updated 9/8/2006 11:56:44 AM ET 2006-09-08T15:56:44

Guests: Sean Maloney, Tony Zumbado, Jeffrey Ross

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST:  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

The path to canceling “The Path to 9/11.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE PATH TO 9/11”)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The fact is, terrorism is proceeding (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It is being (INAUDIBLE) with a (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Period.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Should a 9/11 docudrama quoting Republican talking points word for word, blaming the Clinton administration, run on the ABC network?  Or should it, like the CBS Ronald Reagan docudrama, which the right thought unfair, get shunted off to cable?  The pressure mounts.

So does the pressure from our current employee at the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Today I‘m calling on the Congress to promptly pass legislation providing additional authority for the terror surveillance program...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  In other words, make illegal eavesdropping legal.

And calling Dr. Freud.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  And the United States Congress was right to renew the Terrorist Act.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Oops.

RPGs, rocket-propelled grenades, at least 132 Americans killed by them in Iraq.  So why is the Pentagon blocking the use of a device that detects RPGs and destroys them?

The reporter beaten not to the story but beaten at the story.  And the cameraman rolled on.  Great video, but shouldn‘t he have saved the reporter?

And Paris Hilton explains where she was driving drunk and fast before her DWI arrest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PARIS HILTON:  I was really hungry, and I wanted to have an In-N-Out burger.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Yes, Paris Hilton on the old In-N-Out.  Let‘s see you not watch that.

All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILTON:  (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Good evening.  This is Thursday, September 7, 61 days until the 2006 midterm elections, and four days before the fifth anniversary of 9/11.

What was, we all hoped, a watershed commemoration of the enduring sadness, what now appears instead to be another time of fear and smear.  9/11 spin today, first from the president, and then, remarkably, just hours later, from al Qaeda, and ABC‘s still planning to televise a docudrama with factual errors and even Republican talking points seemingly designed to blame the Clinton administration for the attacks.

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, playing politics with terror, again.

The Bush speech, the bin Laden video in a moment.

But we begin with “The Path to 9/11,” President Clinton now joining his former secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, former national security adviser Samuel Berger—Sandy Berger, of course—in denouncing the ABC miniseries, which claims to be based on the “9/11 Commission Report,” but allegedly contains fictional scenes showing Secretary Albright tipping off Pakistan to a U.S. attempt to get Osama bin Laden, Mr. Berger calling off an operation to capture him, President Clinton getting distracted from the al Qaeda matter by the Lewinsky scandal.

The head of President Clinton‘s foundation is demanding that ABC either correct all errors or pull the docudrama entirely, his press spokesman adding, quote, “It is despicable that ABC-Disney would insist on airing a fictional version of what is a serious and emotional event for our country.  No reputable organization should dramatize 9/11 for profit at the expense of the truth.”

As to such factual errors, while the producer expressed concern that people felt they were being wrongly portrayed, ABC Entertainment still planning to air the docudrama, adding in a statement, quote, “No one has seen the final version of the film because the editing process is not yet complete.  So criticisms of films—the criticisms of the film‘s specifics are premature and irresponsible.”

But a far-right blogger claims he has received assurances from Disney that any changes won‘t be noticeable to any viewer, and that, in an e-mail, his source said to him, quote, “The message of the Clinton Admin. failures remains fully intact.”

The criticism has been enough to make the Scholastic Company pull the educational materials based around the docudrama that it was providing for classroom use.

Sean Maloney was the staff secretary to the president from 1997 to 2000, and he joins us now.

Thank you for your time tonight, sir.

SEAN MALONEY, CLINTON STAFF SECRETARY:  Good to be with you.

OLBERMANN:  You were privy to everything the president read each day, you had daily access to him.  Is there any truth to the principal insinuation here that he was distracted from terrorism by the Lewinsky affair?

SEAN MALONEY:  Absolutely not.  Let me tell you what.  I was there.  I saw the president every day during the entire Lewinsky episode, from the day it started to the day it ended.  And it was my job to provide him with his daily workload, a mountain of stuff that goes through the Oval Office.  And I can tell you, that guy was focused like a laser beam on doing his job.

And you know what else I did, I saw all the national security information that went to the president every day, including all the information on the growing threat of al Qaeda.  And I can tell you, this—

President Clinton was focused like a laser beam on it.

And I‘m just telling you as a guy who was there.  It is a smear to say that he wasn‘t.  It‘s a subjective view, there is no evidence to support it.  And I can tell you, as a guy who was in the room, it‘s just not the case.

And you know who else knew it?  The American people.  And that‘s why they stood by him, because he was doing his job.  And that‘s why he enjoys the favorable ratings he has today.

OLBERMANN:  Do you fear that people will actually believe the docudrama, and now put more blame on President Clinton than he deserves for the events that led up to 9/11?

MALONEY:  Well, look, why would ABC be so careless with the truth?  Let‘s be clear, there is no dispute that there are factual mistakes in this movie, and they are serious.  They—they—they—it just says things that didn‘t happen.  And ABC doesn‘t dispute that.

Now, the president of ABC Entertainment has said it‘s critically important to get it right.  So why not get it right?  Why not clean this thing up, or take it down until you get it right?

You know, I‘m a New Yorker, and those of us in New York are getting to celebrate the five-year anniversary of this terrible episode.  And you know what we‘re thinking about?  We‘re still getting on handle on what was in the toxic cloud that went out.  The families are still grieving with their loss.

This should be a nonpartisan day to come together.  This is a terrible time, using falsehoods, to inject politics into this commemoration.  I just don‘t know why ABC would do it.  It‘s wrong.  They ought to fix it.

OLBERMANN:  Let me play you a reaction from the political arena, recently, Representative Louise Slaughter saying today, and I‘ll get your assessment of it after we play it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LOUISE SLAUGHTER (D):  We demand that ABC run a disclaimer in every single frame.  Saying up front, This is not true, is not good enough.  It‘s got to be in every frame, Don‘t believe this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Would that stop people from accepting this as truth?

MALONEY:  Well, why not get it right?  Why not get it right?  You know, the truth is compelling enough.  Let‘s be clear, this is an entertainment piece.  The ABC News division had nothing to do with it, and their own counterterrorism expert, Richard Clark, says, you know, it‘s a complete mess.  And he was kept out of the process.

With a few edits, with some careful revisions, they could get this thing right.  And they have a responsibility to do so.  It matters.  It matters because people believe what they see on ABC.  They think it‘s the truth.  And ABC is presenting this thing as though it‘s some sort of historical fact.  And they know it‘s wrong, and they shouldn‘t put it out there.

OLBERMANN:  I want to read you a portion of a letter that was written to a head of a network protesting the docudrama and asking for a disclaimer or a reworking.

Quote, “If your series contains omissions, exaggerations, distortions, or scenes that are fiction masquerading as fact, the American people may come away with a misunderstanding”—and the sentence ends, “of the Reagans and the Reagan administration.”  That was written by the chairman of the RNC, Ed Gillespie, to the head of CBS, Les Moonves, protesting the miniseries about Ronald Reagan that had made-up pieces of dialogue and altered scenes and compositions of events.

Substitute Reagan and Clinton here, and essentially it‘s the same beat about this docudrama.  CBS ended not running the Reagan series, putting it instead on Showtime, on cable.  Is that what ABC should do if they‘re planning to leave this intact?

MALONEY:  Well, how about they get it right?  I mean, check it out.  It‘s not that hard.  They‘re going to air this thing on the anniversary of September 11, the five-year anniversary.  They have a terrible responsibility to get it right.

You know, the truth is compelling enough.  If they‘re going to make money off of what happened on September 11, for God‘s sakes, get it right.  They‘ve got a duty to do that.  And there ought to be a few things, a few things in America that we can keep politics out of.  There‘s a way to tell this story that is nonpartisan and respectful of what happened.

And, you know, that brought us together as Americans, and they are going to tear the bandage off this wound that hadn‘t healed yet.  It‘s wrong.  They ought to fix it.  There‘s time to do it.  Got to take it down, or get it right.

OLBERMANN:  Sean Maloney, former staff secretary to President Clinton. 

Great thanks for your time tonight, sir.

MALONEY:  Good to be with you.

OLBERMANN:  The urge to make political hay out of 9/11 not limited to so-called docudramas, both sides of the so-called war on terror today using the impending anniversary to showcase their own political agendas.  This is never-before-seen footage from 2001, purportedly showing Osama bin Laden meeting with some of the 9/11 hijackers.  Al Jazeera ran the video, which includes al Qaeda fighters demonstrating their skills for the camera.

The network would not say where it got the footage, did say it was packaged by the al Qaeda production unit.  U.S. officials say we might expect a series of such tapes to be released over the next few days, possibly culminating in a message from bin Laden himself just before the anniversary.

Just four hours before that video was released, the president delivered the fourth in his series of political speeches, reiterating the events of 9/11, Mr. Bush, then al Qaeda, same day, just a coincidence, the president insisting, during a long recounting of the 9/11 timeline, that his administration is winning the battle, but now needs Congress to legalize what a lot of lawyers and courts have suggested is a patently illegal domestic spying program, also framing his rationale for the war with Iraq through terrorism, again, saying that if bin Laden considers it important, surely that proves it is important.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  Osama bin Laden has proclaimed that the third world war is raging in Iraq.  The terrorists know that the outcome on the war in terror will depend on the outcome in Iraq.  And so to protect our citizens, the free world must succeed in Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  The president also reiterating his doctrine that nations that harbor or support terrorists are equally guilty as the terrorists, even though Pakistan just made a peace deal with the warlords who run the territory in which the U.S. believes bin Laden is hiding.

Mr. Bush also made one of his most egregious bloopers.  His text called for him to compliment Congress on having renewed the Terrorist Prevention Act, called the PATRIOT Act.  Instead, he called it the Terrorist Act, the PATRIOT Act.

The Democrats, in turn, used the anniversary and Mr. Bush‘s speeches as their own jumping-off point today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK:  The other side has been really tough on rhetoric, but weak on results.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (I), VERMONT:  When Osama bin Laden was cornered, this administration dropped the ball, dropped the ball in a disastrous way, took our best forces out, put them into Iraq.  Osama bin Laden got away.  And then to compound the error, this administration, this administration (INAUDIBLE) tough talk, disbanded the special unit that‘s supposed to track Osama bin Laden.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER:  If President Bush and Republics in the Congress are serious about protecting the country, they‘ll stop frightening the nation and start doing something to make us safer.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D):  Are we going to focus ourselves on the real security threat to America, or the real political threat to the majority control of Congress?

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

OLBERMANN:  Joined once again by MSNBC‘s political analyst, columnist for “Congressional Quarterly,” Craig Crawford.

Thanks for your time tonight, Craig.

CRAIG CRAWFORD, “CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY”:  Good to be here, as always.

OLBERMANN:  President‘s already been through four of these speeches. 

The Democrats were, what, off until today?

CRAWFORD:  Well, I don‘t know.  I can defend them on the grounds (INAUDIBLE) another terrorism speech by the president‘s sort of like reruns of “Seinfeld.”  It‘s on every night, and we‘ve memorized most of the lines.

Although there was a bit new coming out this week, with his acknowledgement of secret CIA prisons and proposing trials for the terrorists they‘ve captured.

OLBERMANN:  Yes, and yesterday, the president insisted Congress had to make Gitmo legal.  Today it was make the eavesdropping legal.  Politically, who‘s he trying to push around here?  Is it the Democrats, relative to the election, or is it the Republicans who control Congress, but though they—many of whom have been backing away from him?

CRAWFORD:  I think he‘s trying to bait the Democrats to get into this argument and start criticizing him for being too tough on the terrorists.  In this election cycle coming up, that only helps the president, I think, to be the meanest, baddest guy on the block when it comes fighting terrorists.  And that‘s what he‘s trying to do.

Still, sometimes I think he‘s kind of like Barney Fife, Keith, when, when, when, when Andy Griffith left him in charge of Mayberry, came back and found out Barney had arrested the whole town.  I mean, that‘s the thing about this president.  There‘s just nothing, it seems, he won‘t did to prosecute this war on terror.  And in the end, that could be a political winner for him.  It has been before.

OLBERMANN:  Where‘s Andy Griffith when we need him?  The (INAUDIBLE)...

CRAWFORD:  Yes, he didn‘t carry a gun either, so (INAUDIBLE)...

OLBERMANN:  Does, does anybody see the similarity in the tactics that we saw today?  The president cites bin Laden as one of the reasons we‘re in Iraq, and four hours later, al Qaeda comes out with the latest tape and uses the attacks to showcase what it‘s doing?  Is there, is, is somebody going to—is (INAUDIBLE) a large part of the American people going to recognize, at some point, that there are parallels between these two things?

CRAWFORD:  We certainly saw the eve of the 2004 presidential elections, in fact, that Friday before the voting on Tuesday, that bin Laden released a tape.  And I think most of the consensus is that the uptick, the uptick in the polls favored the president coming out of that tape.  So I would say if the administration had this tape, Keith, they‘d be releasing it, because it does go to making it a fact, reminding people those terrorists are out there, they‘re planning to kill us.  Anything that does that helps the president.

This may be the only common ground that bin Laden, Osama bin Laden, and George Bush seem to have, and that is the desire to keep George Bush in power.  I wonder what that tells us?

OLBERMANN:  But, of course, the administration could not possibly have those tapes in a big stack somewhere.  We‘re not going to suggest that.

CRAWFORD:  And they couldn‘t be coordinating their strategy, or they‘d know where he is (INAUDIBLE), I would hope.

OLBERMANN:  No, no, no, no, because George Orwell already wrote that book.

Craig Crawford of MSNBC and “Congressional Quarterly.”  We‘ll get out before we get into more trouble.  Good to have you back.

CRAWFORD:  Yes, I think so.

OLBERMANN:  And over three years after the leak of Valerie Plame‘s name and thus her covert status as a CIA agent leaking out, the original source of that leak has finally ‘fessed up his ownself.  Former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage claiming to reporters from “The New York Times” and the McClatchey Newspapers tonight that he never intended to out her, that he didn‘t even know of her undercover status, that he‘d never seen any other covert agent‘s name before in a memo.  Same stuff that was leaked out about a week ago.

Also, while he feels terrible what happened, thinks about it every day, he never spoke about it to the president.

Also tonight, a new system that can save lives in rocket-propelled grenade attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan.  But the Army will not use it.  The reason will appall you.

And a new meaning to the phrase “beat reporter.”  But what is really wrong with this picture?  Like, why is the cameraman just watching?

You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The debate over Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is not merely a proxy for the debate over Iraq.  It is also, as you will see again in this, our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, the debate over charges that Mr.  Rumsfeld‘s Pentagon at times puts corporate concerns above the well-being of America‘s combat soldiers.

You may remember the outrage over delays in getting troops body armor, outrage the secretary faced and his defenders smeared at one of his own Iraqi town halls with the troops.

Now, a five-month NBC News investigation is shedding light on the Army‘s decision not to give our fighting personnel a defense system that knocked out incoming attacks virtually 100 percent of the time in tests conducted by the Pentagon.

Our senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers with the exclusive details of dueling weapons systems, and the American soldiers caught in the crossfire.

BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LISA MYERS, NBC SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  It‘s a favorite weapon of insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, the rocket-propelled grenade, or RPG—cheap, easy to use, deadly.  In Iraq, these weapons have killed more than 132 Americans, including 21-year-old Private Dennis Miller.

KATHY MILLER, PARENT:  They were in Ramadi, and his tank was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade.  Little Denny never knew what hit him.

MYERS:  Sixteen months ago, commanders in Iraq began asking for help, sending the Pentagon urgent requests for a new system to counter RPGs.

(on camera):  Last year, a special Pentagon unit thought it found a solution here in Israel, a high-tech system that literally shoots RPGs out of the sky.

(voice-over):  The system is called Trophy, and here it‘s mounted on a Stryker fighting vehicle, like those in Iraq.  It essentially works this way.  Radar, shown here, scans all directions, and automatically detects when an RPG is launched.  It then fires an interceptor that destroys the RPG safely away from the vehicle.

Here it is in slow motion from a recent test, intercepting an RPG before it reaches its target.

The Israeli military, which recently lost a number of tanks and troops to RPGs, is rushing to deploy Trophy.  Colonel Didi Ben Yoash (ph) helped develop the system, and his company stands to profit from any sales.

COL. DIDI BEN YOASH:  We have well above 90 percent a kill probability.

MYERS:  Ninety percent?

YOASH:  Well above 90 percent kill probability.

MYERS:  How confident are you that this system can save American lives?

YOASH:  I am fully confident on that.

MYERS (voice-over):  So are officials at the Pentagon‘s Office of Force Transformation, which tested the system 30 times and which found it more than 98 percent effective at killing RPGs.

Those officials decided to buy several Trophies, which cost $300,000 to $400,000 each, for battlefield trials on Strykers in Iraq next year.

(on camera):  But the Pentagon‘s Office of Force Transformation immediately ran into a roadblock, strong opposition from the U.S. Army.  Why?

Pentagon sources tell NBC News the Army brass considers the Israeli system a threat to an Army program to develop an RPG defense system from scratch.

(voice-over):  The $70 million contract for that program had been awarded to an Army favorite, Raytheon.  Colonel Donald Kotchman is in charge of the Army program.

(on camera):  Best-case scenario, what year could the Raytheon system actually be deployed in the field?

COL. DAVID KOTCHMAN:  F.Y. 11.

MYERS:  That‘s right, Army-speak for 2011, five years from now.

(on camera):  So your message to our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq is, Don‘t worry, guys, we‘ll get you something in the field in five years.

KOTCHMAN:  Our message to our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan is, is we are doing everything prudent to provide for your protection and your safety.

MYERS (voice-over):  Kotchman insists the Israeli system is not ready to be deployed by the U.S.

KOTCHMAN:  Trophy has not demonstrated its capability to be successfully integrated into a system and continue to perform its wartime mission.

MYERS:  That claim, however, is disputed by other Pentagon officials and internal documents obtained by NBC News, including this e-mail from a senior official, which says, “Trophy is a system that is ready today.  We need to get this capability into the hands of our war fighters ASAP, because it will save lives.”

So why would the Army block a solution that might help troops?

PROF. STEVEN SCHOONER, FORMER ARMY CONTRACTING OFFICER:  There are some in the Army who would be extremely concerned that if the Trophy system worked, then the Army would have no need to go forward with the Raytheon system, and the program might be terminated.

MYERS:  For families of soldiers like Dennis Miller, any delay in getting help to the troops is unthinkable.

MILLER:  Do they have children over there?  Do they have husbands or wives over there?  They need to sit back and look at it maybe from a different angle.  I just think it‘s ridiculous.

MYERS:  Some senior Pentagon officials claim the Army is more concerned about protecting its turf than about protecting its troops.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  More of Lisa Myers‘ exclusive investigation at the top of this hour on “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.”

Another investigative reporter got a different kind of exclusive, his own broken ribs, cuts, bite marks.  Shouldn‘t this cameraman have come to his aid at some point?

And it‘s back to school everywhere.  Yes, even for those kids fulfilling your dream of going to Wizards School.

Next, on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Three years to the day now since we lost Warren Zevon.  As he sang in his last recording, “Keep him in your heart for a while.”

Let‘s play Oddball.

We begin in Sutani (ph), India, where it is that time of year, back to witchcraft school.  Students from all over the village come to this Eastern edition of Hogwarts to thwart the influence of dominant witch doctors.  On the syllabus, students must practice exorcisms with their backs with metal stuff and light little girls‘ heads on fire.

Actually, I think that‘s just how people who disapprove of electricity have ideas.  No light bulb till they get a flame (INAUDIBLE).  Surprisingly, not everybody in the village thinks witchcraft school is a good idea.  Social workers worry the rituals could cause harm to the kids.  All right, you tell me the last time reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic stopped a demonic possession, and we‘ll shut it down, OK?

To the Atlanta Zoo.  And I can‘t believe we didn‘t lead with this.  It‘s video of the birth of a baby panda.  Ah, the shrill shriek of four ounces of a horrifically ugly panda baby.  While it looks gross and perhaps sounds grosser, zoo officials are pleased as punch over Lulu (ph) the panda‘s miraculous delivery.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I couldn‘t speak.  I was speechless.  When I heard that first squeal, I—tears came to my eyes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Mine too, pal.  And it may not be over yet.  Half of panda births are twins.  Usually takes a day for the second one to pop out, so we may be back here tomorrow with another gross panda baby, and the zoo guy getting all blubbery.

Not blubbery, but bloodied.  Doubtless you have seen this already, but exactly when does the cameraman, the guy on your side, step in to help the reporter?

And Paris Hilton pulls a Mel Gibson, minus the anti-Semitic tirade.  Why she got into trouble with the law, because of her self-confessed craving for beef.

Details ahead.

But first, time for COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of this day.

No. 3, the sister of the unnamed 15-year-old by arrested in Rivera Beach, Florida after a shootout with cops who stopped him during his fifth attempt to steal a car since he turned 13.  What does the sister have to do with it?  Her quote about her brother, “He‘s a good kid, he just has a problem with stealing cars.”

No. 2, the squirrels at Forest Hill Cemetery in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  The assumption was the American flags that kept disappearing from the graveyard had been stolen by kids or anarchists or somebody.  No, no, squirrels.  They finally found all the flags at the bottom of a giant squirrel nest in a tree.  We need an anti-squirrel stealing flag‘s constitutional amendment and we need it now, damn it!

No. 1 69-year-old Alfred Thomas Steven of Hunting Beach, California, asserted in the stables of La Purisima Mission on Lompoc, naked, having covered himself in olive oil, rolled around in oats and allowed the horses at the stables to lick him clean.  Deputies say he told them this had been a fantasy of his.  Well gosh, I hope so because you hate to think that of the horses‘ fault!

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Reporters getting beaten up in the line of duty is as old as reporting itself, but you usually don‘t see very much of it because either they‘re on their own when the interview gets physical or if there is a photographer or videographer present, he intervenes and quickly, not of course not on FOX. 

Our 3rd story on the COUNTDOWN, get the story first, get the bandages later.  The ethics of what happened to John Mattes at XETV, the FOX affiant in San Diego, in a moment, with one of MSNBC‘s most prized photographer.  First the truly gory details from our correspondent, Peter Alexander. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Call the police.

PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  It was a brazen and brutal attack in broad daylight.  John Mattes, a San Diego investigative reporter became the target of a punishing assault from a man featured in one of his reports. 

(on camera):  Mattes‘ assignment, a follow-up to a series of stories aired back in July involving the real estate dealings of “Sam” Suleiman and allegations that Suleiman made threatening phone calls. 

(voice-over):  Mattes was interviewing a man who claimed he‘d been threatened by Suleiman when all the sudden Suleiman‘s wife showed up. 

ROSA BARAZA SULEIMAN, WIFE:  You didn‘t have enough with what you air? 

Stop the (expletive deleted) camera (expletive deleted) right now.

ALEXANDER (voice-over):  She sprayed the camera with water, then lashed out at the reporter. 

JOHN MATTES, XETV INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER:  That‘s not appropriate. 

SULEIMAN:  don‘t give a (bleep.) Stop your behavior.  Do you like iguana or encinata?  Which one do you like better, huh?  I‘m going to put you on the other side of the country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  “Ma‘am, that is really pathetic.

SULEIMAN:  I don‘t care.  Stop this.  Stop this right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thank you.  Have a nice day.

SULEIMAN:  You don‘t know.  (expletive deleted) you.  Have a nice day, my (expletive deleted).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thank you, bye-bye.

SULEIMAN:  Son of a (expletive deleted).  Stop it.  I‘ll break the (expletive deleted) camera.

ALEXANDER:  The woman seemed about to storm off but then one last shot. 

SULEIMAN:  Stop it.  Break the (expletive deleted) camera. 

ALEXANDER:  As the camera steadied, a man pulled up in his care and got out.  It was “Sam” Suleiman himself.  He marched directly at Mattes and unloaded. 

The brawl lasted at least six minutes before police arrived. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Turn around, turn around!

ALEXANDER:  Arresting Suleiman and his wife.  John Mattes suffered scratches, cracked ribs and even bite wounds.  The 56-year-old was treated and later released from the hospital.  For now, this investigative reporter will leave the investigation of his case to authorities. 

Peter Alexander NBC NEWS, San Diego. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  Charming couple is currently out on bail.  The reporter insists he is glad the cameraman kept shooting.  Tony Zumbado was that camera man, but he is one of the gems of the NBC family, one of the heroes during Katrina a year ago and he joins us from Miami tonight. 

Good to talk to you again, Tony.

TONY ZUMBADO, NBC FREELANCE CAMERAMAN:  Hi.  How you doing, Keith?

OLBERMANN:  Bottom line, should he have put the camera down and if so, when? 

ZUMBADO:  I think as soon as I would have saw the first punch being thrown on one of my colleagues, I think that‘s when I would have put it down.  I would not want to behind a camera seeing one of my colleagues getting beat up and thinking what could have happened.  I think this correspondent is very lucky to come out of this alive.  It could have been worse.  He could have lost his life.  You don‘t know how you can hit your head on the ground if he had a weapon or it could have gotten worse and you would have been the cameraman that videotaped the last minutes of your colleague‘s life.  I don‘t think I could live with that. 

OLBERMANN:  Any experiences in your experiences like the one from San Diego?  Anything you‘ve been through like this? 

ZUMBADO:  Yeah, I‘ve had a couple of them like that, Keith, and I got to tell you that, you make a quick decision.  I was doing a show, “Cops,” and one of the officers warned one of the crack dealers that he was going to come back and get him and put him in jail if he had to come back to that street corner and two hours later, we had a call and we went back to the street corner where this gentleman was at and as the police officer was walking up to this crack dealer, he was telling him “I told you I was going to put you away” and as soon as he came up close to him, the crack dealer smacked him in the face, he fell on his back, he jumped on his chest and started pounding his face, looked at me and said, “film M.F.,” and this and I looked at the guy and I put the camera down and jumped on the guy‘s back and I tried to help and subdue the crack dealer while the officer was able to get away from the crack dealer and call backup. 

OLBERMANN:  Do you, with a reporter on a story that is potentially dangerous, even if you can‘t expect the wife of the person you‘re doing the story about to suddenly show up to be followed by the guy himself, but do you sit there with a reporter and game plan what to do if violence erupts while the camera is rolling? 

ZUMBADO:  I happen to do that in a lot of the correspondents that I work with for NBC tend to sit in the car or wherever we might be.  And in a situation where you know you‘re going to confront hostile people you tend to figure out how to get in, how to get out, and what if.  And that is probably the best way of going about something like this. 

These people knew that these individuals were already upset with them, so you have to understand a confrontation, specifically once she starts throwing the water at the camera, I think it‘s time to say we have enough, this is enough, turn around, turn the camera away and go back to what you were originally were doing, which was interviewing that other gentleman. 

OLBERMANN:  Your point about the weapon is so good.  Tony Zumbado, a pleasure to work with you, a pleasure to talk with you again.  Great thanks, Tony.

ZUMBADO:  Thanks for having me, Keith.  Go Dolphins!

OLBERMANN:  Sort of sensed that. 

These days in TV, meanwhile, you don‘t have to encounter a human being acting like a cockroach to have your day ruined.  Thanks to the website YouTube, of course, we have a visual record of an incident which appears to have occurred at a taping for a Florida station.  The weatherman, who is not identified, was delivering his forecast when he realized that he had been accosted by an actual cockroach. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Vero Beach will be getting in the heavier rainfall and eventual (gasping). 

Oh! I‘m so sorry, Bill.  Oh, my god!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What the hell‘s his problem?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is what just happened.  That thing was crawling on my leg!

Oh, god! If that—oh my god there it is! Oh my god! Oh, no! Right at the wall for me. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  From cockroaches to Paris Hilton.  That‘s her sister Nicky bailing her out after a DUI.  Paris‘ excuse includes the phrase “in and out.”  In other words it‘s the perfect story. 

Also tonight, in and out for the new host of the “CBS Evening News,” The ratings for the second night are still doughty (ph), but at the rate she‘s losing viewers, two weeks from now, she‘d be down from 13-1/2 million to 430,000.  That‘s ahead on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  A kidnapping victim held hostage for eight years in an underground layer explains her ordeal and how she patiently waited for the moment she could finally get away.

And Paris Hilton, the latest chapter in Hollywood DUI and yes, the farthest possible extremes of news next on COUNTDOWN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  When you see her, you may be amazed how after being kidnapped at age 10 and living as a prisoner for eight year, she could now be so composed having finally escaped her captor and here ordeal. 

Our No. 2 story in the COUNTDOWN, the young girl in Austria who was smart enough to earn her captor‘s trust.  She waited for her moment, waited so long that the authorities and even many in her own family assumed she was dead.  Instead she was waiting.  Our correspondent in Vienna Dawna Friesen. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAWNA FRIESEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Eighteen-year-old Natascha Kampusch‘s ordeal has riveted millions across Europe. 

NATASCHA KAMPUSCH, KIDNAPPED AT AGE 10 (through translator):  He grabbed he, I tried to scream but no sound came out.  I was desperate and very angry. 

FRIESEN:  She was just 10 years old in 1998 which she was snatched off the street on her way to school in this Vienna suburb.  At the time the police questioned hundreds of men, including this man, 44-year-old Wolfgang Priklopil, but they failed to discovery his horrific secret.  Beneath his house, behind a steel door was this tiny windowless cell.  It was his Kampusch‘s for eight years. 

KAMPUSCH (through translator):  I threw water bottles against the wall, banged on them with my fists so that maybe someone would hear me. 

FRIESEN:  “I felt like caged chicken,” she told this Austrian magazine.  “I dreamed about chopping his head off with an axe.”  But she knew one failed escape attempt and he‘d never let her out, so gradually she won his trust.  Eventual on rare occasions even went shopping with him. 

KAMPUSCH:  He barely left my side.  I couldn‘t speak to anyone because he threatened to kill them and me.  I tried to single my distress with my eyes, but no one noticed. 

FRIESEN (on camera):  Kampusch finally made her break for freedom when her captor made her vacuum his car in the garden of the house.  The vacuum was so loud he couldn‘t hear when his phone rang, so he stepped away and she took off to the neighbors‘. 

(voice-over):  Why did he do it?  We‘ll never know.  Priklopil threw himself under a train the night Kampush escaped.  Police suspect he sexually abused her, but she refuses to say.  Now getting reacquainted with her family, psychologists are amazed at her pose and confidence. 

DR.  JAMES THOMPSON, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE:  She had a strategy, I‘m going to grow up, I‘m going to get stronger, and I‘m going to outwit this obsessional, disturbed person who is controlling my life.  And she won. 

FRIESEN:  Among her first tastes of freedom, buying an ice cream and taking a ride on the subway.  She‘s determined not to let the eight years she lost in the dungeon ruin the rest of her life. 

Dawna Friesen, NBC NEWS, Vienna.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  To our nightly roundup of celebrity and entertainment news, “Keeping Tabs.” 

Author James Frey and Random House, the publishers of his whatever it was, “A Million Little Pieces” have reached a deal to settle lawsuits brought by readers claiming they were defrauded.  If it is approved by a judge, people who brought the author‘s lieographical account of his own life before he admitted that some of it was fiction, they will be able to get their—return it and get their money back, just don‘t take a check.  And of course we wanted to get Mr. Frey‘s comments but we‘re guessing he is too tied up with last minute work on the script for “Path to 9/11:  FDR Should have Stopped that Thing.”

Some pretty good numbers in the second day audience rating for Katie Couric on the “CBS Evening News”, but not in the crucial department of, how many of you want seconds?  Miss Couric lost one quarter -- 25 percent from the 13.6 million who watched her debut, just over 10 million watched last night.  Worse yet, in the only demographic the advertisers worry about, viewers aged 25 to 54, she lost nearly a third—from day one to day two, 32 percent.  Obviously it is absurd to suggest that one could continue to lose a quarter of one‘s audience every night, but if she did, Miss Couric would celebrate her two month anniversary on the job on November 5 with an audience consisting of exactly 58 viewers. 

We already know what happens when you combine Paris Hilton, a car, and a burger, throw in some booze, though, and you‘ve got a No. 1 story.  That‘s ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN latest list of nominees for “Worst Person in the World.”

Again, a reminder about the hard copy version.  As of today, it‘s in bookstores.  It‘s already gone to a second printing.  I‘ve never really seen one, but that‘s got the earmarks of a run on the bank. 

At the Bronze level, the venerable comptroller of the state of Maryland, William Donald Schaeffer.  Last week he ran ads apologizing for his often coarse language.  Yesterday he said his primary opponent Janet S.  Owens is “getting fat” and added “her husband rules her.” 

Silver to Senator George Alan of Virginia.  Tuesday he proposed an amendment to a veteran‘s benefit‘s bill, oddly it was a virtual word-for-word match of the amendment that Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois was about to propose, even down to some handwritten changes and an exact money figure on the Alan copy.  Durbin had distributed his proposed amendment to other senators a week earlier.  Coincidence, no doubt. 

But tonight‘s winner, Tracy Costin, owner of DataUSA, a political polling company.  She has just pleaded guilty to not conducting polls on behalf of election campaigns of Senator Joe Lieberman and President Bush, but of instead simply making the numbers up.  Miss Costin will get up to five years in jail.  Prosecutors believe half of the polling info, her firm gave the Bush campaign in 2004 was falsified.  Wait a minute.  I thought making up the data from the Bush administration doesn‘t get you jail time, it gets you the Medal of Freedom. 

Tracy Costin, today‘s “Worst Person in the World.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  It‘s not about Paris Hilton getting arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, our No. 1 story in the COUNTDOWN, it‘s about America‘s starving workaholic heiress, slaving away since the crack of dawn and at the time of the arrest just trying to get a little in and out.  That would be and In-N-Out Burger, a popular fast food chain in the vicinity.  That‘s how the Hilton camp is spinning this, anyway. 

L.A.  police pulled her over in her Mercedes in Hollywood about 12:30 in the morning after seeing her drive erratically.  She failed a field sobriety test at the scene; she was arrested, later booked on a misdemeanor count for driving under the influence -- .08 on the breathalyzer, if you‘re scoring at home, or even if you‘re alone. 

An entourage fetched her from jail, her sister Nicky Hilton along with boyfriend Kevin Connolly of “Entourage” fame, plus publicist Elliot Mintz.  Hilton‘s hectic day begun at 4:30 a.m.  shooting a music video for her pop album, according to her publicists.  The claim is she later had a drink at a charity event on an empty stomach.  Publicist Mintz says the police detected the minimum level of blood alcohol that could have warranted Hilton‘s arrest.  And as to the rest, Miss Hilton spilled to radio host Ryan Seacrest.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

PARIS HILTON, HEIRESS:  I had one margarita, starving ‘cause I had not ate all day, on my way to In-N-Out, which is probably three blocks away, and I‘m in my SLR, which is a little fast.  So, maybe I was speeding a little bit, and I got pulled over.

I was just really hungry, and I wanted to have an In-N-Out burger.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Joining me now, comedian Jeffrey Ross.  Co-creator of MTV part two cartoon series “Were my Dogs at,” tomorrow night‘s subject on the program happens to be Paris Hilton. 

Jeffrey, good evening and congratulations on your timing. 

JEFFREY ROSS, COMEDIAN:  Another lucky break for the world of comedy. 

OLBERMANN:  So, and this one, obviously is, the old in and out has once again gotten the best of Miss Hilton.  Is that correct?

ROSS:  Can you blame her?  When I drunk, I love a little In-N-Out burger.  I once killed a guy for a strawberry shake over there, so, I am on her side on this one. 

OLBERMANN:  Really.  Now, possibly, to her credit, she did not go all Mel Gibson on the cops.  No ethnic slurs, nothing like that.  Do you think they will go easy on her? 

ROSS:  Actually Keith, I don‘t think they‘re going to go easy on here.  I think they‘re going to make an example of her.  Rumor is that President Bush wants to actually interrogate her himself down at Guantanamo Bay. 

OLBERMANN:  The biggest problem here, could be the choice of the fast food?  I mean, I know people in Southern California who are addicted to In-N-Out burgers, that one brand.  But that crazy commercial that she did last year with the car and the soap and—weren‘t those for Carl‘s Jr., the rival chain? 

ROSS:  Yeah, they must be really annoyed by this weird publicity.  I think we‘re all, honestly, being too hard on Paris.  I think she does these things, Keith, as a humanitarian.  Paris Hilton is a great patriot.  She does these things on purpose to distract Americans from what‘s really scary in life like war and disease and Rosie O‘Donnell. 

OLBERMANN:  Well, maybe not all diseases, but you raise a good point.  She was at a charity event.  Are we not—are we asking too much of our reality show, professional celebrity, hotel tycoon heiresses?  Maybe we‘re the problem, we‘re expecting them to sing, make music videos, too, and be able to take a margarita on an empty stomach? 

ROSS:  Yeah, I think we‘re giving her too much credit.  A .08 on the breathalyzer, she got the same thing on her SATs.  You know, Paris Hilton.  I don‘t know about this.  I think we need to give her a break on this one.  To the untrained eye, it‘s very easy to confuse drunk and stupid.  She was being stupid.  She had the munchies. 

OLBERMANN:  That is not a breathalyzer test that you‘re blowing into, it‘s something else.  The mug shot is not going be released, but the TMZ.com website that says don‘t worry it doesn‘t look like Nick Nolte.  Does anyone‘s mug shot look like Nick Nolte, especially Paris Hilton‘s?

ROSS:  Poor Nick Nolte.  This guy—this poor guy is so ugly his family pictures hang themselves. 

OLBERMANN:  All right.  The prospect of a full penalty, here.  I mean, there could be community service or who knows how this thing turns out.  But she could get probation, restricted license, an alcohol program, but no jail time.  What—you mention possibility that the president could get involved in this.  What would a judge do if he really wanted to set an example here? 

ROSS:  He would sit her down and make her listen to her new album.  Yeah.  I‘m really looking forward to her new album, by the way.  Did I mention I‘m deaf? 

OLBERMANN:  There was apparently on bit of special treatment in the whole process here.  The police released her after about an half and a half instead of the standard minimum of three hours.  They said it was because the paparazzi causing a traffic hazard outside the station.  Do you think that‘s true or do you think they were scared more not by the cars outside, but by Paris Hilton inside with them?

ROSS:  Yeah, this is not Paris Hilton‘s first experience with discharge. 

OLBERMANN:  Comedian Jeffrey Ross who is gearing up for his own shot at Paris Hilton on MTV2‘s “Where my Dogs at.”  Tomorrow night.

ROSS:  Tomorrow night.

OLBERMANN:  Tomorrow night. 

Great thanks, Jeffrey.

ROSS:  Come see me in Tempe tonight if you‘re around. 

OLBERMANN:  OK, we‘ll do that too.  In fact, I‘m coming out there right now. 

OLBERMANN:  That‘s COUNTDOWN, for this the 1,223rd day since the declaration of “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq.

Keep your knees loose.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, goodnight and good luck.

Our MSNBC coverage continues now with SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Joe, it‘s all yours.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY:  Hey I appreciate it.  Got to get Paris out of the jail to prevent the spread of communicable diseases in close quarters.

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

END   

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