anonymous for years. >> it denotes humor, pleasure, laughter, everything from something that's quite playful, harmless, to engaging in a kind of full-fledged trolling attack that humiliates. >> reporter: anonymous' campaigns, knowns a operations, or ops, can be dramatic. in late 2010, a distributive denial of service attack took down the website of paypal.
2:06 am
after the company cut off support for the online whistle-blower site wikileaks. >> paypal continues to withhold fund for wikileaks, a beacon of truth in these dark times. >> reporter: 16 anons were arrested by the fbi, charged with conspiring to intentionally damage paypal's computers. >> this is a message from anonymous to the bay area rapid transit system b.a.r.t. >> reporter: this summer, anonymous attacked the san francisco area's public transportation system, b.a.r.t. b.a.r.t. had cut cell service within the transit system as a way of disrupting anti-police brutality protests. anonymous's reaction was devastating and vicious. >> we will not issue anymore warnings. >> reporter: opbart included the release of a naked photo of a senior b.a.r.t. employee. >> sometimes it kind of makes you laugh, sometimes it makes you cringe, sometimes it makes you laugh and cringe at the same time. all of a sudden, you're like,
2:07 am
oh, my gosh, there is this, you know, dagger that's being thrown. >> and a naked photo. >> and a naked photo. >> do you feel like there is a fear out there of, you know, what they could possibly find or leak about a certain individual? >> absolutely. i mean, that's what makes them who they are, is that they are kind of bad boys and rude boys, to some degree. there is a dual sort of fascination and horror that goes on at the same time. >> be aware, be vigilant. >> reporter: anonymous was evolving, using its power to shock and disrupt to affect social change. during the arab spring, the collective emerged as a full-fledged activist group, taking up the cause of tunisians fighting against an oppressive regime, literally saving lives. >> the tunisian government has made itself an enemy of anonymous. >> they did everything from take down government websites. they wrote scripts to stop the phishing of passwords.
2:08 am
they brought massive media attention to tunisia. >> reporter: and last fall, anonymous broke cover here at home, stepping out from behind their secure computer screens for a new cause, occupy wall street. >> there is a revolution brewing. >> reporter: suddenly, the symbols of anonymous were everywhere. in flags, masks, barns. >> we are the 99%! >> reporter: when we return, pepper spray and anonymous strikes back. how are they getting the personal information of these officers? >> i'd rather not say. i'd race down that hill without a helmet.
2:09 am
i took some steep risks in my teens. i'd never ride without one now. and since my doctor prescribed lipitor, i won't go without it for my high cholesterol and my risk of heart attack. why kid myself? diet and exercise weren't lowering my cholesterol enough. now i'm eating healthier, exercising more, taking lipitor. numbers don't lie. my cholesterol's stayed down.
2:10 am
lipitor is fda approved to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients who have heart disease or risk factors for heart disease. it's backed by over 19 years of research. [ female announcer ] lipitor is not for everyone, including people with liver problems and women who are nursing, pregnant or may become pregnant. you need simple blood tests to check for liver problems. tell your doctor if you are taking other medications, or if you have any muscle pain or weakness. this may be a sign of a rare but serious side effect. [ man ] still love that wind in my face! talk to your doctor. don't kid yourself about the risk of heart attack and stroke. if lipitor's been working for you, stay with it. lipitor may be available for as little as $4 a month with the lipitor co-pay card. terms and conditions apply. learn more at
2:11 am
terms will be giving awayy. passafree copies of the alcoholism & addiction cure. to get yours, go to the shadowy internet group known as anonymous has grown now, far beyond its hacker roots. it's now emerging as a forceful public relations weapon for the occupy protest movement. amber lyon takes you inside anonymous. >> we are anonymous. >> reporter: anonymous likens itself to the air force of the occupy movement. >> everyone, everywhere will be occupying their towns, their capitals, and other public
2:12 am
spaces. >> reporter: anonymous has an array of people on the streets. we're talking medics in san francisco, tech supporter in washington, d.c., and here in new york, guys like troy. troy, not his real name, is part of an army of citizen journalists, documenting the movement and the police by broadcasting live video over streaming sites. when they see evidence of what they believe is police misbehavior, anonymous strikes back, releasing personal information about specific officers. >> hopefully you'll think twice before he pulls out his baton against somebody who's holding a sign saying we just want peace. >> and how are they getting cell phone numbers and personal information of these officers or bankers? >> i'd rather not say. >> reporter: in september, an nypd officer named anthony bologna was filmed pepper spraying two protesters.
2:13 am
anonymous took direct action. >> we will unleash hell on your phones, your servers, and anything else we can find. >> reporter: one of the most active subgroups within anonymous is called the cabin cr3w. their specialty is doxing. it's shorthand for combing the the internet for all the information you can find about a target and then releasing it publicly. >> cabin cr3w have noticed in. >> justices being completed by the new york police. >> they released names of his family members and put it all online. after a police investigation and public pressure, bologna was placed on leave and reassigned to staten island. >> what do you think that did to the nypd when they saw this officer's information get posted online?
2:14 am
>> i think that they would see it as a form of vigilanteism. they're pushing the boundaries of the law. but i think some of their actions also reveal the ways in which either private security companies or police are also acting outside of the boundaries of the law. >> reporter: anonymous' biggest coup in the propaganda wars was this. an anongroup by the name operation leaks posted the clip on youtube. the next day, the clip tops 100,000 views. three days later, 1.5 million. the casually spraying cop had it all. it was outrageous, ridiculous, and effective. >> police in riot gear sprayed students. >> pepper sprayed students. >> the incident was picked up by the mainstream media and replayed over and over again. anonymous wants to frame the narrative of the occupy movement
2:15 am
as a contest between peaceful protesters and a militaryized police state. >> oh, my gosh. >> reporter: reality, though, isn't quite so clear cut. at occupy oakland, some protesters attacked the police with rocks and bottles. others erupted in a fury after the city tore down their encampment. things are getting a little heated. some people are trying to tear down this fence and head into the main area, but others are trying to keep them quiet and calm so the police don't have to get reinvolved. >> we feed some more help here. >> we're not violent! >> are you [ bleep ]ing willing to fight us but not the police? >> reporter: the anonymous pr machine focused solely on instances where the cops got out of line. >> medic! >> reporter: and they have plenty of ammunition. >> what happened?! what happened?! >> she got shot! >> reporter: during one night of chaos, police apparently fired a
2:16 am
projectile directly at a former marine named scott olsen, who was peacefully protesting against the crackdown. anonymous went into overdrive. >> i hereby declare this to be an unlawful assembly. >> reporter: scanning the video for police badge numbers and names, offering a reward for anyone who could identify the officer responsible. the case is still under investigation. the department of homeland security has put out several alerts to law enforcement and corporate security focused mainly on the group's hacking activities. and the fbi has made more than a dozen arrests. >> we are living in a police state. >> reporter: but there's no indication that has cramped anonymous' style. their latest op -- >> merry christmas and a happy new year to all on planet earth. >> reporter: on christmas day, members crashed the website of a security research company, hacking its client list along with their credit card numbers
2:17 am
in order to steal $1 million for donations to charity. >> we are anonymous. expect us. >> and our correspondent, amber lyon, now joins us here in studio. a little frightening. >> yeah, a little bit. >> especially for law enforcement, in many aspects. >> i've got to ask you, what if they get it wrong? what if they put up some personal information that is inaccurate. do they have any accountability? >> there's very little accountability. because of the way anonymous is organized, anyone can claim to be "anonymous." there's also a lot of extreme outliers, and law enforcement is intimidated by anonymous. we tried to get an interview with anyone, federally or locally, and they refused to send an officer forward, kind of to the chopping block, because they feared if this officer became on camera, they could become a target of anonymous. >> amber, thank you so much. coming up, is it possible that schools could be making your child sick? my investigation reveals there's a hidden problem all around the country and it's one that kids
2:18 am
can't avoid. you know when i grow up, i'm going to own my own restaurant. i want to be a volunteer firefighter. when i grow up, i want to write a novel. i want to go on a road trip. when i grow up, i'm going to go there. i want to fix up old houses. [ female announcer ] at aarp we believe you're never done growing. i want to fall in love again. [ female announcer ] discover what's next in your life. get this free travel bag when you join at no, i wouldn't use that single miles credit card. nice ring. knock it off. ignore him. with the capital one venture card you earn... double miles on every purchase. [ sharon ] 3d is so real larry.
2:19 am
i'm right here larry. if you're not earning double miles... you're settling for half. really? a plaid tie? what, are we in prep school? [ male announcer ] get the venture card at and earn double miles on every purchase every day. what's in your wallet? i was gonna say that. uh huh...
2:20 am
2:21 am
the parents at public school 51 in the bronx, they thought they had won the jackpot. their children won the lottery to get coveted spots in one of new york's best public elementary schools. but they found out the school had a problem. it wasn't the teachers or the test scores or even the other kids. the problem was the building. it's toxic. that's right. it wasn't safe for the children. and ps 51 isn't alone. in fact, as part of my ongoing reporting on toxic towns, our investigation found that all over the country, children are going to schools that can make them sick. our first stop was ps-51. >> i need your lunch bag. >> okay. >> reporter: marisol krarra is help, her son, brandon, get ready for the first day of school. brandon seems excited. but marisol, well, she seems nervous.
2:22 am
>> i'll do this. >> reporter: this is more than just a case of first-day jitters. >> i cannot wait to get to school! >> reporter: in august, just weeks before school started, marisol saw this emergency meeting notice taped to brandon's school. p.s. 51 in the bronx. that night, marisol joined an auditorium packed with worried parents. chancellor dennis walcott opened the meeting with a dramatic statement. >> first, i want to start out by apologizing by all of you. >> reporter: and he followed the apology with disturbing news. >> we decided to do environmental reviews. your school came with a result that we were not satisfied, with an elevated level of tce. >> reporter: tce or tricolor ethylene a carcinogen. tests at ps 51 showed tce levels at a hundred times worse than
2:23 am
what's considered safe. >> based on the final confirmation, we thought we needed to shut the building down. >> reporter: parents are upset. >> you are using euphemisms. you're trying to be nice. that was a building that was storing chemicals that were cancer-causing agents. and because of the vicinity and the children that are involved, you didn't care. >> and you guys, board of ed. , first allowed it to be used as a school for our children. i think it's so inappropriate. >> reporter: but the parents were even more upset that the department of education discovered the contamination in january, yet parents weren't told. and their children were kept in class through the end of the year. >> i voiced my displeasure with our folks and myself as far as the timeliness of that notification. and from this point on, when wherever we get a positive notification around some type of environmental issue, the parent
2:24 am
community, the staff, and the school community will be notified immediately. >> reporter: i met marisol outside that contaminated school. so the staff, the kids, all the people who are essentially in this building, a good chunk of their days, knew nothing about this? >> nope. the chancellor said he was sorry. >> how worried are you? >> very worried. this is the school right here. >> reporter: marisol says even brandon, who's normally upbeat, is worried. do you like this new building? >> mm-hmm. >> do you know why you're in the new building? >> yeah, because it was closed down because of tce, a chemical. >> you know all of that. what do you know of tce? >> well, it's a cancer-causing chemical. >> reporter: we wanted to ask chancellor walcott why they didn't tell parents about the toxic chemical in the school until months after they knew about it. but after constant requests for an interview, his office refused to talk with cnn.
2:25 am
>> for the sheer callousness and recklessness of the behavior towards kids, this is as bad as i've ever seen. >> reporter: lawyer sean collins has won a number of tce contamination suits for communities around the country. >> the people who ran this school and their environmental consultants knew for at least six months that there were dangerous levels, in some cases off-the-charts levels of chemicals in the air that these kids were breathing, and yet they let those kids go there day-in and day-out, every day for the rest of a semester. unconscionable. >> reporter: collins says the building should never have been a school. >> it's an old industrial site, not a place to have kids going to school. >> reporter: new york city records show p.s. 51 did house a car garage and a lamp factory. tce once used to degrease metal could have been leftover waste. many schools around the country
2:26 am
are built on old industrial sites, according to lenny siegel, who digs up the past of toxic schools. >> we don't consider contamination before we decide where to put the school. and particularly in new york city, where they have so many leased -- schools on leased properties, most of which are former industrial sites, or at least many of which -- i don't know the exact number -- they had a policy of not looking for problems. >> reporter: siegel believes that ground and water testing should be mandatory. he also says p.s. 51 was probably always problematic. just weeks before brandon and the other p.s. 51 kids started at their new school, parents were hit with more unsettling news. tests revealed slightly elevated levels of a common but toxic dry cleaning chemical, pce. >> and what's going to happen to our children? >> reporter: parents showed up at another meeting in october to confront the chancellor. >> i first have to say, dennis walcott, how dare you. >> how dare you!
2:27 am
>> reporter: the chancellor dismissed the test results at the new school as insignificant. >> there was an open container, so once that was corrected with, the levels came back down and it was fine. >> reporter: but parents like marisol no longer trust the school system. what are you going to do? what's the plan? >> we're just going to watch him consistently. any little thing that he gets is going to be an alarm for me. he's 8 years old and it's scary that i have to see what's going to happen with him. i prey that nothing's going to come of this. but you just don't know. >> reporter: when we come back >> about a third of our schools have some kind of problem that causes repstory problems in children. it is horrific! i wouldn't do that. pay the check?
2:28 am
no, i wouldn't use that single miles credit card. hey, aren't you... shhh. i'm researching a role. today's special... the capital one venture card. you earn double miles on every purchase. impressive. chalk is a lost medium. if you're not earning double miles... you're settling for half. was that really necessary? [ male announcer ] get the venture card at and earn double miles on every purchase every day. what's in your wallet? cover for me. i have an audition.
2:29 am
2:30 am
we now return to "cnn presents" with brooke baldwin and dr. sanjay gupta.
2:31 am
>> many schools still sit on those old industrial sites. >> but my investigation also found the problem goes far beyond toxic chemicals. the best estimates are that one third of our public schools have air quality that can cause respiratory problems in our children. >> and people may not realize, but our kids actually spend half of their waking day in school, but there are no air quality standards for classrooms in the united states. >> it's quite shocking. so on the second part of my investigation, we found schools that are literally making children sick. >> reporter: in picturesque winstead, connecticut, a new england town, a typical school day at hinsdale elementary. but one-fourth grader, matthew aslin, won't be there this morning or any other morning.
2:32 am
matthew's mother is home-schooling her son this year. >> when he was out of school, he was well, and when he was in school, he became ill. last year was by far his worst year. he missed more than 50 days of school. >> mold at hinsdale, she said, was making her son sick. >> this bag represents most of the medications that matthew was on last year. this is zopanax, he was given this. when he left school, he needs none of this. >> this is actually a zero. >> reporter: alexandria's parents pulled her from hinsdale this fall after a persistent cough wouldn't go away. that was a tough decision, because her father, paul, was on the school board at the time. >> she was put on a nebulizer, steroids, and another medication.
2:33 am
since she's been home-schooled, she hasn't been on any of it. >> reporter: the school district spent $16,000 this fall to get rid of the mold at hinsdale. and the board is now trying to decide whether to close the school temporarily to replace a leaky roof and make other repairs. only about 20 to 30% of the population is susceptible to in-door air problems like mold or dust, but for those who are, the symptoms get increasingly severe. in fairfield, connecticut, so many students and teachers were getting sick with respiratory problems that officials decided to tear down mckinley elementary and start from scratch. the school was riddled with mold. >> i started to get sick the second year went they put me in the basement classroom. >> reporter: mckinley's special ed teacher, joe ella lawson, taught for 28 years before she became permanently disabled with a chronic lung decision.
2:34 am
>> there are three levels, mild, moderate, and severe. because i've lost 50% of my lung capacity, i've considered a moderate cobd person. i've never had a pain-free day since then. i have chronic pain and muscle spasms. >> reporter: you can see another source of pain for jo ellen if you ask her if she misses teaching. >> that's a really loaded question for someone who's been forced to leave their profession when they didn't want to. i'm sorry. >> reporter: if you think connecticut is somehow unique, consider this. a 2010 survey of school nurses nationally found 40% knew of children and staff sickened by their school environment. and not all school districts have the money to fix the problem. here at southern middle school in reading, pennsylvania, concerns about air quality
2:35 am
closed the basement gym. and mold is visible in the computer lab. >> and we see some colonies, there's probably two or three different kinds of mold there. and take a look upstairs. >> when it rains heavily, the water actually rains into the room. what we do is we take buckets and these trash cans and we collect the water. >> it's raining outside and inside. >> reporter: a teacher shot this video. what about mold? >> one of the residual effects to the water would be mold, certainly. >> reporter: drew miles is acting superintendent of reading schools. he's seen the video and he says there's no money to replace that roof. >> the buildings continue to deteriorate, and we only have a small amount of dollars to spread to do just some minimal things like new roofing. >> there are some people who would say this would never
2:36 am
happen in my school. >> reporter: lily of the national education association, which is the largest teachers' union, agreed to meet me in reading, pennsylvania. how big a problem would you say indoor air quality is in the schools to a student's health? >> right now the last estimates said about a third of our schools, about a third of our schools have some kind of problem that causes respiratory problems in children. >> that's remarkable. >> it's horrific! >> a third. >> it is horrific. >> would you send your kid to this school? >> to this school? would i send my child to this school? for the quality of education that i believe that these teachers can provide and the principal will demand, yes. from a facilities standpoint, if i had another option, i would exercise it. >> you're the the superintendent. people are going to be
2:37 am
surprised, because, i mean, you're the guy who they're going to say, look, make it the school that you want to send your own kid to. >> mm-hmm. >> but you can't do that. >> i can't with the financial means that i have now. >> i know the solution to this! and it costs money. and this is -- it's the right thing to do to give these schools the money they need so that kids have a healthy place to learn. >> sanjay, that is stunning to hear that superintendent say he wouldn't even send his own child to the school. and it's something -- it's this the this intangible. we're talking about air. i didn't realize that a third of schools have air that's unhealthy. for parents who are watching who don't even realize this, is there anything that they can look for? >> i think about this all the time, as you might imagine. >> with little ones. >> yeah, with little ones myself. there are some things, visiting your kids' school, looking for simple cleanliness. there are sometimes inspectors that come do that and you can ask for those records. looking for obvious things like mold, which can be a significant
2:38 am
problem in terms of people who are susceptible to it. but also this idea of buses and cars idling for a long time in front of a school, that wasn't obvious to me, but exhaust fumes get into the school. >> makes sense. >> that can be a problem. another thing is clusters of kids, a lot of kids in your class suddenly have headaches or asthma, that's a warning sign for parents as well. >> thanks, sanjay. up next, a stunning scene in an investigation reveals doctors cheating on medical exams. i was having trouble getting out of bed in the morning because my back hurt so bad. the sleep number bed conforms to you. i wake up in the morning with no back pain. i can adjust it if i need to...if my back's a little more sore. and by the time i get up in the morning, i feel great! if you have back pain, toss and turn at night or
2:39 am
wake up tired with no energy, the sleep number bed could be your solution. the sleep number bed's secret is it's air chambers which provide ideal support and put you in control of the firmness. and the bed is perfect for couples because each side adjusts independently to their unique sleep number. here's what clinical research has found: 93% of participants experienced back-pain relief. 90% reported reduced aches and pains. 87% fell asleep faster and enjoyed more deep sleep. for study summaries, call this number now. we'll include a free dvd and brochure about the sleep number bed including prices, and models plus a free $50 savings card. and how about this? steel springs can cause uncomfortable pressure points. but the sleep number bed contours to your body. imagine how good you'll feel when your muscles relax and you fall into a deep sleep! i'm not just a back surgeon, i'm also a back patient.
2:40 am
i sleep on the sleep number bed myself and i highly recommend it to all of my patients. need another reason to call? the sleep number bed costs about the same as an innerspring but lasts twice as long. so if you want to sleep better or find relief for your bad back, call now. call the number on your screen for your free information kit with dvd, brochure and price list. call right now and you'll also receive a $50 savings card just for inquiring about the sleep number bed. ask about our risk-free 30-night in-home trial. call now for your free information kit and a free $50 savings card. call now! welcome. i understand you need a little help with your mortgage, want to avoid foreclosure. smart move. candy? um-- well, you know, you're in luck. we're experts in this sort of thing, mortgage rigamarole, whatnot.
2:41 am
r-really? absolutely, and we guarantee results, you know, for a small fee, of course. such are the benefits of having a professional on your side. [whistles, chuckles] why don't we get a contract? who wants a contract? [honks horn] [circus music plays] here you go, pete. thanks, betty. we're out of toner. [circus music plays] sign it. come on. sign it. [honks horn] around the country. every single day, saving homes. we will talk it over... announcer: if you're facing foreclosure, make sure you're talking to the right people. speak with hud-approved housing counselors free of charge at...
2:42 am
it's a critical specialty in medicine. radiology. these are the doctors who examine x-rays and other imaging to diagnose if you have a serious disease. to get board certified, radiologists must pass a series of tests during their residency. but a cnn investigation has found many of those doctors have taken shortcuts along the way by getting examine questions from doctors who had taken the test before. and you know, this has been going on for a long time. there's even a name for it. recalls, because the doctors memorize the questions and then they write them down. and now a national crackdown is under way by the group that certifies radiologists, which calls the practice downright cheating. drew griffin reports. >> this is absolute, definitive cheating. >> reporter: dr. matthew webb is a 31-year-old army doctor accepted into one of the
2:43 am
military's largest medical residency programs. a san antonio, texas-based complex that includes the renowned brook army medical center, where webb trained as a resident. but it wasn't long before he was stunned to learn an open secret about most of his fellow doctors. they were, he says, cheating to pass medical exams. >> it wasn't until i took my physics exam that i found out that the way the residents were studying for the exam was to actually study from verbatim recalled back tests that had been performed by prior residents. >> reporter: to become certified by the american board of radiology, or abr, doctors must pass two written exams and an oral exam. webb says he took that first exam in the fall of 2008 and two his surprise, he failed the first test, which focuses on physics. he said he went to the director
2:44 am
of the radiology program at the time. >> he told me that, if you want to pass the abr physics exam, you absolutely have to use the recalls. and i told him, sir, i believe that's cheating. i don't believe in doing that. i can do it on my own. he then went on to tell me, you have to use the recalls. almost as if it was a direct order. >> reporter: and an order easily fulfilled. webb found the recalls, the tests almost verbatim, on the military's website for the radiology residents. cnn has obtained all of these tests, at least 15 years' of recalls, stored on a shared military computer server. the test questions, the answers, even presented as a powerpoint. cultivated from years of residents taking tests, recalling the questions, and adding them to what appears to be an ever-growing database.
2:45 am
a glorified cheat sheet. >> residents knew about the recalls, the program directors knew about the recalls. a large portion of people were using them and it was just accepted. >> reporter: that bothered webb. not only was this cheating, this was the army. but he says his supervisors in uniform didn't seem to care. so webb took his complaint of cheating to the very board that certifies radiologists. dr. gary becker is the american board of radiology's executive director. >> we've heard about these, you know, recall, memories come out of the test, write down 20 questions here, you take the next 20 questions. they almost seem like well-organized schemes to skirt the very certification you're trying to ensure. >> i don't think we know how well organized they are. i mean, we have inferential evidence. >> isn't it cheating? >> we would call it cheating. and our exam security policy would call it cheating, yes. >> reporter: and now for the first time in more than ten years, the board is revamping its entire testing procedures,
2:46 am
at the same time, cracking down, because so many certified radiologists may have gained their certification, at least partially, because it was so easy to cheat. right now, about half of the written test questions are the same every year. >> we take it seriously. because when we put the stamp of certification on an individual, that means that the public has trusted us to do so. >> and from any of the investigations or inquiries you've done, you don't really have a sense of how long it's been going on? >> no. it's been going on a long time, i know. i can't give you a date. >> because this goes right to the heart of the value of the certification. >> this is exactly what it's all about. >> we showed becker copies of the recall exams from the military's san antonio program. >> we're outraged by this. and we took this case to our professionalism committee. the result of the deliberations there and the decision of the board was to go directly back to
2:47 am
the training director, the dean of the institution, and we've had those discussions. >> reporter: he acknowledged the the recalls were very close to the actual test. in fact, i think you even have them sign a statement that they know that this material is copy righted. >> that's correct. that's where the illegal comes in. that's exactly right. >> so it would be a crime? >> it would be a crime. >> reporter: despite repeated requests, the military refused to answer our questions on camera. it did send us a statement acknowledging residents shared exam questions ithe past and it does not encourage or condone cheating of any kind. the military also admitted some faculty members and program directors were aware of the use of recalled examination questions by residents. in fact, the military admits a smaller number of faculty and a past program leader encouraged the use of recall questions, as one of several tools to improve medical knowledge and prepare for the exam.
2:48 am
the military now says the recall exams have been removed from its computers and residents must sign this statement that they won't use them. but has the damage already been done dr. webb, the complaint, he says to find out some of these physicians don't have the knowledge but are still able to get through by cheating, it's despicable. do you agree with it? >> i agree. i agree. now, i can say, we don't have anymore information on other programs. we haven't heard similar reports from other residents, but if and when we ever hear of any, we're going to track them down. >> reporter: we wanted to find out just how widespread the the use of recalls really is. so we figured we'd come here to chicago, to the largest medical convention in the united states. 60,000 strong, the radiological
2:49 am
place of north america is the place to show off new technologies, new techniques,
2:50 am
♪ sing polly wolly doodle all the day ♪
2:51 am
♪ hah
2:52 am
2:53 am
> cnn investigation reveals that radiology residents at a well-known military program used what are known as recalled test questions for years, just to prepare for a critical exam. >> now, the executive director of the american board of radiology calls this cheating. but as we've learned as well, it doesn't stop there. the question is, how widespread is the cheating and what do doctors have to say about it? drew griffin investigates. >> reporter: if you want to find out just how why spread the cheating is on radiology exams, there is no better place than chicago's mccormack place in late november. for most of the last 36 years, radiologists from across the world have been gathering here for the largest medical convention in the united states. 60,000 strong, the radiological place of north america is the place to show off new technologies, new techniques, and to find out than old, bad, and almost illegal practice has
2:54 am
been going on for years. dr. kay lazano, a practicing radiologist for seven years, says she never used recalls, but admits they were easy to find. >> i didn't know a person who didn't have access to those. but it was -- it was -- i think part of it's how you use it. >> reporter: residents here told us off-camera, recall use is widespread. not just at the army program in san antonio, but at programs across the country, including prestigious ones, like harvard's teaching hospital, massachusetts's general. the chief of radiology there said he didn't know personally of anyone using recalls, but also says, we did not officially sanction or organize the recalls. was using recalls cheating? >> i think when something's so widespread, it feels less like
2:55 am
it's cheating. >> reporter: how it works is simple and a long-standing practice. residents take the american board of radiology's certification test and immediately upon finishing write down a portion of the test they are responsible to recall. >> people decide beforehand what sections will i focus on in terms of trying to recall those questions and answers? and then immediately after the question -- after the examination, the residents get together and try to put these down on to paper or on word processor to be able to, you know, share it with the classes coming behind you. >> reporter: dr. john yoo says residency programs even share their recalls, helping each other build as close to a copied test as possible. yoo says it's not exactly cheating, especially when passing the test, getting certified, could mean the difference between getting a job and being unemployed.
2:56 am
>> it's sort of out of necessity to pass those examinations that you have to rely on the recalls. >> reporter: yoo, lozano and dr. dever says residents have used the the recalls primarily as guides to help narrow down topics most likely to be covered on the exam. and dever says the radiology test is almost impossible to pass without the recall exams, because many of the questions are obscure, irrelevant facts. >> we've known people who have tried to study just out of the books, and people don't pass that way. >> nonsense, says dr. gary becker, executive director of the american board of radiology, or abr. >> there are people who say that, because they say, well, the abr writes arcane questions or random medical facts. well, obviously, we don't believe that. >> reporter: board officials insist there's no reason to believe that the widespread use of the recalls has led to unqualified doctors since they
2:57 am
still must pass a rigorous oral exam. >> but these are doctors. >> i know. >> medical doctors, and it seems like this should be and is a higher standard. >> and i agree with you. and that's why the abr does not want to tolerate this behavior. >> do you think it's a big deal? >> yeah, i think it's a big deal and i think recalls are cheating and it's inappropriate and the abr isn't going to tolerate it. >> reporter: that may be so. but residency program directors like dr. king lee, who doesn't endorse the use of recalls, says it's been going on for so long, it's difficult to stop. and any resident who speaks out may find few friends come test day. >> so if a particular trainee is not willing to use recalls to help them pass exam and a coach of that particular training program is that everyone does it, then that particular person can be singled out as a social outcast.
2:58 am
>> reporter: which brings us back to dr. matthew webb, who tells us that's exactly what happened to him. he says he's been shunned by fellow residents. and he was fired from the radiology program after something unrelated to the recalls. he was reprimanded by the army for making sexual comments to another doctor, and for other conduct unbecoming an officer. webb calls it a personality dispute that escalated. now the army has other plans for dr. webb, as this story was being prepared, he says the army called him in and grilled him on why he spoke to cnn. while he remains an army doctor, he does fear his military career is in jeopardy. >> an absolutely fascinating investigation. lets of questions it raises and drew griffin joins us in studio now. >> here's my question, what is the army saying about webb's claim that they just wanted to get rid of him?
2:59 am
>> the army flatly denies they retaliated against this guy for speaking out about this. but as far as dr. webb is concerned, we've got a document, an army document that basically said, look, this guy was a remarkably talented resident, that's their quote, who demonstrated conduct unbecoming an officer. i think what they're saying is he's a good doctor, maybe not a good soldier. he did have the right to speak out, says the army, but they wanted to be notified in advance. >> did you get an idea of how often this occurs in other medical specialties? this test sharing? >> we only found hard evidence with the american board of internal medicine. they suspended 139 doctors back in 2010 who they found were leaving the test exam and going to a test exam company and helping that company to generate a recall exam. the director there told us that this was a brain dumping, a case of brain dumping, called it grows grossly unethical and says


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on