updated 2/24/2006 10:20:15 AM ET 2006-02-24T15:20:15

Guest: Bob Plummer, Dave Holloway, Susan Schroeder, Mark Lunsford, Ruth

Lunsford, Archie Lunsford, Tad Todd, Howie Carr, David Wheeler

RITA COSBY, HOST:  Good evening, everybody.  We begin with some breaking news out of Phoenix, Arizona, tonight.  A man is holding hostages inside a high-rise there.  NBC producer Roger Downey is on the ground there and joins us live on the phone.  Roger, what can you tell us right now?

ROGER DOWNEY, NBC PRODUCER:  Well, Rita, The man apparently entered this high-rise armed with a handgun at around 5:00 PM Eastern time.  He rode the elevator to the 18th floor of the Phoenix building, which is the NLRB office, the National Labor Relations Board, and has taken as many as nine hostages.  Now, police don't know the exact number.  They say a range between six and nine.  Phoenix police say that, so far, no one has been injured and no gunfire has occurred.  No one has shot a weapon.

So the man, apparently, at this point, is preferring to negotiate with officers.  They have brought in the gunman's family and are trying to get him—to convince him to give up the hostages peacefully and to surrender. 

He has not made any demands at this point.  He did interrupt some form of - some kind of labor hearing.  Apparently, they say, he is upset about a family issue involving employment.  But again, they are working—they are negotiating with the man, and they hope to end this hostage situation in downtown Phoenix peacefully tonight—Rita.

COSBY:  Roger, if you can tell us, when did it start?  How long has this been going on for?

DOWNEY:  Well, it started, as I said—they got the initial call, police did, at 5:24 Eastern time.  So right now, we're looking at approximately three-and-a-half to three hours and 45 minutes.

COSBY:  And Roger, please keep us posted if you get any developments.  Again, as he was saying, a number of people held inside.  So far, the good news, no shots fired at the NLRB, the National Labor Relations Board there, a high-rise, as we're looking at live pictures in Phoenix.  Roger, please get back to us with any developments.  We appreciate it.

And now we're going to move on to our other big story tonight, Aruba.  Joran Van Der Sloot is finally telling his side of the story in the Natalee Holloway case, this as we learn that Joran's family hired a New York-based attorney.  Anita Van Der Sloot confirmed the news for LIVE AND DIRECT today.  This new lawyer will fight a civil suit filed by Natalee's parents when the Van Der Sloots came to the U.S.  As we first told you on Tuesday, the Van Der Sloots met the attorney before leaving New York on Monday.

Tonight, the prime suspect tells his version of what happened the night that Natalee disappeared in Aruba almost nine months ago.  Today, we had a preview of Joran's interview with ABC News, including some of his outrageous comments about what Natalee may have done the night she vanished.


JORAN VAN DER SLOOT, SUSPECT IN NATALEE HOLLOWAY DISAPPEARANCE:  The first thing that popped into my head was (DELETED)  what if something happened to her?  What if she went swimming?  I was thinking, after everything she told me, she probably might have gone back to her hotel, hooked up with—gone to someone else, hooked up with someone else, and wanted to stay another day on the island.


COSBY:  And LIVE AND DIRECT tonight is Natalee's father, Dave Holloway.  You know, Dave, what do you make of these comments, saying that Natalee might have even wanted to stay on the island?

DAVE HOLLOWAY, NATALEE'S FATHER:  Oh, hardly.  I saw some of the other previews earlier today, and one of the previews that really struck me was the fact that he had mentioned that he really couldn't believe hisself.  You know, he's lied so much that even he would believe his own liar.  So you know, I don't put real much—very much credence in what he's had to say.

COSBY:  You know, I want to play a little clip, Dave, if I could. 

This is Joran talking about the night that Natalee vanished.


VAN DER SLOOT:  I didn't want anyone to know.  I didn't want anyone to know I left her at the beach.

CHRIS CUOMO, ABC NEWS “PRIMETIME”:  Why would you lie if you had nothing to hide about Natalee Holloway?

VAN DER SLOOT:  I lied because, you know, I was scared.  I had a girlfriend at the time.  I didn't want my dad to think bad of me.  I didn't want my friends to think bad of me.


COSBY:  Do you believe him, Dave?  I mean, do you believe what he's saying now?

HOLLOWAY:  Well, I don't know.  You know, sometimes you say enough lies, and then finally, you may tell the truth.  We don't know if it's the truth or not.  We do know that they lied about the Holiday Inn.  They implicated two security guards.  And then afterwards, after they supposedly went to the beach, he now has three stories, or he did have three stories of how he got home, whether he walked, did Deepak take him home, and now it's Satish took him home.  So you know, you don't—you don't know really what to believe from him.

COSBY:  And in fact, we had Deepak and Satish's attorney on the other night, and he said that that is absolutely not true, basically suggesting that, you know, Joran is lying.  You're seeing a little division there, Dave, which is interesting.

I want to show another quote, if I could, Dave.  This is Joran talking about that night.  And he says, “My intention was to take her”—and he's talking about Natalee—“to my house to have sex with her.  I asked her if she wanted to have sex, and she was fine with it.  I didn't have a condom with me, though, in my wallet, and I won't have sex with a girl without a condom.”

You know, what does this say to you about how he viewed your daughter, Dave?  I'm sure that's hard to hear.

HOLLOWAY:  Yes, it is hard to hear, and you know, it just tells me how these guys were.  You know, he probably—they probably did go to his apartment.  That's what I believe because his apartment is separated from the house.  You're not going to take a girl to the beach.  And I think something—if you'll recall, in some of the earlier statements that mentioned something bad happened.  And I think something bad happened with all three of them involved.  That's why we haven't had a break in the case.  They're all sticking together.  And they probably got her as close to the Holiday Inn as they could without anyone seeing them.  And the closest place was the beach north of the Marriott.  And then they went directly across the street, as confirmed by the gardener, and that's where they started making up their story, I believe.  And then after that, you know, we're not sure what happened.

COSBY:  You know, he says, though, that he left her on the beach.  I want to play—this is what he—sort of his excuse as to why he left her on the beach, which a lot of people seems so unrealistic.  Let me play it.


VAN DER SLOOT:  At that moment in time, for me it wasn't the wrong thing, but it's definitely the wrong thing to do.  I mean, it's not something a real man would do.  It's not normal.  It's not right at all.


COSBY:  And he's sort of making excuses for it.  Now, the other thing I want to play for you, Dave—this is about the sneakers.  I've always wondered this.  Where are his sneakers?  In fact, I was told early on that one of the brothers even said, You should ask Joran where his sneakers are, because, remember, they were missing that night.  This is how he explains it.


VAN DER SLOOT:  I had left them on the beach.  I'd walked to the car.  We got in the car, and right then there, I couldn't go back because we were going home.


COSBY:  Dave, do you buy that, he couldn't go back to get his own sneakers because he was going home?

HOLLOWAY:  No.  You're not going to leave your sneakers on the beach, and you're not in that big of a hurry.  So I don't buy that idea at all.  If he got rid of his sneakers, it's two things.  Either they were too muddy or he lost them somewhere in the mud or whatever, or they had blood on them.

COSBY:  Yes, do you think they may hold the clues to this case, Dave?

HOLLOWAY:  You know, there's some tips and some information from the other two kids, from what we hear, that those shoes may hold some information.

COSBY:  Yes, a lot of people have wondered that.  In fact, he also talked about the confrontation, of course, with your ex-wife, with Natalee's mom, Beth Holloway.  This is how he described the confrontation when she said, Look, where's my daughter?


VAN DER SLOOT:  What she said to me—she screamed at me was, Tell me where my daughter is.

CUOMO:  And did you?

VAN DER SLOOT:  I told her that I don't know.


COSBY:  Do you believe that “I don't know,” Dave?  I mean, do you think there's still a lot more to the story?

HOLLOWAY:  No, you know, you've got to look at all the lies and what all they've come up with.  And you know, why would—if anyone had anything to do with it, why would they lie so much?  And you know, and I've got to say this.  In, you know, the United States, if somebody's truly innocent and the police ask them to submit to a lie-detector, everyone that's innocent, there's no problem.  And I've wondered why he has not subjected himself to that yet.  That would resolve the whole thing, if he passed a lie-detector test with flying colors.  But I don't think that's going to happen.


COSBY:  ... he also hasn't voluntarily gone back to the authorities.  Remember, they wanted to pull him in, Dave, but he wouldn't even do that, either.

HOLLOWAY:  That's exactly right.

COSBY:  You know, one thing he has done is he and his family, as we were just reporting, Dave, they got a New York attorney, sort of preparing for the civil suit that you and Beth filed.  Are you ready for—what, it sounds like it's going to be a long fight.

HOLLOWAY:  Well, you know, I'm sure he's going to fight the jurisdiction and forum.  So you know, we've been through this roller-coaster ride before on a lot of other issues.  It's in John Kelly's hands, and hopefully, he can do something with it.

COSBY:  Dave, please stick with us because I want to bring in now, if I could, Bob Plummer.  He was one of the chaperones who traveled with Natalee and her friends to Aruba.  You know, Bob, there's been a lot of questions.  What did you guys do as chaperones?  What was your role?

BOB PLUMMER, CHAPERONE ON HOLLOWAY TRIP:  Well, number one, I think you have to use the term chaperone loosely.  It was made very clear to us in meetings before the trip that we were there primarily just to act as liaisons, to act as a contact in case maybe one of the kids got sick, needed medical attention, something like that.  We were not there to hold their hands.  They were in Aruba as legal adults, and we were not there to baby-sit them.  And that was made very clear before we ever went by the parents and the people that arranged the trip.

COSBY:  Now, Bob, were any of those chaperones in the casino or in Carlos and Charlie's that night?


COSBY:  In both?  First the casino.  Were they in the casino?


COSBY:  What was the mood in the casino?  Because we've been seeing, obviously, the new surveillance camera video of her and Joran sitting at the table.  What was the mood?  How'd the chaperones describe it?

PLUMMER:  Well, it's just—you know, it was mostly the students from the trip and us in there.  We made up the majority of the people, but most of the kids just, you know, having a good time, trying to enjoy their time there.

COSBY:  OK.  And then they go on to Carlos and Charlie's, and I understand there was a chaperone there, right?


COSBY:  Was there a lot of drinking...

PLUMMER:  Even though that was—that was...

COSBY:  What was the mood like, Bob?  What was the mood in Carlos and Charlie's that night?

PLUMMER:  From the indications—I was not there, but from the indications of the man that went, they were having a good time, but there was no one out of control.  There was no one over the edge, no one doing anything that would have been construed as needing to be pulled or reined back in.

COSBY:  Did they realize that Natalee went into a car with three strangers?

PLUMMER:  I don't know that he did.  I think some of the students might have seen him, but they had seen him before, evidently had met him there before that night, so might have been a little bit comfortable with him.

COSBY:  When did they realize, the chaperones, that Natalee was missing, and what did they do?

PLUMMER:  The next morning, when we were actually loading these students on—we had two separate buses that were going to take the kids back to the airport.  And the first one, after we got it loaded, checking passports, checking to make sure everyone's there, and came down and was about to start getting the other group of students ready to get—catch the bus, and it was at that time—I guess that was probably somewhere around 10:00 o'clock that they informed us—her roommates informed us that she had not come back that previous night.

COSBY:  OK.  So then the bus, you realize she's not there.  Then what happens?  Doesn't somebody say, Hey, stop the bus, let's not leave?

PLUMMER:  No, no, no, no, no, no.  You misunderstood.  There were two separate buses going back to the airport because we were on two separate charter flights.  This first bus—she was not supposed to be on this first bus.  They were checked off.  Everyone was on that bus with their passports.  So we're going back in the resort to start getting the next group of kids together, to make sure they've got all their stuff together and they're ready to go, so that they'll be ready when the buses come to get them to take them to the airport for the second charter flight.

COSBY:  Yes, but that's what I think a lot of people...

PLUMMER:  And that's at that point...


COSBY:  ... is why did everybody sort of take off and go on and say, Oh, well, let's not worry about Natalee.  Let's just—let's just take off and go.  A lot of people don't understand how everybody could still have left.

PLUMMER:  You're misunderstanding.  Everybody did not leave.  The first bus, half of the people on the first charter, they went ahead and left to go catch their charter.  We were still there because we were not flying out until the second charter.

COSBY:  But then the second charter still took off, right, as scheduled.


COSBY:  So the big question is...

PLUMMER:  Because there were other...


PLUMMER:  It was not a charter—it was not a charter plane.  There were other people on that plane.  But we also thought it was more important to get the rest of the students back home.  What good is it going to be for to have the rest of those students down there with the situation that we had going on?  We thought it more important, and also the people we talked to back in Birmingham thought it was more important to get everybody back.

COSBY:  But a lot of people, Bob—and I realize, because you're not the only chaperone.  There were a number of chaperones.  A lot of people are saying, How could you leave when there was a missing person?

PLUMMER:  One chaperone stayed behind.

COSBY:  Just one?


COSBY:  Let me bring in Dave Holloway.  Dave, do you think there was more the chaperones could have done?  Obviously, Bob's kind enough to come on the air to speak on behalf of all of them.  But hearing now that just one stayed behind, do you wish that maybe—maybe more would have been done, Dave?

HOLLOWAY:  Well, you know, hindsight's 20/20, and you know, you try to work the plan the best you can.  You know, the only issue I have is that, you know, we bring kids into an environment that they may not be used to.  you know, that was a tradition with Mountain Brook.  But you look at the drinking age in the United States is 21.  And you know—you know, the parents were warned and stuff that, you know, you bring kids in, you know, to an environment that has a drinking age of 18, and you know, you've got to be a little bit more careful when you get in a situation like that.

COSBY:  And Bob, I am going to give you the last word.  And again, I do appreciate you being on.  Do you wish things had been done differently?

PLUMMER:  I don't really know anything that could have been done differently.  You know, meeting with the kids each day and warning them to be aware of the people around them and to stay with their friends, and we told them every day—you know, even though it's not our responsibility, we told them every day, Make sure that you're with a group of your friends, you know, wherever you happen to go.  And—but that's—you know, naturally, you always think of anything else you could have done, but in looking back and talking with other people, there's really probably nothing else that could have been done.

COSBY:  All right, both of you.  Thank you very much.  We appreciate you being with us.

And still ahead, everybody: peeved about the ports, breaking developments, and a new fight in the battle to sell America's largest ports to a Middle East company.  Does the buyer have some big-time terror ties, and is this a case of buyer beware?  And cops hunting for Internet predators get a big shock when they make the arrest.  You'll be outraged when you see just who they have busted this time, someone who's supposed to be on the right side of the law.

And a father whose daughter was raped and then buried alive is turning his tragedy into a quest to keep your children safe.  Mark Lunsford joins me with his emotional story and some plans to keep your kids safe in the future.  That's next.


MARK LUNSFORD, JESSICA'S FATHER:  Couey took that away from me, and this was the last one I had to raise.



TONY RACKAUCKAS, ORANGE COUNTY DA:  The scope of the seduction of these children is breath-taking.  If you think about it for a minute, what we have here today is what happened in one city, one night.


COSBY:  And that buzz tonight was in Orange County, California.  Thirteen men were arrested for exchanging lewd messages and coming out to meet a fictitious 12 or 13-year-old girl.  You can see them right here on this surveillance video.  Shockingly, one man was a California Highway Patrol lieutenant.  Another even left his own daughter to have sex with another girl his daughter's age.

Police worked with a citizens group called Perverted Justice to help nab these predators.  That's the same group that helped catch all those men in NBC “Dateline's” undercover sting operation, which we showed you a lot on the show, which, like the California operation, lured the guys in through Internet chat rooms.

Joining me now to talk about this latest bust is deputy district attorney Susan Schroeder.  Susan, I want to put up—I'm astounded at, like, the age and the profession of these guys.  We have sort of a list to show.  I mean, they range in age from 51 years old all the way to 19 years old.  And the 51-year-old, you can see right there, California Highway Patrol.  Are you astounded at the background, the profession of some of these guys?

SUSAN SCHROEDER, ORANGE COUNTY DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  Well, yes and no.  I mean, the fact that there was one police officer who had so much to lose by doing something like this, it is shocking.  But the fact that there's everyone from a Starbucks manager to a bartender to an importer to a police officer, it just shows you how prevalent this type of crime is.

COSBY:  What kind of things were they saying on line?  I know that this sort of, quote, “fictitious” 12 or 13-year-old, which you and Perverted Justice were posing as—how did you lure them in, and how did these men respond?

SCHROEDER:  Well, you know, we didn't lure them in.  They lure the children in.  What would happen is, they would start talking about very innocuous subjects, such as make-up, horses, pizza, their relationship with their parents, students, their friends.  And soon thereafter, these chats would become extremely graphic, sexual in nature, and these perpetrators would start talking about wanting to meet the children.

And it wasn't that we lured them in.  We joined the conversations in mid-stream, or their fictitious profiles put on innocuous Web sites, such as Myspace.com, and the perpetrators would contact the children.

COSBY:  You know, and you can see these guys getting busted.  Thank goodness.  Are you planning any more stings like this?

SCHROEDER:  What we wanted to do is to know—to let every pervert out there know that if they go on line and engage in these types of chats, they may be talking to a police officer, and that we encourage every police station, every district attorney's office to get involved, so that we can catch more of these people all over the country.

COSBY:  You bet.  Well, keep up the great work, Susan.  Thank you very much.

One man who is making it his personal mission to keep sexual predators off the streets is Mark Lunsford.  Almost one year ago, Lunsford's 9-year-old daughter, Jessica, was abducted from her bedroom, raped, tortured and buried alive.  But her short life has created an amazing legacy that is protecting children across the country.


MARK LUNSFORD, JESSICA'S FATHER:  I got a new fight and Jessie's pushing me.  And the legislature has to be changed, or however you say it, you know?  I'm not a political man.  I work and I raise kids.  Couey took that away from me.  This was the last one I had to raise, and he took it away from me.  And now I need their help in changing these laws and making the changes that need to protect our children.


COSBY:  Convicted sex offender John Evander Couey confessed to murdering Jessica Lunsford.  He was living across the street from the Lunsford house.

And joining us now outside their home in Homosassa, Florida, is Jessica's father and her grandparents, Ruth and Archie Lunsford.  Thank you all for being with us on this upcoming very somber anniversary.  My prayers have been with all of you this last year.

MARK LUNSFORD:  Well, thank you, Rita.

COSBY:  How are you holding up, Mark?  What drives you?  Is Jessica what drives you every day?

MARK LUNSFORD:  Yes, she drives me to (INAUDIBLE) to go to these other states and push for Jessie's law.  She drives me to go to Washington.  I've been going to Washington to lobby for the Child Safety Act.  Right now, I need the public to really call, find out who their U.S. senator is in Washington.  There's some Democrats that's holding up the Child Safety Act, and we really need to get this federal legislation passed.

COSBY:  What are they saying is the reason, Mark?  How could they—how could they not want to push for something like this.

MARK LUNSFORD:  Well, you know, they've even—at one time, they even made attachments—somebody made attachments to it for hate crimes.  That has nothing to do with child safety.

COSBY:  You're right.  And this is something that affects all of us, you know?  I mean, your...


MARK LUNSFORD:  That's right.  It's about protecting the kids.  I'll meet Marc Klaas and Erin Runnion and myself will be in Washington, D.C., on the 27th through the 1st to lobby on the Senate side.  I'm getting a little resistance on my appointments.  I'm trying to make appointments, and I'm not getting a—you know, a good response from them.  But you know what?  We're coming anyway.  And I'm going to tell everybody to find out who your senator is in Washington, D.C., and start e-mailing them, start hammering them.  I was told that there was a few Democrats holding this up, and that's who we need to focus on.

COSBY:  You bet.  We'll do whatever we can.  You know, I want to play, Ruth, before I ask you a question—this is you calling 911, and who could forget this painful, painful time a year ago.


911 OPERATOR:  Ma'am, what's the address of your emergency?

RUTH LUNSFORD, JESSICA'S GRANDMOTHER:  Yes, we've got a child missing!

911 OPERATOR:  How old's the child?


911 OPERATOR:  Is she a white female?

RUTH LUNSFORD:  Yes, ma'am.

911 OPERATOR:  What color hair does she have?

RUTH LUNSFORD:  Brown, light brown.

911 OPERATOR:  OK, ma'am.  And what color eyes does she have?



COSBY:  You know, Ruth, when you hear that—take us back a year ago. 

How did you find out little Jessie was missing from her bedroom?

RUTH LUNSFORD:  When her father hollered out, Mom, where's Jessie?  I said, In her room.  He said, No, she's not.  Is she in there with you?  And we just all started searching the house, thinking maybe she was hiding.  But that wasn't the case.

COSBY:  And Ruth, how tough has it been?  This guy lived right across the street from you, and I think that's what's angered so many people.  Authorities went there, at first, you know, didn't see anything suspicious, sort of took a story that there wasn't a little girl in the house.  How angry and how tough is it for you to see, you know, the plot across the street?

RUTH LUNSFORD:  I try not to look across the street.  I look in my house and different places that I look in my house, I see Jessie's right there.  When I'm sitting at the table or when I'm lying in bed, I see Jessie right there.  I don't look at that other house.

COSBY:  And Archie, is there anybody in the house now?  Is there anyone who still hangs out there, Archie, or any relatives?

ARCHIE LUNSFORD, JESSICA'S GRANDFATHER:  There's some people that's moved in over there.  They moved in right after the investigation.  you know, we tried to talk to them.  I tried to talk to the owner of the property to get him to sell the property so we could destroy the home, but you know, nobody wants to budge on it.

COSBY:  You know, John Evander Couey at least confessed to the killing.  Hopefully, that makes the process easier for all of you.  Let me play some of his comments when he made the confession.


JOHN EVANDER COUEY:  Went out there one night and dug a hole and put her in it, buried her.  I pushed (INAUDIBLE) some plastic bags, plastic baggies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Was she dead already?

COUEY:  No, she was still alive.  I buried her alive.  (INAUDIBLE) stupid, but—so she suffered (ph).


COSBY:  You know, Archie, as a grandfather, you must just be outraged, especially when you look at his rap sheet.  This guy had a rap sheet.  And everyone's wondering, Why was this guy even free?

ARCHIE LUNSFORD:  Honey, I didn't even dream that we had people like that until we lost our granddaughter.  And though it was a year ago, it's still hard for me to talk about it.  But it's been the awfulest thing that ever happened in my 73 years of life.  And I hope that...

COSBY:  Archie, what do you hope the legacy—what do you hope Jessie's legacy is, Archie?

ARCHIE LUNSFORD:  Honey, I'm not sure I heard what you're saying.

COSBY:  What—how do you—what do you hope maybe is the good that can come out of this, Archie?  Are you hoping maybe her legacy can be some changes for everybody?

ARCHIE LUNSFORD:  Oh, I believe that with all my heart.  What Mark is doing is a great thing.  And we're getting mail from all over the country, and they are paying attention.  And hopefully, this Jessie's law will be voted in every state.  And we will get—her life will mean something towards saving other children's lives.

COSBY:  you know, Mark, real quick, tell us about the things on the Internet and the fingerprints.  You really are amazing, just the difference that you're making.

MARK LUNSFORD:  Well, you know, my lobbying efforts for the other states and D.C.  I've also got program called Teamjessie.org.  We do fingerprinting, DNA.  And we put everything on a disk.  Now, this is very high-tech fingerprinting, OK?  It's digitally formatted onto a disk.  And we'll put it on a disk.  We'll put something on there so the parents can update it later on.  We also put a missing child flyer on there for them, their fingerprints, and we give them a DNA kit that will last up to almost 30 years.

And then I also got a program with a company called Adzone (ph).  It's

an ops program, where we can monitor chat rooms and find out who these guys

are talking to.  And we can go back in time as far as 30 days or—and we

can—you know, we can find them through searches in chat rooms.  We It's

·         we got some good programs going on.

COSBY:  And you also want to educate law enforcement, right?  I understand you also want to let them know...


COSBY:  ... make sure you don't just, you know, take that person's word for it.

MARK LUNSFORD:  That's right.  You know, me, Marc Klaas, Erin Runnion

·         I'm sorry, Tim, I forgot your last name.


MARK LUNSFORD:  We did some—we did some seminars for law enforcement up in Pensacola.  We got some plans to do some more.  It's not about pointing fingers, it's about lessons learned.  That's our only concern.  And we hope that that will provide law enforcement more education on how to find children that are missing and have been abducted.  And then, you know, hopefully, we can get a good search out of it, you know, some new search efforts going on.

COSBY:  Well, Mark, we really applaud all your efforts.  And Ruth and Archie, we think about you guys every day.  And please let us know whatever we can do.  We will, and we'll keep in touch with you and try to keep some pressure on Washington.  Thank you so much, all of you.  Thank you.

And still ahead, everybody, late developments in the fight over selling American ports to a Mideast country.  Just in tonight, late legal moves from a powerful political player, challenging the White House.

And will this cold case ever get hot?  The infamous mob boss Whitey Bulger.  He's has been on FBI's top 10 most wanted list for a decade, wanted for over 21 murders.  A man who says that his father was killed in a hit ordered by the mobster is going to join me live.  Stick around for that.


COSBY:  And late developments tonight in the battle over who is controlling our nation's vital seaports.  A few hours ago, New Jersey filed suit against the federal government to keep the port of Newark out of the hands of a company from the United Arab Emirates.  That was the port that I personally toured and showed you on the show last night. 

This new legal move comes as Washington erupts over the controversial new deal.  Here is NBC's David Gregory at the White House. 


DAVID GREGORY, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  At the White House this morning, the president once again tried to beat back criticism over the port deal. 

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  This deal wouldn't go forward if we were concerned about the security for the United States of America. 

GREGORY:  But at a hearing on Capitol Hill, Democrats insisted the administration task force vetting this deal dropped the ball, failing to launch a 45-day investigation, one critics claim is required by law, when a transaction could affect national security. 

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK:  If 9/11 was a failure of imagination and Katrina was a failure of initiative, this process is a failure of judgment. 

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN:  According to the 9/11 Commission, there is a persistent counterterrorism problem represented by the United Arab Emirates.

GREGORY:  Today, however, top Bush officials fanned out to underscore the close U.S. ties to the United Arab Emirates in the war on terror.  Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Dubai for meetings tonight, and the president's homeland security adviser argued the UAE turned over a new leaf after 9/11. 

FRAN TOWNSEND, WHITE HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER:  They have been critical allies in fighting the financial war against terror.  They've been critical allies, in terms of our military-to-military relationship. 

GREGORY:  Still, the administration extracted extra security concessions from Dubai Ports World as a condition for the $7 billion contract.  As for security risks at the ports, one former Bush administration official notes the UAE is among the world's largest seaports to allow the inspection of cargo prior to leaving its ports. 

ROBERT BONNER, FMR. CUSTOMS AND BORDER COMMISSIONER:  The security concerns that have been expressed are greatly exaggerated.  I mean, what you have here, I think, is a number of politicians that are overreacting. 

GREGORY:  Tonight, aides say the president won't budge from his threat to veto any attempt to unravel this deal, but officials say Mr. Bush would accept a slight delay for additional members of Congress to get briefed. 

David Gregory, NBC News, the White House. 


COSBY:  And we're now joined by MSNBC terrorism analyst Juliette Kayyem. 

Juliette, how concerned—you know, we hear about bin Laden, their, you know, support of the Taliban.  How concerned should we be of the UAE?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST:  It's hard to tell right now.  There is sort of the pre-9/11 UAE, where we know that members of the royal family hunted with bin Laden in Afghanistan.  The CIA was tracking them.  The CIA would not launch an attack against bin Laden because he was so close to the UAE.

COSBY:  In fact, let me show that, Juliette.  Let me show the quote from the 9/11, because you're referring to it.  In the commission report, it specifically says, “Bin Laden regularly went to his adjacent camp to the larger camp, where he visited the emirates.  National and technical intelligence confirmed the location and description of the larger camp and showed the nearby presence of an official aircraft from the United Arab Emirates.”

How close do you think this relationship was?

KAYYEM:  It was probably pretty close, to the extent that bin Laden at that time came from a pretty prominent Arab family.  We also know that the UAE recognized the Taliban in Afghanistan. 

And as we know from the 9/11 Commission report, not only did two of the hijackers come there, but there was, you know, the money trail went through the UAE. 

But we have to remember the but.  After September 11th, if you talk to people within the government, the UAE—I mean, you know, no country is perfect—the UAE has made efforts and has tried to assist the United States in its global war on terrorism, when you want to talk specifics, in terms of our military presence there, port access, air access... 


COSBY:  But, Juliette, they still don't acknowledge Israel, right? 

There's still some definite differences with us. 

KAYYEM:  Right, they still—that's exactly right.  I mean, they are not—I mean, if you look at the Arab world, I think they're probably a lot more cooperative than most countries as this stage at least. 

But the September 11th Commission, even when it looked at it a year later, was concerned with some of the financial and some of the banking institutions were not sort of ensuring where was the money coming from. 

We also have to remember it's not just terrorism.  A.Q. Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist who sold goods and his intellect to Libya, met with the Iranians in the UAE.  So it's not a great track record for the UAE, if you look at it solely, like, from the perspective of what have they done wrong. 

But in terms of sort of after September 11th, they have tried to be a friend to the United States militarily, intelligence-wise.  And that's why you're starting to hear, you know, senior senators who are involved with Armed Services and other things, like John Warner, say, look, this is much more complicated than two guys, you know, two September 11th hijackers came from the UAE.

We have intelligence cooperation going on with them, law enforcement cooperation, and we don't have—to be honest right now, we don't have many allies in the Arab world that we can work with. 

COSBY:  No, good point.

KAYYEM:  And so we want to make sure that we don't sort of alienate UAE through this process. 

COSBY:  Good point, Juliette.  Thank you very much.  We appreciate it.

And now on the phone with us is Commander Tad Todd.  He's with the U.S. Coast Guard.

Commander, I think a lot of people are wondering tonight.  What kind of procedure is in place—how would you work with a company like Dubai Port World, if it goes through?

COMMANDER TAD TODD, U.S. COAST GUARD:  Well, Dubai Port World would simply be one portion of a facility that we regulate at the port of Miami.  And each facility, and including the port itself, has a facility security plan, which kind of outlines various things, including controlling access to the individual facility, verifying credentials of port workers, inspecting cargo for tampering, and these types of things.

So what we would do is no different than we do with any other facility.  And we have an annual requirement for an inspection, plus we also have our Coast Guard personnel throughout the port and throughout the facilities on any given day. 

COSBY:  You know, Commander Todd, I want to show how cargo is brought into the country.  We've got a couple bullet points.


COSBY:  Companies first give their manifest to the U.S.  They have to do it 24 hours before the cargo is loaded.  Also, Customs gives the shipping company an OK to load. 

The manifest is then sent to you 96 hours before it arrives to the U.S.  You determine if the ship poses a threat.  If not, you inspect the ship upon arrival. 

Isn't this a still kind of taking their word?  No one is going to put on the label or notify, “Hey, by the way, I've got nuclear devices.  I'm bringing them in.” 

TODD:  Well, in an effort to push out our borders, we certainly work closely with our partners.  And you had mentioned Customs and Border Protection, with their plan, in terms of validating cargo before it even leaves the previous port, and the Coast Guard screening vessels through the 96-hour notice of arrival process. 

So all of those things combined actually create a layered maritime security posture and allow us to push out our borders before the vessels even get to the port. 

COSBY:  Commander Todd, thank you very much for being with us on the phone tonight.  We appreciate it.

And of course, everybody, we'll be following all the developments in the case of the port.  Of course, a lot of interesting developments, New Jersey trying to block the sale of the port, especially the port of Newark. 

Still ahead, the tale of two brothers, one a high-powered political boss, the other an accused ruthless mob boss.  Tonight, some stunning details about their relationship.  Is either of them really what they seem? 

And forget “Transamerica.”  This is trans-New Jersey.  She was once a he and now is in a fight to keep her job.  Find out who she is fighting.  That's coming up. 


COSBY:  Tonight, the FBI is searching for a notorious crime boss accused of ordering hits on nearly two dozen people.  Whitey Bulger has been on the FBI's 10 most wanted list for a decade, and tonight we're hearing information about him that few people may know. 

A new book reveals some sordid details of the outlaw fugitive and alleges not only was he a shady character, but so was his brother, a renowned Massachusetts career politician. 


COSBY (voice-over):  This is a tale of two Boston brothers, two bosses, one a crime boss, the other a political boss.  And their story is rich with characters, powerful characters.  They led two very different lives, but the question always lingered to the people of Boston:  Did their lives ever cross over?

James “Whitey” Bulger was an alleged kingpin of organized crime, ringleader of the notorious Winter Hill Gang.  Once an FBI informant, he is wanted for up to 21 murders and other crimes. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We're not talking about bookmaking here.  We're talking about mass murder. 

COSBY:  Indicted in 1995 on 12 counts of racketeering and extortion charges and on the run since then, nobody knows to this day exactly where he might be hiding. 

For decades, Whitey haunted the gritty streets of South Boston, ruling with an iron fist, while brother William “Billy” Bulger presided amidst pomp and ceremony over the Massachusetts Senate.  Hobnobbing with power brokers, he would become a kingfish of statehouse politics, serving as senate president for 17 years, one of the four most powerful positions in Massachusetts politics. 

He later became president of the University of Massachusetts, until resigning in 2003, under pressure following his evasive testimony about his brother, Whitey, before a congressional committee investigating his whereabouts and the FBI's protection of him. 

BILLY BULGER, BROTHER OF WHITEY BULGER:  I do not know where my brother is. 

COSBY:  Billy Bulger has never been implicated for any of Whitey's crimes.  There continues to be sightings of 77-year-old Whitey Bulger throughout the globe. 


COSBY:  Incredible story.  And joining me now LIVE & DIRECT is Howie Carr.  He is the author of, “The Brothers Bulger:  How They Terrorized and Corrupted Boston for a Quarter of a Century.”  And also joining me is David Wheeler.  Whitey Bulger is wanted for murdering David Wheeler's father. 

Howie, let me start with you.  Where do you think Whitey Bulger is today? 

HOWIE CARR, AUTHOR:  I would have to think the best guess is he's somewhere in the United Kingdom.  There hasn't been a confirmed sighting of him in the United States since 1996 when he went from Chicago to New York and then fled to London with new documents that had been supplied to him indirectly by the Massachusetts state police. 

COSBY:  Now, you know, he's got some weird sexual proclivities, what, was bisexual, started turning tricks as a young man.  Could that provide clues as to where he is? 

CARR:  Well, the FBI is always in Thailand, which is well-known for its male brothels.  And that's the reason why they like that area.  The bottom line here about his escape is that, once you get outside the country and you have millions of dollars stashed, it's almost impossible for anyone to track you down. 

COSBY:  Now, you're talking about authorities sort of knowing where he is, maybe even being in cooperation.  You believe Billy Bulger, a prominent former politician now in Massachusetts, you believe he was pretty shady, too? 

CARR:  Well, certainly he's had his share of run-ins with the grand juries.  And all during the time that Whitey was the crime boss of Boston, whenever any local law enforcement official or politician would make a move against Whitey, oftentimes they would find themselves either forced to retire, demoted, transferred, have their pay frozen...

COSBY:  Even though this guy was a mob boss? 

CARR:  Even though this guy was a mob boss.  And this would always be done in riders to the state budget, outside sections, no fingerprints.  The congressional investigators in 2003 tried to track down who put in all these pro-Whitey riders to punish people that were going after him.  They never could pin it on Billy. 

COSBY:  You know, David, as we know, Whitey is wanted now, what is it, 21 murders, one of them including your dad.  Why did he have a hit out on your father? 

DAVID WHEELER, FATHER MURDERED:  My father had purchased a business that they had taken control of.  And my father was going to fire management.  He told me that on Sunday before his murder.  And on the following Wednesday, he was murdered. 

COSBY:  And the FBI, you say, was somewhat tied to the murder?  How is that?

WHEELER:  The reason my father bought the business was because it was run by retired and semi-retired FBI agents. 

CARR:  One of them was a guy named H. Paul Rico, who, when he was in Boston as a mob specialist, he personally handled two mob hits.  He ordered the mob hits...

COSBY:  This is an FBI guy? 

CARR:  He ordered two mob hits.  Another thing Rico did was, he was involved in the railroading of four men to prison for 30 years for a murder they didn't commit, even though they put on J. Edgar Hoover's desk 12 hours after the murder the names of the real killers. 

But they wanted to protect their mob informants.  And then after he retired from the FBI, he just got into—he just stayed in the business with these mobsters.  And when he wanted to whack David Wheeler's father, he turned to the people he knew best, which were the Boston mobsters, like Whitey Bulger. 

COSBY:  Outrageous.  You know, if Whitey Bulger is listening tonight, who knows if he watches TV wherever he may be, what would you want to say to him, David? 

WHEELER:  That I've never given up.  That after nearly 25 years, I'm still trying to find justice.  We're still trying to catch you. 

COSBY:  And I hope they do.  You know, do you think they will get this guy, between his connections and his background, and as you talk about it's a big world out there, unfortunately?  

CARR:  I think they will get him, Rita. 

COSBY:  You do?

CARR:  Yes, I still think they will.  I think that, you know, he's got a woman traveling with him.  He had a heart condition when he left 11 years ago.  It can't have gotten any better. 

I think that at some point he's going to be at death's doorstep.  And you know what?  He may actually try to cut a deal so that all of his relatives would be immunized from being prosecuted for any crimes they may have committed during his flight.  And there's also a $1 million reward, so he could get it for his family, one last thumbing of his nose at everyone else. 

COSBY:  Incredible.  An incredible book.  Howie, thank you for being with us.

And, David, we really appreciate you being with us, too.

WHEELER:  Thank you.

COSBY:  Thank you very much.

And, everybody, stick with us.  There's a lot more coming up here on MSNBC tonight.  Let's check in, if we could, with Joe Scarborough for a preview of what's coming up on “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” in about 10 minutes—


JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST:  Congress is on a collision course right now over, of course, the battle over whether they're going to turn over six...

COSBY:  And Joe, unfortunately, we're having some audio problems.  It sounds like Joe is going to talk about the ports and Congress.  I did at least hear that out of him.  Of course, a very feisty New Jersey filing suit against that sale of the port. 

Still ahead, everybody, parents fighting to keep a teacher out of their children's classroom.  So why are they worried about this particular teacher?  Because she was once a he.  The details are coming up next.


COSBY:  Well, you may have heard the talk about the Oscar-nominated movie “Transamerica,” profiling a man's transition from male to female via gender reassignment surgery.  Well, tonight in New Jersey, a woman who was once a man is fighting to keep the job she had before the surgery as a substitute teacher. 

Deanna Durante from NBC station WCAU has the story for us.


LILLY MACBETH, TEACHER:  My life is an open book, and I'm proud of it. 

DEANNA DURANTE, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  It was not something Lilly MacBeth did on a whim. 

MACBETH:  My path took me into fatherhood, three children, a marriage of 33 years. 

DURANTE:  But something sparked a change, a change MacBeth is still undergoing.  Known most of her life as William, she is now Lilly, a substitute teacher for three school districts, including Eagleswood Township. 

MARK SCHNEPP, PARENT:  The fact that they talked to her as a man first and now coming back to a woman is just a huge distraction. 

DURANTE:  Mark Schnepp appears to be leading the way to try and prevent MacBeth from returning to the classroom. 

SCHNEPP:  I just wanted to let everybody know what's going on.  And so I took out an ad.

DURANTE:  An ad urging parents to attend next Monday's school board meeting.

MACBETH:  The gentleman that ran the ad had every right to do that.  This is a free country.  And as long as things like that don't step on anybody's individual rights, what can you do? 

DURANTE:  Schnepp, a Methodist, says MacBeth's gender change is against his religion.  And the school board is violating his rights if MacBeth enters a classroom.

MACBETH:  The only thing surrounding this whole issue is fear, fear of the unknown. 


COSBY:  And still ahead, everybody, we're going to have “Caught by Cosby” tonight.  Why firefighters had to do some serious climbing high over southern California.  Incredible pictures, coming up.


COSBY:  “Caught by Cosby” tonight, a dramatic rescue more than 300 feet in the air.  A crane operator working high over Century City, California, made a call for help this afternoon. 

The man, who was in his 60s, had chest pains and could not climb down, so firefighters climbed to the top.  But since the man was the only one who could operate the crane, firefighters had to call in a helicopter to get him down.  He is recovering tonight in the hospital.

And that does it for me on LIVE & DIRECT.  Thanks for joining us tonight, everybody.  I'm Rita Cosby.  “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” with Joe starts now.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST:  Hey, thanks so much, Rita.



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