Guest: Larry Kaye, Jack Hickey, Adriana Gardella, John Loftus, Michael
Rectenwald, Robert Maginnis, Brian Hart
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Right now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, did a Pentagon cover-up kill hundreds of Marines in Iraq? A shocking secret report from the Pentagon says that as many as 80 percent of the Marines killed in Iraq from wounds to the upper body could have been saved if they had been wearing extra body armor. Why was a secret Pentagon study that was focused on saving lives buried for two years? We're going to get at it tonight's in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY showdown.
Then, Harry Belafonte calls the president the world's number-one terrorist. And this guy is the face of that U.N. outfit UNICEF. So why are Americans shelling out $260 million money to Belafonte's international organization? We will talk about it.
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, no passport required, only common sense allowed.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, thanks so much for being with me tonight. We are going to get to those stories in a minute.
Plus, new information tonight on the mystery of the groom on the cruise ship. Now two eyewitnesses say the newly married couple had an ugly public fight the night the groom vanished. Could it be significant or just a smokescreen from the cruise line?
Then, the mouse that roared, a SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY story that has a lot of people talking tonight. Did a mouse really burn down this house? It sounds like a Dr. Seuss story. We will get to it later in the show.
But first, are American troops dying in Iraq because they don't have the right body armor to protect them? That is the subject of a secret Pentagon report revealed in Saturday's “New York Times” that studied 93 Marines who died in Iraq from upper body wounds. The study found that 80 percent of those brave Marines might be alive today if they had had more body armor.
For the first two years of the war, American troops were issued only enough body armor to cover the upper chest and the back. Look at how much of the upper body is not protected. Now, in this Pentagon study, 15 percent of Marines died from lethal wounds to their shoulders; 42 percent died from wounds above, under, or next to the armor plate. And 23 percent died from wounds to the side of the torso, where there's no protection.
But now we're learning that the body armor that could protect the troops had been available for two years. A lot of people tonight are asking, why weren't they getting it and why was this study buried for at least two years?
Here to talk about that is Brian Hart. Now, Brian's son, John, was killed in Iraq in October of 2003. And he complained repeatedly to his father about the body armor he had been issued. Also with us is Lieutenant Colonel Robert Maginnis. He's retired of the United States Army.
Mr. Hart, let me begin with you.
And I have just got ask you the tough question. Is your son dead tonight because the Pentagon didn't provide him with the type of armor that he needed?
BRIAN HART, SON KILLED IN IRAQ: Well, I think the answer is, no. He was shot in the neck. He would have benefited from an armored vehicle or a gun shield. But in his case, it's questionable whether the neck protection that was available on the body armor would have done the job.
SCARBOROUGH: Talk about the complaints he had about the body armor that was issued to him and other troop members. I understand that there were a lot of tradeoffs. They were looking for scraps. They just were not given the type of armor they needed.
HART: Well, when he went into Iraq in July 2003, with the 173rd Airborne, he was not issued plates. They had run out. He arrived in Iraq and was issued ones that were misfit.
And basically, they hot-swapped. The reason I know that he had body armor on when he was killed was because he had swapped it with someone who was not on the base.
SCARBOROUGH: And why was it necessary for him to swap it?
HART: Well, it turns out that at least a third of the soldiers in Iraq did not have the “sappy plates.”
SCARBOROUGH: Let me bring in Lieutenant Colonel Maginnis.
This report says that 80 percent of our Marines may have been saved from upper torso wounds if they had the right type of plates. What do you make of this Pentagon report? And why don't you think that those type of plates should be used?
COLONEL ROBERT MAGINNIS (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Well, the types of plates that are used, the ceramic plates, Joe, are ballistic plates. And they have different characteristics that we can't describe here.
But I looked at the study that is on the Web site at least and the 93 cases. Of course, you gave the statistics and the breakdown. Interesting that they recommend larger plates, ceramic pads for the shoulders, ceramic pads for sides. That is putting a lot more weight on the young soldiers.
And when you ask the soldiers on the ground—now, I have been there twice, Joe. I was there in 2003. They didn't issue me protective gear at that point. But, this past fall, when I was there, I did have the Kevlar, as well as the body armor. And every soldier now over there obviously has it. We have learned a lot, clearly in three years.
But the study is not, it's not done in a laboratory. The reality is that we're fighting a real war. And, unfortunately, if you burden soldiers down with every piece of protective armor that we would like to, they wouldn't be able to move in the irregular warfare that we're fighting; they would in fact probably endanger themselves based on what the soldiers are telling us far more than otherwise.
HART: That's not what the Marine study concluded, though.
It concluded that they needed to supplement an add to the armor. And for 260 bucks, they could have added the side plating necessary to protect 300 dead Marines. Those men needed that equipment.
MAGINNIS: You can put side plating on. There's no question you can put side plating on.
It limits your mobility. And that's the point. As an infantrymen, I spent 24 years as an infantryman, so I have some credibility there. And I understand how difficult it is to take a town or a house. And you are constantly moving back and forth; speed, agility, perseverance are absolutely critical here.
And unfortunately if you overburden our people with that type of equipment, often, you are going to cause them not only to get in trouble, but perhaps to getting wounded or killed even faster.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on one second. And I will let you get back in, in a second, Mr. Hart.
SCARBOROUGH: But if you look at this story, if you look at what's been unfolding, it says here that Marine commanders in the field have decided after looking at the studies that they are willing to give up a little flexibility to save lives, because they have decided, these Marine commanders, again, on the ground in Iraq, have decided that they can save a lot of their comrades' lives if they give them body armor, Colonel. We can't second-guess the commanders in the field, can we?
MAGINNIS: Oh, I agree, Joe. Yes. And we're learning things all the time, Joe.
MAGINNIS: That's why we have up-armored the Humvees and the HETs and all the other vehicles over there.
We have learned as we are fighting this insurgency. They are, of course, adapting to us, too. And they are trying to find vulnerabilities. So, initially, these vulnerabilities were not there quite as prevalent.
And we learned quickly and we tried to adjust accordingly.
SCARBOROUGH: Mr. hart?
HART: Well, but here's the problem, sir.
If you have extra armor, you can take it off if you are dismounted.
But a great majority of the casualties now are occurring in vehicles. That's why shoulder protection is so important. They are being shot from the side.
And they are riding in vehicles much more than they were in, say, the Mekong Delta.
MAGINNIS: I agree.
HART: If I could also add, the Marines decided to add this additional armor, and they did the right thing. And I don't have a problem with them fielding imperfect armor to start with. But they sat on the results for two years and they didn't spend the stinking $107,000 to get the study published from the pathology labs to get this armor fixed.
HART: I mean, 300 dead Marines occurred because of this. And it needs to be fixed. These troops need the—they need the right damn equipment.
MAGINNIS: You're right.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second.
Colonel, listen. And I think this is the biggest problem for so many parents out there with dead Marines, dead soldiers. They are looking at it and they are saying, well, we're spending billions and billions of dollars on this war, a war that I support, a war I believe...
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second.
A war that I believe is just. But at the same time, for just a small amount of money, if they had started this in 2003, 2004, they could have saved a lot of lives.
MAGINNIS: Joe, I have ridden around there in a Humvee. I know what it's like.
And I certainly want to give the commander all the discretion possible. We need to give them the side armor and so forth. I'm talking about, when you are dismounted, like a lot of infantrymen are in the Sunni Triangle and Ramadi and Al Qaim And so forth. You're going house to house; if you have all that equipment on, it really does burden you down.
SCARBOROUGH: But, Colonel, give them the choice. They haven't been given the choice because they haven't had it.
MAGINNIS: Well, some of them have, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: A small amount have.
MAGINNIS: We are catching up.
I agree that perhaps we were not as aggressive early on, on this. We have learned lessons. And now the commanders are adjusting accordingly. War is, quite frankly, hell. And they are learning their lessons. It's unfortunate. I know some young people that have been killed over there as well, some friends of mine.
And, so, we have to learn as we're going along. Keep in mind, we're fighting in Afghanistan. You try to fight with all that equipment on at 10,000 feet, Joe, you are not going to do it.
SCARBOROUGH: It's all about options, though.
SCARBOROUGH: Obviously, in some situations, our troops should have the option of doing it. And again, the Marine—this isn't me talking. You have been there. I haven't yet. I want to get over there.
But the Marine commanders on the ground are saying, they need this body armor.
MAGINNIS: Well, they should have it then.
SCARBOROUGH: And, unfortunately, Mr. Hart, I have got to say, this is something I was complaining about a year-and-a-half ago. This is not like it snuck up on them. They have ordered 28,000 I guess new pieces of body armor, and started in September; only 2,000 have been delivered because there's such a back order. Are we going to be talking about this a year-and-a-half from now?
It's about priorities. It's not about the amount of money we are talking about. It's about the priorities. And the fact of the matter is, unless the public is aware of this problem and willing to do something about it, to press Congress, to press the National Guard.
SCARBOROUGH: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.
SCARBOROUGH: But hold on a second.
But George Bush, the president I voted for, was talking about John Kerry voting against body armor a year ago, and we still don't have the body armor over there a year later.
MAGINNIS: Joe, well, I hope you go over there in the summertime, when it's 130 degrees. You put on that 100 and so many pounds of weight.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, what about now? Our kids are being killed now.
MAGINNIS: Now is the difference.
If you are riding around on a Humvee, that's a different proposition.
And they certainly should do everything possible to give them enough armor. However, when you are on the ground like the most of those young infantrymen in the 101st or the Marine Corps—or the Marine task force out there, you have to give them the flexibility not to have to be burdened down, because you just physically can't do a lot of that.
SCARBOROUGH: And they can't have that flexibility if they don't have the protection.
HART: Exactly right.
SCARBOROUGH: I will give you the last word.
HART: Well, look, these are—these young men are not cannon fodder.
MAGINNIS: You're right.
HART: They deserve the best and they deserve it as fast as we can get it to them. Is that clear? And sitting on a study for two years is not accomplishing that objective.
MAGINNIS: It wasn't two years. It was only six months ago that study ended, the 30th of June, 2005. I have got the copy of the report.
HART: No. Sir, it ended that late because they didn't fund it for a year-and-a-half because they wouldn't pony up. I would have given them my death gratuity to give them the stinking $107,000...
HART: ... get that—that thing done.
MAGINNIS: The commanders are doing their absolute best in this environment. They are providing what they can.
HART: The commanders are doing a great job. It's the screw-ups at the Pentagon in procurement that are messing things up. It's procurement, sir. And you know it.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, gentlemen, thank you so much.
Brian, first of all, I want to thank you and your family for fighting the way you have. Your son, John, a great American hero. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Also, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Maginnis, thank you for coming here tonight and offering your side of the story. And thank you for your service to this country, too.
The bottom line is, friends, when I started writing my book back in I think it was the fall of 2003, I was complaining about misspent priorities, complaining, again, the fall of 2003, about how our troops weren't getting the type of body armor that they needed; 12 months later, the president of the United States got reelected by attacking John Kerry for voting against an $87 billion budget which included body armor.
Here we are, what, 15, 16 months later. We're still talking about how our troops are not getting the body armor that they need to protect their lives. And when you have Marines, an 80 percent figure thrown out there, that 80 percent of our Marines that have been killed over in Iraq with certain injuries would have been alive today if Congress had listened to parents and troops back in 2003, 2004, and 2005, my God, how long is it is it going to take for Washington to wake up and put our troops first?
It's unbelievable. I will tell you, we're going to stay on this. We're going to keep fighting the Pentagon and we're going to get the answers that you deserve, that our troops deserve and their families deserve.
Now, when we come back, he's best known as the man who sings calypso music. But now Harry Belafonte is calling the president of the United States the greatest terrorist in the world. But, friends, this is a lot more than another celebrity full of hot air—why this rant by this man is so over the line.
And, later, another twist in the honeymoon cruise mystery—what witnesses are saying about the couple's final night together. It sounds ugly. We will fill you in when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: He says George Bush is a terrorist. And get this. Our tax dollars are supporting his organization. Just what is the real deal with Harry Belafonte? We will have that story when we come back.
SCARBOROUGH: Entertainer Harry Belafonte is known for his “Banana Boat” song and for being the face of UNICEF. But is this man himself going bananas? Listen to what he had to say about President Bush this weekend in Venezuela.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARRY BELAFONTE, ENTERTAINER: And no matter what the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world, George W. Bush, says:
BELAFONTE: ... we are here to tell you, not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of the American people, millions, support your revolution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: So, what do you think about Harry Belafonte standing next to that guy and calling—in Venezuela, in Venezuela, calling our president a terrorist, a tyrant? Oh, by the way, Belafonte represents UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund. He's an ambassador there and American taxpayers gives that organization, you, that's you, by the way, more than $260 million each year going to Belafonte's organization.
Your congressmen and your senators give your money to Belafonte's organization, UNICEF. But here he is, going out of the country, attacking our commander in chief in a way that I think is despicable.
With us now to talk about Belafonte's words and what it means for his role at UNICEF, Michael Rectenwald, from citizens for a responsible government.
Michael, do you agree with Harry Belafonte that George W. Bush is a terrorist?
MICHAEL RECTENWALD, CITIZENS FOR LEGITIMATE GOVERNMENT: Well, Joe, Harry Belafonte is merely echoing what numerous leaders around the world have been saying about Bush.
SCARBOROUGH: What do you think?
RECTENWALD: What do I think?
SCARBOROUGH: Is he—is George Bush a terrorist?
RECTENWALD: Well, let's define terrorism.
If terrorism means unjustified aggression, illegal wars and torture, international torture, yes, then indeed George Bush is a terrorist.
SCARBOROUGH: I'm sorry. This is an illegal war. Why is this an illegal war?
RECTENWALD: Well, because it was not sanctioned by the U.N., another organization that United States citizens support.
SCARBOROUGH: OK. So, Kosovo was an illegal war?
RECTENWALD: Kosovo? I'm not speaking about Kosovo. I'm talking about Iraq.
SCARBOROUGH: But, no, no. You are talking about wars that were not sanctioned by the United Nations. Bill Clinton's Kosovo war certainly was not sanctioned by the United Nations.
RECTENWALD: Let's talk about Iraq.
SCARBOROUGH: No. It ain't that easy for you, buddy.
RECTENWALD: We have lost 2,000 troops.
SCARBOROUGH: Listen, if this is about you being opposed to this war because of—it's George Bush's war.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second. I'm not going to let you change the subject.
RECTENWALD: I'm not. You are.
SCARBOROUGH: You said that George Bush is a terrorist because George Bush went into a war that didn't have United Nations support.
RECTENWALD: And he's torturing people, against Geneva Convention.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second. I'm merely asking you to be consistent. If George Bush is a terrorist for going into Iraq without U.N. support, then you are saying that Bill Clinton is a terrorist for going into Kosovo without U.N. support.
RECTENWALD: No, absolutely not. Clinton's war was a humanitarian mission. OK? This was a war of aggression. We overthrew a legitimate government.
SCARBOROUGH: No, no, no. Wait.
SCARBOROUGH: By using your standards that you just gave, you said the United Nations had to support a war or else the person that started it was illegal and, therefore, a terrorist. The United Nations did not sanction the Kosovo war.
RECTENWALD: The general-secretary of the United Nations did not say that Kosovo was an illegal war, but he did say so about Iraq. And he said it recently. And we also support that organization with our taxpayers.
SCARBOROUGH: The U.N. did not endorse the Kosovo war. So, again, I guess, by using your standards, Bill Clinton is a terrorist.
RECTENWALD: Did Kofi Annan or did the general-secretary say that war of Kosovo was an illegal invasion? I don't think so.
SCARBOROUGH: OK. So, what you are saying is, the United Nations, as a body, doesn't have to support a war. Just, the secretary-general has to come out here and say it's illegal. OK. Great. Well, let's forget the body.
SCARBOROUGH: Hopefully, we will get a president there—or secretary-general. He can endorse all of our wars, despite—regardless of what the body says.
RECTENWALD: No, that's not it.
SCARBOROUGH: No, that's what you just said.
RECTENWALD: There was no U.N. sanction for that war. It was illegal.
SCARBOROUGH: So, who is George Bush terrorizing?
RECTENWALD: It was an illegal war, and, therefore, he's a terrorist.
SCARBOROUGH: It's not an illegal war.
RECTENWALD: Plus, he's torturing more people around the world than is al Qaeda, by far. That's a fact.
SCARBOROUGH: So, who is...
RECTENWALD: He's killed more people than al Qaeda, by far.
SCARBOROUGH: Who is—and how...
RECTENWALD: Thirty thousand people, at his own admission, 30,000 people, he killed in Iraq.
RECTENWALD: An illegal invasion, 220,000 troops.
SCARBOROUGH: You can scream all you want to.
The problem is, the facts just don't bear it out.
RECTENWALD: You can change the subject all you want, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: The bottom line is this. The difference between Osama bin Laden, which, of course, right now, you are saying President Bush is a greater terrorist than Osama bin Laden.
SCARBOROUGH: I'm sure that makes everybody that you work for really proud of you.
But Osama bin Laden purposely tried to kill...
RECTENWALD: I'm not worried about that. I'm standing on principle, unlike some people.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, standing on principle, where your principle...
RECTENWALD: Human rights is what I stand for, human rights.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, let me talk for a second or I'm going to...
RECTENWALD: Not jingoism.
RECTENWALD: I'm not a jingoist.
SCARBOROUGH: You know what your problem is?
RECTENWALD: What is that?
SCARBOROUGH: You are a blabbermouth.
You are going to keep talking, because you know I have got the facts on my side.
RECTENWALD: Look who is talking blabbermouth. You don't let a person even...
SCARBOROUGH: OK. The bottom line is this.
RECTENWALD: You come on here, talk, and you want to shout me down.
SCARBOROUGH: The bottom line is this.
Osama bin Laden on September 11 purposefully targeted citizens on September 11, purposely went after civilians, trying to kill Americans. He did it, obviously, World Trade Center, did it at the Pentagon. When we went to war in Iraq, we were going after military targets. We continue to go after military targets, whereas, you take al Qaeda, you take Zarqawi, true terrorists. They are going into markets. They're setting off bombs purposefully trying to kill children, purposefully trying to kill grandmothers, purposefully trying to kill civilians.
RECTENWALD: The end does not justify the means, Joe; 30,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq by Joe—by George Bush's own counts.
SCARBOROUGH: Using that standard—OK, using that standard, then, FDR was a terrorist because of our firebombing of Dresden.
RECTENWALD: No, because this is an illegal war, Joe. That's the difference.
It's same sort of aggression that al Qaeda showed towards us. There's no difference morally or otherwise.
SCARBOROUGH: OK. OK.
So, FDR kills, God, 100, 15, 20 times as many civilians in Dresden.
RECTENWALD: No, that's entirely a different...
RECTENWALD: Joe, that is such a specious comparison. That's unbelievable that you would actually sit here and say that.
SCARBOROUGH: No, it's not. You know why it's different for you?
It's different for you because George Bush started this war, instead of Bill Clinton starting Kosovo or FDR leading us during World War II.
SCARBOROUGH: Let's bring in John Loftus. He's a former prosecutor with the Justice Department.
RECTENWALD: Let me ask you a question, Joe. Why was George Bush Sr. sitting with bin Laden's half-brother on 9/11? Can you answer that?
SCARBOROUGH: I'm sorry. Ask me that question again. They were talking in my ear.
RECTENWALD: Why was George Bush Sr. sitting in a meeting with bin Laden's half-brother on 9/11 itself?
SCARBOROUGH: What are you getting at?
RECTENWALD: Oh, I'm getting at—what do you think I'm getting at?
Just answer the question.
SCARBOROUGH: No, no, no, no. What...
RECTENWALD: There's a factual reality that took place, George Bush Sr. sitting with bin Laden's brother on 9/11, the very day.
SCARBOROUGH: You are implying that the Bushes knew what was going on.
RECTENWALD: I'm not implying anything. Just tell me what that was about.
SCARBOROUGH: I'll tell you what. You and Harry Belafonte, I think you have a lot more in common.
Let me bring in John Loftus. John is former prosecutor with the...
RECTENWALD: Harry Belafonte has five times the sense that anybody in this government seems to have.
SCARBOROUGH: Thank you very much.
RECTENWALD: Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: John, let me bring you in here.
I just—you know, I have got to apologize to my audience for even having Michael on the show.
RECTENWALD: Oh, thanks, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Here, we have a guy that's implying that the Bush family was somehow involved with 9/11.
SCARBOROUGH: John, when you hear this, when you hear Harry Belafonte's comments, saying George Bush is the biggest terrorist in the world, why are we Americans paying $260 million to UNICEF, this organization, when this is the type of hatred that's spewed?
JOHN LOFTUS, INTELLIGENCE EXPERT: You know, if there ever comes a day that Americans just give up on UNICEF, United Nations, and we walk away from it, it is going to collapse.
And, if that day comes, blame Belafonte and blame people like your guest, because with responsibility comes accountability. It's easy to dismiss Belafonte as a guy who is pushing 80 years old. He's an old socialist. But the fact remains, he was not speaking in this country, exercising his rights. He was speaking in the capital of a foreign nation, representing a department of the United Nations.
And, drop by drop, this cancerous propaganda is eating up all the goodwill that we put in the United Nations. And people like your guest and Belafonte are using the United Nations as a propaganda base to advance their own agenda.
SCARBOROUGH: First of all, John, you have absolutely no problem with Harry Belafonte going out and saying whatever he wants to say. That's his right as an American citizen. It's because he goes there as a representative of the United Nations that you have a problem, right?
I mean, who paid for his plane ticket? United States citizens pay, what, 26 cents out of every dollar that the U.N. spends? And these guys haven't gone on the budget diet after the oil-for-food scandal. UNICEF is bloated with administrators. The U.N. Human Rights Commission is a joke. You have got the worst oppressors in the world there.
What is happening is, the U.N. has been captured by the Non-Aligned Movement, a group about some 60 nations that are essentially dictators in the Asian and African regions. And they will go along with any nonsense to attack America, as long as it keeps the spotlight off them.
And that's what Belafonte is doing. He was praising, literally praising, the socialist revolution of Chavez? Give me a break.
SCARBOROUGH: It's unbelievable.
Final question. I'm going to ask you the same question I asked Michael Rectenwald. Is George Bush a terrorist, John?
LOFTUS: I'm sorry. I couldn't hear the question.
SCARBOROUGH: I said, is George Bush a terrorist, as Rectenwald and Mr. Belafonte says he is?
LOFTUS: Oh, that's—that's as silly as the time that he called Condoleezza Rice a black tyrant or implied that Colin Powell was a plantation slave who would do anything his master wanted to work in the big house.
Belafonte has a pension for exaggeration. Of course Bush is not a terrorist. And I'm sure I'm not going to use Kofi Annan's definition of that. I mean, to Kofi Anna, illegal is a sick bird.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thank you for being with us, John Loftus.
Thank you, Mr. Rectenwald.
When we come up next, what happened the final night George and Jennifer Smith were together? New details from witnesses who were there.
And, later, what Jon Stewart and Billy Crystal have to do with tonight's “Joe's Schmoe”? We will tell you a little bit later.
SCARBOROUGH: Drastic times call for measures. That's drastic enough. With U.S. car industry on the skids, they have juiced up their auto show by smashing trucks through windows. Huh. We will tell you exactly what they were trying to promote when we return.
But, first, here's the latest news you and your family need to know.
SCARBOROUGH: No one wants a mouse in their house, but one man got a lot more than he bargained for when he tried to get rid of his mouse. Now the mouse burned down the whole house. We will tell you how.
And, later, police on the hunt for this man, who robbed a convenience store using a cup of joe.
Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. We are going to have those stories and much more in minutes.
But, first, tonight's stunning developments emerge in the missing groom mystery. Two cruise ship passengers say they witnessed a violent fight between honeymooners George and Jennifer Smith just hours before the groom vanished.
We talked to one of those witnesses. And she claims that Jennifer Hagel Smith actually kicked her husband in the groin and ran out of the bar. Before we get to the bottom of that report, “The New York Times” is reporting that a federal grand jury in Connecticut is investigating the disappearance of George Smith IV.
So, the question is, are we getting close to indictments?
Let me bring in attorney Larry Kaye, who reporters the cruise lines, also former Connecticut prosecutor Susan Filan, maritime attorney Jack Hickey, and Adriana Gardella from “Justice” magazine.
Let me start with you, Susan.
So many things broke over the weekend. We heard about the fight. We heard several other things.
But let's talk, first, about this grand jury. It looks like, after months of talking, things are getting deadly serious in the investigation. Talk about it.
SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Joe, I have been saying all along that the law enforcement agencies have put their best people on it. They're extremely aggressive. They're very dedicated to this case, a case that they almost didn't have to get involved in because they had to come in late in the game because of the way Royal Caribbean originally handled the missing honeymooner.
But I can tell you that they have got their best people working on it. They're using every investigatory tool they have. It's a tough case and they are doing a yeoman's job on this investigation.
SCARBOROUGH: And now it's really getting hot. It looks like, again, they are starting to move. They are in the grand jury. Could we expect indictments soon?
FILAN: Well, let's just say that everything that can be done is being done and the time frame will unfold appropriately.
SCARBOROUGH: Adriana, you were reporting that actually blood was found inside the room of the Smiths. Explain the significance of that.
ADRIANA GARDELLA, EDITOR, “JUSTICE”: Yes.
Well, today, we received the first confirmation from someone who works for Royal Caribbean that there was in fact blood inside the cabin. And this cuts against it being an accident, which at this point, none of us were thinking of it as an accident.
But it supports the theory that there was some sort of struggle or a fight inside before George Smith went over the edge of the railing.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, there is some talk, though. Some people were still talking—and when the captain was interviewed last week by Dan Abrams, there was a suggestion that George may have been—may have gone out on the balcony, put the chair up, leaned back, and the suggestion was he may have possibly fallen off.
But if there's blood in the cabin, that just can't happen—couldn't have happened, right?
GARDELLA: Well, I don't know that it couldn't have happened. But it certainly—the blood in the cabin certainly supports the possibility of a struggle or a fight in there.
And, you know, again, we don't know whose blood it is. It could be George Smith's or it could be whoever this person whom he was fighting with.
SCARBOROUGH: Larry Kaye, do have you any doubt that this was a murder, that a crime was committed?
LARRY KAYE, MARITIME ATTORNEY: I do.
I don't think any of us really know. And it's pointless to speculate. I share Susan's excitement that the authorities are pursuing this and we look like we are making progress. I don't know where she gets the idea that the FBI got a late start. They were on the ship, you know, immediately after this happened.
The Turkish authorities were on the ship. They were involved in the questioning. They were present during Jennifer's questioning that day and the questioning of witnesses. They were on the scene in Kusadasi the day that this happened. So, they have been involved from the beginning. Royal Caribbean has been cooperating with them completely. And I think finally we're making progress. It's a great thing.
SCARBOROUGH: Jack Hickey?
JACK HICKEY, MARITIME ATTORNEY: Well, I think that Larry Kaye and the captain share a point of view that's a little fantastic, quite frankly. And I say that with all due respect.
The captain says he thinks it's an accident. And Larry Kaye says that that's—we don't know if it's an accident or not. What did—I mean, if you say it's an accident, what did George Smith do, hit himself on the head with a frying pan and then throw himself overboard? It just...
KAYE: Well, you sure seem to know, Jack. Your crystal ball must be working better than mine.
But you don't know how much blood was in the cabin. What we have heard is that there's very little blood in the cabin, so little, in fact, that Jennifer didn't notice it when she got up the next morning to go down to the spa.
It's daylight. She's in the cabin. She doesn't notice anything awry.
She doesn't notice furniture out of order. She doesn't notice any blood. Clete Hyman, who was in the cabin next door, looked in the cabin, didn't notice any blood. The crew members who came to the cabin, when they dropped Jennifer off at 4:30 in the morning, don't notice blood. Everyone thinks there was so much blood, but you seem to know more than every—all of them, and you were not there.
HICKEY: You know, and I say the same to you, Larry. But let me finish what I was going to say.
KAYE: Well, I'm just going by what the witnesses say.
HICKEY: Let me finish what I was going to say.
KAYE: I'm relying on what the witnesses say.
HICKEY: Because the fact is that, when Jennifer Hagel got there, you are talking about early in morning. The lights are off, things like that.
And the blood was reportedly on towels. So—and, you know, absolutely, there was apparently enough blood for the FBI to take evidence and for them to start a criminal investigation.
KAYE: I agree.
HICKEY: But this was—excuse me.
If this was an accident, why would the cruise line even call in the Turkish authorities? Why would the cruise lines eventually call in the FBI?
HICKEY: Why would the FBI pursue a criminal investigation?
KAYE: I don't think the cruise line knew. I don't think any of us know.
SCARBOROUGH: Guys, guys, let's move on.
I want to go to another topic. And I want to move to the other news that was breaking this weekend.
And that is that Jennifer and George had a—supposedly had a terrible fight the night of the disappearance.
Larry Kaye, I will bring you in here.
If that's the case, then, in fact, that doesn't line up with what she told me in an interview earlier this month, does it, that they were both very happy that final night?
KAYE: It doesn't, Joe. And this is not about bashing the widow or denigrating the memory of George Smith. This is a horrible tragedy for both of them.
Let's all agree on that. I have got a wife. I have got kids. This is a horrible tragedy. But there's definitely a credibility problem here. Jennifer also told you she was abandoned; she was left alone. We now know that was not true.
I don't think it's necessarily relevant what condition she was in. But, if they were fighting, if there were other passengers watching that, if she was flirting with other passengers, and he was calling her names, and other passengers were involved, it may well give us a motive for a crime, if a crime was committed. And there may well have been a crime committed.
As far as Royal Caribbean is concerned, if there was a crime committed in that cabin, there would be no way they would be liable for it. I don't think they have a dog in this fight. They want to know what happened.
SCARBOROUGH: Susan Filan.
FILAN: What do you mean they don't have a dog in this fight?
That is, to date, so far, the most preposterous thing I have heard anybody say, most importantly Larry Kaye. That's absurd.
As far as what happened between George and Jennifer that night, look, everybody agrees, there was a lot of drinking going on. They were partying like crazy. What took place was drunken bar behavior. Whether they had a real fight or some drunken brawl, some silly argument between two people really is of no moment as to what actually happens to George in his cabin later on.
And this is completely to draw attention away from Royal Caribbean.
Larry, you are just here on this show to try to make them look better.
KAYE: This is coming from a former prosecutor? You don't think it's relevant that the couple on their honeymoon were fighting?
FILAN: There's nothing wrong with being a former prosecutor. I'm very proud of it.
KAYE: That the couple on their honeymoon were fighting, you don't think is relevant? Honey, I think you ought to go back to law school and check your law degree again.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, Larry, are you suggesting that maybe she—because it certainly sounded in your last answer like you were suggesting that maybe Jennifer had something to do with George's untimely death.
KAYE: No, no, no, absolutely not. I don't think that for a minute.
What I think might be the case is that others who were present and part of this brawling that took place in the bar, she's reported leaning on someone's shoulder. He's apparently angry. He thinks she's flirting with him. That might have instigated a fight that later took place and carried over into the cabin. We just don't know. But to say it's not relevant is preposterous. Of course it's relevant.
FILAN: Larry, I will tell you what is preposterous: calling me “honey” on this show.
KAYE: I'm sorry.
FILAN: Don't ever do that again.
KAYE: I'm sorry, Susan. I'm sorry. I will call you Ms. Former Prosecutor instead.
SCARBOROUGH: Adriana, let me ask you, what's the relevance of inconsistencies that we may find in Jen's statements? She came out.
And, of course, Larry has brought up several of them tonight. Is that significant in any way to this investigation? Or the bottom line is, George Smith IV is missing, presumed dead and, most likely, was murdered.
GARDELLA: Well, I will agree that's the bottom line. He is missing and presumed dead and probably murdered.
But to get back to what you were discussing before, I don't believe there's necessarily an inconsistency between Jennifer stating that they were having a good time and this one—apparently, these people were so drunk that anything could have happened. So, I don't put much stock in this fight, that, you know—there have been rumors about that from the start.
But in terms of the inconsistencies regarding Jennifer saying that she was left alone, I think you have to look at what must have been her mental condition at the time this was all happening. She's just been informed that her husband is dead. She may well be hung over. She could even still be drunk, from what we have heard.
And Royal Caribbean has witnesses that can be easily verified by third parties. There was an American consulate who was apparently with the Royal Caribbean official.
GARDELLA: There are phone records that are going to be available.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly.
GARDELLA: So, I don't think that you need to, you know, vilify Jennifer Hagel. It's simply just stating that, in her condition, it's not surprising that she might not have the best recollection.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. We will have leave it there and thank all of you for being there.
Larry, I thank all of you for being with us, obviously outnumbered tonight.
KAYE: My pleasure, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: But greatly appreciate hearing your side of the story and the cruise line's side of the story.
And I brought in—I want to bring in right now Tucker Carlson. He's host of “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON.”
Hey, Tucker, what's on tap for tonight?
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON”: Just don't call me honey, Joe. I don't like it when you call me...
SCARBOROUGH: All right, sweetie. How about sweet-pea? Is that all right?
CARLSON: You can call me whatever you want.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, sweet-pea.
CARLSON: We have got breaking news tonight from the literary world. A book, “A Million Little Pieces,” pushed hard by Oprah's book club, number one on the “Times” list, turns out to be a total crock—this just in from TheSmokingGun Web site, taking a very close look at the claims made in that book, found that they are patently untrue. This is certain to rock the world of the 3.3 million people who bought that book.
Every person I have sat next to on an airplane over the past six months has told me to read the book. I haven't yet. Now I'm going to just to find out what is untrue.
SCARBOROUGH: Wait. What kind of book is it? What are they claiming?
CARLSON: It's a book by a guy named James Frey. And it details in graphic detail his descent into drug and alcohol addiction and his run-ins with the law, and he's a victim of his own sort of messed up internal scheme. But then he turns his life around without the help of AA, etcetera.
It's one of these “Woe is me” memoirs. But it is huge. This is the biggest book in America. This is the number two book, after “Harry Potter.”
SCARBOROUGH: And he made it up? And he just made it up?
CARLSON: The key elements of it, it turns out, tonight—this has just became public, literally minutes ago. The key elements of this book turn out to be totally untrue. TheSmokingGun Web site went and tracked them down.
CARLSON: You really got to read this. It's amazing.
SCARBOROUGH: It sounds like that “Washington Post” story from the early 1980s.
Tucker, thanks a lot.
CARLSON: Exactly right.
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
And make sure you turn into “THE SITUATION” coming up next at 11:00.
Here, though, coming up, some video you are not going to want to miss. And this is just a sample. Find out why one town had to call in an emu expert.
And, later, the bright lights and big stars of Hollywood, the setting for tonight's “Joe's Schmoe.” See who it is coming up.
SCARBOROUGH: And now it's time tonight for another flyover edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, some stories that may have slipped under your radar and the mainstream media's radar, but not ours.
We begin tonight in Memphis, Tennessee, and the chase for an emu on the loose. A woman spotted this stray emu that decided to make itself at home in her backyard. She called the police, who then called an animal shelter, who then of course called an emu expert. The expert came in, surveyed the damage, then went it for the emu takedown.
Authorities say they don't say know how the animal got away in the first place. But, if they can't locate its owner, it's going to be up for adoption. And you, too, yes, friends, you, too, can own your very own emu.
In our next stop, San Diego, California—I won't even tell you what that means in German—for the return of the Twiggy, water-skiing squirrel. Now, Twiggy made her triumphant return this weekend in the San Diego Boat Show to once again show off her incredible aquatic talents.
The squirrel powers around in a kiddie pool at about six miles per hour, not exactly Evel Knievel, but pretty darn impressive, because, after all, this little critter is just a squirrel. In case you were wondering, the Twiggy you are looking at is not the original. She's actually Twiggy V, from a long line of water-skiing squirrels.
Coming up next, a man battles a mouse and loses his entire home. I'm not kidding. He sets this mouse on fire. The mouse comes back and exacts its dreadful return.
We will have that story when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: Call it bad karma. Call it the revenge of an angry rodent, or just call it bad luck. An 81-year-old New Mexico man has just lost everything he had by simply trying to get rid of a mouse that was loose in his house.
Reporter Mindy Mizell has that story.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have been on numerous fires and house fires, but nothing quite like this one.
MINDY MIZELL, REPORTER (voice-over): When Fort Sumner firefighters arrived to find Luciano Mares's home engulfed in flames, they say they assumed his house was yet another casualty of dry temperatures and high winds.
It was not until the blaze was out that they realized this one had a bizarre tale of its own.
CAPTAIN JIM LYSSY, FORT SUMNER FIRE DEPARTMENT: After we got the fire knocked down, I was sitting on the barrel and just visiting with the homeowner. He's an 81-year-old man. I said, well, what started the fire? He said, well, I found a mouse nest in my house.
MIZELL: Captain Jim Lyssy says Mares went on to describe how he then tried to get rid of the nest by throwing it into a fire he was burning in the back yard, when, suddenly, out came a small mouse.
LYSSY: The mouse came out on fire, and away it went.
MIZELL: Away from the fire, but, unfortunately, straight toward Mares' home.
LYSSY: And he was on fire and ran back next to the house that had some dry weeds, and it caught those weeds on fire and caught the rest of the house on fire.
MIZELL: Firefighters say Mares lost everything in the fire, everything, that is, but his sense of humor.
LYSSY: Yes, he did laugh about it. Yes, he did laugh about it.
MIZELL (on camera): So he had a good...
LYSSY: He had a sense of humor about it, yes, ma'am.
SCARBOROUGH: We will be right back with “Joe's Schmoe.”
Plus “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON” is just minutes away. So, stick around.
SCARBOROUGH: Now it's time for tonight's “Joe's Schmoe.”
And, for years, Americans have enjoyed watching Billy Crystal host the Academy Awards. He's a funny guy, great timing, cleans up well. And, unlike Letterman or Chris Rock, Crystal knows how to do the Oscars in a way that make the kids laugh without offending the grownups.
Well, last week, we learned that “The Daily Show”'s Jon Stewart was honored with Hollywood's biggest emceeing job at the Oscars. But, two days later, Mr. Crystal let the world know that the only reason Jon Stewart got the job because it was beneath Billy.
“The L.A. Times”—or “The L.A. Daily News” quoted Crystal as saying
· quote—“It seemed so not what I didn't want to do.” Crystal then went on and let the world know that the Oscar show producer had begged him to—quote—“Please do the show.” But, alas, no such luck. Billy was above it all.
Now, forget the fact that few entertainers are hotter than Jon Stewart. If Billy didn't want to do the show, he should have quietly declined and let somebody else have their moment in the sun. To run out and publicly rain on somebody else's parade is just bad form.
And for that, Billy is tonight's “Joe's Schmoe.”
That's all the time we have for tonight.
“THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON” starts right now—Tucker.
CARLSON: Thank you, Joe.
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