updated 3/21/2007 1:57:21 PM ET 2007-03-21T17:57:21

Guests: Ryan Lizza, Katrina vanden Heuvel, David Boies

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight, Heather Mills goes “Dancing With the Stars.”  Is it up to her to shine up her image or tarnish Beatle Paul‘s?  And is it a coincidence she scored a 666?  Just askin‘.

That story coming up.  But first, breaking news.  The battle between George Bush and Congress over the attorney general reaches a boiling point tonight, with the president swinging hard at a hastily called news conference.  This evening, Mr. Bush told Democrats they could forget public hearings with Karl Rove or Harriet Miers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We will not go along with a partisan fishing expedition aimed at honorable public servants.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And while the White House agreed to allow Mr. Rove and Ms. Miers to be interviewed behind closed doors and not under oath, he said he would not allow political show trials.  Democratic leaders are not pleased.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK:  This is a—it‘s sort of giving us the opportunity to talk to them but not giving us the opportunity to get to the bottom of what really happened here.  We will move forward with the subpoenas on Thursday.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  And earlier today, the Senate stripped the Bush administration‘s power to pick U.S. attorneys without Senate confirmation.  And that vote—it wasn‘t close.  The White House lost 94 to 2.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN:  ... who serve the law—the law—and not a political purpose.  That‘s what prosecutors have to do.

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D), WASHINGTON:  Every day, this story gets worse and worse and climbs higher up the political ladder.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, from all indications, today‘s events seem to be a harbinger of things to come.  None other than Tom DeLay predicted on the “Today” show this morning that this is just the tip of the iceberg and George W. Bush should plan to be under attack for the next two years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM DELAY (R-TX), FORMER HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER:  This is only the beginning.  The Bush administration—this is just a taste of what it‘s going be like for the next two years.  And the Bush administration sort of has shown their weakness when they got rid of Don Rumsfeld as a result of politics.  And the Democrats are going be coming back in all different ways.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  So is Tom DeLay right?  Is this White House under siege?  Will Democrats drag all the president‘s men to Congress and try to get their sworn testimony for all America to see?  Will he be able to protect Karl Rove?  Will George W. Bush remain defiant?

Here now to answer those questions, David Boies.  He was Al Gore‘s attorney during the 2000 election.  He‘s also the author of “Courting Justice.”  Also with us, Katrina vanden Heuvel.  She‘s the editor for “The Nation.”  And Ryan Lizza—he‘s White House correspondent for “The New Republic.”

Katrina, let‘s start with you.  This president seemed to be telling Democrats, Go ahead, make my day.  Why do you think he sounded so defiant at that press conference this evening?

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, “THE NATION”:  Well, I mean, this is a man who thinks that defending the rule of law is a partisan matter.  We‘re fixed on Gonzales, but what we need to look at is the pattern of subverting the Constitution, which last I checked was not a partisan document, and politicizing, deprofessionalizing and purging federal agencies.  And the Justice Department has been part of that process, and this president has been part of subverting the Constitution and the rule of law for this last six years of his administration.  So I think that‘s what we‘re witnessing with this defiance.

And you know, in terms of Tom DeLay, Joe, I mean, he is the godfather of Republican corruption.  The only authority he has, it seems to me—shameful, it seems to me, that the media is giving him a platform—is lessons on being corrupt, unethical and lowdown...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I mean, you say it‘s a shame that he‘s being give a platform.  Has Tom DeLay been...

VANDEN HEUVEL:  To lecture...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... convicted of any offense?

VANDEN HEUVEL:  To lecture people on how to conduct themselves?

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, look, Katrina...

VANDEN HEUVEL:  To lecture Democrats in terms of holding...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hold on a second.

VANDEN HEUVEL:  ... rule of law accountable?

SCARBOROUGH:  Katrina—hold on.  You‘ve said a lot of things here already in your first minute...

VANDEN HEUVEL:  I will stop.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... that I believe are over the top, but I‘m letting you talk.  The only reason why I‘m stepping in on Tom DeLay is we do still believe, do we not, in America that people are innocent until proven guilty.  I—to say that he is the preeminent example of corruption in American politics seems to be a stretch while he still hasn‘t been convicted of a single thing.  Now, I‘ll let you continue...

VANDEN HEUVEL:  I talked about lack of ethics.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... attacking Tom DeLay...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  But let me ask you this question, though.  And you can continue talking about Tom, if you want.  I‘m curious, do you agree with his larger point that this is just the tip of the iceberg, that the Bush administration is going be slammed for the next two years?

VANDEN HEUVEL:  I wouldn‘t say slammed, Joe.  I would say that we are now seeing the process of democracy at work, that we have—we don‘t have a one-party state anymore.  We now have rule of law, accountability, oversight, checks and balances, and we have a president who is now being held accountable for I would—illegal acts this administration has undertaken with Alberto Gonzales at Justice overseeing, for example—and I‘ll stop—illegal wiretapping, illegal detentions, illegal interrogations and torture.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  And David Boies, tonight George Bush vowed to resist any attempt by Congress to force his top aides to testify under oath.  Let‘s watch he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  Initial response by Democrats unfortunately shows some appear more interested in scoring political points than in learning the facts.  It will be regrettable if they choose to head down the partisan road of issuing subpoenas and demanding show trials when I have agreed to make key White House officials and documents available.  I proposed a reasonable way to avoid an impasse.  I hope they don‘t choose confrontation.  I will oppose any attempts to subpoena White House officials.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  David, that‘s tough talk, talking about show trials.  But let‘s bottom-line this.  If George W. Bush and Karl Rove remain defiant, could Mr. Rove and Harriet Miers be found in contempt if they decide not to testify?

DAVID BOIES, AUTHOR, “COURTING JUSTICE”:  Yes, they could.  I believe that they will be subpoenaed.  I believe those subpoenas will be enforced.  Now, I don‘t believe they‘re going to take contempt of Congress.  I believe they will go and testify.  They may force the Congress go the court to make them show up, but I don‘t think you‘re going to have a constitutional crisis.  This is not a proper grounds for executive privilege under the precedents.

I understand completely why the administration may want to hold the line, but the administration simply does not have the legal support in this particular case.  This is not national security.  It‘s not state secrets.  It‘s not the kind of thing that has to be protected by executive privilege. 

This is a personnel matter.

SCARBOROUGH:  And David...

BOIES:  It‘s an important personnel matter.

SCARBOROUGH:  And David—yes.  You know, Democratic leaders may disagree, but I don‘t think national security is riding on the outcome of this political fight.  And if the courts agree with you and me—and with me that it‘s not such a big deal, that could actually help the Democrats strip Karl Rove and Harriet Miers of their presidential privilege, force them to show up.  So then if the subpoenas are issued, if the president says they‘re not talking, then of course, we could have contempt of Congress charges, correct?

BOIES:  You could have that.  The thing that was troubling to me about the president‘s press conference today was it seemed to be setting up a confrontation.  I think everybody, I think the administration, I think the country would be better off if this could just be put to bed, if you could have the hearings, get the truth out, find out what the facts are and then move on.  It is the ultimatum, it is the confrontation that will drag this on.  If there‘s going to be a confrontation, you want this over with.  The administration ought to want this over with.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Ryan, that was—listening to the president earlier this evening was—was pretty surprising.  It was a change of tone for him.  He certainly—people can say that he and Karl Rove play very tough and with sharp elbows behind the scenes, but the president doesn‘t usually take that tone in press conferences.  But tonight he was talking about the Democrats and show trials, saying they were only interested in trying to embarrass the administration, that he was going to stand firm.  What‘s going on here?  Do you think the president‘s finally realized he‘s been backed into a corner and he‘s ready to fight back?

RYAN LIZZA, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  We‘re finally seeing the president have to respond to the fact that the Democrats control the Congress.  The Democrats have been very careful not to investigate this administration in their early months in control of the Congress, and this is the first fight.  I mean, it is very revealing that the president‘s view of oversight is to describe it as a “show trial.”  I mean, that‘s sort of shocking.  I mean, there‘s a system set up there in Congress to investigate the executive branch, and George Bush‘s view of this now is to describe it as a “show trial.”  It‘s short of shocking.

The other point is, the...

SCARBOROUGH:  Isn‘t that what presidents do?  I remember when...

LIZZA:  Well, they exaggerate, sure.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... Republicans were trying...

LIZZA:  He‘s trying to make a point.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... in the 1990s were trying to get Bill Clinton and—his people to testify on the Hill, the president was talking—you know, would throw out presidential privilege all the time.

LIZZA:  Right.  But there‘s something important to remember here, is a lot of Bush administration officials are saying that it‘s somehow rare for White House aides to testify.  That‘s just not the case.  Dozens of White House aides have testified since World War II.  In the Clinton years, 31 Clinton White House officials testified up on the Hill.  And I think that goes back to DeLay‘s comments when DeLay said this is what it‘s going to be like for the next two years.  He speaks from experience.  He knows what it was like after ‘94, when they took over and they tortured the Bush (SIC) administration.  And he‘s—you know, he‘s basically saying, They‘re going do to Bush what we did to Clinton.

SCARBOROUGH:  So you believe this is just the beginning of the political wars, like the ones we saw during the Clinton administration, again, where Congress...

LIZZA:  I don‘t think it‘s—I think the Democrats are much more cognizant of not overreaching.  They‘ve been very careful in the investigating that they‘ve done.  They think this is an issue that‘s ripe for investigation.  They think that they‘re well within, you know, political boundaries here to look at this.  So I don‘t—I don‘t think it‘s going to get out of control, like the late ‘90s.  But I think at the end of the day, you‘re going to see Rove and Miers testifying up there on the Hill.

SCARBOROUGH:  And David, we were talking last week about George Bush trying to stand by his man, the attorney general.  But if you listen to Tony Snow from yesterday, he didn‘t sound so reassuring.

BOIES:  No!

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  Take a listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  None of us knows what‘s going to happen to us over the next 21 months, and that‘s why it‘s an impossible question to answer, Will somebody stay throughout?  However, the reason I said we hope so is we hope so.  He has the confidence of the president, but I do not—as a—as a pure and simple matter, nobody‘s prophetic enough to know what the next 21 months hold.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, you know, anything can happen!  A piano can fall from the top of the Justice Department and crush him on the way to a cab!  I mean, boy, that...

BOIES:  If I were Attorney General Gonzales, I‘d be worried.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘d be packing my bags.

(CROSSTALK)

LIZZA:  I‘d actually be optimistic tonight, Joe.  I would—you know what happened tonight?  The lightning rod is no longer Gonzales, it‘s now Rove.  And you know,he bigger target in this administration for Democrats has always been Karl Rove.  And suddenly, instead of everyone calling for Gonzales to resign, we‘re going to have calls for Rove to testify.  And I think that‘s...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Katrina, do you agree with that?

VANDEN HEUVEL:  I think even if Gonzales resigns, the key is that these investigations must continue because, again, it is about a broader pattern.  Investigations must continue into whether other prosecutors were forced out for political reasons or whether they were kept on for political reasons because that is essential for trust in a democracy.  We go around the world lecturing other countries about democracy.  It seems we need—this president needs a little democracy promotion in his White House, some lessons in the Constitution.

BOIES:  I think before today‘s press conference, it might have been possible to have Attorney General Gonzales resign and end the controversy.  After the president‘s press conference, that controversy is going to go on until Karl Rove and Harriet Miers testify.

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Absolutely.

SCARBOROUGH:  But David—David, he had to know when he went out and accused the Democrats, who control the House and the Senate, of wanting to conduct show trials, that he was starting a political war.  Why do you think he did it?

BOIES:  I don‘t have a clue.  Of all the times...

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Distract from the war.

BOIES:  You don‘t—well, maybe it distracts from the war, but I don‘t think it distracts from the war.  I think it just adds to this embattlement of this administration.

LIZZA:  No, I‘ll tell you why he did it...

BOIES:  This is an administration at a time that ought to be reaching out to Democrats, ought to be reaching out to the Congress, ought not to be looking for battles, and particularly ought not to be looking for battles over the issue of were prosecutors fired because they wouldn‘t obey political signals as to what to do with law enforcement.  This is the wrong battle for the administration to be fighting.

SCARBOROUGH:  And law enforcement dealing with political investigations.  We‘ve got to go, but very quickly, Ryan, tell me, why do you think the president provoked Congress tonight?

LIZZA:  Well, look, he thinks that the Democrats smell blood in the water, and he wants to make their investigation look political.  It‘s sort of, you know, textbook.  And Clinton did the same thing.  He wants to make the investigation look like it‘s overreaching and that it‘s political and that he‘s being very moderate and contributory...

SCARBOROUGH:  All right—and Katrina, let me ask you the same thing as we go.  Why did the president confront Congress tonight?

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Because I think Ryan‘s right, he wants to make it partisan.  But he may also not want it to come to the question of, Mr.  President, what did you know what and when did you know it, because I think this could reach into the White House in a way that this president is anxious about, and he wants to—this is an administration which has never worked with the other side of the aisle.  Bipartisanship for them is an evil.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  We will leave it there.  David Boies, Katrina vanden Heuvel and Ryan Lizza, thank you so much.  You know, one of these hours, I think I‘m going have Katrina on and she and I are just going to debate for a full hour.

Coming up, never-before-seen footage out of Iraq.  NBC‘s Richard Engel shows us what life is really like for troops on the ground and what happens on the front lines and what‘s going to happen if Congress and the president plays politics with their funding.

Then: He‘s taken on predators, now Chris Hansen goes after conmen, taking on those e-mail schemes that have probably landed in your in-box.  Chris Hansen shows us the latest sting, “DATELINE‘s” “To Catch a Conman.”

And later: Is Heather Mills dancing her way to a new image, or is it just a little too late in her bitter divorce battle with Paul McCartney?  We‘ll break down her moves on and off the dance floor.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, tomorrow, Congress is going vote on President Bush‘s emergency war spending bill, one that‘s been fattened up by lawmakers with $21 billion in pork, pork that‘s unrelated, by the way, to our national defense.  They‘re also going to be calling for withdrawal from Iraq by the end of 2008.

Well, NBC‘s Richard Engel has reported from the war zone in Iraq longer than any other correspondent, and if you‘ve seen his reports over the past several years, you know just how amazing they are.  And he brings us tonight a close-up look at the men and women whose mission and lives are now in the hands of Washington politicians on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue.  That‘s a sobering thought.  Here‘s his video diary from the war zone.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  I remember in ‘04, I was on an embed with Marines in Ramadi.  We were on this terrible combat outpost, dusty, and we were attacked every day.  One guy told us it‘s not about hearts and minds out here, but finding the enemy and putting two in his heart and one in his mind.

I met this young Marine lieutenant, Brian Iglesias (ph), a very tough guy.  He had this Marine slogan tattooed across his chest.  The first time I saw him, he was standing over the body of a dead insurgent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s a good day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (INAUDIBLE) you got there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  Yes.  It‘s a good day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And we saw good day not because we enjoy walking around and killing people, but these bad guys attack us on a daily basis.

ENGEL:  It is very brutal, but after some time, you do start to see things from their perspective.  And I‘ve always been amazed at what these guys are willing to sacrifice for each other.  That night, Iglesias and his men went out looking for a lost soldier.  There‘d been an attack, a soldier had been killed and another, amid all the chaos, had been accidentally left behind.  He was alone in Ramadi.

(on camera):  Last time he was seen was at the government center.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You got to move slow, all right?  (INAUDIBLE) because we‘re going to be stealthy because you know the sons of bitches are out there, all right?  This ain‘t a hurry-up race.  Stay in the shadows.  Stay out of the light.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (INAUDIBLE) heard a voice of (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, that‘s good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All right.

ENGEL:  And just—these Marines, just a few guys in some pick-up trucks, were calling out his name, searching for him.  I couldn‘t believe it.  After searching pretty much through the night, they found him alive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Roger.  Got him.  We got him.  Got the kid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We don‘t have beer or cake or ice cream or soda. 

(INAUDIBLE) celebrate.  We got some strawberry milk.

ENGEL:  Even more amazing, just a few hours later, the Marines were sitting around, playing poker as if nothing had happened.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (INAUDIBLE) Fox Company, you could ask any man in that company if he wanted to go home right now, give you a ticket, no harm done, I don‘t think one man would take you up on it.  Not one of them.  Except maybe (INAUDIBLE)

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t want to joke about it, but if it really came down to it and they had to (INAUDIBLE) walk away from their Marines, just walk away from there (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I wouldn‘t.

ENGEL:  Ramadi was very tough, but I found this same bond almost everywhere I went.  There was another time I was Marine reservists in this town called Hit.  Back home, these were normal guys, plumbers and cops.  Now they were marching miles a day.  Most had lost 40 or 50 pounds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (INAUDIBLE) we share socks.  We share baby powder (ph).  You share baby wipes.  You share everything.  So when times get necessary, you share everything.  Makes for a tight platoon.

ENGEL:  The feet were rotting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t know what‘s going on here.  I got some cracks, a little bleeding going on.

ENGEL:  There was this one lance corporal, Anton Azoni (ph).  Back home, he worked in the ladies‘ department of Saks Fifth Avenue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘ve sold shoes, purses, dresses, everything. 

Didn‘t matter, the whole store.

ENGEL:  But here he was a machine gunner, a warrior, and they called him Animal Mother (ph).  He had shrapnel in his back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The other 10 guys in your squad, that‘s what keeps you going.

ENGEL:  But embedding with the troops does have serious risks.

(on camera):  There is still a lot of fire coming at us.  Some of it‘s exploding in the car that was hit by an improvised explosive device.  There are—U.S. troops are retaliating, trying to fight off what they think could be an intense ambush.

(voice-over):  A soldier saved my life that day.  Amid all the gunfire, this gay came up, stood in front of me, protecting me with his body, raised his rifle and started firing back.  Then he just walked away.  I never saw him again.  I‘ve been personally very lucky, but we lost one soundman, Jeremy Little (ph).  He was killed in Falluja.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It looks like what happened here...

ENGEL:  CBS‘s correspondent Kimberly Dozier was badly injured, her crew killed.   ABC‘s anchorman, Bob Woodruff, was also badly injured.  But as long as the soldiers are here, I think reporters have an absolute obligation to go out with them.  Otherwise, people back home will have no idea of what the war actually looks like from the ground level for the troops.

The war has changed on the soldiers.  Initially, they were fighting, they were told, to try and protect their families back home from a terrorist attack.  Then it was to support democracy, and then to try and protect the Iraqi people from a civil war.  It‘s gotten more and more vague and more complicated, and no one has bothered to explain to the soldiers that they‘re fighting a different war.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  But I‘ll tell you what.  The war that they‘re fighting and their mission is the same mission that was the mission of our soldiers in Vietnam and Korea and the world wars, and that is to take care of your buddy next to you.  And that‘s exactly what they‘re doing.  And boy, just great work.  And also great work by Richard Engel bringing that story to us in a way that few other journalists are doing.

Now, you can catch the premier of “War Zone Diary” tomorrow at 10:00 PM Eastern on MSNBC.  And that comes up right after SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  You‘re not going to want to miss that to see what our guys and women are going through.

But coming up here: You know the scam, an e-mail promises you money if you just send some cash first.  Well, now Chris Hansen, the man who‘s busted hundreds of on-line predators, travels around the world to bust these conmen in the latest NBC hidden camera investigation.

But first: The FCC goes overboard!  “Unnecessary Censorship” up next in “Must See S.C.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.” video, video you got to see.  First up, Jimmy Kimmel shows us what TV would look like if the FCC ruled the world in the latest edition of “Unnecessary Censorship.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR:  And Karl Rove, the president‘s top adviser, under fire again, further fallout over the decision to (DELETED) eight U.S. attorneys.

ROSIE O‘DONNELL, “THE VIEW”:  (INAUDIBLE) He can‘t get over me.  That‘s all I got to say.  And we‘re going to take a break, be back with more hot topics and never mention that dumb (DELETED) again.  We‘ll be back.

SIMON COWELL, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  You‘ve got a tendency, though, that when you‘re trying to hit the big notes, you (DELETED).  (INAUDIBLE) you‘re (DELETED)-ing in my ear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  I cannot believe Anderson Cooper said that about Karl Rove.

And finally: Heather Mills is taking the new season of “Dancing With the Stars” by storm.  But she‘s not the only celeb worth watching.  David Letterman shows us who else made the roster.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Monday on ABC, “Dancing With the Stars” returns with the most exciting group of celebrities yet.  Can “Cheers” barfly John Ratzenberger learn some hot and sexy moves?  Can supermodel Paulina Porizkova prove she‘s not just another pretty face?  Can elderly Cuban dictator Fidel Castro (INAUDIBLE)?  Find out on “Dancing with the Stars,” Monday on ABC.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Boy, that‘s me dancing every night. 

Coming up next, Chris Hansen goes after a different type of Internet predator, e-mail scammers, conmen who steal billions of dollars every year, but he meets them face to face, goes around the world to do it in this new “Dateline” undercover special investigation.

And later, Heather Mills is “Dancing with the Stars,” so how did she do?  Wait, she‘s a star?  Come on!  I ain‘t saying she‘s a gold digger. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Kathleen Blanco‘s not running for reelection in Louisiana?  Well, I guess it‘s safe to go to New Orleans again. 

“To Catch a Conman.”  You‘ve seen “Dateline‘s” hidden camera sex stings.  Well, now they‘re back using their hidden cameras to chase down a different kind of Internet predator, conmen trying to cheat you out of thousands of dollars.

Chris Hansen traveled all over the world, going to London as an undercover businessman looking to make a quick fortune.  And he confronted these e-mail fraud scammers who steal billions of dollars from their victims worldwide.  Now, we‘re going to be talking to Chris in just a minute about this, but, first, take a look at how “Dateline” turned the tables on these conmen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)  

CHRIS HANSEN, CORRESPONDENT, “DATELINE NBC” (voice-over):  Ever get an e-mail like this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  My name is Mrs. Mayam Ibrahim.  I am suffering from longtime cancer of the breast.  Before my late husband died, he deposited the sum of $20 million.  Twenty percent of this money will be for your time and effort.

HANSEN:  The writer sometimes appears to be a desperate character in a far off land, offering millions in reward money if you‘d only help them in their plight, usually by sending your own money first.  If you get a letter like this, you probably ignore it, smelling a scam, but there are thousands of others who take the bait, falling for this global billion-dollar racket. 

(on screen):  Are these people stupid who are falling for this? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, no, they‘re not.  Some are quite well-educated. 

HANSEN (voice-over):  As names on e-mails, these scammers are faceless phantoms, almost impossible to track down.  But what if we could take on the challenge of finding some of these rip-off artists?

(on screen):  This is Jim Dimoni calling for Subu (ph).  I‘m going to be meeting with you in London...

HANSEN (voice-over):  Posing as a businessman who hopes to get his hands on a fortune, I‘m in touch with several different potential scammers. 

(on screen):  Yes, it‘s Jim Dimoni from the United States.

(voice-over):  After I tell the man on the phone he‘ll get some cash...

(on screen):  I will send you money...

(voice-over):  I‘m assured I‘ll get millions.  As soon as I wire these scammers some money, they obviously smell blood, convinced they can score big, because they agree to do something law enforcement says they rarely do:  meet in person.

(on screen):  Am I going be meeting with you in London or somebody else? 

(voice-over):  Our first meeting ends up just outside London.  It‘s with a so-called diplomat who has promised us a box of cash.  In fact, $2 million.  The diplomat calls himself simply Anthony.  The woman with me is a “Dateline” producer acting as my assistant, and she‘s wearing a hidden camera. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The first thing is, I will need a copy of your passport for clearance.

HANSEN:  Diplomat Anthony wants $5,800.  I sense he‘s getting antsy and suspicious, so I decide to tell him who I really am. 

(on screen):  I‘m not really Jim Dimoni.  I‘m an investigative reporter from the United States.  Anthony, I‘d like to talk to you.

(Voice-over):  But there seems to be a never-ending supply of scammers ready to grab our cash.  One of the messages we receive is supposedly from a woman who says her husband had hidden away a fortune. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I am Mrs. Farah Al-Hashemi, the wife of the Iraqi military finance corps chief.

HANSEN:  By the way, she‘s also supposedly dying.  And if we assist in finding the hidden fortune, she‘ll give us a $2 million reward.  I‘m role-playing again, this time as investor Rich Greenback.  The dying woman puts me in touch will still another diplomat, a man named Mr. Amoat (ph).  And again, we‘re told to go to London to meet him.

We hit the theater district, the west end, where we rent a private club.  We just don‘t know if he‘ll show.  He seems nervous about coming to the club.  For some reason, he says, he‘s worried about his safety.  But after some long negotiations, he agrees to come to our pub. 

Right away, Mr. Amoat is ready for a drink. 

(on screen):  Do you want tea or do you want a beer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A beer.

HANSEN (voice-over):  He goes on to explain it‘s because he‘s a diplomat that he can expedite the payment of my reward money. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  But the only thing is, is that, if anything goes wrong, it‘ll be all over the television.  As you know it did not quite work out that way. 

HANSEN (on screen):  It will be all over the television?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, so we have to be careful.

HANSEN:  Because we don‘t want to end up with this all over television?

(voice-over):  But as you know, it didn‘t quite work out that way.

(on screen):  There‘s something else you don‘t know.  I am not really Rich Greenback. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Here now is “Dateline‘s” Chris Hansen.  He‘s the author of the new book, “To Catch a Predator.”  How hard was it for you to find these scam artists all across the globe?

HANSEN:  It was not hard for us to identify them, to talk to them on the phone, to e-mail them, to communicate with them, but it was difficult for us, and we had to be kind of crafty and persistent to get them to come to our turf for a face-to-face meeting, where we could turn the tables.  They like to control everything.

They first thing they want to know is when your plane is going land, what your passport number is, what hotel you‘re going to stay at.  And they want to get you to their office space.  They often will rent an office in a building that also contains a bank to make it look, you know, legit. 

So we had to coax them into coming into, you know, our place.  And we kind of string them along a little bit.  In one scene, we actually go shopping for Rolls-Royces with one these guys, and ultimately, you know, we get the drop on them and we confront them.  And, you know, in some cases, they admit that they‘re involved in a scam. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You would think that the only people that would fall for these scams would be uneducated types, but actually you found out that actually a lot of intelligent, well-educated people fall for these scams. 

HANSEN:  We know of college professors who have fallen for the scams.  We highlight a case in our investigation where a guy who was a county treasurer in Michigan invested some $70,000 of his own money and then perhaps hundreds of thousands, maybe even a million dollars, of county money, thinking then he was going to do a good thing for his little county.

Now, this money is gone.  He‘s being prosecuted for using county money to do this.  And the county is worried it doesn‘t have enough money in its budget to operate. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Chances are very good these conmen won‘t ever face justice, right?

HANSEN:  They won‘t.  I mean, you know, we don‘t know if this guy or these guys gave us their real name.  They all pose as diplomats.  So they may say on one day it‘s diplomat Anthony who‘s going to come meet us, and give him the money that he can use to release this larger amount of funds.  And then we‘ll get some percentage of that.  They‘re very, very shady characters.  And they had fake IDs, and they move from country to country. 

And I‘ll you what, though.  It was quite satisfying to actually get some of these guys in a room and be able to confront them, knowing what they‘ve done to so many people.  And the odds of them actually being held accountable are quite slim. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, thanks so much, Chris Hansen.  Absolutely fascinating investigation.  We appreciate it. 

HANSEN:  Thanks, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And coming up next, Heather Mills goes “Dancing with the Stars.”  Could she really be winning over fans after her nasty battle with Paul McCartney, trying to separate him from about a billion dollars?

And later, in “Hollyweird,” is Britney broke?  The ugly financial truth that could be waiting for her after rehab.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  She‘s been called the most loathed amputee since the one-armed man in “The Fugitive.”  They call her that in Britain.  But did Heather Mills dance her way to a new image last night on “Dancing with the Stars”?  Well, let‘s take a look. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There was far more right about that routine than there was wrong.  It was very good.  John, you did a great job with the choreography.  And I thought you coped very well, and I think you‘re an inspiration to people to get out and dance. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You‘ve got more guts than Rambo, and I will never say anything again, because to take this on, I have to give you credit. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  He gave her credit.  He also accidentally called her Yoko.  So was that enough for Britain‘s most-loathed woman to win her way into stardom in America?  Here now to tell us all about it, “Star” magazine‘s deputy New York bureau chief David Caplan. 

David, I think the “Post” also called her the most loathed amputee since the one-armed man in “The Fugitive.”  How did she do last night?

DAVID CAPLAN, “STAR” MAGAZINE:  You know, she did pretty well.  She got a score that was 18 out of 30.  And while that sounds pretty low, keep in mind that in context.  The highest score was 24 out of 30, which was by Joey Fatone.  So 18 out of 30 isn‘t too bad.  Her leg didn‘t fall off, so those online betting Web sites will have to keep on raising the ante.  She did a great job.  She‘s a great performer.  So she looked great.  So, artistically, you know, America is liking her, but personality-wise that‘s another story. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, a number of British blogs are pointing to the judges‘ scores for Heather Mills.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Will the judges please reveal their scores?

Carrie Ann Inaba...

CARRIE ANN INABA, JUDGE:  Six.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Len Goodman...

LEN GOODMAN, JUDGE:  Six.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Bruno Tonioli...

BRUNO TONIOLI, JUDGE:  Six.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Damien, what is that, 666?  They‘re having a lot with that in Britain.

CAPLAN:  Yes, she‘s not very well-liked.

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘ll tell you, she is so hated over there, isn‘t she?

CAPLAN:  Yes, she is despised over there, because she‘s messing with this British institution, Paul McCartney.  You don‘t do that.  But, you know, even here in the U.S., on the ABC Web site, the message board for the show, Americans are writing in and posting messages that are not nice, very critical of her, as well.  So I‘m not feeling the love right now with Americans toward Heather, as well. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, “Dancing” producers last night weren‘t trying to play down her disability at all.  In fact, they kept talking about it and saying—I mean, it sounds like they‘re trying to turn this into some heartwarming story, right?

CAPLAN:  Absolutely.  They‘re milking this.  They know everyone wants to look—you know, tune in, watch Heather.  And as well, there‘s, of course, a way to spin everything.  And, of course, if this story could be spun that, oh, she was the good wife, that Paul was the bad guy, there‘s ways to spin everything. 

And ABC producers are definitely enjoying this and she will, too.  Let‘s keep in mind that, last year, the season finale of this show had like, you know, 27.5 million viewers.  So more and more people...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  And, David, they didn‘t do badly last night.  And take a look at last night‘s show, how they may be exploiting her disability. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HEATHER MILLS, FORMER WIFE OF PAUL MCCARTNEY:  I‘m Heather Mills. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hi, Heather, I‘m Jonathan.

MILLS:  Hi, nice to meet you. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Nice to meet you.

MILLS:  And I‘ve also got an artificial leg...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All right.

MILLS:  ... so that‘s going to be a challenge for you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK, wow, I have this celebrity who only has one leg.  What am I going to do with this?

MILLS:  Would you mind grabbing my leg, as they say?

I was crossing the street and a police motorcycle came and just chopped my leg off, crushed my pelvis, punctured my lung, and split my head open.  (INAUDIBLE) swap legs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s really quite amazing.  You‘re going to have to work so much more than everyone else to make this look right. 

MILLS:  OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, so they‘re using this.  Do you suspect, by the end, that Heather Mills is going be doing what our country music singer did last year, in using “Dancing with the Stars,” when all the millions of people are looking in, and sort of do a Sarah Evans going after her husband?

CAPLAN:  Absolutely, but I think Heather is a little bit wiser this time around.  And we all know the story about her husband.  I think she‘s just going to use the show as a platform to definitely garner more publicity for herself.  It‘s a great launching pad for her to do projects in the U.S.  And, of course, I‘m sure there will be some exclusive interviews.  She‘ll talk more about Paul McCartney and tie it in with the show, as well. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  David Caplan, thank you so much.  Greatly appreciate it. 

Coming up next, “Hollyweird,” and we‘re going to be talking about “Hollyweird‘s” desperate housewives starting a book club.  No, really, what are J-Lo, Katie Holmes, and Posh Spice going to read?  The meeting of those minds, up next in “Hollyweird.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, tell your limo driver it‘s OK to double park, baby, because we‘re in “Hollyweird.”

First up, Britney Spears.  Now, the pop tart is getting ready to leave rehab amid reports she‘s going to have money problems when she gets out.  Here now, “InTouch Weekly” senior editor Kim Serafin.  And still with us, “Star” magazine‘s David Caplan.

David, I thought this lady had more money than God.  Where did it go?

CAPLAN:  Well, apparently, there‘s a report out saying that Britney is terrified that she‘s going to have to declare bankruptcy, because in the last two years, she has spent $21 million.  But, listen, this is a girl who, when the “Forbes” list of the richest celebrities, is worth $100 million, so I think she has a bit of a nest egg. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So you think she‘s doing OK?

CAPLAN:  I think she‘ll be OK.  I think she‘ll be OK.  But, listen, she‘s going to make her comeback.  She‘ll get a new album.  Eventually she‘ll stop shaving her head and she‘ll be good.  She‘ll do the album, make millions of dollars, and she‘ll be good.

SCARBOROUGH:  Kim Serafin, you know, a lot of us wonder how these rock stars get into trouble.  You had Mick Fleetwood in the 1970s, who was part of the group that had the biggest album of the 1970s.  And then, of course, you have Michael Jackson in the 1980s and ‘90s just making gazillions of dollars, and yet they always seem to run out.  What‘s going on here? 

KIM SERAFIN, “INTOUCH WEEKLY”:  You know, I agree with David.  I don‘t think Britney is going to have a problem.  Even if she spends a lot of money, Hollywood may like failure stories, but what they love even more is a big comeback story.  So she‘s going to have a lot of opportunity to make that money back, if she really did lose a lot of money.  People want to see her now more than ever.  There‘s this fascination with her, so... 

SCARBOROUGH:  But, I mean, doesn‘t she actually have to get back into a recording studio and stop doing all the terrible things she‘s been doing? 

SERAFIN:  Well, there are reports this week that she‘s getting out of rehab in two days and that she‘s apparently doing really well, that rehab has apparently worked wonders for her.  So we‘ll see, you know.  Her and Kevin Federline are talking.  Maybe this is a whole new Britney that we‘re going to see.

SCARBOROUGH:  A whole new Britney.  I mean, she‘s stayed in, what—I guess she‘s stayed in rehab for at least a weekend. 

SERAFIN:  A month. 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, off and on.  Now, speaking of K-Fed, K-Fed continues his search for talent by launching his own Web search engine.  I wonder what we would find, David, if we put soap in that search engine? 

CAPLAN:  Not a photo of Kevin.  Kevin Federline is looking to expand his empire and—big surprise—it‘s in the Internet.  And watch out, Google.  He has launched a search engine, where—but it‘s a little bit more like one of those really annoying Web sites that just pop up in your computer and offer contests and stuff like that (INAUDIBLE) so I don‘t really think that Google and Yahoo have anything to worry about, but it‘s another sign that K-Fed, though, has given up music and he‘s doing this.  I mean, what happened to his rap career, his clothing career?  Now he‘s doing search engines.  Very strange.

SCARBOROUGH:  I think nobody—I think actually nobody showed up at his rap concerts.  And Britain‘s “Daily Star” is reporting that Victoria Beckham wants to start her own Hollywood book club with Katie Holmes and Jennifer Lopez.  What can you tell us about it, Kim?

SERAFIN:  Yes, there are reports Victoria Beckham, otherwise known as Posh Spice, is moving to L.A. with David Beckham, her husband, who‘s playing on the soccer team here.  And she wants to start a book club, because it‘s her way of meeting people, making new friends in L.A.  She‘s already got Katie Holmes onboard.  She‘s already got J-Lo on board. 

Now, I can tell you, since I live in L.A....

SCARBOROUGH:  Can J-Lo read?  J-Lo can read?

SERAFIN:  Well, nobody in L.A. reads, so—nobody in L.A. reads.  So if she really wants to make friends, she needs to have, like, Botox parties and like mystic tanning parties and, you know, stripper pole dancing parties.  Who knows?

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, you go, girl.  Yes, you know, we don‘t really—I don‘t think housewives around here have those type of parties in the Redneck Riviera.  Maybe I need to move to southern California. 

And speaking of southern California, forget “Speed.”  The LAPD says Keanu Reeves got into a car accident last night with a paparazzi.  David, what can you tell us?

CAPLAN:  Keanu Reeves was driving his Porsche in Los Angeles and he grazed a paparazzo photographer.  And, in fact, the photographer fell down, he was rushed to the hospital after being hit by Keanu‘s car.  So it‘s very interesting that Keanu now joins the ranks of young Hollywood, because it‘s always the girls who bump in to the photographers.  Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, they‘ve all hit photographers.  So I‘m glad to see that the guys and  those over 25 are also letting out their rage.

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, God bless them.  Hey, thanks so much.  Greatly appreciate it.  David Caplan, as always, Kim Serafin, appreciate you being here in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 

And that‘s all the time we have for tonight in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, but we‘ll see you back here tomorrow night.  But don‘t go anywhere, because coming up next on the Doc Block, a deadly encounter.  Take a look.

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

END   

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