Scott Bronstein, Amber Lyon and Alexandra Poolos
Newark, New Jersey (CNN) - They arrived in the United States from West Africa, young girls held against their will and forced to work for hours on end. This didn't happen hundreds of years ago.
Nicole's journey started in 2002, when she was barely 12, in her small village in western Ghana. She and about 20 other girls were held in plain sight, but always under the watchful eyes of their captors.
Related: Surviving slavery
"It was like being trapped, like being in a cage," said "Nicole," now 19. CNN agreed not to use her real name.
"I always have to behave, behave, behave, behave. No freedom at all."
The girls' families sent them to the United States after being assured they would receive a better education. But once they arrived, they were forced to work in hair braiding shops across the Newark area - just a short drive from New York City, right in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.
The girls, who are now young women, have never spoken publicly before, until now.
America's top military leaders tell lawmakers why don't ask don't tell should be repealed. They take on tough questions about why, why now, and why their landmark study didn't ask U.S. troops directly if they want to see the rule lifted. You hear both sides, in their own powerful words. We're keeping them honest. Plus, modern day slavery hiding in plain sight right here in the U.S.
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AC360° Digital Producer
Editor's note: To watch Sen. Lieberman discuss "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" click here.
(CNN) – A longtime personal friend and political ally of Sen. John McCain implied Thursday that the former GOP presidential nominee is moving the goalposts when it comes to his support for repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
McCain’s past comments suggested he might support repeal of the federal law that prevents gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the U.S. military if a repeal was supported by military leadership. But the Arizona Republican has recently taken issue with results of a Pentagon survey of troops that supports a repeal and with the positions of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen, both of whom also support a repeal.
Asked about McCain’s position, Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, said in an interview that airs Thursday night on Anderson Cooper 360° that he disagrees with his longtime friend who, he said, appears to be changing his standards for supporting a repeal of the controversial law.
“John is my good friend,” Lieberman told CNN’s Anderson Cooper, “but I disagree with him on this. The tapes you’ve played [of McCain’s past and recent comments] suggest changing standards here.”
CNN Wire Staff
Washington (CNN) - The House of Representatives censured veteran New York Rep. Charlie Rangel on Thursday - a stunning downfall for a congressman once considered one of the most powerful members of Congress.
The 333-79 vote required Rangel to stand in the well of the House as a formal censure resolution was read aloud by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California.
The House ethics committee recently recently found the 20-term Harlem Democrat guilty on 11 counts of violating House rules, including failing to pay taxes on a vacation home in the Dominican Republic and improperly using his office to raise money for an educational center bearing his name.
On November 18, the committee voted 9-1 to recommend that the House censure Rangel and that he pay restitution for any unpaid taxes. The committee's rules require that its report be presented to the House for a vote.
Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, smiles while posing with Sen. Arlen Specter (not in photo), D-Pennsylvania, and Rep. Joe Barton, left, R-Texas, after settling their World Series wagers December 2, 2010 in Pelosi's office at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. (Photo credit: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.
Update: Beat 360° Winners:
“I express emotions with my hands. Since I can no longer do it with my forehead."
Mary Louise, Little Falls, NJ
“Watch this kids! Whenever I pull my tie, my tongue comes out, and her hands go up."
AC360° Editorial Producer
Editor's Note: For more on this story, don't miss a special "AC360°" series, "American Slaves: Hiding in Plain Sight," tonight at 10 ET on CNN.
(CNN) - It all started with a random phone call early last summer.
Bridgette Carr, a leading attorney on trafficking cases, and I had worked together previously, and I wanted to see whether she was working on any interesting cases. Experts like Carr say that there are more slaves now than ever before. Worldwide, currently there are an estimated 12.3 million people enslaved. But last year, across the globe, only some 49,000 were rescued.
Carr hesitated for a moment on the phone before describing a case that involved dozens of young girls enslaved in Newark hair braiding salons that had taken three years to prosecute. Like many attorneys and activists who work with slavery victims, Carr is extremely protective of her clients. But she felt it was important to see how interested they might be in talking with AC360°.
Related: Held as slaves, now free
The response was startling. Two of the girls, who chose not to reveal their real names, said they wanted to talk, as long as we could protect their identities and locations. The young women were very clear about their reasons for talking: Both felt it was important for Americans to know that slavery is happening in front of their very eyes.
CNN Wire Staff
London, England (CNN) - British police asked Swedish authorities Thursday for additional details not specified in an initial arrest warrant for Julian Assange, a possible indication that the location of the elusive founder of WikiLeaks is known.
The fact that British police are seeking more information probably means there is a procedural problem preventing them from arresting Assange, said an U.S. expert on extradition. The additional details could provide them with a valid warrant.
"They either know where he is or they have been watching him," said Douglas McNabb, a lawyer who specializes in federal criminal defense law and extradition cases. "There's some legal problem there."
Assange is wanted in Sweden for sex-crime allegations that are not related to WikiLeaks. Meanwhile, the website continued publishing confidential diplomatic information that has been stirring up all corners of the world.
Assange, who has said he has long feared retribution for his website's disclosures, has denied the sex-crime allegations, calling them a smear campaign.
Despite the warrant and an Interpol red notice, akin to an all-points bulletin, Assange has so far eluded arrest, making him one of the world's most wanted fugitives.
CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - Now is not the time to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the U.S. armed forces, Sen. John McCain said at a hearing Thursday.
"At this time, we should be inherently cautious about making any changes that would affect our military, and what changes we do make should be the product of careful and deliberate consideration," the Arizona Republican said at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
His position is not that the law should never be changed, he said, but that "it may be premature to make such a change at this time and in this manner."
In contrast, Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged that the repeal be signed into law as soon as possible, to avoid the issue being taken up again by the judiciary, where a repeal of the ban could be ordered immediately, rather than on the military's timetable. A judicial fiat would be "hazardous," he added.
"This can be done, and should be done," Gates said of the policy change.
CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - The White House tapped a career counterterrorism official Wednesday to oversee government-wide efforts to fix security gaps in light of the WikiLeaks publication of classified documents.
The appointment of Russell Travers as senior adviser for information access and security policy, along with other actions detailed in a "fact sheet" released by the White House press office, weren't enough to satisfy the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, who said he doesn't "sense an urgency" to close the security gaps.
Travers has been deputy director of the National Counter-Terrorism Center since 2003 and spent the rest of his 30-plus-year career working for such intelligence agencies as the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency.
In the new position, Travers' tasks will include advising the president's national security staff of recommendations, actions and other measures related to WikiLeaks' ability to obtain government documents. He is also to study how such information is handled at high levels and develop options for any technological or policy changes necessary to prevent further leaks.
Additionally, the President's Intelligence Advisory Board has been directed to parse the administration's processes for dealing with classified information, with an eye toward its effectiveness at protecting such information while balancing the need to share information with the need to secure it.
The Office of Management and Budget has directed all agencies and departments that handle classified information to conduct extensive reviews of their procedures and policies.
The secretaries of state and defense, Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates, respectively, have commissioned reviews of security procedures in their departments, the White House statement says. And the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is also working across the government to assist in security reviews.
But Rep. Pete Hoekstra slammed the administration Wednesday, saying the government is not moving fast enough.
"I still don't sense an urgency to fix the problem," said Hoekstra, R-Michigan.
Tom Foreman | BIO
Reporter's Note: Every single day since Barack Obama took office I have written a letter to him. As you can see, that’s a lot of letters…
Dear Mr. President,
It is late as I write this and I am feeling oddly melancholy. Not sure why. I have been running a good bit more than usual and I’ve dramatically cut back on caffeine lately, so maybe I’m just dealing with the initial fatigue that comes from such a change. But who knows?
We’ve been working relentlessly on our All the Best, All the Worst of 2010 show and it is looking pretty good. We’re going with a diner theme and the graphics are excellent. (We TV folks get worked up over such things. Mention ‘fonts’ and we can go on for hours!) Our panelists are smart, and I’m happy with the script I’ve written. Or maybe I should say “the script I am writing.” These things are always a work in process.