updated 2/28/2006 10:56:42 AM ET 2006-02-28T15:56:42

Guests: Warren Riley, Oliver Thomas, Bobby Jindal, Janet Reitman, Mike Rinder, Robin Leach, Len Leeds, Chris Gibson, Denny King

RITA COSBY, HOST:  Good evening, everybody.  Tonight, we‘re going to take you inside the secret of Church of Scientology.  Do members really speak their own language?  And what‘s this talk about alien life?  Details on the true faith of an estimated 10 million followers and the fear by some who have left.

And incredible underwater port protection.  Did you know that the same technology in that search for Natalee Holloway is now keeping our ports safe?  We‘re going to take you below the surface.

But first, despite suffering the wrath of Hurricane Katrina just six months ago, the city of New Orleans is celebrating Mardi Gras style in the French Quarter at this hour.  Thousands of people have poured into the Crescent City for one of the biggest and longest parties around.  The sounds of music, laughter and mischief are filling the air as the city tries to regroup from the damage still left behind by the summer‘s most devastating storm.

LIVE AND DIRECT tonight is NBC‘s Donna Gregory.  Donna, what‘s the latest from there?

DONNA GREGORY, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hi, Rita.  You can probably see it, and I know you can hear it behind me, Mardi Gras in full swing.  This is actually before “Lundi Gras,” which is “Fat Monday” before “Fat Tuesday.”  You can see behind me Bourbon Street filling up with people, but this reorganized Mardi Gras is running pretty smoothly so far, no major incidents reported.  Police are not telling us—you can hear the siren there.  They‘re not telling us how many people have been arrested, but we‘ve witnessed arrests.  Police are out in full force in uniform and in plainclothes, as well.

Definitely a lot going on here tonight, but reorganized parade routes have been consolidated all to one route, and then there‘s also fewer parades going on.  So very organized, very tight, no problems reported today.

COSBY:  You know, Donna, the city is still in dire financial straits. 

How‘s it paying for this big party?

GREGORY:  You know, I think, Rita, one of the misconceptions around the country is that the city actually sponsors this.  It doesn‘t.  And it‘s not a city-sponsored event.  The krewes, the people who organize the floats, actually pay for them themselves.  And they are some of the most spectacular and elaborate things you have ever seen, very professionally done.  They pay for all of the items that they throw off of the floats.

The police did say that they will pay—or the city will pay for police and for clean-up.  They did for the first time, Rita, get corporate sponsorship.

And I think you can hear the police are out in full force tonight, and the city does say that it will pick up the tab to pay for their overtime.  But it is shortened, only eight days, as opposed to the longer parade route and schedule that they had in the past.

COSBY:  And we can still hear you a little bit.  A state judge has also said—this is pretty stunning—that he may release, what, 4,000 prisoners unless their cases get to trial?  What can you tell us about that?

GREGORY:  It‘s something that happens here from time to time, Rita, when the court system wants more money.  In this case, the court system is out of money.  The justice system is pretty much bankrupt here in the city of New Orleans.  The courts have no money.  The defense has no money to publicly defend people.  So not only could they let prisoners out early who might not ought to be let out, but they can also delay the legal proceedings for people who have been unjustly arrested.

So it‘s a touchy situation, but NBC News did talk to a judge who says there is no release of prisoners imminent any time soon.

COSBY:  You know, and Donna, as we‘re hearing all the noise behind you, is this sort of standard for the night, or is something going on behind you?

GREGORY:  I believe this is standard.  We‘ve been hearing this all nights when I‘ve been here at Mardi Gras.  Again, the police want to make sure nothing happens.  They have a system for crowd control here that is second to none.  Their philosophy is to remove the problem from the situation.  They extricate the person causing the problem, and then they let the party roll.

And I should tell you, too, that the medical system is set up pretty efficiently here, as well.  All along the parade routes, Rita, they have staging areas for people with minor injuries.  There is a temporary medical facility set up at the convention center, should anyone need that, and they also have plans to airlift any seriously injured patients to Baton Rouge—very, very tightly organized (INAUDIBLE)

COSBY:  Well, looks like quite a crowd behind you, Donna.  Thank you very much.  We appreciate it.

Well, despite a massive drop in tourism, although you wouldn‘t know it from the pictures behind Donna, some New Orleans residents say they‘ve got something to prove this year.  While the streets are not as crowded with people as parades as they used to be, many locals are not giving up on the city.  They say the yearly Mardi Gras celebration is part of who they are, and that‘s not going to change.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s, like, you can‘t get us out of here.  It don‘t take a—a storm‘s not going to get us to leave.  This is tradition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is what we‘re here for.  We want to get back to normalcy as soon as possible.  It‘s been rough since August the 29th, but we‘re back and we plan on being back for a long time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  And LIVE AND DIRECT right now is New Orleans police superintendent Warren Riley.  Chief Riley, how difficult is it to juggle Mardi Gras with these crowds for your police department?

CHIEF WARREN RILEY, NEW ORLEANS POLICE SUPERINTENDENT:  Well, it‘s something we‘re used to.  We‘re very used to it.  The crowds are probably a little bit bigger than we expected but smaller than we‘re used to, but things are going very well.  It hasn‘t been difficult at all.

COSBY:  How many arrests have you made?  Is it calmer than years past this year because of what‘s happened?

RILEY:  Oh, yes.  Absolutely.  We‘ve had a little bit over 150 arrests related to Mardi Gras.  By this time a year ago, we were probably somewhere above 1,000.

COSBY:  And what kind of crimes are people committing?

RILEY:  Well, they‘re really not very serious crimes, a handful of people in possession of drugs, mostly, actually, people who are intoxicated, things like that.

COSBY:  You know, before, when people were arrested, obviously, after Katrina, they were taken to the bus terminal, which was sort of the makeshift jail.  Where are you taking people now to arrest them?  Where do you put them?

RILEY:  Well, right now, they‘re at—the (INAUDIBLE) sheriff‘s office has a couple of buses that are located nearby that we take them to, but we also bring them to central lock-up for booking—for processing through booking.

COSBY:  But some of them are actually on buses, you said, too?

RILEY:  I‘m sorry?  I didn‘t hear you.

COSBY:  You put some of them on buses you said?

RILEY:  Yes.  The sheriff‘s office has some buses where they actually fingerprint, photograph, and hold the person until they transport them to lock-up.

COSBY:  Now, a state judge is saying that maybe 4,000 prisoners could be maybe released because paperwork was lost and other things.  What kind of impact could that have on the streets if 4,000 were to be released?  And you know, just what kind of message does that send, Chief?

RILEY:  Well, I certainly hope that that does not happen.  Obviously, all components of the criminal justice system need to get together, work together and find solutions and ways to insure that these people do not get released from jail.  It would be a major impact on the city, and it would be a very negative impact.

COSBY:  Yes, and a bad message, too, don‘t you think, Chief?

RILEY:  Absolutely.  Yes.

COSBY:  How tough is it to enforce the law when you‘re still, I would imagine, fairly thin?  Is your department up to speed?  Because there were so many guys that were lost, some that were obviously killed, injured during the storm.

RILEY:  I‘m—you know, I‘m sorry.  I didn‘t hear what you said just now.

RILEY:  How full is your department now?  How much up to speed is it?  And how tough is it?  Is your department still fairly thin?  Is it—is it a full department, or are you still missing some guys?

RILEY:  Well, now, we‘re missing some people.  We lost roughly 200 -- a little bit under officers due to terminations, resignations and retirements.  So we‘re at about 1,497 police officers right now.  We have 1,437 working on the streets.  But our population has been significantly reduced.  Before Katrina, we were pushing to get 2,000 police officers.  Right now, we‘ve lowered that.  We‘re trying to get back up to 1,600, and that should be sufficient, probably, at least for the next year-and-a-half or two.

COSBY:  Well, Chief Riley, we wish you lots of luck.  Thank you for being with us on a very busy night.

And despite the celebration, it‘s now six months later.  So the big question,  is New Orleans really better off?  LIVE AND DIRECT right now are New Orleans city council president Oliver Thomas and Louisiana congressman Bobby Jindal.

Let me start with you, Oliver.  You know, the thought about 4,000 guys maybe—you just heard from the chief.  He said, obviously, that‘s the wrong message.  That would just create havoc.  Are you concerned about what kind of impact that could have on the city and rebuilding?

OLIVER THOMAS, NEW ORLEANS CITY COUNCIL:  Oh, absolutely.  The city right now is as safe as it‘s been in a long time.  (INAUDIBLE) think we were the murder capital and the crime capital of America for a long time.  The bad guys need to stay put.  We don‘t need to reinstitute that image while we‘re trying to recover and rebuild.

We need to rebuild this place with a better image and better than we were before.  This is an opportunity for us to put on a new face, a new shiny new face and be a new community.  That is of grave concern to everyone, even the people who want to return.  If crime skyrockets, if the bad guys get out, those people who want to come back won‘t even come back.  That‘s not going to help us.

COSBY:  You know, Congressman Jindal, you know, you see all the folks celebrating, and I think it does send a positive message.  You can‘t help but think of all those people who are still homeless tonight, who—still that other part of New Orleans that is still leveled, right?

REP. BOBBY JINDAL ®, LOUISIANA:  Absolutely.  As you know, there areas in New Orleans east, in the 9th Ward and St. Bernard/Plaquemas parish -- many neighborhoods, there‘s a lot of reconstruction work.  Many other neighborhoods look exactly the way they looked five, six months ago.  People are anxious for answers.  They know the money is coming, but they want to know now where they can rebuild, whether they can rebuild, when they can rebuild, what help they‘re getting from the state, what help they‘re getting from their insurance companies.  Every day that passes without answers makes it a little less likely they‘re going to come back.

COSBY:  You know, and Congressman, New Orleans is already $120 million in debt to the federal government.  What should the federal government be doing?  What can they do?

JINDAL:  Well, you know, I was glad to see the president announced $4 billion more in aid that he‘s going to support for homeowners and others.  I was deeply disappointed when the federal government started this new policy with community disaster loans.  For the first time—we‘ve never done this before in other natural disasters—they said, We‘re going to make it impossible for communities to have these loans forgiven.  This was America‘s worst natural disaster.  It‘s a decision I hope the president and the Congress will revisit.

But in the short term, I was very please to see they‘re making up to $12 billion available for housing.  They‘re making money available for levees.  It is so important.  We need to make people feel safe, help them with housing.  If we get the economy moving again, I think people will come back, rebuild their schools, rebuild the health care.  But right now, we need help with housing and levees to make sure people feel safe and they have somewhere to live.

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  We‘re looking at some pictures, guy, too.  These pictures are incredible, right, Oliver?  I mean, you still see so much damage.

THOMAS:  Oh, absolutely.  You know, this issue of borrowing money doesn‘t help our credit rating, or bond rating moving forward.  We can‘t keep borrowing—we cannot keep robbing Peter to pay Paul.  At some point, the federal government needs to treat us the way they treated every other area that went through this type of disaster, but of course, not to the magnitude that we‘ve suffered.

You know, we supply this nation with a lot of its oil and gas revenue, as well as a lot of its natural resources.  We would hope, at some point, Congress member Jindal and Senator Vitter and Mary Landrieu and Jefferson - - that that group is successful at having these loans forgiven because, you know, we can‘t mortgage the future of our children by continually borrowing money to run city government.  City government—as long as there‘s a city, city government‘s going to be important.

COSBY:  You guys, I‘m going to interrupt you real quick because I want you really quick to hear—this is Mike Brown, former FEMA director, talking to Brian Williams.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL BROWN, FORMER FEMA DIRECTOR:  Instead of putting my arm around Governor Blanco and talking about how wonderfully things are working was to have told them this is a disaster of a magnitude that this country has never seen.  We are struggling.  We‘re going to do everything that we can to help make this thing better.  We‘re going to call in all the resources.  We need your patience and understanding, and paint them a realistic picture.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Hey, Oliver, sorry I had to cut you off, but how does it make you feel it hear that that‘s what the people should have heard six months ago from Mike Brown?

THOMAS:  Well, that‘s the problem with partisan politics and people wanting to be true to the party, even when it‘s a lie (ph) these days.  I mean, you know, partisanship should not be bigger than what happens to American people, American citizens.  But it‘s something we already knew, Rita.  You knew this already when we talked five or six months ago.  It‘s something that should have been said a long time ago.  Those were the realities then.  They shouldn‘t just be coming forward now.

COSBY:  You‘re right.  And we‘re looking at some incredible pictures that we all remember all too well from six months ago.  Guys, both of you, thank you very much, gentlemen.

THOMAS:  Thank you.

JINDAL:  Thank you, Rita.

And late-breaking developments in the fight over controlling American ports.  Why is the Coast Guard worried about security?  And how is the same technology used in the search for Natalee Holloway now being used to protect American ports?  That‘s coming up, and that‘s not all.  Take a look.

Still ahead, inside Scientology.  Is it science fiction or true faith?  Ten million members strong, including some of the world‘s biggest celebrities.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM CRUISE, ACTOR:  Scientology is something that you don‘t understand.  It‘s, like, you could be a Christian and be a Scientologist.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  What do they stand for, and why are some former members so afraid to speak?  I‘ll ask one of the church‘s top officials.

And jaw-dropping accusations about Princess Diana that‘s about to add fuel to the fire of conspiracy theories.  Tonight, a top investigator says the CIA could hold clues about the night she lost her life.  Robin Leach joins me LIVE AND DIRECT.

And so much for a conservative Supreme Court.  Anna Nicole Smith is heading to the highest court in the land.  The former Playmate turns plaintiff.  It‘s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

L. RON HUBBARD, SCIENTOLOGY FOUNDER:  But the individual has erased what the Freudian said was his basic illness, which is his reactive mind.  His unconscious mind is gone, and he is totally alert and totally capable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  And tonight, we are taking you into a world that is alien to a lot of people, the Church of Scientology.  Veiled in secrecy, many only know about the religion because of its famous members, including superstar Tom Cruise.  But tonight, we‘re going to expose the secrets of Scientology.  For this month‘s issue of “Rolling Stone” magazine, reporter Janet Reitman had unprecedented access to the church, its supporters, and even those who broke away from it.  She joins me now live here in the studio.

Janet, is it a cult?  Is it a religion?  What is it?

JANET REITMAN, “ROLLING STONE”:  Well, some people would definitely say that it is a religion.  The church would say that.  And there are many, many people that believe it‘s a cult.  You know, I went about trying to find out what it really was without sort of taking up, you know, a perspective that it was one or the other.

COSBY:  What did you learn?  What was the most interesting thing to you?

REITMAN:  I think the most interesting thing was the extreme amount of control that this group, I‘ll call it, exerts over its followers and how controlled and orchestrated and organized they are as an actual organization administratively, and sort of every little detail is figured out down to the smallest.

COSBY:  (INAUDIBLE) they have their own language.

REITMAN:  Yes.

COSBY:  And it‘s fascinating.  I want to sort of go through some of the ABCs of it.  The terminology—what is Thetan?  Explain that.  What is Thetan?

REITMAN:  Thetan‘s basically like the soul, essentially.

COSBY:  And what does—what does it mean to be a Thetan?

REITMAN:  It means that you‘re an eternal spirit.  You‘ve lived trillions of lifetimes, and you‘re going to live trillions of lifetimes more.

COSBY:  And what is OT VII, or Operating Thetan VII?

COSBY:  Well, to be OT VII—actually, that‘s not even—there are eight levels of OT.  To be in an Operating Thetan means you‘ve achieved a really high level of enlightenment.

COSBY:  And this is, like, a Tom Cruise level.

REITMAN:  Tom Cruise is—Tom Cruise is OT VII, which means he is almost at the top level.  And I think at this level, he‘s allegedly able to move things with his mind and...

COSBY:  Levitate?

REITMAN:  Maybe.  Maybe.  I mean, you have to ask Tom, but maybe.

COSBY:  What about auditing?  What is auditing?

REITMAN:  Auditing is essentially like a counseling program, where you are there to kind of expel your negative experiences in your past, like, to kind of basically get rid of your emotional and allegedly physical baggage.  And once you do that, you‘re said to be a “clear,” which means you‘re sort of free of everything that‘s been holding you back.

COSBY:  You know, one of the things I was—the cost of this is incredible.  What, it ranges, what, from $750 to an introductory session to $9,000 per session?

REITMAN:  I was told—when I...

COSBY:  Is that true?

REITMAN:  When I inquired—yes.  When I inquired about it, you know, actually, I was told $750 was what you would pay as an introductory person.  But yes, I‘ve heard as high as $8,000 or $9,000.  I‘ve heard $10,000, so...

COSBY:  What‘s the e-meter?  What is the e-meter?

REITMAN:  It‘s a device that measures electrical charges in your skin.  And you hold onto these, like, electrodes that look like soup cans.  And when you are asked a series of questions and you answer them, a little needle on the meter will register.  And that is allegedly supposed to say whether or not you are being truthful, whether or not you‘re hiding something or holding something back.  It‘s supposed to get at whatever it is that really is going on with...

COSBY:  Like a lie detector test, or something like that?

REITMAN:  Well, people say it‘s like a lie detector test.  I—I—the church officials that I spoke with were adamant that it‘s not a lie detector.  But it‘s often compared to a lie detector because it kind of works on similar principles.

COSBY:  I want you—this is something—one of the e-mails you received.  You said you received a number of e-mails...

REITMAN:  Yes.

COSBY:  ... and you put that in there.  This is about folks who were sort of afraid to speak out about the religion, but this is pretty strong.  “The church is a big, scary deal.  My attitude was if this information could just save one person the money, heartache and mind-bending control, then all would be worth it.  But I‘m frightened of what could happen.”

What happens to people who speak out?  One of the things I see here—

“disconnection.”

REITMAN:  Yes, disconnection is a policy that applies to anyone who is critical of the church and who speaks out—for example, talks to a journalist.  And that means that, if they do that, they are basically excommunicated from the church.  And they‘re also told to sever ties from their parents, from their and anybody within the church.  It‘s supposed to be optional thing.  Both parties have to agree to it.  But it has—from what I‘ve been told, from my reporting, it has, you know, ruined dozens and dozens of families, and kids live in fear of this idea of having to lose—having to make a choice between leaving Scientology and maybe talking about it and...

COSBY:  And how often...

REITMAN:  ... losing their families.

COSBY:  does that happen?  And how often does that happen?

REITMAN:  It happens quite a bit to—from what I understand.  I mean, I interviewed, oh, God, six, seven kids who are afraid of that happening to them, and I received e-mails from dozens of people who that had happened to, each of whom had stories to tell me.

COSBY:  And how different are kids raised in Scientology than raised in other religions?

REITMAN:  I mean, raised—I think that they‘re raised in a very cloistered environment.  Scientology‘s a very all-encompassing religion.  It‘s just like I said before, it‘s about control.  They maintain a very tight control over their membership, and over what is—what they allow their members to know.  And they have a language that was devised by L. 

Ron Hubbard that they use.  They have a lot of this auditing that they do -

they do all the time.  And so kids are raised in that environment.  And what happen is, they wind up living in somewhat of a parallel universe to our own, even though they‘re living in a secular world and they may be interacting, even in a regular school environment with kids that are not Scientologists.

COSBY:  Janet Reitman, thank you very much.

REITMAN:  No problem.

COSBY:  Interesting article in “Rolling Stone.”  Fascinating, especially with the lingo.  Thank you.

And we‘re joined now...

REITMAN:  No problem.

COSBY:  ... by Mike Rinder.  He‘s the executive director of the Church of Scientology International Office of Special Affairs.

Mr. Rinder, what are—what are the biggest misconceptions about—do you think Janet hit it on the head, or do you think there are misconceptions out there?

MIKE RINDER, DIR., CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY INTL.:  Oh, I think there a lot of misconceptions, Rita.  I think that probably the biggest misconception is that it‘s difficult to find out about Scientology.  In fact, it‘s very easy.  Anybody can walk into a bookstore, anybody can walk into a library, get a book by L. Ron Hubbard and find out all about Scientology.  It‘s one of the things that makes Scientology so accessible, in fact, is that everything is written.  Mr. Hubbard wrote a lot of books, and they contain the basic principles and the fundamental beliefs and practices of Scientology, and anybody can find out about them.

COSBY:  Can you be a Scientologist and practice other religions, like Judaism or Catholicism?  Can you practice others?

RINDER:  Well, sure you can, although I think that the fundamental principles of Scientology are all-encompassing.  They‘re pan-denominational.  They are concepts of one‘s wellbeing as a spiritual being, how to attain spiritual enlightenment, how to attain spiritual happiness and how to deal with problems in the day-to-day world.  So you know, anybody can apply those principles.

COSBY:  You know, what about what we were just talking about, this disconnection that we were just hearing about from Janet?  Is there something like disconnection, where people basically have a choice between their family and their loved ones or the church.

RINDER:  No, there isn‘t.  That‘s a real misconception that she has.  In fact, one of the fundamentals of Scientology is communication, establishing communication, putting families together, reestablishing relationships.  And that‘s something that she will find that a lot of Scientologists do.  They establish much better relationships with their family, in fact.

COSBY:  But are they cut off?

RINDER:  You know, I think...

COSBY:  I just want to show another little quote.  This is from that “Rolling Stone.”  It says—this is from someone who‘s trying to sort of leave a group within the church, and it says, “Hard physical labor and intense ideological study are used to break a subject‘s will.”

It sounds like sort of like you‘re sort of forced to stay or forced to go.  Is that the case?

RINDER:  No, no.  That‘s not the case at all, Rita.  You know, the little stories that are contained in the “Rolling Stone” article really miss the point.  A number of them are really anonymous stories.  What the point was...

COSBY:  Are any of them true?

RINDER:  ... that that article missed—no, no.  They‘re not.  They‘re not.  They‘re literally made-up stories.  Rita, you got to understand that what was disappointing about that article is the amount of access that Janet was given, she was able to talk to thousands of Scientologists.  In fact, she set up and had an interview with Kirstie Alley.  She had an interview with Kelly Preston (ph).  She had an interview with a number of Scientologist who had grown up in the religion.  None of those things made it into the article.

She had interviews with people who are engaged in our social betterment programs, our drug rehabilitation program, educational programs.  None of those made it in the article.  So the article doesn‘t tell anybody what Scientology is or why people are in Scientology or what they find that Scientology brings them.  So it really...

COSBY:  Mike, let me—let me show...

RINDER:  ... wasn‘t...

COSBY:  Let me—because I‘ll get you to talk about it because I do think it‘s interesting, the points that you make.  I want to show—like, you talked about, you know, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, who else, Tom Cruise, of course, Kirstie Alley, Jenna Elfman.  Those are some of the prominent ones.  Why are celebrities and also then why are the average person drawn to Scientology?  What is it?

RINDER:  Well, I think that everybody finds something that solves problems in their life, a way of attaining spiritual enlightenment, spiritual freedom, tools to use to improve relationships, to deal with upsets, to deal with things that perhaps you don‘t know where they come from, why it is that you feel the way that you do, why you react to things in a fashion that you don‘t feel is an appropriate reaction.

I think that there a lot of artists in Scientology because artists are the leaders—they tend to be leaders in society.  They are on the cutting edge.  They‘re looking for new ways.  They don‘t follow the status quo.  They are looking...

COSBY:  And Michael...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  A lot of people are saying it‘s about money because it does cost a lot, especially to attain the sort of level three that we were talking about.  You know, some critics say it‘s—what is it, in Janet‘s article -- $250,000 one woman was quoted spending over 20 years.  Is it about those who have money that can donate to the church?  What do you say to critics who say that?

RINDER:  Oh, I say that that‘s completely inaccurate.  One can be a member of the Church of Scientology and involved in Scientology activities without donating anything.  One—you can get it from reading the books, as I said, and study and understand the principles that are contained in those books and applying them to your life.  Certainly, there are people that donate money to the Church of Scientology.  It‘s a reflection of what they feel they get out of Scientology.

COSBY:  And Mike, why...

RINDER:  You ask the people...

COSBY:  ... do people fear it?

RINDER:  ... who are...

COSBY:  Why do people—why is there sort of this mystique, and why do people—some—you know, fear the religion?

RINDER:  Oh, I don‘t think that people fear the religion.  I think that people just don‘t understand it.  I think that people have misinformation from stories like you read in the media that blow things up into sensational proportions.  It‘s easy to really find out what Scientology is.  It‘s very, very simple.  One just need walk into a book store or a library, get a book, walk into a church of Scientology.  Find out for yourself.  Once you find out what Scientology really is, what it offers people, the solutions that it offers to life in today‘s world, there‘s nothing scary about it at all.

COSBY:  Mike Rinder, thank you very much.  We appreciate you being here with the Church of Scientology.  Thank you for coming and responding.  We appreciate it.

And coming up: What does Natalee Holloway have to do with protecting America‘s ports?  We‘re going to take you under water to explain.

And next: Conspiracy theorists, listen up.  The man investigating the death of Princess Diana says he knows who holds the clues about what really happened the night she died, and it may have to do with the CIA, of all things.  We‘re going to give you the details when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  And tonight there are startling new theories surfacing about Princess Diana‘s death.  The lead British investigator is now claiming that the CIA and the French intelligence service may hold clues as to what happened the night her car crashed in a Paris tunnel, killing the princess, her companion, Dodi Al Fayed, and the driver of their car. 

This man, Henri Paul, who investigators are now claiming may have been working as a spy for the French.  Joining me now is AOL.com Vegas editor Robin Leach. 

Robin, it‘s fascinating how, you know, the investigator, the lead investigator, is saying, look, we should look at these theories.  Are you surprised? 

ROBIN LEACH, AOL.COM VEGAS EDITOR:  I don‘t know that they‘re even theories.  I think that there is certainly some facts, Rita, attached to Henri Paul doing double duty for—working for Mr. Fayed, Mohamed Fayed, Dodi‘s father, and also working for the French secret service.  I think that‘s been clearly established. 

I‘ve always said about this man, Henri Paul, that there was something mysterious about him.  You know, if you‘re just a driver, just a body guard, you do not wind up with 14 bank accounts stretched all across Europe with hundreds of thousands of dollars in them. 

(CROSSTALK)

LEACH:  That means that you are being...

COSBY:  So how does that change it, Robin?  How does that change the equation, if he was indeed maybe the French spy? 

LEACH:  Well, you‘ve got to do a little bit of conspiracy-linking here, Rita.  If, in fact, the British secret service were under some bizarre series of orders or influences to ensure that harm befell Diana so that she would not marry this man, then it‘s highly possible that because the secret service in Britain was talking with the secret service in France that that man was placed into that position that particular night. 

If the paparazzi knew where that car was going, then the secret service surely knew.  Now, what happened was—if you remember the next morning—Henri Paul‘s blood tests were taken.  And suddenly, they announced the man was drunk and on drugs, suddenly. 

COSBY:  Yes, it was a surprise.  You know, Robin, what about this new allegation about the CIA, too?  This is another whole other layer that the CIA, our CIA, may have been listening to Diana‘s calls right up until those final moments?

LEACH:  If the CIA can monitor the cell phone of Osama bin Laden, then you know it was monitoring Princess Diana‘s cell phone. 

COSBY:  But why?  Why?

LEACH:  Well, because they were asked to by the British secret intelligence service, as they would do—all secret service agencies cooperate with each other.  If they‘re on a mission that involved a figure of this magnitude, it would not surprise me at all that they brought in the best secret service in the world, the Americans. 

So CIA, national security, they want those phone records as part of Lord Stevens‘ ever-widening lines of inquiry.  If they got the transcripts of those phone messages, you might find some very, very interesting things that were going on, on her cell phone, in the hours before the tragic death. 

COSBY:  And what do you think they would reveal, Robin?  And what do you think we will see in Lord Stevens‘ report? 

LEACH:  Well, Rita, I think if you go back, you know that there was a great amount of fear on the part of Diana.  She had said on a number of occasions to private friends that she feared that the breaks on her car would be severed. 

So she was obviously feeling a great sense of threat coming from the royal family in Britain about her behavior in being linked with this Egyptian family.  So those cell phone records could prove quite telling to the British inquiry. 

COSBY:  Absolutely.  Well, Robin, hold on if you could because we also want to talk about another case that‘s making a lot of headlines. 

Forget about Mr. Smith... 

LEACH:  It‘s Mrs. Smith goes to...

(LAUGHTER)

COSBY:  It‘s Mrs. Anna Nicole Smith, she has a chance to go to Washington.  Yes, that‘s right, the former model-turned-“Playboy playmate-turned-diet spokesperson is headed right for the highest court in the land.  Lawyers for Smith, who goes by her real name, Vicky Lynn Marshall, in court papers, will argue that she deserves part of the fortune from her late husband, Texas billionaire tycoon Howard Marshall. 

And LIVE & DIRECT tonight is Len Leeds.  He‘s a former attorney for Anna Nicole Smith.  And still with us is Robin Leach.

Robin, real quick, what do you think about it going to the highest court? 

LEACH:  I just pray that not one of the justices were ever in one of those clubs in Texas where she used to dance. 

(LAUGHTER)

COSBY:  Or they‘re on heart medication, we‘ll find out tomorrow, right?

(LAUGHTER) 

Len, are you surprised it went all the way to the highest court in the land? 

LEN LEEDS, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR ANNA NICOLE SMITH:  No, I think there are some very important issues to be determined.  The question being: 

Should the federal courts have exercised jurisdiction?  Generally, with respect to probate situations, the state courts take precedence. 

COSBY:  Yes, are you surprised that it went all this way?  Because, of course, it‘s gone through—in fact, if we could show the record, she‘s, what, one-for-three, I think, based on the record. 

LEEDS:  Sure.  You know...

COSBY:  Are you surprised it went all the way, this particular case went to the Supreme Court? 

LEEDS:  Well, it‘s very interesting.  This has actually been pending 10 years.  And I was involved right at the beginning when her husband died.  And there was a proceeding in Texas, and the Texas courts determined that there was an irrevocable trust and she wasn‘t entitled to any money. 

However, she later filed a bankruptcy petition in California, and the California court decided that she was entitled to $449 million.  That was later reduced by an appellate court to $88 million. 

COSBY:  And how do you think this is going to go, Len? 

(CROSSTALK)

LEEDS:  I think she‘s going to win.  I think that the Supreme Court is going to make a determination that the California bankruptcy court properly exercised federal jurisdiction.  And the Bush administration, by the way, is backing Anna. 

COSBY:  Oh, it is? 

LEEDS:  Yes, which is very interesting. 

COSBY:  How is that?  How so? 

LEEDS:  Well, they believe in federal court jurisdiction being exercised, even though generally there‘s a rule that, with respect to probate situations, the federal courts will not intervene. 

COSBY:  You know, Robin, let‘s talk—it‘s a lot of money that we‘re talking about. 

LEACH:  A lot? 

COSBY:  There was $88 million... 

(CROSSTALK)

LEACH:  It‘s bigger than rich and famous.

COSBY:  ... $88 million—and that‘s what I was going to bring up—

$88 million that was what she was previously awarded. 

LEEDS:  Well, she was actually...

COSBY:  And it was U.S. district court.  What, Len?

LEEDS:  She was actually awarded $449 million. 

COSBY:  Oh, I‘m off quite a bit.  OK. 

LEEDS:  But then it was appealed within the Ninth Circuit, and it was reduced to $88 million.  So we don‘t really know what the Supreme Court is going to do.  The oral arguments are on tomorrow.  They may remand it back to the California bankruptcy court. 

COSBY:  And, Robin Leach, how do you think the justices, as we‘re looking at them here, how do you think they‘re going to receive Anna Nicole Smith, Robin Leach? 

LEACH:  Well, I think they‘ll be like this, wondering what the heck is going on.  But I don‘t think so much the case is about her as it‘s a case about the law in the different states.  But she‘s the spokesperson.  And what was she, the model for Guess jeans?  So I guess it‘s anybody‘s “guess” tomorrow in the Supreme Court. 

COSBY:  Now, have you met her, Robin?  Have you met Anna Nicole? 

LEACH:  Several times. 

COSBY:  And how do you think she‘s going to carry herself tomorrow? 

LEACH:  I hope that she is the modicum of decorum tomorrow, but something tells me she won‘t be able to resist the shot of at least publicity wink that comes out of it. 

COSBY:  Yes, she‘s sort of known, Robin, for outbursts and crazy things.  Do you think we‘ll see some of surprise at some point? 

LEACH:  No, I think that the hallowed halls will govern her behavior tomorrow inside.  But outside, don‘t be surprised if you see just a little bit of cleavage and a little bit of leg. 

(LAUGHTER)

COSBY:  Len, a little bit of a circus, do you think, tomorrow? 

LEEDS:  It always is.  There will be a lot of media there.  But it really is just an interpretation of a legal issue.  And everything else is really secondary. 

COSBY:  It will be fascinating to watch.  Guys, both, thank you very much. 

Well, from the former playmate plaintiff to the pop star defendant, British singer George Michael was arrested for drug possession.  Police in London found him slumped over the steering wheel of his car.  They reportedly also found marijuana and GHB, which is also known as liquid ecstasy, inside his car.

The 42-year-old British singer, however, is taking responsibility, saying it was his, quote, “own stupid fault, as usual,” unquote.  He has been released on bail and is due back in court next month. 

And still ahead, everybody, new details tonight about a killer convict who escaped from prison and the woman who helped him get away.  And next, wait until you hear what the Coast Guard thinks about a new foreign company taking over America‘s ports.  Plus, some incredible underwater searches.  We‘re going to show them to you.  That‘s coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK:  This is not a Democratic issue. 

This is not a Republican issue.  This is an American issue. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  And late-breaking developments in the debate over port security.  Reports tonight say the Coast Guard warned the Bush administration that it could not determine if a company from the United Arab Emirates, which is said to take over six U.S. ports, supported terrorism. 

This conclusion was made weeks ago, citing significant gaps in U.S.  intelligence.  With new focus on port security, you may be surprised to learn what is being used to help keep water safe. 

We‘re joined now by Chris Gibson and his videoray robot, which is used to patrol our ports. 

You know, this robot, I‘m surprised, Chris.  I look at it.  It‘s pretty small.  How does it work? 

CHRIS GIBSON, VIDEORAY ROBOT OPERATOR:  Actually, it‘s eight pounds, Rita.  It‘s very easy to maneuver and very easy to deploy.  It‘s called a remotely operated robot or vehicle, as it‘s called in our industry, and it‘s used to protect our ports and underwater waterways.

COSBY:  You know, we‘re looking at some pictures of it underwater in action.  How long does it take to sort of survey—what is it, boats, is it ports, is it a combination of things? 

GIBSON:  Well, it‘s actually a combination of things.  Usually, in a port environment, the water is very contaminated and the operators are going to use it to sweep a pier to make sure that there‘s no foreign objects, make sure that there‘s nothing that‘s not supposed to be there.  And it‘s going to be used to inspect the bottom of ship holes, not only the bottom of the ship hole, but also, you know, bow thrusters.  We‘ll actually go into the bowel thrusters and check the running gear, as well. 

COSBY:  And what is it looking for?  Is it looking for, you know, chemicals?  Is it looking for an explosive device?  What type of things can it detect? 

GIBSON:  Well, it can detect almost anything.  Now, depending on the water clarity—the unit that I have here actually has a sonar on it.  And because of the water clarity in the ports, and usually because of contaminated water, you can‘t see very far.  You can barely see your hand in front of your face. 

So you use the sonar to acoustically give us a graphical representation of the water that‘s around us, and can detects mines on the ship hole, and it can detect contraband on the bottom of the ships, as well as inside the ballast tanks inside ships. 

COSBY:  And what kind of track record—what has it discovered?  Has it found anything in all of its searches that it‘s been used for?

GIBSON:  It‘s found quite a bit of stuff.  Most of the stuff I‘m not privy to talk about because it‘s been classified by the people that use the videoray. 

COSBY:  You know, and there was a classified Navy exercise, which you can sort of talk in broad terms.  It kept, what, SEALs from infiltrating a target, right?  Explain sort of how it has been able to be very helpful.

GIBSON:  Well, basically, our military does exercises all the time.  One of the exercises that it performed—while I can‘t go into details about it, like you said, because it‘s classified—Navy SEALs were given an objective to infiltrate a port.  And videoray, as well as other underwater technologies, were used to thwart that exercise.  And the SEALs were not able to accomplish their objective because of the videoray and other underwater technology. 

COSBY:  You know, and this device, I understand, has also been used in the search for Natalee Holloway.  Explain that, which is pretty incredible, for secures ports to Natalee Holloway. 

GIBSON:  It‘s actually used for quite a bit of things.  It was used in Aruba.  We were asked to come down by Texas EquuSearch to investigate some underwater targets that they had identified as possible places that they wanted to clear.  And videoray was actually able to go in and perform sweeps—it actually performed a sweep along in a cave area, as well as a bridge area. 

COSBY:  Incredible stuff, Chris.  Thank you very much for bringing this to us.  And amazing to see this technology in action there.  We appreciate you bringing videoray with you for tonight.  Thank you very much. 

GIBSON:  Thank you.

COSBY:  And Joe Scarborough is going to have a lot more on the selling of the ports at the top of the hour.  He joins us now with a preview—

Joe? 

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST:  Hey, thanks a lot, Rita.

We have an awful lot going on, and some things that have been breaking through the weekend and today.  First of all, of course, many people have heard that the Coast Guard had previously warned the Bush administration that they could not guarantee that the United Arab Emirates would not have ties with terrorism.  Gave them this warning before the Bush administration ignored it.

Also this weekend, the chairman of the 9/11 Commission came out, was very critical of the deal, said it was a terrible mistake.  And yet George Bush and many others in the Bush administration continues to defy not only the Coast Guard and the 9/11 chairman, but also many, many Republicans in the Congress trying to push this deal through. 

We‘re going to be talking about that, Oprah Winfrey‘s latest dust-up, and also “The Da Vinci Code,” straight ahead in “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.”

Back to you, Rita. 

COSBY:  All right, Joe.  We‘ll be watching.  Thanks so much. 

And up next, everybody, the hunt for a missing sex offender, and the latest on an all-points bulletin for a killer convict and the dog trainer who pulled a few tricks to help him get out.  You‘re going to be surprised to hear how they were finally caught.  The details, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  And tonight our APB, an all-points bulletin, in the Chicago area, for an escaped sex offender.  Thirty-four-year-old Angelo Rotunno left the Elgin mental health facility on Sunday and has not been seen since. 

Rotunno was convicted in 2002 of kidnapping a child.  He‘s a registered sex offender, and he was ordered to undergo mandatory treatment and isn‘t supposed to leave the facility.  Tonight, he is on the run, and police want to find him.  Anybody who has any information about Angelo Rotunno, please call the Elgin police department.  That‘s the number you see there on your screen, 847-289-2700.

And now to a dangerous duo on the run and how they were finally brought down.  Convicted killer John Manard is being sent back to Kansas from Tennessee tonight.  And so is the dog trainer who‘s accused of smuggling out of a Kansas prison inside a dog crate. 

Joining me now is Denny King with the East Tennessee U.S. Marshal Service.  He assisted in capturing the fugitives just after they did a little shopping.

Denny, first of all, what, they almost walked right into you guys, right? 

DENNY KING, U.S. MARSHAL, MIDDLE TENNESSEE DISTRICT:  That is correct, Rita. 

COSBY:  Yes, how did it happen?  What, they were walking out of a, what, I saw Barnes and Noble‘s? 

KING:  That‘s correct. 

COSBY:  And what happened?  They were going into their truck and that‘s where, what, you guys were stationed? 

KING:  I had asked the East Tennessee Smoky Mountain Marshal Service Task Force to meet me at that exit to discuss our strategy for the follow-up on the investigation of a lead that we had received that they were on the I-75 corridor.

COSBY:  Amazing.  You know, and I know that there was a big chase and it finally ended with a crash.  You know, it‘s interesting because John Manard gave a statement saying that, you know, Toby Young was a hostage.  But let me show some of the evidence that seems to be here. 

You know, she bought a getaway car, a truck, stored the getaway van, had $25,000 with her, also, also bought hair dye and a razor, and took two guns, handguns, from her home.  What role do you think she played here, Denny? 

KING:  Oh, I think she was very much involved with the preplanning of the escape. 

COSBY:  And to what degree? 

KING:  Well, again, like I say, I think she was very involved with by purchasing the vehicle, and obtaining money, and having the getaway car stored in the storage building. 

COSBY:  You know, they were also hanging out in this cabin in Tennessee and some kind of wacky things were found in there.  These are some of the items that were in the cabin, sex toys, and other erotica.  There was a blue parakeet bird, materials to create forged identity papers, guitars and a mandolin, a jigsaw puzzle, and fiction novels.  It sounds like it was—you know, they were a little bored or having a little vacation, Denny. 

KING:  Well, we‘re very sensitive to the fact that Toby young has a husband and children back home and family.  And we‘re just very sensitive to that effect.  There was some items found, but we‘re very sensitive to the fact that she does have a family. 

COSBY:  And, you know, what kind of charges is she facing and he facing tonight?

KING:  The escape from the Lansing correction facility.  Ms. Young is charged with aiding and abetting the escape. 

COSBY:  All right.  Well, Denny, good job.  I know you guys, after a 60-mile chase after they took off suddenly, you guys nabbed both of them.  Thank you very much.  We appreciate you being here.

And still ahead, everybody, find out what happens when a mountain lion makes a rare visit outside the wilderness in suburbia.  It‘s coming up, some amazing pictures.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  Well, curiosity didn‘t kill one California cat; it just put him to sleep, and it‘s “Caught by Cosby.” 

Talk about a scary sight in your backyard, a mountain lion wandering around a home just outside of Los Angeles.  The owners didn‘t take any chances.  They called animal control, who came to take it back where it belongs.  The big cat ran from the bushes when an officer shot it with a tranquilizer.  It didn‘t take long for the drugs to work. 

The big cat weighed about 70 pounds and was so heavy that animal control officers dropped it twice.  They are taking it back where it belongs, to the hills above L.A.

And coming up tomorrow, a powerful show of force travels to the U.S.  Capitol to get some answers.  Three parents who all lost a child at the hands of a sexual predator are now in Washington.  They‘re going to be on our show.  Marc Klaas, Erin Runnion and Mark Lunsford join me LIVE & DIRECT tomorrow night. 

And we‘re going to leave you now with a live picture of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, because also tomorrow night we‘re going to have with us actor Steven Seagal from all those action-packed films.  Well, he is a parade marshal at Mardi Gras, and he‘s going to join us live tomorrow.

And that does it for me tonight.  Joe Scarborough in “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” starts right now—Joe?

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

Transcription Copyright 2006 Voxant, Inc.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license

is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may

not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or

internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall

user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may

infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights

or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes

of litigation.>

transcripts

Watch Rita Cosby Live & Direct each weeknight at 9 p.m. ET

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,